Skip

Too soon for new stress?
June 21, 2014 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Took a promotion I'm not sure I'm able to deal with right now. Head is on the fence, gut says get out. What to do?

Last year I left a stable but incredibly stressful job that I'd been doing for five years. I was unhappy in the industry and not sure I wanted to stay in the big city so after a really difficult, protracted period of back and forth decision-making I took a cut in pay and responsibility to work a short term contract whilst I figured out what to do next.

For a few months months all was well, the new company was a much better fit, the job was interesting and I was quickly able to add value as an individual contributor. I did miss having more authority, and the short-term nature of the contract was a bit worrying but I was so much happier in that environment. So when I was offered the chance to apply for a great sounding new permanent post it seemed like a no-brainer to give it a go. I was crazy busy in the week leading up to the interview and didn't really have a chance to think much about it so was surprised and massively flattered when they offered me the job. I met with both the hiring manager and my own manager afterwards to discuss the role in more detail and started to see some red flags but felt pressured to make a decision by HR. I never got a chance to really sit down and think about what taking the role would actually mean before I accepted. I'm now having serious, waking-up-sick-to-the-stomach doubts and I don't know how much attention to pay to them.

I'm basically worried that new job will turn into old job. Time-out from managing other people and dealing with organisational politics has been a huge part of the joy of current job, but new job will involve doing those things again. It'll also mean involvement in a massive technical area that just about did me in the last time I managed it in my old job and I'm having a visceral fight/flight reaction each time I think about it. Leaving my contract post so soon means I won't be able to realise some of the work I've set in motion or cement valuable new skills that would shore up my employment prospects in industries not specific to big city. I'm deeply conflicted about once again being anchored to a city I find very isolating when I'd just started to pry myself away and think about moving home.

The upside is that I'll get to be involved with a very high-profile company's evolution in a pivotal role. However, I know how complex and potentially difficult that can be and I'm petrified that it's too much, too soon and I should have finished up my short-term contract and decided that it's definitely worth staying before taking on anything so meaty.

I'm also disappointed in myself for a) reneging on my own, very carefully and painfully realised plans for this year, and b) considering rescinding a job offer lots of people in my industry would kill for. All of the above is triggering the anxiety and stress I thought I'd finally got past and I now just feel trapped and frightened. What to do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total)
 
Don't worry about what other people would do for the opportunity you have. This is completely irrelevant information. You do not want this job, and moreover you were planning on moving in a short while anyway. There are lots of things other people would love to have, but that doesn't mean that you need to make yourself miserable for the sake of... what, appearances? Looking like you're winning at life? Forget it.

Don't take the job. Continue on your plan as if you were never offered the job, and cover for the change of heart with something non-bridge-burny like "I'm so sorry, but my personal situation has changed and so I need to move to be closer to my family."
posted by Andrhia at 1:52 PM on June 21


I'm kinda leaning towards "give it a chance." You haven't started yet and it's a different company, culture, and position. I totally get your concern because I was in a similar situation and it worked out for me. Individual mileages, of course, vary. And maybe you still don't really want to be in this industry or that type of position. But it might be this opportunity that gives you the answers to those questions.
posted by sm1tten at 7:10 PM on June 21


I'm basically worried that new job will turn into old job. Yes, it might. Or it might not. It's a different company - different people, different culture. And you're a different person than you were then.

Time-out from managing other people and dealing with organisational politics has been a huge part of the joy of current job, but new job will involve doing those things again If you see managing other people as simply a loss of time, you ought to rethink things. Managing people means you can get more done than if you work on something yourself; you can delegate some tasks; you can help others learn and grow; you can enjoy the things that your group accomplishes, not just things you personally do.

As for "organisational politics", another way is to put this is "working with other departments on solutions that everyone will implement, together". Yes, departmental coordination can be a nightmare - but that depends on the culture and the people. If you're dealing with reasonable people, and you yourself are reasonable, then you and they should be able to reach agreement about doing reasonable things to accomplish what's good for the organisation as a whole.

I'm deeply conflicted about once again being anchored to a city I find very isolating ... You're not committing yourself to a job for life; if you do it for two years or so, you'll have learned more and have more opportunities elsewhere, if that's what you want. As for "isolating", it isn't clear why you can't do things (social, academic, volunteer, whatever) to at least spend time doing something you enjoy with others who also enjoy that. You're in a big city - which means there are more opportunities, not fewer, to have an enjoyable life outside of work

I'm petrified that it's too much, too soon But you'll never know if you don't actually try. And if you don't try, you might always regret it.

I'm also disappointed in myself for a) reneging on my own, very carefully and painfully realised plans for this yearThe "carefully" (and the "realised") part of that statement seem inconsistent with this: I took a cut in pay and responsibility to work a short term contract whilst I figured out what to do next.

I'm now having serious, waking-up-sick-to-the-stomach doubts and I don't know how much attention to pay to them. It's generally not a good idea to take counsel from one's fears.

Overall, if I understand correctly, the short term contract is with the same company that offered you a new job. If so, if you back out of the new job, the company isn't likely to give you another short term contract, and possibly not even a positive recommendation to future employers. On the other hand, the company has seen your work, and they seem to believe that you can do the new job. Have you considered that they might have a better understanding of how you match up with the new job than you do? And that they have a vested interest in helping you succeed, and aren't expecting you to be perfect in the job as of the first day?

I don't know if the company you're at offers an Employee Assistance Program(me), but if they do, and if you take the job, I suggest talking to the Personnel/HR department about a referral. It really sounds like you could benefit from your talking to someone one-to-one about your fears and unhappiness and isolation, particularly in light of your obvious capabilities and the value that others place on your work.
posted by WestCoaster at 9:34 PM on June 22


« Older What makes a good Barbecue?...   |  Is it fine to clean my silicon... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments



Post