Looking for a happy career change
January 17, 2011 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Career change from boring job to one that makes me happy. I want to do it. How did it work out for you?

Long time tech employee getting bored with it. It is not a job challenge issue, but a job field issue for me. Perhaps it was development, support, tech changes, training, hardware/software, client visits, whatever...I don't like my job anymore.

The job, when you break it down, it's a negative field. bad software, bad hardware, corrupted files, virus, failed backup, lost customer, etc. I was happy to take their money, but now I want to be happy at my job. Sure it is great to play with the new toys and get freebies, but that is only a band-aid on the problem.

I know that when I change jobs there will be a, possibly substantial, pay cut that goes with it. Has anybody here left a job field they didn't like any longer to try to find a job that made them happy. How did it work out for you? What was your former job and which one made you happy?

posted by Leenie to Work & Money (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What makes you unhappy now? Because wherever you go, there you are. I have a very cool-sounding job. But when you come right down to it, it's still conference calls, filing, budgets, writing, and editing. Don't get me wrong; I like my job. But I switched jobs, and 90% of what caused me to leave has followed me. Perfectionism, the long hours and worry that result, and so forth. Only a few things changed. I do really appreciate those differences.

tl;dr Think really hard about what will change and what will stay the same.
posted by slidell at 4:54 PM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

i think it's important to consider the work environment too - where you work, your co-workers, etc.

i have an awesome job now that i really enjoy doing, but because it's really busy and hectic, i could see myself being miserable if it weren't for my work environment. i work in a really comfortable office setting (laidback, positive, friendly) with the greatest people i've ever met. i can honestly say there are no office politics where i work, everyone gets along, and everyone truly enjoys being at work. these things mean that when things get especially chaotic at work, everyone gets excited and energized instead of feeling swamped or frustrated. it makes a big difference.
posted by gursky at 5:15 PM on January 17, 2011

Several years ago, I switched careers from being a reasonably happy and successful product manager at a boutique IT company to being a wildly happy writer and game designer.

I love my work. Love. Even when I don't have a paying project, I am always doing a million side and personal projects because I just can't stop myself.

It's still a job, mind, with clients and conference calls and email and fires to put out. The money isn't as good, and since I'm freelance, sometimes it's frankly nonexistent. I still get burnout, anxiety, imposter syndrome, crazy deadlines. Some days, even your dream job is going to kind of suck.

All the same, I am happy in a way I never was before. I have my calling, I am respected in my field, I am genuinely excited by the amazing work I get to do, the talented people I get to create with, and the audiences I get to play with. When I think about my job now, I feel free, rather than bored. When I look ahead into the future, I'm not counting the years until I can clock out and sit on a beach -- I can't even imagine willingly retiring from my field and giving it all up.

You only have one life, and you spend so, so much time working. Why would you willingly spend your life being bored?
posted by Andrhia at 6:07 PM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Something outdoors? Even if you are not "outdoorsy" per se, being outside all day can sometimes do amazing things for your spirit, your priorities, and your world-outlook. I left the business world -- always in a high-rise, stuck in a cube, office politics and all -- behind me to go work on a beach "for a year" -- my pay wasn't all that much less (yours probably would be, but I was just a jr. designer), and I ended up staying for about three years. I've done many different things since then, but no one can take those memories away from me. Like walking across thousands of jellyfish washed up on the beach, or digging for sand crabs, or searching tide pools and picking up starfish. It doesn't have to be the beach; there are parks and deserts and woods and caves all over the place, and it doesn't have to be What You Do For the Rest of Your Life - but taking a break from your field (while still having employment) might help you put things in perspective; it certainly did for me.
posted by polly_dactyl at 6:13 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is just an anecdotal data point, I don’t know if it will help your situation ,but it may be another way to think about if you have this option.

I’ve really disliked many, many jobs. I job hopped most of my life and always….lasted a few months before I identified something else I disliked and a few months later, off I went again. So I would have to say during almost every corporate fulltime job ...I grew to hate and found a way to change fields, jobs, over and over again.

A friend, however, pointed out that I was probably unhappy with every new job because I let the job …define how the circle peg (me) would fit the square hole. I would never be happy because I let the workplace define what I should do, when I should show up to work, and even the environment. I also have to be honest and say that I have never bought into the idea that a workplace can or should define you or try to instill loyalty or all the other…whatever rah rah stuff someone tells you during orientation at a new job.

So at my last fulltime time corporate job, I decided that I was going to acquire all the tools to work on my own. I made sure to perform very well and asked my supervisor for projects that I knew would eventually look good. I requested a class for myself and all my coworkers…that would also help me towards me in my eventual quest for self employment.

So I jumped after a year at that corporate job…I’m also much, much happier. I really believe that if you don’t produce quality work if you are self employed, you will not last. You can also recognize horrible teams, horrible products, etc. – and if you have the bad luck to temporarily work on one, it is only for a few weeks, months, and you can fire them and find the next thing (and you never sit in an office with those pple/or rarely to never talk to them, etc). There is a lot more variability and I define my goals, hours, etc. Sometimes I work long hours, but it is for a skill that I want or a sample that I want – not what someone else has defined.

So for me, the only way to be happy at any sort of job was to define my own cage and not let someone else define it/and I plan to never give anyone that power again. I can chose to work on a team…or not work on a team, etc. The only solution for me was to work for myself, but …I know that this is not the solution for most people. The alternative for, though, was much much worse. There are still many stressors, too, but I know and decide whether those stressors are acceptable or not.

posted by Wolfster at 10:08 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is there a possibility that you could find something that would add the missing interest and satisfaction to your life so that what you are doing for a living is not the most dominant definition of who you are and what you do?

I have known several symphony orchestra members and artists whose 'day jobs' were pretty boring yet their 'real lives' were primarily lived and defined in their art. Others I have known have taken up community or social activities that engage them and add excitement and happiness in a way their work has never done. Sometimes these supplemental activities turn into second careers.

I think it can be far more important to find something that engages and fascinates you than to count on finding a happier life by changing jobs (or spouses or cities, for that matter).
posted by Anitanola at 11:48 PM on January 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for the replies. I should add that outside of work I am doing fine. Family, our farm, friends, hobbies, etc.

I went from a regional business to a Fortune 500 company to the Fortune 50 company I have been with for almost 11 years. I think that after 17 years in the field, I have just gotten tired of it. The negatives outweigh the positives by quite a margin on most days. That is what I am tired of. Too much of waiting for good news 'A' while dealing with bad news 'X, Y, Z'.

I guess I could rephrase my question into something a little simpler. "Have you changed careers, and was it worth the change to you?" "How did it work out for you?"

Thanks again.
posted by Leenie at 1:40 AM on January 18, 2011

Many years ago I left Special Education after teaching for about 11 years. I did not know what I wanted so I did a lot of research as to what the up and coming new thing was that I might be interested in. This was 20 years ago and the up and coming thing was personal computers. I started at the bottom doing data entry and worked my way up through tech support and LAN admin to Senior Manager. I loved the learning, loved the difference of actually making something happen by fixing a problem as opposed to going to work each day knowing I was making a difference in kids lives but not making much progress. After several job eliminations I have ended up in Project Management and not too happy so looking for career # 3.

My advice - do the research on what looks like it will pay AND what you are interested in. Not necessarily in that order. There are plenty of resources and I did my research without the internet.

Ultimately corp. world is all problem solving. So getting out of there may be your best bet.
It is not easy and the money cut is not something everyone can do. But I was so much happier when I switched and looking for that thrill again.
posted by shaarog at 7:16 AM on January 18, 2011

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