Striking a balance
March 25, 2011 9:54 AM   Subscribe

What are some strategies for making a rational decision about work/life balance in terms of a job search, taking both quantitative and qualitative factors into account?

Here are the quantitative factors influencing my decision:
-Amount of debt I owe (most of it is in deferment)
-Current expenses including things I want to save for
-Salary of job
-Benefits of job
-Money/time I would lose in commuting vs. moving

Here are the qualitative factors:
-I get very depressed if I'm not working on a creative project and that is where my priority lies, because if I'm depressed, nothing seems worthwhile anyway; my true career goals are in sustainable creativity.
-I need time to work on such projects
-I need a social life in order not to feel too isolated
-I don't want a stressful job that drains my energy for the things that sustain me emotionally.
-I work to live, not live to work. I care about doing a great job, but at the end of the workday I want to leave it behind.
-I'm okay with taking a laid-back service job that is below my educational level in order to mitigate stress, but I might not make enough money.
-Contract/freelance work is definitely an option for me.
-I am okay with temping.

It's easy to do a cost-benefit analysis in terms of quantitative factors, but the qualitative has me stumped. It's the highest priority for me, but I don't want to make a decision without logic. However, if I just do the practical thing without considering whether it makes me happy, I know I'll regret it. I've made decisions before based purely on emotion, and I've regretted those decisions as well. And then there's the economy -- I might just be forced to take what I can get.

Any ideas to help me clarify this?
posted by xenophile to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What skills do you have and how big is the debt? A huge debt hanging over your head might make it hard to feel anything but stress. Do you have skills that can translate to making big bucks for a finite amount of time?
posted by Ideefixe at 10:08 AM on March 25, 2011

It would be very helpful to know your current location and educational / professional background in order to make any meaningful suggestions.
posted by rkent at 10:09 AM on March 25, 2011

When I last looked for a job, I took a hard look at my maximum normal expenses, and set up a number that was my baseline. I interviewed for jobs with a huge range of salary, responsibility, and time off. My decision came down to 2 jobs- both of which had employees who had worked there for most of their careers. One paid significantly more, but both were above my baseline. I picked the one with no expectation of weekends and an extra week of vacation. However, if this job hadn't paid above the minimum number I had in my head, I wouldn't have taken the other. Going into my search with the math made it much easier for me to feel confident that I could take less money for more personal time.
posted by Zophi at 10:18 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

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