Unhappy with job and location - too many intricacies to figure out.
March 16, 2017 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I am unhappy with both my job and my location, but I can't figure out how to remedy either without shooting myself in the foot or indulging "grass is greener" syndrome...help please? Details inside.

I'm very unhappy with my current situation regarding my job and location, and I've come up with a few possibilities to make it better, as detailed below. However, there are so many interlacing issues it's hard to tease out what is the best way to deal with the situation. Sorry for the wall of details, but they're necessary to explain the situation!

I began my job about 9 months ago when I was living in the southwest and it started off as a remote position. There were a lot of complications with the management structure at first (and some have persisted), and I didn't enjoy working remotely because I felt disconnected, plus I'm a fairly extroverted person so I got cabin fever. About 3 months in I ended up moving to the small town in the Pacific Northwest where the office is located, a town I've lived in before. The job is technically my "dream job" (as I believed on paper), it pays very well, has some good benefits, flexible schedule, and has opportunities for professional development. It's an amazing opportunity for me and what I've been working towards. However, I find it extremely difficult (as I have with other jobs in the past) to work at this job 8 hours a day. It involves my intently staring at the computer the entire time, and after about 5-6 hours I start to go stir-crazy and become unfocused. It doesn't matter what I'm working on. I just hate it. I come home exhausted and too depressed to do much of what I'd actually like to do with my free time. I try to take breaks but there's nowhere to go to really get away, especially when the weather is bad. I also find the people in the organization difficult to deal with, because they all have strong personalities (the majority are antisocial, have large egos, and headstrong with their ideas) and don't seem to work together well. As an entry-level worker, I often have to deal with the repercussions of this and the resulting confusion and juggling of egos and wills stresses me out. It's gotten to a point where, despite the fact that the work ITSELF is fine, I dread going to work each morning and each night because of the aforementioned frustrations.

In addition to this, moving to a smaller town in the dreary PNW has brought back my seasonal depression and anxiety problems in a major way. There are fewer activities to do in the town, my normal hobbies are not as accessible here, and the weather has made me depressed to the point where I find little motivation to spur myself to even try to do anything, although I do my best. I'm treating the SAD (sun lamp, vitamin D, exercise) but there's only so much I can do. It makes every aspect of my life a little to a lot more difficult than it had been previously. I had depression when I lived in the PNW previously, and it had gone away completely when I moved to the southwest. As soon as the sun comes out here, I feel fine. My fiance and I are considering the possibility of moving to the city near where he grew up, where most of his family and friends are located and which has a sunnier climate. I've never been there so we plan to visit first.

There are a lot of options for me to better my situation, but I know I have to be careful to not have a 'grass is greener' mentality or to shoot myself in the foot. The options I'm considering:

-Going to 25-30 hours/week at my job. I can't try to do this until August, because I need to save up all the PTO possible for my honeymoon in July, but I am really leaning toward this. I have always had a hard time working 8 hours a day at office-based jobs, and I feel that even once the weather improves in the summer or once I move, I will continue to have a hard time with this.

-Getting a new job in the aforementioned city. I would need to visit the city first to scope it out, and the opportunity to do that wouldn't be until later this year, probably Thanksgiving. I hate having to wait that long to get going on it, but my vacation time is limited. Since I dislike working remotely so much, I'd prefer to get a new job in that city. But that raises the question of whether I like the work I even do currently, and the feasibility of trying to find a less-than-full-time position in this field in that city. Seems risky. Ideally I would have worked here 2 years before leaving, which means waiting until July of 2018, but the idea of waiting that long seems miserable. I also feel like I don't have a really valid reason to leave this job, other than I don't like the people I work with.

-Moving to the new city and keeping this job. I strongly dislike working remotely, but there's a possibility that if I go to less than 40 hours and am more comfortable in the position that it will be more bearable. I have also considered finding a co-working space so I'm not working from home. This option means I don't have to wait to have worked here 2 years before moving. Or while I'm doing this job remotely, I can be looking for a new opportunity in the city.

-Moving to the new city, leaving this job field entirely. I don't mind the actual work I do, but it's extremely computer-based and rare to find a position that's part-time. I also have no interest in having project management or supervisory roles. I like the prestige and the niche nature of the job, but sometimes I wish I could just do a "job," one where I'm not tied to a computer, and leave the work at work and spend more time on my personal life and hobbies.

A couple of things are clear to me:
-Both of us dislike this town and want to move to a bigger, sunnier city as soon as we can.
-I dislike working at a computer 8 hours a day.

I've become overwhelmed by scenarios, and in the meantime I'm having a hard time coping in my current situation. The idea of having to continue in my current scenario for much longer is making me frustrated. Any advice on any of the aspects of my situation are welcome, especially whether going to less than 40 hours a week will affect me more negatively than I think.

A last note - in regards to my fiance and his preferences, he is in agreement about the city situation, and he is in a job field that exists pretty much everywhere, so he is relatively unconcerned about being able to find a position in a new place.
posted by majesty_snowbird to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you move to a bigger, sunnier city, keep your current job as a remote position, but start going to a co-working space? You'd have the interaction you crave in the location you prefer. I've worked in co-working spaces quite a bit over the years, and it really helps to have other people around to occasionally chat with. I would put in a solid 4-5 hours, until I felt burn out approaching, then go do other stuff for a while and do the rest of my work later in the evening.
posted by ananci at 7:27 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

Similar to the above, is a flexible schedule either in-person or remote (meaning, not a straight eight hour day, or perhaps some WFH/remote hours while you are still in the area) at all a possibility? This might give you a chance to see whether you can improve a remote working situation without having commit to it full-stop yet.
posted by sm1tten at 8:40 PM on March 16

Seconding ananci's suggestion. Also, normal people do not work 8 hours straight, never mind 8 hours straight at a computer. They get up and walk around. They take a lunch break. They go talk to an office buddy. They do stretches. They pace themselves (if they are lucky enough to have a job that allows them to do so). I hope you are one of those lucky people. I've down co-working as well and it's great. I hate working from home. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 9:07 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]

I mean, there are studies about how effective people are working X number of hours, and basically, if you want to like the job you need to pace your day according to these guidelines. Use a timer.

L-tyrosine in the morning, 5-HTP in the evening. Along with your exercise and Vitamin D. Go easy on the L-Tyrosine dose, I think sometimes too much is recommended some places. Research, check with your doctor.

Jobs that pay well are worth a few tweaks before ditching them. Sorry about your shitty coworkers, the dopamine the L-Tyrosine triggers will make noticing them a non-issue within a week or so.
posted by jbenben at 9:53 PM on March 16

If it were me, I'd move to a sunnier location and work eight hours a day remotely, but with breaks. Preferably spend some of that day in your favorite coffee shop or in a co-located office.

I work from home, and one of the perks of that is that I am not required to sit at a computer for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch. I do eight hours a day, but I intersperse it with other stuff - doing laundry, running the dishes, going for a walk, doing yoga, organizing my sock drawer, meeting a friend for lunch, weeding the garden, and so on. I also organize my work so that I'm not doing the stuff I find difficult for more time than I can handle (but I realize that not everyone is so lucky).

I'd suggest giving that a try, and then, if it doesn't work, then exploring other options.
posted by dancing_angel at 10:27 PM on March 16

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