Career question: should I stay or should I go?
April 3, 2018 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Well-paying but not fulfilling career in accounting/non-profit management has me bored and frustrated and feeling like I'm pushing papers day in and day out. I'd like to work with others more closely (ie: a team environment) and/or do something more challenging and rewarding... but how?

I am increasingly disinterested in my job, despite it being well-paid with good hours. I have thought it could be depression, but I am still interested in other pursuits and generally happy outside of work hours.

Not sure whether to try a new job, as I have had a couple different jobs in my field (auditing and more recently non-profit management/accounting). Perhaps a new career is in order, but how do I find such a thing?! Should I hire a career coach? Should I get some kind of career testing?

I would love to find out my aptitudes and proclivities and use that information to find a job that suits me well, whether it is a different job in my field or a new field entirely. I have been googling and many of the articles in this vein have been vague or otherwise unhelpful.

My general take on my skills are as follows: analytical thinker, great with numbers, generally a social/people person who likes to collaborate and work through questions together, easily bored by seemingly mundane tasks (ex. opening and paying bills). Dislikes overly stressful workplaces, but can work towards deadlines or under some pressure.

Thank you in advance for any advice or direction re: finding my direction.
posted by cabbagesnkings to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure others will chime in with good advice about alternative careers to consider and how to retool for those, but I read your question and wondered if you might consider bringing your skillsets to bear on a volunteering opportunity?

In my experience, having a thing you do outside of work -- in a place where your skills are really valued by an organization that clearly needs and benefits from them -- can do a lot to put more pep in your work step, as it were. Likewise, it's not unusual for volunteering experience to open up new job opportunities.

So if you have a hobby that you enjoy or a cause that you care about, maybe consider spending a few hours on the weekends first finding and then volunteering for an organization. I see that you already work in the nonprofit sector (and burnout is high in that sector), so it might be a good idea to look for organizations that have a mission that's at least a little bit different than the nonprofit for which you currently work.
posted by pinkacademic at 7:56 AM on April 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

It's been my experience that "team environments" are the shortest route to the overly stressful workplaces you dislike. Even if you are a fan if that structure, all it takes is one other person on your team who isn't, to gum up the works. YMMV, of course.

I agree that exploring some activity outside of work may be a good way to help figure out just what interests and fulfils you.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:59 AM on April 3, 2018

I don’t have any advice, but I am in a similar place with the same sort of job. It is dull like no other jobs I have had before, so I feel you.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:01 AM on April 3, 2018

Best answer: Man, do I hear you. I also am fortunate enough to have a well-paying job with decent hours, something I'm aware many people would kill for, and I also am bored to tears and wishing I were doing something more meaningful with my life. And the thing is, I actually work for a company that does meaningful work. I just don't feel any sense of meaning from my work. So I'll be following this thread with interest.

If you really are contemplating a career change, I would recommend starting with What Color is Your Parachute. By far the most helpful part of the book is the flower exercise, which despite the silly name is a really useful tool in getting you to think about not only what your skills are, but which ones you actually like using, and in what type of environment. I really recommend doing this exercise first, and then going to a career coach if you still feel the need - you'll be much more prepared and it will save you money.

I think in general, it's a good idea to keep your eye out for other jobs. Set up an alert on for search terms that sound good to you, and then apply to whatever sounds OK. You're in the best possible position, since you don't have to leave your job, you're just looking for something better.

I need to sort my shit out too, but before I look for something else I need to sort out lack of motivation for any work in general... Probably the topic of my next AskMe!
posted by widdershins at 11:21 AM on April 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Career counselor here, (but not your career counselor), simply to second widdershins re:What Color is Your Parachute. Chapters 7 and 8, which include the flower exercise, contain a condensed version of many of the theoretical frameworks and assessments we use in career counseling. If you work through those two chapters you'll either figure things out yourself or meet with a career counselor with so much work already done.

Donald Asher also writes some great career-oriented books that I find to be useful.

Also, it's Ok if you buy a book and then don't end up using it. Some books/systems don't work for everyone. I found my new career by simply spending an afternoon at a coffee shop writing down the things I care about in the world, the strengths I know I have, found volunteer positions related to those causes, discovered a ton of strengths I didn't even know I had, and then turned one into an occupation.
posted by MonsieurBon at 4:51 PM on April 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

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