I'm turning 30 and I don't know how to grow up.
August 28, 2006 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Starting over filter: how do I find out what I'm wired to do?

Taught for five years private schools and thought I'd do it forever. Moved from Chicago to Florida for husband's job, hated my public school teaching job here due to nasty children and nasty bureaucracy, and now am an administrative assistant for a home builder. Like this job ok, but I'm not sure it's scratching my itches. But teaching didn't do that, either. Am good at: teaching, organizing, communicating, vision-casting, delegating, renovating, streamlining, and being an introvert.

Husband has worked in numbers (AR, AP, procurement) for 10 years and is doing number crunching now, but as an independent consultant training and implementing accounting software. Is good at: listening, communicating, following and enforcing guidelines, anything having to do with numbers, fixing things, playing bass guitar, dealing with people, being an extrovert.

We both took a DISC personality test last week as part of our wtf-is-up-with-our-lives counseling (like a good metafilter member we sought counseling when we hit a rough patch). My test came up as a "tight pattern", meaning I'm in the midst of change and don't know who I am. His came up as good with numbers and following prescribed guidelines, but not good with change and uncertainty. Also, being an independent consultant didn't seem to be a great fit.

We moved to Florida for this job for him, and we both hate it here. We're willing to go anywhere in the country and do pretty much anything-- no kids, no significant debt, frugal lifestyle. How do we figure out what we would be best doing, and where do we go?
posted by orangemiles to Work & Money (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have the answer -- but I empathise. I'm going through something sorta similiar. *shrug*

I think having a blank canvas is a little too intimidating though.

If one could go anywhere and/or do anything (within reason) deciding what and where is a little bit overwhelming and daunting to me.

I wish you luck in your search!

posted by rampy at 11:03 AM on August 28, 2006

As rampy says, its hard to start with a blank page. You could look for a place you would like to live, and then see what kinds of careers are available in that area. See if any of them sound like something you could be happy doing. You could try and pick a career you would love to do (no matter how insane) and then see where that would take you, and ask yourself if you would be happy there. Alternately, you could both take advantage of your no-ties situation and take a year off, travel around the country/world, see things, meet people, "find yourselves" and see if that brings you closer to figuring out what you want to do.
posted by Joh at 11:24 AM on August 28, 2006

Orangemiles, I also empathise with what you and your husband are going through. Its a difficult thing to realise that everything you've both worked so hard for doesn't fit in with what you want to do anymore...

My Wife and I have just left our good, secure jobs in Australia and plan to spend a year working in Canada, and another year in the UK before making any decisions about the future. We both enjoy travel and experiencing things, so this was an opportunity to do somethings that we never dreamed of.

Like yourself, I'm an introvert, but I am also very introspective. I have found the move to Canada a little harder than I thought I would. I was expecting it to be easier for me to get temporary employment. Having said that, it is an amazing expereince living in a foreign city.

In short, perhaps what I am thinking is that perhaps it is time to put the careers on hold and spend sometime on your passions. In our case, our joint passion is travel, my individual passion is photography. I'm enjoying the experience and the extra time with my Wife. I feel closer to her now than ever before.

Feel free to contact me if you want someone to chat to.

posted by dantodd at 12:02 PM on August 28, 2006

I just took Edgar Schein's Career Anchors test and found it very helpful. It helps you identify what you value most in your career, such as autonomy, entrepreneurship, security, etc. Here's a link to the book with the test at Amazon.

Good luck!
posted by mogget at 12:42 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

How long have you been in Florida? It takes time to get to know a place, and hating it is often a normal part of the adjustment process. I hated Portland when I moved here, and it took me about two and a half years to realize my attitudes about this city had been completely reversed. Maybe you need to give it more time before upheaving everything?

Or maybe Florida really does suck. But it's something to ponder.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:26 PM on August 28, 2006

Response by poster: We've been in Florida for 13 months and 24 days. I hear what you're saying about giving it time. I don't think I've given it much of a chance. But I don't know that time is going to change the heat nor the southern backwards attitude I get (it's rough being a woman here). Or the lack of educated people. Or the confederate flag-wavers in my town. Or the lack of shopping other than Target. Or the...

Actually, this makes me think that one thing I need to do is make a list of what it is I don't like here. See, I'm looking for action steps. I know all of this will work out eventually, but I don't know what to do with myself to get some clarity. The idea of traveling is a good one, dantodd. How did you pick Canada and the UK? And that career anchors one is also along the lines of what we need, mogget. Did it help you narrow down a career?

It's like what rampy and Joh said-- the blank canvas is so intimidating and makes me overwhelmed with possibilities. What do I do to narrow down the endless options? WHat questions do I ask myself? What beginnings-of-sentences do I journal about until I get clarity?
posted by orangemiles at 1:44 PM on August 28, 2006

I enjoy what I do, but I'm at a somewhat of a crossroads as to my future career plans. The areas I scored highest in definitely gave me food for thought as far as what I want to look for in a job.

I took earlier this month it with a group of other people, and it was quite interesting to see the different areas where people scored highest.
posted by mogget at 3:27 PM on August 28, 2006

If you can stomach a certain amount of New Agey bullshit, Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star is quite helpful in suggesting ways to creatively daydream/visualise things you want to do and turn them into a concrete plan. I have suffered from "oh my god i forgot to get a vocation" for a long time and I found it gave me a good framework for identifying how I really want to spend my time.

It stands out to me that you have identified things you are good at, and you want suggestions on how to use those capabilities.That's cool, but it does not follow that you will be happy merely because you are exercising your talents. Do you want to work with children? Animals? On your own? In Brazil? Up a mountain? Etc. I think you would be better off daydreaming about your ideal life circumstances and then thinking about how to use your talents to get there, rather than starting with your talents and assuming using them will make you happy.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:58 PM on August 28, 2006

Come to New Orleans. There are LOADS of jobs for young teachers and young professionals here, and generally a great need for intelligent, young, motivated individuals to help get this place going again... pay here is better than ever, the market for housing is good (more expensive than it was, but still low by national standards.) It's also a great opportunity to do work that's meaningful and will actually help people in a very direct way. And the parts of the city that are alive and well are almost as vibrant and wonderful as ever, and getting better every day; the music and food and culture are still here , and it's still an incredibly cool place to live.
posted by ab3 at 6:43 PM on August 28, 2006

The DISC inventory is a good, easy, self test for personal wiring:

posted by 4ster at 7:11 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

The wife and i are in the same predicament. I was in accounting and she's in educational publishing. Three months ago we decided we are going to sell our house and hit the road (the real estate market has slowed a bit and put a damper in our plans, but were still going for it). I quit my job, because she likes hers more than i enjoy mine. I fixed the house up and took time to pamper her. Now that we are waiting to sell the place i am the house-husband and wife-pamperer and applying my time towards learning the craft of writing stories. She is working hard and bringing home the bacon, for which i feel extremely blessed. I did the same a few years back for her, working, while she finished up her master's degree. That's the beauty of a partnership to support one another.
So maybe one of you could shape a dream into a goal and work towards it?

PS we've lived in Florida for over two years now, and can't wait to get out (we haven't become acclimated to the hot summers)
posted by iurodivii at 7:27 PM on August 28, 2006

I apologize for my earlier comment. I missed that you had already tried the DISC,
posted by 4ster at 9:22 PM on August 28, 2006

Here's the real link to DISC, in case anyone happens upon this thread later on and the tinyurl has expired. I really don't get why people post tinyurl crap on permanently archived web sites. Grrr...
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:25 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Hi Orangemiles, we chose Canada and the UK for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that it is relatively straight forward for Australian citizens to get working holiday permits in both of these countries. The other reason is that the cultural and economic climates are not dissimiliar, making the transistion a little easier.

Both my wife and I are turning 30 in a couple of months, and while neither of us were particular happy about life/career, we made a fairly rapid decision to head abroad. We somehow managed to get everything sorted in 3 months. Even setting the departure date made things alot more bearable.

I know that some people probably view our travel as running away from a difficult time, but we both felt that the world has more to offer and one can't be a responsible 'global citizen' with out experiencing life in other lands. Travelling for an extended period of time will test your relationship, especially if you don't have 100% support of and committment to the journey from both parties.

Perhaps this is an opportunity, as I hinted at before, to work outside your career and 'work to live'. Australia may be possible destination for you as they recognise most professional designations. The UK appear to have a teachers shortage, so really, the world is your oyster.

Good luck.
posted by dantodd at 6:34 AM on August 29, 2006

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