My name is Anonymous, and I hate my awesome job.
I’ve worked as an independent contractor and consultant in the finance/tax/accounting field since graduating from college ten years ago. I set my own schedule and hours, the pay is great, and I can take as much time off as I want. I should love my job. My job is awesome. But I hate it.
I should quit. But…
Should I change careers?
I set my goal to work in this field when I was in high school. I worked hard in college, passed my professional exams, got a job with one of the top firms, and began my career, thus, achieving all my goals. My high school self would be so proud. My college self would think my job is my dream job. But my current self thinks…this job is not what I had imagined it would be.
That was clear almost immediately, but I tried to make it work. I stayed hoping it would transform itself into my dream job if I just gave it a chance. It didn’t. I left to work at different companies, taking the contacts and connections I’d made with me. I continued to gain new clients working as a consultant over the next few years. And here I am today.
Unfortunately, this career is still not what I had imagined it would be. Saying that, I can hear the disappointment of my college self, telling me angrily to stop acting so spoiled, expecting perfection, and not throw away all the years of college and experience that I worked so hard to get. It’s hard to disagree with the old me, but eventually enough is enough, and you have to move on. The problem is…how do you know when that time is?
Am I at the point now that I am willing to abandon ten years of experience in this field to start over and change careers? I ask myself that question every day, and the answer is always, “Yes, but what if…?”
What if my new job is worse than my old job?
This is a big concern since my current job is awesome. Quitting an awesome job is a much bigger gamble than quitting a terrible job. The worst that can happen there is that you’ll end up in the same situation at a different location. However, in my situation, I could lose the flexibility and big pay check that my current job offers.
I realize that in today’s economy, complaining about having a high paying job makes me seem entitled, spoiled, and ungrateful. I also realize that the flexibility of my job is not the norm, and I am grateful. I’m very fortunate to have these perks, and I don’t take them for granted.
Although, I must admit, on the bad days at work, I consider the extra cushion in my pay check to be a bonus I earned for putting up with the daily chaos, and I consider the monthly vacations I take using my extra time off as a necessary part of the job, enabling me to tolerate the chaos. On those days I feel ungrateful, but those days also push me to examine what it is that I really want out of a job. I’ve determined this much so far…I don’t think a normal part of any job should be taking time off every month to make it tolerable.
Just to be clear, I would take a pay cut and less time off for a great job, but there’s no real way to know if a job is great without taking the job and trying it out. That’s a risky move. Am I willing to gamble the perks for a chance at a great job? I could end up with an awesome job with great perks. Or I could end up with a terrible job with no perks.
Am I ready for the gamble? My answer is, “Yes, but what if…?”
What if I can’t find a new job?
As I mentioned, I’m not naïve to the fact that the current economy is such that finding jobs is tough, and people are often forced to take any job they can get, if they can get a job at all. There are so many stories in the news about the economy, unemployment rates, and jobless Americans. The stories often involve employees who are laid off and are unable to find new jobs. Less common are stories about people who are stuck in jobs they hate but can’t leave for fear of not finding a new job.
I relate to this situation, especially on those bad days at work when I feel like walking out and not going back. I feel that I have marketable skills and would be valuable to companies. Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have trouble finding a new job. However, in the current economy with a tighter job market, companies may feel that I would be valuable but still don’t hire me due to budgeting or other corporate restrictions they now have to operate under.
Being an independent contractor, I’ve noticed a change in the job market over the past few years. Even just five years ago, companies hired me for specific projects or extra work they had without much hesitation, and I could usually name my price and schedule. However, in the last couple years, there are a lot more obstacles to overcome before companies are willing to engage my services. There is more corporate approval needed by companies now to hire a new consultant, requiring them to seek approval higher up the chain of command; there is now more negotiation involved in setting my consulting fee; and often companies ultimately decide to complete the projects internally, using the staff they currently have on hand.
It’s these factors that force their way to the front of my mind when I tell myself, “Yes, I’m ready to pursue a new career, and yes, I’m willing to give up my current job perks.” What if I can’t find a new job at all? Am I willing to quit my job and risk unemployment? The answer to that question is a definite “No”. So is there another option?
What if I keep my job and try to make it work?
This is definitely the least risky of all the options, which is why I started with it. I’ve been working on this concept for a while now to no avail. I’ve tried discussing my concerns with corporate supervisors (useless). I’ve tried talking to company employees about my expectations (useless). I’ve tried changing my mindset and persuading myself to appreciate the positive aspects of the job and accept the negative aspects. This solution worked for a while, but I am now at the point where enough is enough, and I need a bigger change.
In this transition period, while I’m trying to figure out the best course of action, my temporary solution is to travel as much as I can to give myself breaks from the job and to think of the pay checks, not as payment for my work, but as payments for tolerating the intolerable.
But the temporary solution can’t last forever. It’s time for me to make a decision about my career and my future.
That is the purpose of this site. Aside from giving myself some (much needed) therapy by blog, I hope that by chronicling my dilemmas and attempted resolutions, I will get inspiration from people who have been in similar situations, figure out the perfect solution, and possibly help other people who hate their awesome jobs. My goal is to one day say: I love my awesome job!
Signed – Anonymous (for now), November 22, 2011