Bit of a different one, but I need some advice. Or at least just a sounding board / vent as I am really struggling mentally at the moment. My apologies if it does not make much sense, its hard to write down how I am feeling.
I am 27, I have a recently bought a house with my partner, I am in a 'reasonably' paid job (Read: I live comfortably but I have to be careful). I guess I have what a lot of people want or aspire to, but I feel like I am wasting my life, looking to the future I am almost scared. It does not seem a moment ago that I was packing to go to University and now I am nearly 30!
My job is a technical one, lots of report writing, data management, engineering designs. I have worked at three companies now and at all of them I feel worthless - both from the companies and the management. I don't get any form of job satisfaction or go home saying "yes I did that". My week seems to consist of waiting for the weekend.
Recently I have just spent three weeks in Scotland (probably half the reason I feel like this!) and a lot of that was at Torridon Youth Hostel (10/10 would recommend) and I have found myself looking quite enviously at the staff there thinking they have a great job.
Its kind of made me think a bit and making me consider a career change. Something totally different, but I honestly don't know where to start or how or what. My degree is quite limiting in that is a very niche area of engineering / science (Geotechnical Engineering), so anything I do outside of this industry I will need to work up from the bottom again, which does not bother me, however it may put financial pressure on my partner.
My parents, although supportive, are very traditional in the sense that you get a job, you work for X years, then retire. My partner is similar in mindset. However I am not sure that I can spend the next X years waiting just for the weekend. On the flip side, I am in a reasonably comfortable, stable job that provides me with just enough spare money to spend on weekends away and outdoor toys.
Please don't take this the wrong way, I am incredibly grateful and lucky for what I have. I recognise there are a lot of people who would love to be in my position. However mentally I feel like I am descending this gully on a mountain that is getting narrower and steeper with each day that passes and I don't know if I should try and climb out of it (potentially onto a even steeper more dangerous side slope?) or follow the gully down past the point of no return.
It took me until my late 30's to find a job I like, I hate working for people and could never hold down a job for more than a few months after I left the Army. I've been a solider, a barman, shop assistant, laborer, steel worker, tiler and worked for pizza hut.
Now I work for myself flipping houses, I love it, work long hours including weekends and feel rewarded for my graft. My advise is to keep trying to find something you enjoy and not to settle for a job you hate.
I'm half wondering if you could you go into something vaguely natural or environmental with the 'geo' part of geotechnical engineering, if that is to do with geology?
I guess at 27 there's loads of years ahead yet, good luck figuring things out.
I think a lot of people are happy "working to live" i.e. in a job they don't hate but don't love either and looking forward to the weekend. This has its merits, and while I reasonably like my job (and it's well paid) it's not something I'd do if I inherited 10 million, if you see what I mean (not going to happen )
If you want to "live to work" that's a potentially reasonably sized jump and will typically leave you on a lower income - but there are lots of people in the outdoors industry, for example, many of whom are in that position and loving it.
You are indeed quite young and so have plenty of time to work out what to do, I guess, so take your time and do some research into what you might genuinely enjoy but won't leave you with so little money you hate life for different reasons?
As someone who isn't still young and whose weekend adventures now barely exist either I'd say you're still young, if you need a change you should try one. Your current skills and knowledge will get rusty after a while but you can always change your mind if it doesn't work out.
Good luck, jk
I'm not a qualified counsellor I am just a random internet weirdo with odd opinions and highly questionable advice. caveat emptor!
The longer you leave this, the worse it'll get. You mustn't forget you house/partner commitment and you have to be a grownup about this, but either you need to do geotechnical work in some capacity while working for yourself, which could involve a more hands-on approach if you're not yet Chartered, or start learning a trade like plumbing or something
The outdoor jobs were never about making much money and might not be near your house/partner, and those folk work had a terrible kicking from Covid so you might find getting work and sustaining a morgage very tough. Unless outdoor work is your heart's true desire I'd advise against that, despite being a very very worthwhile profession.
I've made a radical change and fresh start at a similar age to you, so it's possible. Just don't ask me what I want to be when I grow up, as I'm still not certain
You are young enough to make very major changes in your life without too much commitment for the future if your new choices don't work out. The most significant factor you have to address is your relationship with your partner and how any changes you make to your life may impact on that. It does sound to me like you need enough time and space to get some perspective. Can you arrange a period of time long enough for this; to go travelling/expedition/work in a Highland YHA/etc?
BTW I get the parental background thing. I'm a lot older than you, my Dad had two jobs in his life and this was very much the ethos and environment I grew up in. Much less prevalent for your parent's generation, which is probably my generation. I had a secure and well paying job until I was about 22 and I quit to get educated then for a few years I moved to the Highlands to work in a pub and climb all the time. Every single person from my peers to my family thought I was insane but it was the best thing I ever did as I was crushingly unhappy at my job.
Do address it, life is too short and precious to be unhappy and it is very easy to become accustomed to feeling miserable and like your life is over, to the point where it becomes normal.
I've been in the same situation and it was terrible. I think job satisfaction is important to self-concept, and so doing a job you hate is pergatory (although, like you point out, something of a first-world problem, but that doesn't make it any more bearable).
It's a difficult situation when you have strong push factors away from your current job, but no pull factors towards something else (except maybe a simpler life with a lot less money = opportunities working in a youth hostel in the Highlands). I waited around in that state of limbo for years, horribly depressed, before getting a redundancy deal out of the job I hated (civil servant) and retrained from scratch to my current career (optometrist) which I quite like and suits me much better. I'm now much less depressed.
I think it's really helpful to have had a really shit job that felt completely futile and made me suicidal. Now, when I have a bad day or something goes wrong at work and I feel stressed, I just look back and think how good I've got it. And having spent a lot of time talking to people about their jobs, wondering what to switch to, I can now imagine what it's like to be in a really stressful job like teaching or nursing which instantly puts my bad day into perspective.
So yeah, definitely change path if you're going to be miserable where you are, but don't do anything rash. Wait 'til you find the opportunity to do something that's got a good chance of working out in the long term.
I'm sorry to hear you are struggling, I have been there myself. I used to work in tax as an advisor for a big four firm and it was soul destroying, I wasn't interested and I failed my exams several times. I changed career to become an asbestos analyst / surveyor. I liked the work but didn't like my employers. After 8 years (once I knew the industry inside out and passed all the exams) I set up my own business. I work alone and absolutely love it and control all aspects of my work which has a huge effect on how I feel about my place in the world. It's not easy and quite stressful at times, but it is stressful on my terms. Ask yourself if it is the work you don't enjoy, or is it your work environment. If you like the work, stick around learn the business, build contacts and then when you are ready, go it alone. Otherwise consider a career change. If your hobby becomes your job you either lose your hobby, or if you are lucky you never work a day in your life again. But as others have said, the world is a tough place and we have to knuckle under to survive it. You have a lot of transferable skills so don't feel worthless, you are not trapped in a rut, if you can learn, which you have proved you can, then you can change to all sorts of careers. Good luck.
Are all three companies you have worked for off a similar reasonably large size?
Your unhappiness might be more about the kind of employer than the kind of employment. Would you find it more engaging to work in a start-up or high growth small business, growing with it, rather than being a small cog in the big machine?
> My parents, although supportive, are very traditional in the sense that you get a job, you work for X years, then retire. My partner is similar in mindset.
Massive liability that mindset in this day and age IMO; there are very few "jobs for life" left and yours almost certainly isn't one of them. Diversifying skills and experience goes a long way to mitigating that. How diverse you go is up to you.
Work sucks doesn't it? After struggling with this eternal question for thirty years, retraining, changing careers, changing, back, I came to the conclusion that finding a job you enjoy is like finding a clothes iron or hoover that aligns with your values. We are paid to do what others can't or would rather not do, not to do what we want to do, that's called 'the weekend'.
It sounds like you have gone from education that stimulated you. You learned all there was to be a useful geotechnician did you not? Now you find yourself doing one tiny part of the geotechnical engineering and a part probably that no one else wants to do. This is quite normal but none the less frustrating if you aren't suited to that. Before you chuck it all in why not share your malaise with your line manager. They may well be able to diversify your work and bring you back from the brink. If that fails then by all means change employer. You'll find,as i have, that the more roles you take the more in demand your skills are an in that the more meaningful you will find your work. When you have a breadth of experience you can start your own consultancy and pick and choose what you do
A further idea I've had based on this reply, is that your employers would not have employed you if you were not useful to them. A lot of employers are not very good at making this clear, you are most likely valued and useful to them, but very often this isn't communicated.
My advice would be to get something on paper on the side before you pack it all in.
My recent experience has been that as much as I want to move to something, absolutely every employer from the lowest to the highest paid jobs at all skill levels seem to want certificates for everything. And, as much as you may have these skills learned informally through colleagues or experience you will struggle to get through the shuffle unless you have certificates.
Having something on the side could allow you to have a change or break and return to a better position if it goes that way.
There is so much bad career advice on the internet, especially on YouTube. "What would you do if you didn't get paid for it" for example. Try it, no one will pay you for it. The industry with the most millionaires is dry cleaning, because nobody wants to do it.
imagine where you will be in 10 years time. After 10 years in a youth hostel you may feel rather jaded with the outdoors, especially with Torridon weather without any prospect of moving on.
with a new mortgage and relatively early stage in your career things may well be at their toughest right now. I have spent my working life in technical consultancy rolls, sometimes with large companies but mostly with smaller companies which were much more rewarding. I also managed to lose the work that was least interesting and concentrate on the more rewarding work. I decided to stay cards in the options were always there to become self employed and regulate my work/life balance. I’m now semi retired and can work as much or as little as I like.
Could you consider your career options over the next 5 years? Maybe a path that could take you to a position with more job satisfaction and independence, smaller company, self employed, complimentary area, change of location etc?
It’s a bit rubbish isn’t it. Doing a job you don’t particularly like.
However, please bear in mind that, no matter how good Torridon (or wherever else you fancy) appears, you are there on your holidays, doing something you love. The people working in the YH or the pub are working, long hours, poor pay and probably not much time off when the weather is nice. They will also have their customer service face on show. Don't underestimate how stressful these posts can actually be.
Most of the tourism related businesses in the more picturesque areas of Scotland at the moment are struggling for staff, not enough people wanting to work in seasonal, poorly paid, hard work jobs and a real problem getting accommodation.
I've also felt like this at times and I can tell you that you don't need to make a massive scary change in order to improve things.
Firstly, your happiness at work is critically impacted by your direct manager & team; even if they are ok, imagine working in a great team with a great manager. Changing jobs internally or externally but within the same field can make a massive difference.
Secondly I would consider making a partial change - e.g. I've changed industries recently and although my job title is the same as before, I am doing a completely different job. I was offered it because I have past experience for the right kind of companies, not because I have the experience of this kind of work. So you might find your transferable skills are highly valued. How about the same but in a different location?
Lastly I'd say that you can have your cake & eat it, so keep striving for a better situation. I have seen many examples of this so let that be your goal...
I've re-read this and it's a bit of waffle, apologies.
> I am 27, I have a recently bought a house with my partner, I am in a 'reasonably' paid job (Read: I live comfortably but I have to be careful). I guess I have what a lot of people want or aspire to, but I feel like I am wasting my life, looking to the future I am almost scared. It does not seem a moment ago that I was packing to go to University and now I am nearly 30!
Everyone's circumstances are different but, just on the age issue, I changed my life completely at 28, went back to university, did a degree, and a PhD and then got a research fellowship. And even after that I changed career again, although that did leverage my previous qualifications and experience.
I had just married and we bought a house together where I was going to study - but the important bit is that my wife (also a scientist) fully supported what I was doing. It was a long but satisfying journey, but it all worked out pretty well in the end.
So, there's a lot to consider, especially how this will affect your relationship, but at 27 you have plenty of time for a major course correction.
Edit: Unless you're planning to retire at 50, of course.
I've had that to some degree in all 4 of my 'real' jobs (currently 26 and done various bits of engineering from software to mechanical/industrial automation via electronics). Didn't mind the day to day but it often felt a bit pointless. It's perfectly normal, I think especially for engineer types who end up committed to a particular path part way through a levels.
Each job has been a change in direction within 'technical stuff' and my current one feels like a winner for the foreseeable, it's a energy non-profit that helps innovators and is very remote friendly so we legged it from the Midlands to the South West! I've found it pretty easy to move to a new role leveraging the stuff you enjoyed in your current one, and it's well worth broadening the net, looking at start-ups and people doing cool stuff. Also avoids starting from the bottom cause pay cuts suck.
It sounds like a medium size change rather than a complete 180 would be easier to make fit your lifestyle/situation.
What made you choose Geotechnical? Is there a new niche in there to pursue or something you enjoyed to recapture? They're will be some smaller, fresher companies to apply to. Not an expert on the sector but there's loads of cool stuff going on in the space around sustainability which comes with feel good vibes, eg dual purpose breakwaters that also support marine life. These places that struggle to find 'how to actually do it' kinda people. https://www.reshore.blue/ as an example.
Alternative I guess would be to try drop your hours down and find a part time gig doing something physical if you can afford it. There's something quite satisfying about lugging stuff around all day and knowing you don't need to think about it as soon as you hit 5pm.
At 26 I was living comfortably in Dublin, working in a bank, which at the time was great - lots of disposable income, plenty of perks etc, but yeah... not much job satisfaction. Decided to do some banking exams which really made me think "Yep, this is truly boring stuff" and thus packed my bags, moved back home to New Zealand to do a 3 year degree in outdoor education and get some outdoor pursuit quals. I remember one of my tutors at the time commented how he really respected the 'mature students' (who me?) of the group who have looked at their lives and redirected where they were going. Best decision I ever made (vocationally).
Have since moved to the UK and although not making a fortune, I work for a private estate as the Education ranger with the most wonderful team of like-minded countryside people. Can pay the mortgage and raise 2 kids with my partner only working part time.
A lot of the students that I teach ask if I get paid much for what I do, and I ask them "how much value can you put on being in a good mood on Monday, or not living for the weekend, or loving your job?" Of course they don't know what I'm talking about, and its probably just to justify my decision, but I do think there is something to be said that not all jobs pay in purely financial terms.
I used to be a finance tw*t. Then I read this. And then I did some thinking. And some more thinking.
Now I'm a teacher.
Still a tw*t.
I feel like I've been (possibly still am) in a very similar position to you (and only slightly older).
I think people feed children and young adults a lot of rubbish about how interesting and fulfilling they are going to find work, but very little practical advice on actually finding work that delivers on those promises. Particularly the more academic kids that end up going to uni imo get pigeonholed without any consideration of whether some kind of vocational course might actually suit them better (eg I have a friend who ended up doing an apprenticeship with Network Rail and now has a pretty decent job which has always been more laid back than what I've done as a graduate, getting to see the work he does have a real impact, and doing a variety of interesting things while getting paid more (noting however that he sometimes gets a bit bored with how little space there is for him to actually 'think') - I do sometimes wonder if I should have done something like that, but it was simply never on my radar). As you get older you realise that probably a majority of adults find their work limiting, frustrating, and unfulfilling to a greater or lesser extent. As is the case on social media that's not what you see on the face of things though - people you don't know very well will tell you their job is great and they love x y and z about it, and then once you've got to know them a bit better you'll find out that actually they're pretty ambivalent or even negative about it and only stay where they are to keep the family fed etc.
To some extent I think choice can be a curse. In previous generations you might have trained for your chosen job and then settled in, knowing that this was probably your place for the rest of your life (and you'd probably already have a kid or two to think of too). However these days moving career is much more common, and switching track seems like much more of a possibility (as long as you aren't bound by family or some other commitment). This can lead to endless 'what if...' scenarios thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
I don't think there are any easy answers. You have to try and work out what you actually want from a job, and be realistic about the options. Eg working in a youth hostel in Scotland certainly has some appeal, but realistically how do you think you'd feel after doing it for a year, and would the poor pay end up nagging at you?
Just try and consider the options carefully. Be realistic about your prospects and what a job in your current area and a different area would actually be like. If you're not sure what might be possible then try and find blogs, magazines etc to read and try to parse out the reality of the situation from the puff. Also I know you say you've worked at three companies, but try and work out if part of what you don't like is actually about work conditions or management in your current employer rather than the job itself - if so then may be worth looking at others companies. If they've all been similar sorts of companies (eg large consultancies or prime contractor type firms) then could you try working somewhere a bit different for a while (eg a smaller company where you may find the work and management style more to your taste)?
Also remember that wherever you go it'll be the same 'you'. Could some of what you're feeling be due to how you're processing the situation you're in or how you respond to working in any environment, and might you end up feeling the same way in a different career?
Could some of what you're feeling be projected from your personal life onto your work life? Eg could you be lacking in social contact or interesting hobbies outside of work?
No easy answers. In my case I left engineering last year and went to work elsewhere, starting at an entry level position in a large organisation in the environmental sector - so far I do prefer it to what I was doing, but at the same time it's not the fulfilling job I was sold at school, but it's a lot easier to deal with on a day to day basis and doesn't have many of the negative things I actively disliked about what I used to do. I still sort of wonder whether I'll end up switching track again in a little while and maybe trying to get into some kind of trade, or possibly back into a different sort of engineering... We'll see.
Some people recommend books like 'your best year yet' (Jinny Ditzler) to help you think through things like this. Might be worth having a look.
Reading through these replies I am beginning to wonder whether the malaise is reallyy about becoming middle aged. When we are young we or at least I really enjoyed my job because I was free to pursue other interests for the other 61 waking hours of the week.. That involved socializing with my colleagues, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, climbing outside late into summer evenings and mountain biking all over the south of England with friends. Middle age is far less interesting not with standing the joys of parenthood. How bad would you find your job if you still participated in some of the activities you have dropped out of over the years? I don't mean to brag but I am 51 and still regularly climbing outdoors, engaged in a climbing club and in a social bouldering group. I also sail weekly through six months of fine weather and watch my children flourish at the sports they participate in. So true my job has become mundane but I don't really care as life is good. Can you reconnect with fun outside of work?
Wait until your late sixties and you have to rely on the state pension and no house. I never became a guide because of this, but that said I know many guides who have done very well, quite often with interests outside of guiding, but utilising the quali. A good lifestyle, just not for me.
Its one of the quirks of life that you generally either have a job with lots of money, but no time to really enjoy it, or a job with lots of time, but no money to do much with it... or sadly there are those with no time or money who have it even harder.
I have chosen the not much money but lots of time route, but make it work by living in my playground (the alps) so dont need to spend any money or waste any time getting here! Its not sustainable for ever, sooner or later i need to put some money aside to retire on. but for now i have no dependents and nothing to tie me to one place, and i'm young enough that retiring is a distant problem for another day.
for what its worth, i have a science PhD and could have gone down the career path, earning a tidy sum, but i have chosen life over a career.
I had a nearly midlife crisis in my mid 30's, before going to uni (having a break before doing 2 hours), a friend asked if I was, I paused and said 'Yeah', to which he said 'H'ray', which suddenly (and strangely) diffused the whole thing.
First of all, well done for getting it off your chest, bottling it up doesn't help. Advice from random internet strangers has to be taken with a bucket of salt but should at least give a spectrum of answers!
I'm a few years older than you but had almost the opposite problem in my mid twenties. Finished university during the recession and couldn't get the graduate job I was desperately after, it felt like a failure (in fairness, I only just scraped through my exams).
I ended up working in numerous hotels and hostels, mainly in the lakes but also elsewhere, always somewhere mountainous and beautiful. I got into climbing, winter climbing, fell running and generally having an amazing time outside of work making great friends along the way.
However the hours were long and the pay crap. See my posting history for a doom and gloom fest, or perhaps don't! 3-4 years into short term contracts and never getting paid more than a complete green starter despite my experience making me twice as valuable it really started to bother me. I realised that I would never afford a house or pension. I retrained and now have a much higher paying career with a decent amount of job satisfaction.
If you feel frustrated now, that'll only be 100 times worse doing a hostel job once the novelty of the location wears off. Some people manage to do summer seasons followed by travelling or ski chalet work then repeat it the next year. They are genuinely happy and have a great life BUT they are permanently skint. I only know a handful of people who did it beyond their late twenties.
I would suggest do fewer hours (3-4 days a week) on less pay and see where the balance is.
I won't give advice on your relationship as everyone has a different dynamic, but talking it through is important.
I get you. I remember waking up at much the same point in my life, having done my first proper job for 6 years and thinking "Is this it?".
Shortly after this realisation my OH and I got working visas for Australia and came back 3 years later. The financial hit for both of us was significant but the shared experiences were the bed rock of what I hope is a relationship to last our lives. If you do 3 months farm/hospitality work you could perhaps use your skills to do some 'proper' work for the rest of the time, who knows where it might lead?
Whilst out there I became acquainted with the brutal reality of farm work, and hotel work, and it was an amazing moment when someone offered to pay me significantly more per hour to sit at a desk and hit a keyboard : )
> I would say people seem to regret more what they have not done, than what they have done. Be brave.
I've heard that a few times over the years, and I've often wondered about it.
Is is something that's said by a small number of successful people for whom the risks have paid off, and we never hear from a larger number who have really ****ed their lives, health or relationships up by not weighing up the consequences?
Or maybe I'm just justifying my own mediocrity?
I've always thought 'But hold on a mo...' too, it's better to think things through, I often think.
2 things I've done, I definitely regret. I think it can be something people say but don't embody in how they live.
Some great replies here I didn't know ukc could be so wholesome...
30 is nothing to be scared of, my 30s except the covidy bits have been better than my 20s, bear in mind that we've all just been through two of the shittest years in living memory so you're absolutely justified in feeling a bit lost.
As a counter point to lots of the posters here, I think geotechnical engineering is potentially a great career path and encourage you not to pack it in, it travels really well, it'll never go obsolete, and if you play your cards right, get chartered etc, you're pretty certain to be earning pretty decent money is a few years. Perhaps you've been unlucky with projects/managers (of course of you're truly miserable doing it and can see no salvation, pack it in!)
Have you considered the possibility of saving and taking a sabbatical doing things you and your partner love doing? I did this aged 29, spent all my savings and travelled the world for 18 months, it was the best thing i ever did.
Not much help, but don't get too hung up the job thing. Try something else but don't start from the bottom, you're better than that.
Look forwards and upwards. May not be higher pay or it may involve more travel, but look for something interesting i.e better. Take a summer out and work at youth hostel (rent your house out to cover expenses), while you make your next move, use it as a stepping stone for your next one, and don't think of the next one as the end, just another step.
Partners can be a tough one. Its difficult enough to keep a positive mind set for yourself, more than double the hassle when you've go to drag someone else along for the ride.
My son keeps saying he wants to follow me into being a construction civil engineer. This scares the sh#t out of me and have limited time to find something he will enjoy. Presently going to try flying lessons but I need to start thinking of back ups. He has the same not give a sh#te as I did though. I worked as a labourer until mid twenties then did a degree in Civil engineering although I had to build qualifications to gain entry. It was a real baptism of fire working on some of my first large jobs and there was a sense of using climbing skills to hold the fear and dismiss all the doubters surrounding you. The mad thing was I always wanted to be an outdoor instructor but didn't have the qualifications needed back then. It was easier to be a school teacher. Nuts.
I now work permanently on a nuclear decommissioning site where there is no pressure (it ain't going quickly). 4 day week and 3 miles from the house. Boring as f#ck though. It's best for family though.
I suppose my point is your young but when you have a family things will change so time to act is in your twenties as that big door will probably shut soon.
> > I would say people seem to regret more what they have not done, than what they have done. Be brave.
> I've heard that a few times over the years, and I've often wondered about it.
> Is is something that's said by a small number of successful people for whom the risks have paid off, and we never hear from a larger number who have really ****ed their lives, health or relationships up by not weighing up the consequences?
> Or maybe I'm just justifying my own mediocrity?
Possibly, possibly not. I suspect the OPs and maybe many climbers problem, is that their leisure time can be so amazing, the contrast with their Normal life is so marked that it can cause discontentment. Its pretty much the opposite of what I believe the Buddhist way to be, which is no highs, therefore no lows, just placid level contentment.
Many peoples problem, and possibly the OPs, is they do not really know what they want, so they cannot set out a clear life plan to get there.
Yes thats a big problem, knowing what you want, if you do not know that, you might not even realise you already have it.
Take the next year and focus on finding a job in your area in another country. If you are GeoTech I would suggest mining in Australia, Africa or South America. Rent out your house when you are gone and you will make a ball of money get to travel and still have a place to come back to if you want.
There is one warning I want to add. I made one of my main hobbies and passions my job. It's one I enjoy immensely. While there are the obvious upsides to that, there are huge downsides too:
That's not to say you shouldn't try change, just adding some more information.
It's something I've always struggled with myself, and still think about it on a daily basis, and your analogy of the mountain gully sums up my own thoughts on it very well. There are no easy answers, and I can only offer my own experience, coming from a similar engineering background as you.
I did a mechanical engineering apprenticeship in the early noughties (working in aerospace), finishing it and qualifying at 23. I absolutely hated it. I yearned for a complete change into something that would be low paid, but enjoyable, but after a very brief foray into youth work (I quickly rescinded my resignation from my engineering job) I realised that such a move didn't tally with saving for a house deposit and so pragmatically, it didn't seem like an option to me at that time, and so I felt completely stuck. In 2008, at the age of 25, I eventually made more of a sideways move into construction planning, which was a big improvement on engineering in terms of work enjoyability. In 2011 with 2 years experience under my belt, I left my permanent job, and started working on a freelance/contract basis (which was a massive breath of fresh air). I've found over the past 13 or so years that whilst my job is not what I would call enjoyable, the combination of the work being an improvement over engineering work, and working freelance/contract, made it very 'tolerable'.
Over the years I've also come to appreciate (especially given recent and current events) that many (most?) people hate their jobs and are poorly paid, and to have a career which was 'tolerable' (fantastic pay, great work-life balance, plentiful work), is overall not a bad place to be. One key point of note that I recently learnt, is that I find this work 'tolerable' only on a contract/freelance basis. The pandemic briefly forced me back into permanent employment, and after going into it open minded, and trying out two different employers (8 months at each), it was unbearable, and since Dec I've been back freelance/contract, so I'm now back in my 'tolerable' zone.
However, I've noticed that this 'tolerable' zone for me is getting narrower (at the age of 38, it seems like I'm heading back down that mountain gully so to speak), even on a freelance/contract basis, and with each contract it's all edging closer and closer to becoming unbearable again. I still feel I've got a couple of years left in me doing this before reaching that point though, and so I'm currently planning a second career change, this time either to something totally different entirely, or a mixed approach (dropping down this work to 2-3 days a week, combined with doing something totally different part-time on top of it). The big difference this time, is that I've been able to earn enough money (combined with living within my means) to give me a lot of freedom to choose what I do next, as money now won't be so much of a restricting factor that it was when I was younger, I've kind of bought back my freedom to choose my own path the way I see it.
So I've found that there are no easy answers overall, but I guess my advise would be not to rush into anything, do your research, and first see if there is anything that you can do similar to what I did, for example look to see if you can work freelance/contract doing what you do now, or make a sideways move into something broadly related, but different enough to make it more sustainable for you, or like I did, and do both.
I am honestly taken back by all the posts, suggestions, personal experiences and food for thought that has been generated by this. It goes to show what a wonderful community this is. Its nice to know that there are others who feel the same / have felt the same. Having been surrounded by people with a 'stiff upper lip' attitude I felt quite alone so its relieving to know that I am not alone in how I feel.
One point really rang true earlier in that what we do (climbing, mountaineering, outdoorsy stuff) is incredibly fast paced, highly physical, highly emotional (thinking you are going to to fall off the Cullin for 12 hours take a lot out of you!) and compare that to my day job (generally desk based). The difference in pace is crazy and I think that makes it feel worse than it is.
On a slight diversion, when I drive for a long period of time I get this weird sensation when I stop (someone please tell me I am not alone!?). After driving for nearly 9 hours straight on Monday from Scotland to Home I had it really bad. I was sat in our living room still feeling like I was traveling along at 70, it makes me almost feel queasy.
To me this is a similar 'come down' feeling I get about 10am on Monday after an epic weekend.
Having read all your comments I have decided that I should not do anything rash. Compared to what I could be doing I have a fairly easy ride and having that allows me to take stock, think and act on what I actually want for the future and not rush into something that will potentially result in a backwards step in several ways. Like many of you have said you often only see the good points of jobs and not the negative side.
An option I have toyed with a few years ago was subcontracting. Its not something I have actually thought about for a long time, but this thread has made me think about it again. For Geologist / Geo-technical engineers there is often scope for short contracts (and some longer ones) - naturally the work is hit and miss depending on the economy etc., but from what I have heard it can pay quite well. This interspersed with more physical ad-hoc work (farm / hostel etc) when there are not the contracts / I need a break may be a perfect balance. However it would require being proactive on my own side.
I frequently disliked my job, sometimes hated it, to the point I jacked it in and "retired" early. Now, oddly, enough it's my main hobby (after climbing). Turns out it was just working with people I hated. Funny thing life....
> On a slight diversion, when I drive for a long period of time I get this weird sensation when I stop (someone please tell me I am not alone!?). After driving for nearly 9 hours straight on Monday from Scotland to Home I had it really bad. I was sat in our living room still feeling like I was traveling along at 70, it makes me almost feel queasy.
Minds are weird things, I genuinely heard a musical brother playing his Irish whistle so often, that I once lay in bed one morning listening to him playing it, and got up to find he wasn't in.
...'Oh'. Nothing I could do other than get on with my day.
Similar advice to that which I gave on the other thread. Think very carefully. You have a good job in a well paid sector.
Yes playing out is more fun but is it wise to trade what you have in for a "cool" min wage job? Also be careful of your hobby becoming your job, you can end up resenting your hobby.
Try to manage your position first. You could aim for early retirement, you could aim for part time working or a combination of both. Take any development opportunities offered and make the job fit you. None of this will happen overnight.
At 27,you are realising that there is a reason you are paid to work, you would not do it otherwise. Accept this and spend your earnings on enjoyment.
This is probably not the answer you wanted to hear.
And there goes Joe Strummer again...
Not so different as you think dude! I'm 33 now, almost out the other side of this and I have several friends with similar feelings.
You sound like me in 2016/2017. 28 with a very stable, very successful but very niche career, own flat etc but an overwhelming feeling of "F*ck, another 40 years of groundhog day" After a good two years wasted telling myself I had it good and plenty of people would give a kidney to have what I had and to stop being so silly I sucked it up, took the plunge and retrained as a paramedic.
All I regret is not doing it 5 years earlier (Not least as in Scotland this would have meant being paid a salary to train rather than taking three years off to do a BSc working two jobs to fund it.........).
My advice it work out what you might want to do, plan things meticulously and try and build up a cash buffer before you take the plunge (appreciate this was easier a few years ago when I was in this position)
If you don't have kids to worry about I'd say don't waste any time, find your direction and get on with it, obviously having dependants complicates things. That said there were several mature students with kids in my year that excelled rather than just managed.
Feel free to drop me an email!
> At 27,you are realising that there is a reason you are paid to work, you would not do it otherwise. Accept this and spend your earnings on enjoyment.
> This is probably not the answer you wanted to hear.
> And there goes Joe Strummer again...
I can't agree with this.
Spent most of my 20s doing exactly this and all it led to was unhappiness.
Purely going by what's written in the OP Skight1995 is likely in the best position in their entire life to take control of the situation.
I second Jon's comment about not doing anything rash. May be find a way of getting more balance between work and your outdoor life but that may not get rid off the niggly feeling in the long term.
After 22 years in the civil service and 3 years of being unhappy, stressed and depressed I took a 2 year career break last year and became a gardener. I am much happier - the work, being my own boss and getting real satisfaction from what I do suits me a whole lot better. I had very modest hopes for how it would work financially but its has covered my food and bills from the get go which is great.
That said cost of living increase is eating. away at the ability to build up disposable income and I'm not sure I will be going on away this year. That's before I think about dull stuff like pension. The other thing is physically its demanding and I turn 50 this year, so part of me wonders how my body will cope in the long term (currently I have monthly sports massage lol).
Overall I'm glad I am trying it. It may be that I end up going back to the snivel service next year so I'm glad I took the career break rather than just resigning. I can't see myself ever regretting trying it out!
I used to work for the YHA in my twenties, in the Lakes and in North Wales. It was a way of living in those places and at the time really enjoyable. Like most jobs there were down sides, the noise and 24/7 nature of the work, 80 teenagers and their stressed teachers can make some racket! Not all hostels are the same, Scottish ones generally don't provide meals, some won't get big school groups. Most people I worked with were great, plenty of opportunities to share outdoor pursuits, some are still friends 30 years later. Most assistants were in their twenties, progress was easy if you wanted to run your own place. Times have changed in the YHA I'm sure but if you want to move to a stunning location it provides a institutionalised way of doing so, no more bills...some people used it as some time out before moving on. I remember working with a vet, a teacher, a aerospace engineer, an ex Butlins redcoat, etc. Sometimes the work was dull, but the people weren't.
Anyway, best of luck. Gareth
> and i'm young enough that retiring is a distant problem for another day.
You might want to reconsider that - everyone I know over 50 wishes they'd planned for their retirement better i.e. started putting money into a pension earlier. Also, everyone I know who retired early says it was the best thing they ever did, and everyone who didn't says they wished they had.
> I ended up working in numerous hotels and hostels, <snip>> However the hours were long and the pay crap. See my posting history for a doom and gloom fest, or perhaps don't! 3-4 years into short term contracts and never getting paid more than a complete green starter despite my experience making me twice as valuable it really started to bother me. I realised that I would never afford a house or pension. I retrained and now have a much higher paying career with a decent amount of job satisfaction.
I think the only decent long-term game in the hospitality industry is to own your own business or be in management - be the landlord in a pub, or chef-proprietor of a restaurant, own a café / mountain hut in Europe or manage a hotel. Working contracts is never going to pay.
> You might want to reconsider that - everyone I know over 50 wishes they'd planned for their retirement better i.e. started putting money into a pension earlier. Also, everyone I know who retired early says it was the best thing they ever did, and everyone who didn't says they wished they had.
Perhaps my Dad is an anomaly, he retired in his late 60's and was/is happy with the timing of things.
no, id rather have free time now while i am young and fit enough to make the most of it and work until i am 80. whats the point of having loads of free time when you are physically past your best?
> you cheeky whippersnapper. I’m in my mid 60’s and doing more than ever and there are many like me, and glad I can afford to semi retire
I'm old enough to know what I want to do now with my free time...free time in my 20s was wasted on my immature and alcohol-obsessed mind. I dread to think what I'd have been like if I hadn't had to work!!
I'm still working now and sympathize with the OP's position. I sometimes wonder if I could have a better job (the rest of my life is fine) and then things happen which remind me how lucky I am. I think about all the positive things about where I work (salary, short commute, some working from home, good friends/colleagues, sometimes it's even not interminably dull...sometimes).
Doesn't stop me wondering though. The job I most desire at the moment is working as a gardener or grounds person at a National Trust property or similar...but I only go to those places on nice days and I doubt the salary is much to talk about. I feel most tempted when my current job becomes too stressful. I'm particularly sensitive to office politics, have imposter syndrome and low self-confidence so it can happen quite easily. I'll end up sleeping poorly and it becomes a little vicious circle until either a good day happens or the weekend breaks it up then I'm ok again. I work on ways to avoid the stress triggers so it happens less often. When you've been working in a particular field for a long time, you often end up in a more senior position than you'd actually like or are suited to, so one thing I'm considering is climbing back down a rung and/or moving sideways to something I'd be more comfortable with...but then I have a good day and think maybe I can do this! Argh!