Career - What Would You Do?

Updated on July 07, 2011
M.R. asks from Chicago, IL
35 answers

Current situation: After 15 years into your gig you have a job that pays six figures, is a fairly easy job. You're tenured and there is very little chance of getting whacked since there are at least a dozen hires below you. You get breaks and summers off. Your work environment is supportive and nurturing and your boss rocks. However, you're exceptionally bored at your job and the passion you used to have has been snuffed out. You feel like your talents and skills could be more beneficial in another field and you simply cannot imagine doing the same thing for the next 20 years - it's an overwhelming thought. You've tried branching out in other areas that include leadership and development but nothing has really panned out.

Future situation: Given your age and family situation, you're still able to pursue a career in a field of interest and switch gears completely. You may have to take out student loans to pay for it but that isn't a huge deal. You'll be out of work for nearly 2 years - i.e. you won't be providing the family with any income, which will limit what you as a family can do. You're very excited about this career opportunity and the thought of being mentally challenged and really making a difference in peoples' lives gets you all fired up again. Your profession is in high demand and you will likely be hired upon completion of your program. However, when you do finish your program your starting salary will be nearly half of what you make now. Furthermore, your schedule may not be as neat and predictable as it has been in the past and you won't have the flexibility that you have with your current job.

Basically it boils down to - would you take a huge pay cut and big job change to pursue something you find challenging and fulfilling...or do you stay with the safe, financially secure option that you're good at even though you know you're burnt out?

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the help! This is definitely a lot to think of and a very tough decision.

And just to add - E.M.: Thank you for understanding what it is like living in the city of Chicago or the Chicagoland area (as in, how stupidly expensive it is :) )

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K.A.

answers from Cleveland on

When you are 80 and look back what will you think?
How old are your kids?

In Europe it is more the culture to have a manageable job and then find fulfillment outside of work with family, friends, and hobbies. If that idea doesn't appeal to you than you have your answer.

5 moms found this helpful
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B.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Live frugally and only spend the money you would make after taxes in your new "fulfilling" job. See if you like that. If you do like living on that income, then work and save until you have enough money saved to live and not take out student loans while you are getting re-educated.

This is all with the understanding that your spouce agrees with the diminished income and your new career field. If your spouce agrees, then save and go for it. BTW, try and get a part time job in your new career field to see if you really like it as much as think you may like it now. Sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. When you get there the lush lawn turns out to be astro turf.

I stayed in a job I grew to hate for 20+ years so I could provide for my family. What you want to do comes after what you can to do if the want to do job doesn't provide for your family.

Good luck to you and yours.

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E.E.

answers from Youngstown on

Dont quit. Take a sabbatical. It might renew your passion and it would give you time to pursue other options

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J.F.

answers from Nashville on

I think your post says exactly what you should do. You clearly are very excited about a new opportunity. If you don't take it, will you regret it? Money is not everything. Being personally fulfilled and enjoying your job is probably more beneficial to your family than a bigger paycheck.

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N.H.

answers from Harrisburg on

I'd switch. Sounds like you're toasted at your job.

BUT I'd work another year and live on one income and sock away the dough to pay CASH for my education. With a 6 figure income there's no reason to go the student loan route.

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E.M.

answers from Chicago on

Well, I am in a VERY similar boat. 15+yrs. in the biz and close to six figures, but not really fulfilled any longer. I'm just mentally taking the plunge into finding the right program as far as school goes. I know I will be making half of what I'm making coming out of school, but I'm okay with that. The big problem is I don't know how we're going to afford it while I'm in school. I plan on getting a part-time job to help a little.

I'm a little disheartened by the quick judgements people are making about a six-figure salary, though. If you live in the city, that doesn't go very far after two mortgages (because of housing slump), food, clothing, child care, etc. We are really not putting anything away. But we are somehow going to find a way to do it. I hope you will too.

It helped me to ask around and find resources to help you in the field you are interested in. People have been so helpful. It has gotten me so excited about starting a new career!

Also, we will hit the budget cutting soon in order to put some money away. Try to see how far we can go on closer to one income. Good luck, I hope you find your passion again!

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J.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

.

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J.M.

answers from Boston on

I agree with the poster below - live for at least 3 months on your "new" salary before making the choice. It's one thing to hypothetically cut your income in half, its another thing to be standing in the grocery store stressed out because milk went up by $.50/gallon. That old job might not look so bad.

There is, of course, option C - figure out what you can do to get reenergized about your old career. People get reenergized about their marriages all the time - it's about finding that old passion and ignoring the crappy parts. That might be the best of both worlds.

Good luck.

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

I think everyone deserves the ability to work at a job that they don't hate.

That being said, I'm not trying to be critical, but if you're making 100,000+ per year (i.e: "six-figures") and you can't save up money to pay for schooling and for the possibility of having no job for 2 years, I think you need to take a step back:
Take a step back and look at your living situation and your budget. On $100,000 per year, you should be able to cut back on expenses and save plenty of money to pay for your schooling and set money aside to help with expenses/budgetary needs for the family for the 2 year period when you would not be working.

So, I think you should set a plan and a budget to work toward your goal and save the money you need from your current salary in the next 3 to 5 years (and yes, you'll probably have to make some pretty strict/unpopular cuts in the family budget) to save for your education and survival needs of your family.

Good luck in your decision.

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J.O.

answers from Chicago on

Burnt out mamma is a very unhappy mamma. Go for it!! Life needs to for fulling if you have to downsize or go out to eat less then you do what makes you happy! Good Luck.
J.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

That is a tough question to answer but, I would have to say that it depends on the person facing it. Some people do the same old same old "safe" position because it is easier. The problem is that they become miserable people because the mental stimulation is gone. If you thrive on challenge and need a career that you can't wait to get to in the morning, then go for the change, as long as your family is on board. Money isn't everything, it does not buy happiness and is not there for you emotionally. You and your family will have to make some sacrifices so talk to them about how they feel. When you become bored with your every day situation every one around you suffers too. So life is short, do what makes you happy.

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T.N.

answers from Albany on

I wish I had half the motivation and balls that you do...

When you go for it, I will be your loudest cheeleader!

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L.W.

answers from Detroit on

I will take a chance but it has to be at the right time for me and the family,I have been contemplating the same situation (My job is a blessing to me and my family) and I am going to step out with my family's support and do what it takes in order to be able to do what I love and call it work. So i say outside looking in GO FOR IT!

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S.W.

answers from Amarillo on

Yes you have itchy feet and want to explore. I think a lot of this desire comes after having children. You give birth and a whole new world opens up with many, many possibilities.

As several posters have mentioned that in this day and age it is best to be bored and employed than creative and broke. We all want to do something in a different field around this time frame. Is there a market for the new skill set that you are going after? Will this market still be there when you have completed your schooling? Will the extra school assure you that you will have a job? I have a cousin who has two adult single children around your age with masters degrees one has been out of work for two years who has used friends, networks, agencies and the like who moved back home. The other was in marketing management promotional events and finally got a job with a liquior company after a year long search.

No matter what they are saying it is not a bed of roses it's not even a bed of nails out there. It is going to take at least another 8 to 10 years to get out of this hole or more. Try to volunteer in this other field to see if it is really the right thing. I say this because once you are out of the work force you may not get back in the work force. The higher the education you get does not guarantee you any job. Sometimes it may limit your chances to get a job. (I will get off of that soapbox.)

But you are the captain of your ship and you must chart a course and continue I just hope you don't run into any rocks.

The other S.

PS How about some hobbies to stir up the senses?

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A.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Is there a way you can take this year during your vacations and summer and shadow or volunteer someone in the career you are thinking of? Just to be SURE you are willing to switch and give up all you have? Or maybe the volunteer work or side job might be enough to give you the fullfillment you are looking for while keeping your current job. I ask because I might just be working in the field in which you are thinking of (though I am now a full time mom for the time being) and honestly...it looked A LOT better before I actually worked in it for several years. Most careers can burn you out or bore you eventually. I'd rather be bored in a 6 figure job! LOL
I compare it to "behind the scenes in a restaurant"...it might look like a 5 star restaurant and it might look glitzy and appealing and awe inspiring from the outside...but when you get in the kitchen, you can start seeing the cockroaches, the unwashed hands, the dropped food put back on the plate, etc. Eww...not looking so appealing or exciting anymore.
When I eventually go back to work, I hope to find something related though not exactly what I trained for, even though I have A LOT of student loans to pay back...just because that awesome rose of a career, challenging, degrees, title, respect, knowledge...really had more thorns than I ever imagined.
Good luck in what you decide to do...but in the end, remember, we get one time around on this earth...figure out what really means the most to you. (My old job was not very flexible and there could be shift work and call, etc....I chose my family over my career and have never been happier!)

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J.B.

answers from Atlanta on

I don't know how old your children are -for me that would make a big difference. Are they older, in school and more self-sufficient or are they still really little? I applaud you for wanting to pursue something new and stimulating, but this is how I would think of it. Travel and vacation time is VERY important to me, especially right now with two small children. Not only do we love to take them places, but we like being able to afford it AND I like being able to take time off at holidays to spend extra time with them. To me, that is worth staying in a job that allows me to do those things instead of taking one where I might not get much time off at all -especially the first several years.

Absolutely live for 4-6 months on what your NEW salary would be -and not a penny more -to make sure you're happy and it's still doable and you're comfortable! Are you still able to save for retirement, emergencies, etc?

Depending on how you feel about time off, how living on the "new" salary is and how old your children are -that's what would make my decision. For me personally right now with a 2 and 4 year old -no, I wouldn't do it -but in 10- years I very well may.

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C.

answers from Hartford on

M.R.
I am doing it right now (I have enrolled in a program to be trained for a new career). I am scared and excited. I know my lifestyle will have to change a little, but I think it will be worth it to find more satisfaction in my work. My only real concern is my husband. He says that he supports my decision, but I don't think he likes the change in income. But I know that I can't make my family happy unless I feel happy.
Good luck with whatever decision you choose.
C.

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P.O.

answers from Harrisburg on

You're writing my story except for the 6 figure part. I don't know your age, but if you're close to 40 or over, you're at the point where you want to do something fulfilling and what will make an impact on your life and future. Sometimes we need to go out on the limb and take a chance. Weigh the pros and cons of each. I personally don't want to do the same "comfy" thing for the next 20 yrs and then look back and say, I am 60yrs old and haven't accomplished my dreams. I have seen many folks at that age who regret pursuing their passion and was miserable after they were too old to do it again. There is something in each of us that want to pursue what we came on earth to do, and with a purpose. If that's your purpose, and you feel that you can make ends meet, then do what is fulfilling for you. You will feel better at 60, 70 knowing you did the right thing.

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P.W.

answers from Dallas on

I'd wait 6 months and re-evaluate. If you still feel the same go for it, but sometimes we get in emotional ruts and decide we need something, when that isn't what it is at all. However.......if you are feeling confident, and your partner is on board, then go for it.

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K.Z.

answers from New York on

To be perfectly honest, more people should have your drive and ambition in this world. Too many of us get caught in the doldrums of societal expectations and lose sight of what is most important.

I did something very similar to what you are considering. I left my non-profit job and started my own business. It's been hard. Very hard. We've had to cut corners and scrimp sometimes. But I love what I'm doing. I'm excited about going to work every day. My business doesn't make a whole lot of money (not yet, it will someday), but money can't buy happiness.

Before pursuing this new career, is it possible to save as much as you can so you have a cushion to protect your family from any financial implications? And is your family supporting you in this career change? If they are, then I wouldn't think twice. I'd do it.

Good luck!

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K.H.

answers from Chicago on

You only have one life to live and it already flies by too fast. In addition to changing careers for your own happiness, you will also be a role model for your children....plus I would imagine that you will be a happier mom. Good luck and have fun! :)

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R.J.

answers from Seattle on

I'm rather fond of splitting the difference. Esp as far as school is concerned. I'm in my 30's I'm not going to be super sexy academic allstar no matter WHAT my GPA is. So since I don't care about "prestige" I do school part time. Yeah so what I'm not going to be a Rhodes candidate? (That'll go to the 17yo or 22yo taking 18 credits and studying 20 hours a day and interning and in sports and in and in and in ... ditto other "prestigious" things that s-s-a-a's all fight/ compete for). Instead I get to leverage the fact that I actually know what I want to do in my life and my experience.

So PERSONALLY, what I would do is to take one or two classes at a time for a bit, or go full load over the summer (I say this because this is what I do). It allows me to have my cake and eat it too.

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E.C.

answers from Chicago on

That's a tough call. I would do whatever is best for your mental and physical health.

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C.G.

answers from Chicago on

I think this is something we all face at some point in our lives. We are challenged by the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, but doing so can be a scary thing. Is it better to dance with the devil you know or to take a risk with the one that you don't? I have been there...I left a career of 12 years to launch my own business. I was making a lot of money, had great job security and was at a point where I knew I could write my own ticket. But I wanted more. And I was starting a family. I wanted to work on my own terms and not be a slave to the man, no matter how good the man may have been. What helped me sort it all out was working with a life coach. I strongly believe that you should not make such a life altering decision without truly exploring all aspects of it, and a life coach helped me to do that. I would highly recommend finding someone like this to help you through this process. You won't regret it.

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

M.R.,

Go for it :)

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J.S.

answers from Seattle on

I personally would keep my job as I developed my business. A business has a much bigger return with in 183 days you could be making your six figure income again. I absolutely enjoy my business, it's about helping people, very rewarding.... I am looking for a person who is motivated & positive, I want to expand my business & collaborate with you. This business is with a company that is 10 years debt free and growing. According to Mr. Trump small businesses are exactly what will pull this economy out of the slump. I have figured out how to keep my business over head under a $100 a month. If you are interested weather you are going back to school or want to keep your job for a little while longer as you grow your business & collaborate with me, contact me anytime. I am anxious to work with you, I wouldn't even share this here except that this a great gift that was shared with me & although I was skeptical I am glad I researched it because it is the best thing out there right now, with an amazing $$ return for the small amount of time required to launch and operate.

I.B.

answers from Saginaw on

The grass is always greener...
I agree with what Jane M said below (ie, try living for a while on your projected income- you'll find out if it can be done, and you'll save money for tuition). Also, I agree with the mommas who are pointing out that in this economy, you're lucky to have a job that pays handsomely.

Maybe it's not my place to say this, because I have a job that I find both challenging and rewarding (I'm a veterinarian), but I do think that people should not expect to get fulfillment from work or other external sources. I believe that fulfillment comes from within. I like the quote, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." It's often more appropriate to change your attitude than to change your situation.

Finally, I agree with the mommas who are saying that if you can't afford right now to save money for tuition despite a 6 figure salary, now is probably not a good time to consider giving up that salary. If you have multiple mortgages, maybe consider renting out a property or working with a land contract situation. If you have multiple cars with leases, wait until they're paid off, or maybe even sell a new vehicle to pay cash for a used one. Are the kids in private schools or enrolled in expensive classes? Are these things necessary? If you can't make any changes like these, how can you expect to live on half your current salary, and make payments on student loans too?

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M.L.

answers from Detroit on

I would like to speak with you. I am a Job placement Manager in my full time job. I would like to know some more information. What is your career now? And what do you want to? A career change is not easy. I have several students that I work with that make career transfers from automotive to IT. I am having a very difficult time finding many of the students jobs because employers want someone with experience. Are you sure the change is going to be easy where you are able to find employment? Please e-mail [email protected] [email protected]____.com

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M.G.

answers from Dallas on

I would definately keep my job if I were you! I think you would regret leaving such a good paying tenured teaching job with so much time off!!! I think you are so lucky to have a wonderful income and not even try that hard to earn your living. That seems like a dream situation to me. How I envy you! I think you should put your energy toward something else, like a hobby, and forget about starting a new career. Instead of going back to school to get a job that pays you half of what you currently earn, take those dance lessons you always wanted to take, or take those Spanish classes you always wanted to take, or take piano lessons, or join a book club, or travel during all of your time off, etc. etc. etc!!!! There is more to life than getting a new career. You can just as easily get a new hobby and keep your awesome salary. I really, really think you will regret a career change that won't pay as much. You are accustomed to your life style, and cutting your salary in half doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps you can volunteer at whatever kind of job you are considering switching to. If that isn't possible, then volunteer somewhere else, like a hospital or nursing home where you will truly be helping people and making a difference in their lives. Focus your energy somewhere else other than a new career.

D.M.

answers from Denver on

I was just wondering what transpired from October until now. Did you stay with your high paying job?

I think I would want to feel more fulfilled and have less income. Tough decision.

D. M.
The Baby Tender
Evolv Health Coach
email: [email protected]____.com
website on health: EvolvingWorldwide.com

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K.D.

answers from Atlanta on

Why not do both? Ever looked for an option that lets you do something in all that predictable time off that is making a difference, and could possible replace the income you have now?
My husband and I are working with a business team that allows us to do just that. His income will be replaced in the next two years or so, and it's definitely making a difference. We love what we do, we do it together, and we've become really passionate about it. He still has his full-time job for right now though.

Just a thought.

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K.M.

answers from Oklahoma City on

If you were single, I'd say go for it. But with a family, I'd recommend that you talk it out and make sure everyone understands the changes that will happen. You're talking about possibly lowering the standard of living, and not just for yourself but for your whole family.

Just another angle to consider.

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L.M.

answers from New York on

If you're getting paid 6 figures and can't aford the tuition to go back to school, how are you going to be able to aford not working for 2 years and taking a huge pay cut. How old are the kids? If you're not off breaks and summers who will watch them, at what cost?

I would stay at the job I was currently at, and save, save, save. I would also look also look into taking a class or two in the field of interest. This could be done over the summer. After I had enough saved up so I wouldn't have to take out loans that I would have difficulty paying back, I would make the switch. The thought of the next 20 years may be overwhelming, but the next 2 to 5 wouldn't be so bad.

Of course, all of this would depend on how my spouse and children would adapt to the change.

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D.R.

answers from Chicago on

My intuitive answer is YES! YES! YES! Make the change!!

But first, is your spouse on board? I think the hardest part is the new lifestyle you will have to endure under a new income stream. My husband and I lost 80% of our income in 24 months as he lost his job and I had left mine to be a parent. That wass the hardest adjustment -- and it took alot of work in itself...to eliminate the stress and find daily joy without the many privileges money affords. But you are one of the lucky ones -- you have it all really -- a successful career and then finding your passion. VERY FEW PEOPLE DO -- so go for it -- understanding the immediate sacrifices but designing a new life worth living from the inside out. It will be good for you in the long term too. GOOD LUCK! (and I wish i was you!) : )

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M.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it depends on how old your kids are. If they are young then keep the job with the summers off. They will not be young for long and you would hate to lose the time with them. If they are teenagers then go with the new career b/c it really sounds like that is what you want. But also make sure that you can fund their college as you are funding yours.

I would personally stay with the job that you have. It sounds like you are on auto drive and that probably affords you a lot of "head space" for the other aspects in your life that SHOULD be as important as your own fullfillment in your career.

I am wondering what your husband says about this and also if you would afford him the same opportunity.

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