Anyone broken free from professional life? Warning: rant

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  • I'm getting tired of professional life. I have quite a high status career as a doctor, where I get the satisfaction of helping people every day but the stress has been destroying my health and general wellbeing for 5 years.

    I think the guilt of leaving a noble and charitable profession is what has kept me doing it for so long but I am utterly unhappy. I've tried everything, taking beach holidays, switching specialties, "sticking in there" and I can't shake the almost constant feeling I need to leave.

    I've worked with bikes before. Summer jobs in local bike shops doing the selling and fixing and running creative campaigns for events, riding around the city sorting various tasks out and getting involved with cycling culture really got my spirits up.

    Is there anyone out there who has previously been in a similar position and broke free? What did you do and are you happier for it?

  • I haven't escaped, but have pretty similar feelings about my relatively well paid/respected job (IT at an investment bank)

    Have been to a handful of talks hosted by these guys

    It's pretty refreshing to be in a room with 50 odd people that are in a similar situation. Normalises it somewhat and maybe you'll get some inspiration.

  • I think jumping ship depends on the responsibilities you have. There's huge pressure to keep plugging away, for me this ended up in a minor breakdown that hit me out of the blue, after thinking I was as tough as old boots.
    I've walked out of more than one senior role in the belief that life's for living.

  • IIRC @dancing james has a good escape story.

    Have you tried doing what you do...but somewhere very different? Being a doctor there is demand for your services pretty much everywhere, right?

  • I've been toying with this subject for a while. All that time work has developed well, longer hours, some better work, even enjoyable at times. Making it harder to consider giving it up.

    But I've got this pipe dream I want to grow & cook food for people to eat. It really is a midlife 'meh' which I like to think isn't a crisis. I mean, I don't want a sports car and new dolly bird. I have a completely impractical idea of where and what it would be like. I haven't got a hope of doing it (it involves leaving London) in the next 5 years, foreseeably.

    It'd be interesting to hear how you get on @Invent. Good thread start.

  • Good thread. Watching for some feel good stories as I feel the same about my career.

  • I feel like this but unfortunately have been living a largely ha d to mouth existence thus far so not in a position to jump ship. I actually had a minor breakdown at work today but that's another story.
    I've dabbled in many things in my short time as an adult(31) but yet to work out what I want to do with my life and I'm not good enough at the things I love to make a living from them.

    OP I wish you the very best of luck in moving forward!

  • I was deeply miserable working as a civil servant - was about the least civil person around. There were other personal issues that were also involved.

    Over the past few years I have made efforts to change myself, how I perceive the world and how I respond to things. Additionally I bailed from my job and moved into cycle training. From there I have diversified into working with lorry drivers and their behavioural change, teaching yoga and now also teaching City and Guilds bike mechanics. I was very fortunate to have resources to help me make the transition, I earn less now but feel job satisfaction is worth £10k a year. There are two different organisations that wish for me to join them teaching first aid or driver speed awareness courses.

    It felt scary making the jump but I have never regretted it. Helping people develop skills they can use for years and nurturing their development is a wonderful gift - and I get paid to do it. I am now in a luxurious position where I can pick and choose what work I wish to do.

  • I have made the move from a well paying job in finance to running my own thing. One point to be made - it's a lot harder, but in a different way.

    In a normal job, you feel under appreciated and under-utilised. The stressor is not making a difference, which grinds you down. I think this is what we're talking about?

    When on your own, the stress changes to can you pay your mortgage/rent/etc. Every morning you wake up and can decide what to do, just it has to make enough change to get to tomorrow.

    One is not necessarily better than the other, both have infinite levers to optimise to create a better situation. Make sure you understand this last point before actually pulling the trigger.

  • I've not really broken free as I don't think I've ever actually had a 'professional life' but I do feel like I've broken free of the feeling that I should have one and of the desire to earn loads of money and spend it on shite.

    I doubt I have any useful advice for you as I suspect our working lives are about as different as could be but all I'd maybe say is that something I think has been a huge factor in my ability to find satisfaction and happiness (while working a job that I don't think ever really challenges me and at times frustrates the fuck out of me) is having several creative outlets in my life.

    For me, my job is just the thing that I do that allows me to do other things.

    Can you change the amount you work? With a basis like medicine I'd have thought you could earn a livable wage from part time work, allowing you the freedom to do other things with the rest of your time?

  • I quit a miserable NHS office job where I took shit for being trans and became a courier. Never been happier. Could do my runs in a hot dog costume and nobody would give a shit.

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  • I suppose the questions I would ask are: what are the things about your job that are causing you grief? Many years ago I went on a training course where one of the exercises was thinking about what your core values/desires were: eg. security, autonomy, novelty, etc. The instructors' point was that if these core values were unmet or even contradicted in your daily life - whether at work or outside - then you were unlikely to be happy in the long term. I'd suggest trying to work out if anything about your job is contradicting what you might consider your core values, and if so what kind of job might be better aligned with them; this sounds a bit new-agey-bullshit, but I've found it helpful in thinking about what directions I'd like to explore.

    (A few years ago I quit my job to become a stay-at-home dad and do bits of freelance writing; this was because we'd moved across the country for my OH's job, and so without paying for childcare we could manage on just her salary; while this is incredibly hard in its own way, I don't really miss my old career.)

  • I personally have a massive urge to be more creative I would love to be carpenter and build furniture, upholstery.
    Then other days I think about metal work and vintage car restoration.
    Even farming.
    I read a article about a book that discusses these issues and principles­/2010/may/08/working-hands-happiness-bur­keman
    I unfortunately married and mortgage have me jailed up. Children will be nail in coffin. Thank God for bike riding.

  • Have taken long breaks from it, but not broken away from it. But I feel exactly the same.

    I have a mate in the US who is a doctor though, and he just does locum's (is that the right word??). He spends some weeks in a remote small community in Alaska working there, a bit of time doing some work in Arizona, and he's done the same in a few other countries too. It's great money and I reckon he works on average 50% of the time. In the rest of his time he mountain bikes and travels. He's got an amazing life. He has no family or commitments though...

  • Would love to break away from it but getting to the point where my pension will be really good if I stay.
    When I hit 40 I decided to get some other qualifications, so I did some electrical stuff, city and guilds, nvq's, etc.Made me feel I had something else to fall back on. I have some coaching/assessing nvq's from my current job that are valid for anything you are qualified in.
    I've been offered jobs that make me realise how lucky I am to have my current job.
    But I still felt something was missing. So now I try to take advantage of my free time as best I can instead of dreaming I try and do.
    I've built up a couple of vintage bikes, become a beer snob,improved my musical ability. It all helps !
    Last year I decided to build a micro-brewery in my shed.
    Six months later and a few brews on, the feedback I've had is amazing.
    It's a great buzz.
    Now I'm thinking of reducing my hours and devoting more time to it.
    Maybe go and be a doctor in a developing country for a while?

  • I broke free from retail after 2 years of being a sales assistant and 3 years of being an assistant manager.

    I worked for JJB Sports ltd from the day I turned 16 and progressed to assistant manager by 18. I soaked up the glory of earning an £18k salary in comparison to my mates on basic £5 p/hour contracts with no guaranteed hours. JJB went down the shitter and I moved on to better things. Started working in Smyths Toy Store and loved it for the next 3 years, until the Christmas period in 2014. We had a bunch of xmas temps that couldn't pull their weight, the store was going to shit, I left and went back to uni.

    Thankfully I had 2 years under my belt in Building Services Engineering and finished the last two years. Now working for a well established Mechanical & Electrical Consultancy firm and realising that retail was the best and worst thing to happen in my career.

    Many lessons learnt for only being 25. Working towards being chartered in the next 2 years and hopefully moving onto a new firm with worldwide opportunities

  • I'm reading this book right now! I'm fortunate that I have a job that is a mix of practical and thinking, it's just the competitive rat race stress that I can't quite stomach. Job insecurity creeps up every couple years. But I suppose that comes with any job.

  • Job insecurity creeps up every couple years.

    The kids...they are coming up from behind.

  • For me, my job is just the thing that I do that allows me to do other things.

    So much this. I do wonder if this leaves me in some intangible way unfulfilled/existentially troubled. But then I remember that it leaves me time to do and see all the music I want, play with bikes/ride bikes and see friends. Which is the stuff I consider my life.

  • ...the stuff I consider my life.

    Says it all really.

    There's definitely no one size fits all solution, I'm reading posts about what makes people happy I'm thinking "That sounds fucking horrendous"! I guess people are doing the same about what I've said.

  • I switched my hours to 7.30-4pm (normally 9.15-5.45) and it made a huge difference to my work/life balance, giving me my evenings back and meaning I got home whilst still energised (and skipped a lot of commuting congestion). Obviously I had to get up earlier but it was well worth it once adjusted.

  • +1 D_Hammer

    I'm in work at 8am and finish at 4:30, makes a huge difference indeed

  • I can relate to a lot of this. Recently bit the bullet and asked my boss if I could work less, for less money, but the application was denied. Now floundering slightly.

    I've bought a modest flat in London and could survive on less money - but it feels scary to throw in the career and go and work in a bike shop or something. Hard to make decisions based on the idea that it's happiness, not money, that ultimately matters - we all know it to be true, but the lure of a steady pay check and a pension is too strong...

  • So this is my story, less on the solid job side but more on the career path side. I was in 2nd year studying architecture and spending all of my summer's working at a very large practice earning lots of £££ for a student. I was enjoying working and more so living in London while competing at a sport (rowing). Over my second year it became a bit too much and I started to feel rather trapped, I stuck at it and then decided to leave after the year but then returned for my 3rd year but it was even worse (Never give in to peer pressure). Quitting uni and a career given to me by this architecture practice was the hardest decision I had to make but it was by far the best, I bit the bullet and moved to my parents house in Norfolk and got an outdoor job as a highropes instructor. Sounds crap but I love it and the money is enough, so the moral of the story is take the chance as you can always go back to medicine! Even though I had a full back I would of worked anyone to get rent and enjoyed every second of the freedom.

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Anyone broken free from professional life? Warning: rant

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