Anyone broken free from professional life? Warning: rant

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  • I was an advertising creative in my early 20's.
    In my early 30's, I'm a bike messenger.
    I find it almost impossible to distinguish between personal and professional dimensions of my life. I'm pretty sure I'm a lot happier now, but couldn't be sure if that's as a result of earning a lot less money, or no longer having a squirrel living within my bedroom wall.

  • I'm a pharmacist and I find myself in a similar position to you.... I grew tired of working in the NHS (5 years in a district hospital); I also found that the stress was affecting my health and general wellbeing - I was a pretty shitty person to be around at times.

    I left the job to travel for a while.

    On my return I got myself a very respectable job as a medical writer in London.
    ...But unfortunately I struggled to pick-up the writing style and adapt. I also realised that I'm a crap writer and the job wasn't right for me!

    ...So the cycle continued and I've just returned home after spending 2 months in Nepal.
    My travels were cut short because a family member has recently become ill and I'm helping out with some of the care work.

    I'm not really sure about my 'next move' but I'm considering something part-time and away from pharmacy.

  • I had a well paid job through my 20s.

    Then packed it in to mess about with old cars earning <£20k for a couple of years, which was fun for a bit but ultimately spoiled my hobby.

    Now back on the 9-5.

    I now know I'm a work-to-live kinda guy, which I wouldn't have done without the little interlude.

    No change is forever, you can always go back. It'll be exciting to find out.

  • I have worked in Architecture for the last 12 years as a draftsman. About 5 years in I was really hating it so moved to New Zealand for a fresh start but still working in the same industry. It turns out that it is the same old shit on the other side of the world too. The last two years have been especially bad, we now have a young daughter who I get to see very little off due to the pressures of work. and when I am free of work I tend to need my own space and spend most of it getting drunk. It really started to affect the family (not that I was a drunk, but just not giving the family my all). I was getting fucking sick of it. It didnt really help that I was also working for a bullying cunt.

    A friend of mine has worked as a sales rep for a construction materials/ power tools company for the last year and a half and really enjoys it. He also makes considerably more money than I do (he is 24 I am 34). The more I spoke to him the more I thought I would be really good at that and enjoy it more than I do my current job (not hard). A job came up at his company just after Christmas so I applied. I herd nothing for 6 weeks so my partner and I made the decision to move back to the UK after 7 years, and then told all our family. 3 weeks ago this company called me out of the blue out of hundreds of applicants, two quick interviews later and I had been offered the job. It meant having to tell our family that we wouldn't be moving back to the UK with their granddaughter after all as I would now be starting a new carrier is sales (an opportunity I dont think I would get in the UK).

    So, after that rant, I start my new job as a sales rep in a week, dont have to work for fucking architects any more and get a brand new ford ranger Ute. I am fucking terrified as I have no idea what to expect. But, I also haven't been this excited about work for a very long time!

  • This is an interesting thread. I'm in a job with incredibly niche skills and golden handcuffs. I don't know that I want to leave per se, but I definitely need to change my relationship with the work as I've been getting increasingly down about it recently.

  • Excellent news. Hope it works out for you.

  • This is an important thread!
    I have no input yet as I love my job (first job, graduated last year), but I will be following to remember to reflect over my career decisions and avoid getting caught up in a bad threadmill.
    Best of luck to OP and everyone else!

  • yeah, i ditched my desk jockey job and became a messenger.
    in the face of my old employ changing my t&cs (to the tune of having to work every other w/e and had to be on call 2 week nights!!!) i recommended they put their job somewhere uncomfortable and quit, became a messenger on the streets of london and 7 winters later, im still loving it.
    shit! i can support myself riding a bike!! i never thought that would be true.
    it might not be the highest profile of professional cycling achievable, but my soul thanked me for it; ive never been happier or more fulfilled when it comes to work.
    one thing i should mention: its not easy starting out, you probably wont make any serious money for the first few months.
    that and the game is dying too, i doubt itll last too much longer.

  • I graduated with a degree in Zoology and joined IBM in 1977 (it's just what you did then...a career in computers...made for life). As a systems engineer I was shit. But you could hide easily in a big corporation. Then moved to account management and sales based in the city. Fun. Loadsa money. And started a family. Way overstretched myself financially. But kept up the hours and the appearances and the credit card balances. Raising a family was fun. But I knew it would end somehow. My marriage eventually failed (I screwed around) and I decided no more debt. No more borrowing. And no more work pressure. However I carried on in the same job selling Tech and services but taking no shit. Lived in a v cheap ex council flat in Poplar. Made reasonable money but destroyed credit cards and cleared debts. Sold car. Sold motorcycle. Sold boat. I made some fabulous worthy friends in that council block. Real folks. Loved a breakfast at Chrisp St market, a newspaper, and a wander around the Isle of Dogs at the weekend. Bliss. All the time doing only what I wanted to do at work. How empowering it is to be able to say 'No'. It also got me into some screaming arguments with senior managers but oddly it also gained me respect. You can guess I'm older. 61 now. And that counts for something when you say 'No'. I met a lovely lady in not dissimilar circumstances and we said 'Yes'! Married last year. Wee flat in E Finchley. No debt aside from a manageable mortgage. I find myself based in Mayfair now. It's turned out ok. How smug do I feel? Very. And one day I will be a zoologist.

  • As per above - very interesting thread.

    I am 49 years old and have been in the same job for 30 years (since leaving school). I am married and have one daughter. I also have a mortgage. The family ties and mortgage obligations mean I have no opportunity to change jobs at the moment - and, really, not in the future either. I am somewhat happy with my lot but always think of doing something else - a job which makes you feel productive or one where you can actually see what you have achieved at the end of the day.

    In the past two years, I got into a rut, too much drink, weight increasing, puffed out after walking up stairs, smoking too much etc. etc. I began to try to get fitter - cycling, 30 day squat ap, 5 a side, playing squash - really acting the youngster again! I enjoyed the sport and exercise and have continued to progress it. I then altered my diet and reduced my weight by healthy eating (not dieting). Two years on, I feel better and more content but I have suffered from aches and pains from day one. I attended my doctor who tested me for everything but, thankfully, he found nothing wrong. This did not help me a lot as I was aching every day, to the point I had difficulty getting out of bed and I guessed that the exercise was the reason (usually after 3 hours of squash).

    Four weeks ago, a friend asked me to go to Bikram Yoga with him. He has been going for 5 years as he had a bad back and it seemed to help him so I decided to give it a go. 90 minutes of Hatha Yoga in a room heated to 40 Degrees Celcius. I found it difficult but enjoyable. I should mention, I have never done any form of yoga before. I was very careful to monitor myself over the following few days to see if it made a difference to my aches and pains. The following morning I found they had disappeared! This lasted for 3 weeks when I returned for another class. The lack of pain was a complete eye-opener for me - it was incredible and continues to be so. I would recommend it to anyone - even those without the aches and pains.

    The crux of my post is coming now - 2 weeks after the yoga, I was thinking about my health etc. and found that I felt more positive about things. I had a spring in my step and when I was beaten at squash, I didn't get too annoyed. The only thing I can think of which would have had this affect on me was the Bikram Yoga - I have no idea how but it seems to have reduced my stress levels and given me a more positive outlook - all good stuff!!! I am not saying it was mind changing but it seems to have had some affect to my mental wellbeing.

    Perhaps, you could be happy with your lot by changing some things in your lifestyle to reduce the affect of work. I would really strongly suggest you try yoga - Bikram seems good as it never changes (the exercises remain the same) so every class is a beginners class. For £13 it is worth a gamble.

    If you do try it, I would appreciate some feedback to see if I am a unique case or not. (I am not sponsored by any form of yoga!!)


  • Great thread! Some good anecdotes and a bit of realism as a foil to the 'you can do anything you want to in life!' bullshit. You sometimes - often - can't, for all sorts of reasons. But you can always think about what would make you happier and make small, or big, changes to achieve a better balance.

    I was lucky enough to spend two years working part-time so I could look after my son two days a week before he went to school. Working full time now, don't hate it, but determined to do the same with my daughter who's now 18 months old. I know my employer won't let me reduce my hours, so starting my escape plan. Pretty sure I want to work for myself now and have a few ideas.

  • Ok. That's done it. You're the third person to tell me to get myself to a Bikram Yoga Class. OM fit and stiff as a plank and blame aches and pains on cycling injuries accumulated over the years. I'm gonna try it. Watch this space.

  • I hope it works for you. Feedback will be interesting. The yoga might sort out the physical aches, I'll be interested in how it affects you mentally. Give it until a few days afterwards and see how you feel.


  • I found just normal yoga surprisingly beneficial when I did it. Should get back into that habit...

  • I'm on the other side of the fence (you might see this as greener).

    It fucking ain't.

  • Don't waste your time overthinking it: just do it. If it all goes tits up you'll know it was the wrong decision, but at least you'll have tried.
    YOLO as dem yoot say

  • Ha! I'd say both sides of the fence are hard in their own way. Everyone would love to do whatever they want with their time with no financial worries, but that's never going to happen. Being stupidly simplistic it's a regular pay check and potentially less fulfilling job vs financial insecurity and potentially more fun.

    I'm 32 now. Started out as a sheep farmer straight out of agricultural Uni. Did a bit of estate management and conservation too. Got a bit tired of being so isolated with all my friends in the cities. Moved to London to work as a derivatives solicitor in the Magic Circle. Couldn't be more different from my previous life. Hours are equally punishing, money better, quality of life much worse. The move was very much worth it though as I met my wife in London.

    Leaving work at the end of the month. Totally selling up to go travelling with our baby and dog. Just need more family time to be happy. Will be working part time to keep things ticking over until we figure out where we'd like to settle. We've just found it impossible to find the time to figure that out with the day to day chaos of London. Some kind of smallholding supplemented by other work would be the dream, but we'll see how realistic that is!

    Bonne chance everyone, I'd say crack on with your change sooner rather than later. I can obviously not speak for anyone else's situation, but I've never regretted trying something new even if it didn't pan out. My priorities have definitely changed with each little phase of my life, so I don't think you can be super rigid about goals and ambitions, as a few years down the line you might realise that you need to devote more time to something else.

  • What a great thread. Could publish for sure. Ottomanotter....I like your style. Bon voyage.

  • I find it funny reading about this from the other side of working in the arts for over a decade. Hand to mouth existence, zero security, savings, pension, living in shitholes, competing with people from wealthier backgrounds for funding and opportunities... It's wearing in a very different way. I imagine it's far easier having had a professional career to take whatever nest egg you've saved and re-purpose that towards a new career too but I could be wrong-for all the chat about employers valuing creative thought etc they seem to give zero fucks for anyone with arts related qualifications and experience.

    There's definitely great things about the freedom and self-direction too but when you pass 30 you suddenly get a feeling of vertigo and want a bit more of a safety net incase things like children pop up, so I've been trying to veer into something more stable and professional for the last few years that will also allow me to emigrate and am now studying to be a landscape architect which hopefully will retain at least some creativity/contact with the natural world or at the very least won't suck ass or reduce me to being a corporate slave.

    I think the UK is definitely taking a turn for the worse in terms of both employment rights and welfare though so perhaps in the end it's all one and the same, but it would be nice to know there's regular income coming into my bank account every month or possibly even live somewhere for longer than six months at a time.

  • I left school at 15 with no qualifications. Like a lot of people from my estate I walked in to a job as a City trader. This was the 80s and if you had what it took then old fashioned class distinctions didn't stand in your way anymore. The barrow boy rubbed shoulders with the Eton fop and the barrow boy usually won. Pineapple futures were my thing and I was soon making and breaking the market. To mix metaphors, the world was my oyster. I had my own council flat in Barking, a working toaster and a growing collection of porcelain figurines.
    We'd pull 16 hour days, sometimes 7 or more days a week and then we would live! And love! Money for nothing and your chicks for free, as Norman Tebbit so vividly phrased it. And not just women, the City was a pan-sexual free for all. Oh the divine scaffolders I buggered to exhaustion!
    But something was missing. One day I was staggering home and saw an elderly couple, arm in arm, lost in each other's company, inseparable, as they must have been for fifty years. It was then that it occurred to me - it would be so easy to knock them over and take their money. And it was. So began the second part of my career, a little less well remunerated than working in the markets but not so morally compromised. Violent street crime filled a void. I truly believed that the universe had put those frail pensioners, he a war veteran, she a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, in my path for a reason. When destiny calls you do not let the machine pick it up, you answer, and you answer promptly.
    Much as I would have loved to continue down that path 'society' had other plans. After a ten stretch I re-entered the world a broken man, broken physically, mentally and physically. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes another slams shut in your face and now I find myself, to my great surprise, happy with my volunteer role at a home for rescued circus performers and with my allotment. The money is all gone, the flat is gone, the figurines are in storage but I am happy. Or at least not unhappy. Well, no more miserable than you'd expect. Pretty much sunk in despair and hoping it will all soon be over.

  • /thread

  • But do you do yoga?

  • I don't think I've reached the Olympic level of self-satisfaction to start talking about that yet.

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Anyone broken free from professional life? Warning: rant

Posted by Avatar for Invent @Invent