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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Work Worries

Dear Shifrah,

I am tired of my current job. But it's not just my job, I'm tired of my entire field (technology related). I feel like I want to do something else entirely, a mid life career change. I have a wife and children so I can't take too many risks though. Any advice?


Dear Anonymous -

I like how you spelled my name. That extra "h" at the end is kind of pretty but I still think Steg's "Xifra" is my alltime favorite.

OK OK fine- back to caring about other people and their problems...

Honestly, your problem is my problem as well.
I too work in a field that isn't meaningful to me but it is stable and allows me to do things I enjoy like eat, and put gas in my car. I think I read somewhere that Americans change careers many times over the course of their working lives- but you'll have to take my word on that, I don't have enough time research those statistics today.

To begin with, I think the question to ask yourself is "What am I passionate about?"
If you are already employed but unsatisfied with either the work, the environment, or the money you are making, you need to think about what kind of work you would find more satisfying.

If there is something you've always wanted to do maybe now if the right time to start thinking about it. If you've always wanted to own a sporting good store, or be a journalist start looking into it - what kind of training and/or capital will it take to get things rolling? Can you try your hand at it on a part time basis while you hold on to your old job? Talk to people in the field see what they think. Of course once you are in a position of responsibility it is hard to make big changes. If you are currently a high paid lawyer who wants to join the peace corps there may be some compromises in your future.

Once you figure out what you really want, and if it seems realistic in terms of the lifestyle you want to maintain, be sure to include your spouse in the planning- if you plan to get your MBA at night or pour your savings into opening a Burger Nosh in Omaha you will need her support.

To sum up:
Big changes don't happen overnight and they don't happen by accident.
Find your path, make a plan, include your spouse, and good luck!!

Keep me posted.



At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the burger nosh in Omaha idea as I sometimes go there on business trips.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

If you're (anonymous) planning on opening up a kosher restaurant somewhere, please consider Orange County in California. We are really short on kosher restaurants.

I read in What Color is Your Parachute that the easiest/best way to make a career change is to first find a position similar to the one you are currently in but in the industry/field that you want to be in. Then, after you have some experience in that industry/field, you can switch to the position you desire.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

It's great if you can make money doing something that you like but for most people that's not possible.

For example.

I would like to make money surfing the web, watching homestarrunner, and playing xbox.

Clearly, it is very unlikely that that will happen.

So I will settle with doing something that I am good at which pays me money so I can afford to surf the web, watch homestarrunner, and play xbox.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

fern - I think that's an interesting approach but in my experience not effective.
I find that people tend to pigeon hole you into a certain type accountant, secretary, programmer, and it's really hard to break out of the mold. That might be good advice for someone begining their carreer without a lot of experience but I don't think that someone who is an Oracle Developer (for example) can become a newswriter simply by taking a job doing computer stuff at the New York Times.

At least you'd get to see how that industry operates and if you want to retrain to become a part of it (or one it's competators.)

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

PT - I agree with you there too (although you have some of the least lucrative hobbies I've ever seen!) I have a pretty rich life outside of work. I like to write for example, so I have this blog.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

I have a questin madam psycholog.

What if you feel you're about to go postal?

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

If your job situation is really that bad (the poster didn't sound miserable just considering a change) you may have to take more aggressive action depending of course on your family situation.

Also I'm not a doctor, I just play one on the web.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger projgen said...

My problem is I have a job that allows me to afford to do the things I enjoy, like eat and surf the web, but leaves me no time to do said things. Or energy, for that matter.

Oh, to be independently wealthy.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

hmmm, I see.

So what you're seeing is, drop the artillerary and find another job.


You're much better then an overly qualified therapist

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even Doctors (whose job surely is meaningful in many ways) can get tired of their profession.
Working is by the very definition of the word something unpleasant.
Unless it's the particular place you work at that's problematic, the best thing to is to make it more interesting yourself.
Find different ways of doing what you usually do, see if there aren,’t any interesting co workers you could have an on and off chat with between tasks etc...

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Sarah Likes Green said...

it's always much more rewarding to find a job you actually like and enjoy.

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes you can adjust your present job to include some more interesting projects... incorporate some other interests. If you are a techie, you can offer to go out on sales calls and provide "sales engineering" info for the sales reps. Or you can be a technical consult to the marketing folks -- help them produce materials. You can start a PC Users Group and teach. Just some suggestions.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

read what color is your parachute..... it's a good book.

also, whatever you do, make sure there is enough money CURRENTLY coming into your household to at least cover your most basic expenses. You can't just start a job and hope for the best. You need to prepared for the worst.

Before you start a business, be honest if you have the skills you need: organizaiton, billing, filing, sales, stamina, focus, etc.

good luck. You're doing something many many many many many many many many people do. It;s hard, though.

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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quite find what I was looking for. I'm looking for
different ways to earn money... I did find this though...
a place where you can make some nice extra cash secret shopping.
I made over $900 last month having fun!
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At 8:45 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

See there's some carreer advice Spam-style!

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fern- Come on... There are places in much bigger need of kosher restaurants then Orange County. How far is it to drive to LA proper already?

Shifra- I had a sociology teacher who said about 10 times during the semester, "According to statistics, you guys will be changing jobs multiple times in your lifetime. You know back in my day, blah blah blah..."

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Shira Salamone said...

It took me *years* to find my niche. Good luck. Having a spouse and kids does complicate matters, as you said, so do be prepared.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...


I do have this music hobby that makes some money. It was really helpful during medical school.

But I am DAMMED glad that I don't have to depend on it for my livelihood, because then it would stop being fun and start being a pain in the butt.

Most of the "professional" musicians I know are not happy people. They're like professional clowns. Do you know any happy clowns?

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Oh course I know you are a musician, I was kidding because the things you listed are not exactly profitable.

The other day I was in the airport and I saw a very tired and depressed looking man, he had a short ponytail, worn out two-one wingtip shoes, black jeans, a short black topcoat (shabby) a long maroon scarf and a black felt hat so worn it looked like black cardboard.

"Musician" I said to myself.
Later when he gathered his bags (and instrument!) I saw I was right!


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