Are you tired of the daily grind?
I was. From the statistics, a lot of people are. Turns out, the average person has 5-7 careers over their lifetime. More than 40% of professionals are interested in making a career pivot, whether to a different industry or a different function entirely.
So what do you do? The very nature of the daily grind is that you probably don’t have enough time to figure that out. You may have kids of various ages to take care of. Emails that never seem to stop arriving in your inbox. The grass has to be mowed. Your car is making funny noises and has to be fixed. Oh, and you also have to make dinner and clean up afterwards.
The daily lives of most mid-career professionals are so packed with work and family activities that months can go by, yet it feels like only days have passed. Although you feel like you are barely keeping your head above water as you juggle it all, suddenly you realize you aren’t providing as much emotional support as you should be to your 14-year-old daughter and you have to find more time to do that. There is always more you could be, should be, doing. It’s no wonder people stay in jobs they hate for far too long. The lure of the consistent paycheck is enticing and it’s overwhelming to consider any changes – much less figure out what it is you really want to do.
Why do we do this to ourselves? While every generation has its issues, it seems like the generations of professionals within the ages of 30-60 years have found themselves trapped in the never-ending cycle of “busyness,” born from increased knowledge and accessibility of technology that makes to possible to always stay connected and reachable. Cost pressures and efficiencies result in stress at work because we are asked to do more with less and data metrics determine if we are cutting it…or not. With rising costs, we can’t afford to NOT cut it because we need that paycheck to pay for everything. It can seem like a never-ending cycle.
What if you could move to a far-away land, where things are different, maybe, but at least better? That thought may have gone through your head more than once. I know it’s gone through mine. I hear New Zealand is nice; the food is amazing and the emphasis on time with family is more pronounced. The far-away land is impossible for me though, because I have aging parents who will need me to be present at some point in the near future. New Zealand is a long plane ride away! Since I need to stay closer to home in the States, what’s stopping me from at least moving to Oregon, where I hear people ride their bikes all the time and grow their own food? That’s the kind of life I want to live. Believe me, I’ve definitely considered opening a coffee shop in downtown Portland. I romanticize the life that would come with that. Our family would live in an apartment over the shop and walk everywhere. It wouldn’t matter if I had to open the shop at 4 AM because it would be easy to walk downstairs, breathing in the therapeutic aroma of the coffee beans.
But I won’t do it. Why? Because I have an 8-year-old who is doing well in his current school. We have friends in our city. I know where to go to get things done. And, frankly, it’s not that easy to open up a new coffeeshop and actually make money.
So, what do I do? I’m a highly educated and experienced mid-career professional who wants the flexibility to live anywhere geographically and time to spend with my family. I want to make at least $100K because, as we all know, costs are rising and I don’t want to have to worry about my car breaking down every time I drive it. But I’m tired of the daily grind. I want to know if there are other job options for me – options that might give me the flexibility I want, yet also provide health care benefits and pay more than minimum wage. I want consistency in my job and confidence that I could get work anywhere, without fear of automation making my job obsolete or depression of my spirit withering away from the boredom of mundane work.
So, what’s out there? If you’re still reading this, mostly because you feel sorry for me, but maybe because you feel the same way, fortunately this story has a happy ending. There ARE options. It’s amazing actually. But I had to go digging to figure out what they were. Why is that? Why don’t career coaches or counselors tell us about these things like apprenticeships, certificate programs, international work or project-based work that will give us the jobs to fit our lives, not the other way around?
If you are also tired of the daily grind, one thing that has been helpful for me was creating a budget. A budget helped me better understand where my money was going and what I needed…or thought I needed. Another thing that’s been helpful is a time audit. Like most people, I’m chronically short on time. Where did I find the necessary time to figure out what my options were? By better understanding where my time went each day, I was able to identify time to research options or listen to podcasts without drastically changing my lifestyle or stealing time away from my family. As you might imagine, I listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car and on the stationary bike at the gym! These tactics were a few things that worked for me. Maybe they will work for you, too.