I Don’t Like My Job Anymore, So I’m Going to Switch Careers!

Filed in Living by on August 6, 2015 2 Comments

i hate my job

If I could only have a dollar for every time I’ve heard this.

I have a lot of family and friends who are in their late forties or fifties. This is often the time in people’s lives when they get very disillusioned with their job. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that when you are early in your career, you benefit from the joy of learning a lot of new things, and later in your career there are generally fewer learning opportunities and interesting challenges. Second, early in your career you have the optimism borne of not knowing, and being able to dream about, how far you might progress in your career. By the time you reach the later stages of your career, while you might not have completely “topped out” in terms of your progress, your ultimate station in your career (and in life) is pretty clear. So for these reasons, many people at this point start to think a change in careers is the way to end their angst and improve their life.

This is a huge mistake, and I’ll provide an example to illustrate.

I have a good friend who is an excellent finance guy, both by education and experience. So when he was in his mid-forties he revealed to me that he dislikes his job, it’s boring, and he wants to change careers and go into the field of information technology. Bear in mind, by this point in his career he is at a high level within his finance organization, with the title of Controller, and making excellent money. So I counseled him as follows: “If you switch careers, this is what will happen. You will spend all of your free time for several years, and a lot of money, re-educating yourself to become an IT person. Then you will get a job earning approximately one-third of what you make now, for the pleasure of working alongside a 22 year old kid who just graduated college, on some ridiculously simple IT project. What about that will be an improvement in your situation?”

Then, this same friend, a couple of years later, announced that he now wanted to quit his job to start a tax practice. So my counsel to him was this: “You’re a 50 year old man. It takes several years, if not a decade or more, to develop a large and loyal enough clientele to make a tax practice profitable. Do you want to spend your 50’s working your ass off, with very little income, building a business? And then, by the time you’re 60, when you might actually begin to enjoy the fruits of all that labor, you’ll probably want to retire anyway!”

Here’s the cold and hard truth: you’re pretty much stuck at your job. This is because the pay, benefits, perks, title, etc., for the amount of effort you need to put in, are by far your best option at this point in your life. A second career is way too much hassle, and will dramatically reduce your income at a time when you are saving for retirement and likely also paying for your kids’ college education.

If you want to “switch careers,” my advice is to keep your head down at your current job, save as much money as you can, and retire or semi-retire as soon as you are able. Then you can explore an interesting new career, business, or hobby without the pressure of having to replace so much income. You can take a part-time job, like teaching or personal training, or start a small business, such as becoming a small retail shop owner or starting a pet-sitting business. The nice thing about this is that it actually has the chance of making you happy, which makes it a far better idea than switching careers!

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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  1. Michelle says:

    This was not the best segment of your webpage for me to read right now…stupid Illinois!!

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