To ditch my job because life is too fucking short?

(120 Posts)
ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 14:46:44

Regular poster, have NC for this. In a very small nutshell - I have a pretty fancy job which pays exceptionally well. Got a major promotion earlier this year (yes, boo hoo for me. Feel free to ditch thread now).

I really enjoyed about 50% of the job pre-promotion. I now only enjoy about 30% of it. I have never been cut out for certain aspects of the job, but I was in the past able to balance my failings in those sides of it by excelling in other areas. Now the expectations in all areas are about 200% higher and I have been told I really need to "up my game" if I am to achieve what's expected. It's not that they've misrepresented the promoted job to me - I knew in theory what it involved - but the practice is way harder than I anticipated. I could probably do the game upping but it would be seriously hard work and time consuming (e.g. having a week's holiday without full attention to Blackberry every day is just Not On, required to do weekly evening dinners with clients). Pressure is relentless. I am starting to think that I simply can't be arsed.

To give some context my Mum died a few months ago. Dad had died several years previously. Both died young. Neither is here to be disappointed in me if I ditch it (or proud of me if I succeed). I just turned 40. I am financially fine because I inherited a property and a small lump sum, plus I have my own savings. I don't have expensive tastes. In the last 3 years I've gained a fab fiance who is my rock. He's always known me as a high-flyer and is proud of me for that. He earns plenty money of his own and we have no children.

I feel my identity is very tied up in my job. When I do well in it I feel very validated and glad to have a good brain. Ditching it now would mean wasting many many years of study and slog and obviously mean giving up a lot of potential earnings.

This is not so much an AIBU because the answer is obviously "Do what's right for you" but more of a "Did you do it and do you regret it?"

Thanks for reading.

ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 16:01:53

IIRC the Undomestic Goddess got fired from her firm for fucking up massivelygrin

I already have the money due to my inheritance , and DH to be earns more than enough to keep us. I suppose my problem is that I love how it feels to say that I do what I do, but actually doing it is too much of my life. For me, anyway. But don't want to give ammunition to those who say women can't cut it.

brunette123 Thu 28-Nov-13 16:04:02

I have lost both my parents and used to be an in-house lawyer - one of the best decisions I made to pack it in and on reflection wish I had done something different with my career as although I enjoyed the law degree I never enjoyed being a lawyer either in private practice or in-house. It got to the point that I was terribly unhappy and it is such long hours not a 9-5 job - majority of my waking life was at work and life was too short for me. I am oksih for money but definitely do not have disposable income the way I used to but I have freedom. Even when I went part-time it was like doing a full time role in fewer days.
I look back on my career with some sadness and no one I know who is still in law seems happy - not one - they are just stuck doing it for the money because they have to in order to keep the house going and pay for children etc.
Good luck to you xx

ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 16:06:39

Brunette, thanks and sorry about your Mum and Dad. When you say you look back with sadness, do you mean sad that you miss it a bit or sad you ever chose it as a career?

Mollydoggerson Thu 28-Nov-13 16:07:27

I did something similar, I was working in general practice and moved into industry and it has been pretty good for me.

If you dislike what you are doing now, and if it is stressful and you simply don't need the money, then you can always think about taking a step sideways.

You are correct, life is too short.

ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 16:09:01

Oscarwilde that's really helpful, thanks. Will try to reply in proper detail when more time. Though re going places with no mobile signal, I was basically told that is seen as insufficient commitment.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 28-Nov-13 16:09:06

It's not that women can't, it's that some daft sod in the past decided everyone in certain jobs should work insane hours. It's just Not Necessary.

Why don't you go freelance, set up your own company with a less stupid attitude to work life balance? Start a new trend.grin

Disclaimer: I've not been in your position, but I am child of a workaholic. I wish he took more time for himself.

Mollydoggerson Thu 28-Nov-13 16:10:22

ReallyOverThis, you need to assess how much of your decision is based on your ego.

When you are on your death bed will you give a damn if you thought you impressed random people by your job title?

brunette123 Thu 28-Nov-13 16:10:50

It did not bother me to no longer be able to say I am a lawyer - I was a lawyer and I chose not to be any longer. That was quite empowering. I don't think that said anything negative about me quite the opposite - I could have carried on just didn't. I qualified and was successful and it does not bother me to tell people that I used to be a lawyer.

oscarwilde Thu 28-Nov-13 16:13:41

But don't want to give ammunition to those who say women can't cut it
Life's definitely too short for that. No point in smashing the through the glass ceiling if it turns into your prison.

Advertise on the partners intranet for a male or female job sharing partner and see who bites grin 3 days a week each with a day overlapping/ sharing an office. I'll bet you'll have a few takers if you work in a reasonable sized firm. More to the point, most firms are trying to up their female headcount - they may be able to attract some seriously good candidates who only want to/can work part-time.

So it demonstrates a lack of commitment. Boo hoo. There are lawyers keeling over all over the world from overwork. Someone has to make the first move to break the culture, it might as well be you. By the sound of it, you have a bigger safety net than most. What's the worst that can happen, word gets out and you are approached by a smaller firm who'll take you on any terms....

Talk to DH to be. Make sure he's not too invested in you being the super high flyer on his arm too.

ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 16:14:46

So what did you mean about the sadness Brunette 123?

harticus Thu 28-Nov-13 16:14:48

One of my closest friends won scholarship to posh school, then Oxford then cherry picked for top city law firm.
Made insane amounts of money.

Got to 35 and suddenly threw in the towel, moved to the back of beyond, grows veggies, keeps chickens, works in a café and plays crap guitar in a local band.
He is the happiest and most contented person I know.
Occasionally his old city chums visit and think he has lost the plot.
But he knows that he has got it right and they have got it very wrong.

Our culture is wrapped up in the bullshit of achievement and financial gain and all that.
But it isn't what life is all about and more often than not it stops you from being really genuinely happy.

brunette123 Thu 28-Nov-13 16:15:41

Regret choosing to be a lawyer in the first place - so dry, quite boring, having to be quiet most of the time, work long hours with little work/life balance, sarky comments if I left on time about whether I had gone part-time, people seemed obsessed with what time you leave even if you come in early. Hated it from when I was a trainee and did it for 15 years. The partners I liked were the mavericks and tended not to be popular with the other partners. I am a lively person and it was hard as a lawyer as that doesn't usually work too well and I should have chosen a career where my personality was the important thing not just the ability to get my head down and grind out contracts. Thankfully I got out of private practice within a year of qualification otherwise I never would have lasted as long.

HairyPorter Thu 28-Nov-13 16:19:20

But what would you do instead??
I've been between jobs previously and while I looked forward to it, it got pretty boring fairly quick! (I.e within a few days!). If you can find things you love to fill your time and give you a sense of purpose then by all means to so. But otherwise you'll be walking into a void...

flatmum Thu 28-Nov-13 16:19:40

i know someone who was a partner in a law firm and left to work in-house law and is now a company secretary. Could you do something similar? No idea if the money is comparable but they seem ok.

theoriginalandbestrookie Thu 28-Nov-13 16:22:12

Can you move to another company ? Go back to your previous position? It sounds like it was okayish and now the promotion has tipped you over the edge.

I went down a grade a couple of years ago, it was wrapped around having time for my DS and cutting my hours, but even before I had him I hated the travelling and picking up work in the evening. Some people thrive on the thrill of working long hours - doesn't sound like you do, so you are right to question it. In a way it's easier when you have DCs as people aren't surprised when you curtail your ambitions, but harder to justify if you don't have them to pin the blame on !

I'm generally pretty happy now - Im sure I could be happier if only I could figure out what I was meant to be doing, but atm this is a great compromise, keeps fairly decent money coming in but means I have enough energy to do stuff outside of work.

Could you find a careers counsellor or someone to talk to like that? I had a few sessions with someone who did this for a living and it exposed a few really important things - like there was little point in me applying for a similar job in another company as it was the work itself that was the problem.

ineedanexcuse Thu 28-Nov-13 16:22:34

I read somewhere that if you have a really big decision to make it is better to simply toss a coin rather than spend long hours agonising over it. This is because when you toss the coin you will know how you want it to land while it is still in midair.

So do the lawyery type thing and write down all the pros and cons so that everything is covered and then toss that coin.

Enjoy your new life grin

amicissimma Thu 28-Nov-13 16:22:58

OK, a view from the other side.

(I appreciate that many people are not lucky enough to have the choice. This post is by and for those who do, and is just a POV.)

I've been a SAHM for many years; my youngest is at secondary school. I originally gave up work because it was clear that my job was becoming more demanding of time and energy, just as DH's was, too and I could see the situation arising where the DCs went for days without seeing either parent if we were both involved in working early and late.

I'm well educated and had worked hard to get where I was at work.

I do not regret it at all. I involved myself in my local community. At first that meant toddler groups, then nursery, then school, as well as church and various sports and local classes. As I got to know more people, more opportunities arose. When we moved area I knew what sort of things to look out for so built up the same life again. Now wherever I go I run into someone I know, and if we have time, often stop for a chat or a coffee, etc. I know which of my neighbours need an eye kept out for them and, TBH, I am aware that some of the local cafes would not survive if they were not patronised during the working days by people like me.

My identity is me, not just a job title, but the amalgam of all the parts of my life. I feel very fulfilled and stimulated and have friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, not just the one field I would work in. I am using my skills and education in a variety of ways. I have control over my time, and can add activities or slow down and just enjoy being as suits me at the time.

From the home point of view, life is more relaxed than it would be if DH and I were fighting over who got out of the house for an early meeting if the nanny should cancel, who will cook dinner, pick up the DCs, leave work if a child is sick, or who is the most tired or contributes the most, etc. I have taken on the domestic stuff, and DH is responsible for bringing in the money. We have decided together to split things this way, so we don't feel resentment. We each appreciate the contribution of the other. We have made sure that the finances are arranged so that if anything happens to one of us, the other is not stuck, and I have checked my name and percentage in writing on his pension. I like it that when the DC or DH come into the house there is someone there who cares about how their day was (usually!).

Although DH has been free to rush off abroad at the drop of a hat, which has done his promotion prospects no harm, the fact that we are less well off than we would be if I worked is far outweighed by the quality of life for the whole family.

So, that's my perspective. It's how it can be. But you are not me. Hopefully you can see how you react to what I've written and use that to help your decision-making.

brunette123 Thu 28-Nov-13 16:24:12

I do not work and I am in my 40s. I am always busy with exercise or my dog walking or seeing friends and my boyfriend. I am not bored. It has been 2 years now. The problem with law is it is a 60plus hour week or you leave law and it is nigh on impossible to get something part-time - I managed to get a four day week but only because I became a contractor and the company were desperate. Even returning mums who were initially able to work part-time were later put under pressure to go full time or ended up working massively over their hours and being late for childminders and nurseries. I felt I needed a house husband to take care of everything for me to continue as a lawyer.

Timeforabiscuit Thu 28-Nov-13 16:24:37

Which 30% do you actually enjoy now - are they transferable to other areas? Do you have any hobbies, interests you'd like to pursue?

I don't think you need to set yourself to a standard that no one can possibly achieve - it sound like within this job role you can cut, have cut it, and now you find it lacking not you.

ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 16:26:21

Thanks, that makes sense. FWIW I haven't been pushing doggedly and with tunnel vision towards getting where I am, I have always had one eye on the alternative - got out of the City at one year after qualification, I've changed specialism twice and also had a stint in house but was persuaded to go back to pp by my current firm (I was their client). They flattered me into it, said I was wasting my potential.

3.5 years ago I was 37 and single and despairing of ever meeting anyone. I met DP and am happier in my personal life than ever (despite losing my Mum) . But weirdly if it wasn't for him I think I'd have ditched the job on the basis that nobody else would be affected by my decision. I don't mean that he'd want me to stay- he has already said he'd support me leaving- but I feel that the rest of my life is someone else's concern now too so I had better get it right.

brunette123 Thu 28-Nov-13 16:27:32

If you are currently a partner, I cannot see how you can go back to being a solicitor within the same firm without losing face/credibility and even to move firms to be a solicitor carries risk - I know someone who did it and was just sidelined and never made partner again. Terribly difficult for you but you only get one life, be happy

Pusspuss1 Thu 28-Nov-13 16:28:38

Lol - I knew you were a fellow lawyer just from reading the OP! It is a soul-destroying business on a lot of days. That said, I'm a SAHM just now and I miss it. Who knew... :-/

flatmum Thu 28-Nov-13 16:31:18

If you're not in the City and hence not giving up Millions (I assume) and haven't got kids in private school and a massive mortgage which you have said you haven't - I don't really see whay you shouldn't be able to move sideways/do something else. Or have a baby and take maternity leave to think about it? (I know what you mean about it being the wrong reason but obvioulsy it wouldn't be the only reason)

bunnymother Thu 28-Nov-13 16:37:15

Another former lawyer who read your OP and thought "bet you've just made partner in a law firm". I don't think you should stay, as you obv don't want to. Does the website moretolaw.com have any examples of life after law that appeal to you? Maybe speak to a recruiter about what in-house roles they have? It sounds like they vary greatly, with something for almost everyone.

ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 16:42:17

My Mum was so proud. Neither she nor my Dad went to University and she was a SAHM who regretted being one. She was diagnosed with cancer about 2 weeks after my promotion. I think a large part is that it seems wrong to give up what they never had the chance to achieve- in her case, what she sacrificed her own career to give me.

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