...to be a bit down when ostensibly - and actually - my life is pretty good

(30 Posts)
JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 10:28:03

Just feeling down and in a bit of a rut workwise the last couple of years...I shouldn't really, but I do.

Here's the situation, let me know if you have any thoughts/advice/suggestions.

Firstly - and most importantly - we have a lovely family life...all good, very lucky and I know it.

However, work matters often get me dispairing.

The upsides:

Great daily rate (I'm freelance).

Don't have to work too hard much of the time.

Downsides:

No career progression.
Often work late/weekends.
Unimpressive people as colleagues in the main...used to be a graduate profession but not so much anymore.

Old friends/kids' friend parents who actually have grown up jobs with a bit of status and responsibility...I'm just not in that game any more, even though they think I probably am.

I feel like a well-paid C2 factory/manual worker to be honest. Nothing wrong with that of course, but just not how I might have thought things would work out when I got a great education and started out doing this 20 years ago.

Plus odd hours are more tiring now as I get older.

I can feel myself running out of energy and just wondering what I can do to re-kick start myself whilst earning a living for the family. Mid-40s, should be at the peak of my powers, but now I often shy away from work colleagues and social situations when I used to love that kind of thing.

What the f**k is wrong with me??? And how can I change things?

Discuss!

ahlahktuhflomp Tue 25-Feb-14 10:32:27

There is nothing unreasonable about this. You are suffering from low morale, and probably therefore need action to resolve that - depending on your problem behind it, it couls be a tub of ice cream and a shag, or a holiday, or buying yourself something nice, or a change of job, or all of the above.

YANBU

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 13:28:33

Thanks for this, very much appreciated, but I think I need a bit more than that, sadly. I should just "pull myself together" as they used to say.

Anyone else?

Is there a book entitled "Everything You Wanted To Know About Not Being Quite As Young As You Used To Be And Being A Bit Miserable But Were Afraid To Ask"?

Energy levels down, optimism down, cynicism up...what can I do?

Op, are you me? I can't offer any advice but I feel the same and it's crept up on me - somehow my peers are all high flyers and I made some wrong turns work wise and now I feel stuck.

Can you / do you want to re-train?

Dahlen Tue 25-Feb-14 13:42:30

What you're lacking is fulfilment. When you have a nice life it's easy to think there must be something wrong with you if you're not deliriously happy, but life doesn't work like that. We all have to have something that makes us feel proud of who we are and what we do if we are going to be genuinely happy. Some are able to find that through family; others work; others a combination of both.

If money isn't the major issue, you could try branching out a new arm to your freelance business in order to give yourself more of a challenge. Or you could try retraining completely. You don't say how old you are, but I'm guessing early-mid 40s. You could potentially be working for another 20 years, so it's never too late to retrain provided you are realistic about the demand for your services once qualified.

Alternatively, try finding a new and highly challenging hobby or volunteer for something that really makes a difference. A surprising amount of fulfilment can come from these sources.

Good luck.

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 13:50:02

Yep, I certainly appreciate that a mid life ennui isn't unique to me...I think my main problem is that workwise, I was never that confident and when I went freelance it was an easy way to make decent money without ever having to assume too much responsibility.

Seemed a great idea at the time - esp when the children were v small - more free time, more money, less responsibility.

But now, it's left me feeling left behind at work...new, young, keener people etc etc...old story.

Plus I don't have much respect for the industry I'm in, maybe; or the kind of people who tend to do well, certainly.

Same everywhere though, I suppose.

I think the nub is that I've become lasy, and while I'd love responsibility/status/kudos, that means having to put yourself out there and compete.

I'm not sure I'm up to it. Sad, but true at the moment.

Re-train? Certainly an option but would mean us being a bit skint for a while at least...do I want to risk our pleasant lifestyle just to indulge myself?

Its not that bad...not bad at all...just feels it sometimes.

Nothing that a glass or 2 of vino doesn't sort....perhaps more boosing is the answer!

MerylStrop Tue 25-Feb-14 13:53:28

I can totally relate to this

Friends of mine seem to be a lot more sorted out career wise - one family has just moved to New York, another has just got a high status director job, other people seem to be at the top of their game.

We have a lovely happy gaggle of kids who are still quite young and a home we all love but are freelancing/piecing things together and whilst I have worked on some high profile stuff lately I feel my confidence is waning and that I don't have the energy for a lot of it any more.

BUT I had bit of a wake-up moment over Xmas when I realised a few things:
- that I had a bit of "status anxiety" and that the alternative - the "Big Job" that I have shied away from probably wouldn't make me any happier

- that I am actually not that bothered about money (or indeed posh cars, holidays) so long as we have enough - and time matters more to me

- that I was doing some work for ego/because I thought otherwise someone else would do it

It sounds like a total cliche but I've been going to yoga three or four times per week since Christmas and the mindfulness aspects of this are definitely helping me to feel more positive about the course things are taking. It helps that I am really interested in the work that I do.

Supersesame Tue 25-Feb-14 13:55:57

Sounds like me too. Work from home, started off on a great career ladder 6 years ago. Moved to home working in same job and had kids. Watched my colleagues climb ladders while I'm still on the same rung.
The biggest problem is my pay is quite good. Not bad enough to leave which I think makes me lazy too . I can do the job with my eyes closed, conditions and hours are great, why would I want to change? Because I am bored to death, feel I'm Wasting my intelligence, skills and experience but I can't change.
I will watch for responses!

issimma Tue 25-Feb-14 14:06:31

Exactly what supersesame said!

Balaboosta Tue 25-Feb-14 14:30:55

Please don't dismiss your feelings or berate yourself. This is real what you are feeling and worth thinking about. Try to find some mental space to start thinking this through. Talk to trusted people and try to get a thought process going that helps you figure out slowly what you might change. Mindfulness meditation helps me too, gets you into the present more, and this helps you have greater clarity. Posting on here is a good step. Can you find a friend who is also feeling like this and take some time together to think about this? Or even see a life coach or therapist for a while?

MerylStrop Tue 25-Feb-14 14:36:11

My friend (who is a great lover of self help books) lent a book to me called the alchemists guide to day to day happiness, or some such, which I am flicking through.

You don't really need to read the whole thing but the sentiment is very much that happiness is a state of mind, not something that needs to be sought and worked for. I found this very helpful.

Dahlen has hit the nail on the head - in my case anyway. I am lacking in fulfillment. And supersesame, I commented to my friend this morning that I am bored shitless in my job, working from home means that it's flexible for my children but that my options are limited.

Some good advice on here, glad you wrote the op, JandL. Apologies for the thread hijack blush

bibliomania Tue 25-Feb-14 16:02:47

I have a bit of this going on too. My situation might be slightly different in that I used to have a passion for a particular area of work, but I can't currently do it due to where I live. Also, at a certain point I was a bit burnt out and needed a break from it. But I relate to the sense of "Is this it?"

I'm doing something else and it's fine really, but I miss the identity and sense of vocation I used to have. It's especially hard when I see other people Living my Dream.

I don't know to what extent it's a mid-life crisis that just has to be endured, or it's a call to action to be heeded.

I have started some part-time study related to my old area, which helps to feel that it's still part of my identity and it might be something I could go back to.

whereisshe Tue 25-Feb-14 16:28:14

I feel like this too. I don't think it's existential angst in my case, just that I always thought I'd have achieved more by my late 30s than I have... Mild, low level disappointment.

I have to regularly remind myself that (a) the grass is not greener - just going to work for a charity or similar will not necessarily mean I feel like I'm giving something back or otherwise address the worthiness gap I currently feel professionally, and (b) I'm not actually that old, there's still time.

I discussed it with the personal coach I was seeing last year. Her suggestion was to map out where I see myself being at 70, then 55, then 45 etc - working backwards along the lines of "if you want to get to there, you need to get to here first in preparation". It was quite useful, and stops me from obsessing about how I feel NOW, which was making me wallow and get tied up in my emotions.

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 17:03:19

Hey, thanks so much for all these thoughts...very helpful and very much appreciated.

Hmmmmm, yeah, maybe , thinking about it, it is just a status/kudos thing that I'm missing.

When I had it, I didn't even know it, it's only become apparent as I've got older...and haven't got of it much anymore!

I like what you say WhereIsShe, but where do you start? Where do I see myself in future? No bloody idea!

Being witty and intelligent on a Radio 4 show.

Lauded and invited to glamourous parties as a celebrated literary figure.

Not going to happen, is it? Maybe that's my central problem: idiotic delusions of grandeur. A superiority complex.

I've been the luckiest person alive to have enjoyed the live I have so far...don't deserve it, haven't worked hard in years, never very talented...just thorough.

Maybe I'd like to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond than my current minnow against sharks status.

Hey ho.

MaskedInvader Tue 25-Feb-14 17:30:40

I'm so glad that someone else wants to be witty and intelligent on a Radio 4 show.

Meanwhile, it sounds like you need a new challenge. Could you take on a new challenge at work or at home? Even something quite minor - DH and I are teaching ourselves Sichuan cooking from a cookbook, for example, which means going to find new ingredients, trying out new cooking techniques, etc. It's just something fun to do together in the evenings and the results are quite impressive.

whereisshe Tue 25-Feb-14 19:07:22

She took me through a process of thinking about what really matters to me, trying to imagine being 75 and looking back on my life etc. It wasn't as wanky as it sounds! It made me realise that what I really want is to leave the world a bit better than I found it, to have contributed somehow.

whereisshe Tue 25-Feb-14 19:10:32

Is there anything particularly wrong with delusions of grandeur? grin
Kudos is, after all, a way of measuring success.

Besides it's nice to be applauded!

hettie Tue 25-Feb-14 20:11:39

OP... you have time yet and maybe a sideways move would work for you. However it's worth considering if your unhapiness is external or more about how you think about life/things in general.
I have made ‘the career change’ and now realise that whilst I am glad I did shaking off the ‘feeling a bit down’ side of myself was more about changing my attitude thinking than making everything perfect.
My story…I used to work in TV, producing/directing documentary films. Made some ok stuff, was working my way towards 'better' 'more worthwhile' films... gradually started realising that the profession and industry was going to hell in a hand cart and that there was no way I could stay working the way I was until retirement (the crazy hours would have killed me). Briefly tried moving into a more management role, which I was good at but hated then decided to re-train.
I am now nearly finished with my second career's qualification. It has been a long and arduous process, I am working in my new field (completely different) and enjoy what I do...BUT I still get quite a lot of blurgh days...
I think some of this at the moment it the resentment of our financial situation. Mainly because I am now way back in terms of career progression/earning potential and also because the pay in my new profession is frankly on the low side (well at least for the training/qualifications/skills/knowledge we are expected to have). When I tell my friends (either in TV or other areas) what I get paid for what I do they are shocked. We can’t fix our house/go on holiday/save for retirement. And at my age that is starting to grate a bit..
I am now starting to see that I can be a bit down and negative whatever if going on in the big picture. Neither career path had the best of everything and both involved compromises (I feel on balance the one I’ve taken had better compromises ifykwim), I’m just poor at reminding myself that compromises are ok!. Like yourself I had delusions of an easier life…but I am now moving towards enjoying what I have and doing small things that make a difference to my mood, exercise, connecting with friends, small pleasurable activities etc…… I guess what I am saying is that the big life change was ok, but it certainly wasn’t that magic wand I had hoped for….

pandarific Tue 25-Feb-14 20:23:48

Different situation in my case, but I thought Cheryl Sandberg's book Lean In was very, very good - I had a horrible feeling it was going to be all pyramids and stupid buzzwords, but it's not at all. It's helped my confidence a lot - worth a read definitely.

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 21:35:05

Many thanks for taking the time, Hettie....very much appreciated.

Not too dissimilar to me, actually....but I think my main problem is that I was headed to be a PD but never really made it as I made choices to have an easier life...I now do a lower grade job than I did 10/12 years ago and maybe that's what grates a bit...ironically, the cash is better, but not as good as it used to be.

Not that I give too much of a toss about money, we don't spend it on stuff, just paying off the mortgage and nice trips and family experiences...I think nothing of spending a grand going to the Edinburgh fest for a few days but wont buy myself a latte cos its decadent.

Comically mental!

Lean In is one of my fave phrases to the kids now, funnily enough, Pand...never heard it til that book came out...worth a read, you say? I have always poo poo'd self help stuff as american psychobabble tripe, but maybe I should give it a go.

I remember a friend of mine reading all that bollocks about 10/12 years ago when we were earning a similar wage...he sold his company for 3 million quid a couple of years back!

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 22:08:47

Re-reading this with a glass or 2 of vino in me....soooo much better!

There are loads of people like me (us), I know...

Dahlen, thanks so much...I actualy did do a bit of volunteering on a local art thing a couple of years ago...really opened my mind up to a new way of seeing...on my to-do list to re-engage...highly recommended thing to do.

Meryl - have thought about yoga.....I always do feel better after some exercise anyway. Alchemy-wise, I agree, I dont need to work to attain happiness, but somehow, our identities and egos are tied up with work so somehow it seems more important than it is/should be. A massive problem that I have is that some of the people I come across in work, I can't believe we're in the same universe to be honest. Educated and older working class meets caveman...I'm astonished that I meet these people....still, its cos I put myself there to earn the easy money. Idiot.

Biblio: It's especially hard when I see other people Living my Dream.

I don't know to what extent it's a mid-life crisis that just has to be endured, or it's a call to action to be heeded.

wise words...

OK, I'll ponder some more...it's always fine at night when there's nothing you can do and you've had a wee drinkie...the cold light of day in the morning will see me putting off those e mails and drinking coffee cos the kids are all at school....still, at least we're not skint, under water or whatever...and as I said at the very start..we're healthy and happy and that's all that matters

Thanks again everyone...keep contributing if you fancy, I'm sure there are a lot of people in similar positions...

pandarific Tue 25-Feb-14 23:07:55

I know exactly what you mean about American self-help type stuff, but it's a proper serious look at how (and why) women talk themselves out of positions of power - not dry, not buzz, but tightly written and a lot of emphasis on actual psychological and behavioural studies, and then analysis of how these things play out in the workplace. IMO it's really, really good and has opened my mind up a lot definitely!

Totally recommend. smile

bibliomania Wed 26-Feb-14 11:22:20

Hmm, you've made me think I should read that book now, pandarific. I was avoiding it, but those issues are relevant to me.

hettie, very interesting point that the Big Move doesn't necessarily cure the everyday Blaagh.

PopiusTartius Wed 26-Feb-14 12:39:12

OP I've been on CPD training with these people and really like them. They have a handbook for business owners which I am working through and it is great: practical exercises to help you think where you want to end up, and then work back for the 'how to get there'. They have some free exercises on their website, that might help you get started:
http://www.painlessbusiness.com/exercises/

(I promise I'm not them!)

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now