...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!

issimma Fri 28-Feb-14 12:11:18

<wonders if we all have the same job>

My job is fab in terms of flexibility for the kids and hourly rate. It's rubbish in terms of career progression, pension, etc.

Gah.

bibliomania Fri 28-Feb-14 09:36:01

I hear you on the small pleasures, Tabliope. They do make a big difference to the headspace.

*JandL" - you said don't ask and I don't want to trample over that. But your post makes me wonder if your dissatisfaction has more to do with your relationship/home life than anything else. You obviously don't have to go into it here. Can you access some personal counselling, maybe through work?

Tabliope Fri 28-Feb-14 08:49:41

I feel like I'm in the same rut. I've had the gradual realisation I'm never going to get 'there' wherever 'there' is - what I mean is a situation where I'm in a career I enjoy, great atmosphere, doing something fulfilling with enough money to enjoy life and hours that don't kill you. I've compromised certain things to be able to bring up my son (single mother) so I'm freelance now too but miss the social side of work, don't miss commuting but miss being out the house, love working from home at times when I remember the horrors of commuting, don't have a pension or bonuses any more, but on a decent rate. I don't think I'm ever going to get to the stage where everything falls in to line and even for a short while I can think things are going well. Life outside of work is non-existent at the moment - too tired, not much time, in a rut.

Long term, like you, I worry about the hours I do but I've no pension. I see a very lonely, poor old age. I can start addressing that in a few years when my son leaves home. I haven't given up all hope but know my life is going to be full of compromises. More than I ever expected. One of my big problems is where to live. I feel if I can find someone I'd like to be that isn't extortionate to buy a major problem will be lifted. I earn good money and would effectively be very well off if I could halve my outgoings on accommodation. I feel then I could cut some of the more unsocial hours, have a bit more me time to do things I'd like to do, pay off mortgage faster and save for a decent old age as much as possible. I realise this is life. It's hard to accept but I look around and many others in similar and also much worse boats than I. Small pleasures are the order of the day now as I fear the next 20 years will pass in a fug of worry and work.

JandLandG Fri 28-Feb-14 01:28:44

Poppius, I like your name.

And your use of the word clicky.

However, I'm not sure: do people really know where they want to end up? I bloody don't.

I'd like to feel more confident at home; it would be nice if we had more people round. We've got a nice house with nice books and it shows people that we're nice...plus a bit daft and silly too, whilst being serious. But I'm not allowed to very often. Dont ask.

PopiusTartius Wed 26-Feb-14 12:39:41
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!)

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.

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

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...

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!

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.

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….

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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?

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

Exactly what supersesame said!

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!

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.

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!

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