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Mid-life, work-related ennui...anyone fancy commenting?

(19 Posts)
JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 00:03:59

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????

Discuss!

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 25-Feb-14 14:35:52

Get on LinkedIn and look at the people you admire. What do they have that you don't have, how could you get to where they are? More training? Moving your business direction? Trying to get a permanent job? Can you start thinking about investing your time to create unearned income?

Or could you forget about getting validation from your work as you've said its easy and look at opportunities for hobbies etc?

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 17:14:06

Thanks for this, Minesa; very much appreciated

Perhaps that's part of the problem why I don't really fit in anymore...I don't "admire" anyone really.

If I was a thrusting young thing in banking or business maybe, but I'm mostly repelled from over-ambitious, politically savvy, pushy achievers.

Ironic really, because perhaps this is just all about status and kudos.

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

But where do I go from here? 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.

thesaurusgirl Tue 25-Feb-14 17:23:38

Go see a headhunter. If you've managed to sustain a reasonably busy freelance career through the recession, you're obviously very good at your job. In which case you'll be very well placed to return to work on a full-time in-house basis, particularly if you can bring clients with you.

Or do something else. Would you be prepared to get involved in a charity? (Which can be anything from working behind the counter to being a trustee)? It needn't be anything morally worthy, you can get involved with the arts or architecture, and people will be thrilled with your commercial skills.

Alumni association? Superb for networking.

The usual MN response to Mummy Track career ennui is to encourage you to start your own business, but I'd caution against this. Trust me, you will not earn anything like the sums you're used to from baking cakes or selling Stella & Dot., and you will work three times the hours.

thesaurusgirl Tue 25-Feb-14 17:25:48

School governor?
Magistrate?
Local councillor?
Write a book?

CommsWhizz Tue 25-Feb-14 19:18:42

I loved your 'discuss!' at the end.

My personal thoughts were that it just sounds like a bit of boredom and frustration has crept in, and when that happens it's hard to appreciate the upsides when the downsides seem overwhelming.

It sounds to me like you're obviously good at what you do, so why not use the time and effort to reshape what it is that you're doing already and obviously doing well. Look at your offering from an outside point of view and appraise all the positives, and then look at repackaging yourself. It's hard when I don't know what you do, but, if you wish your business was a bit more, well, funky and with better status, make it that way.

If you find it tricky with the odd working hours, can you gently start pushing back to clients about your availability? If you're bored doing what you're doing, can you use your existing skills and client base to diversify? Is it the kind of work that you pitch for new business? Sometimes, if you're reliant on regular work for the same clients, it's easy to get into a rut, why not look outside the comfort zone and see if you can spot other opportunities that you could put yourself forward for?This could really revitalise you and your business, and by moving forward a little you could shrug off the miserable fellow workers and try and surround yourself with positivity - it really is catching.

If nothing else, look at rebranding yourself, internally if nothing else. Rather than doing yourself down, look at what skills you have and your loyal client base who obviously rate you, and think of positive ways to sell/promote/praise yourself. Something as simple as a new logo and a fresh website (if that's what you need or use), is enough to make you walk taller and feel like you have more purpose.

What did you want your business to achieve? Are you there, or did you get distracted along the way? Do you have any goals? Look at simple, achievable steps that you can schedule in order to get there.

For me, I took the plunge last year and while I'm drowning in work at the moment, I absolutely love it. I feel more professional, more capable, and dare I say it, bloody good at what I do. My daily rate is steadily climbing, my client base is growing and best of all, I can see the plans I made slowly coming to fruition. You just need to fall back in love with it, maybe? It can be done, good luck!

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 21:19:31

CommsWhiss, you've comm'ed really good, and I really do appreciate the time and effort there...great stuff.

I like your enthusiasm....honestly, you sound like me when I encourage younger people or even my own children.

All good and I will take time to read and re-read, but ....but I feel a bit doomed at the moment.

HAd 2 or 3 nice contracts end over the last 3/4 years and while these things happen and new things come, perhaps I'm just getting a bit too old and tired for all this flux...I need a highly-paid sinecure with minimal effort required!

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 22:20:41

By the way, Comms, "comfort sone" (sorry, no 26th letter on this keyboard!) is exactly where I am and I know it.

Trouble is, to get out of it takes the kind of energy, self belief and naivety that I had when I was establishing myself in the first place....no bloody chance any more!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 25-Feb-14 22:49:56

Sorry you are feeling as you do. However wonderful the set up, if you aren't feeling it, then something needs to change to make things better.

I think it is worth having a go at serious job hunting. It sounds to me like you are tired of the downsides of freelancing. A job (and it has to be the right job) might give you a new focus, new colleagues and the status you mention but not the responsibility of all aspects of running your own show. As others have commented you obviously have skills and experience somebody might be willing to pay well for that.

However, job hunting might have the opposite effect and help you to conclude that actually you want to stick with what you have. But at least you will have properly considered it.

Outside of work are you looking after yourself? Can you do anything to increase your energy levels? Exercise, vitamins, fresh air, more sleep etc.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 25-Feb-14 22:53:13

It might also be worth thinking about a career/executive coach to talk all this through with?

I do wonder if it is a sort of 'mid life crisis' linked to your life stage. I'll be 40 in a couple of years and I feel panicked about making the most of the "earning years". Something feels important about yours 40s!

TheFarSide Tue 25-Feb-14 22:53:23

It does sound like a "what's it all about?" stage.

My own recent experience feels similar. I am 51 and in a profession where jobs are being cut and younger, cheaper non-graduates are infiltrating. There is plenty of freelance work about but my profession has taken a bashing in recent times and I've just lost my mojo.

I am thinking of just giving up my freelance work because I also have a part-time low paid admin job. This admin job is actually quite enjoyable, but I have no status whatsoever and I'm having to rely on other things to give me a sense of identity and self-worth.

Overall I am pretty happy with my quality of life, but there is a nagging feeling that I haven't lived up to my own career expectations, that I should be doing better, that I'm fading into obscurity but haven't got the energy for another career push.

So, maybe it is just some kind of mid-life crisis as you say, where you are questioning what is important to you and thinking about the next stage in your life/career, but haven't yet arrived at any clear conclusions?

WilsonFrickett Tue 25-Feb-14 23:19:21

I also think no job is perfect (sorry if someone else has said this, sooo tired so skimming, have just finished a 'five minute job' grin sorry DH).

When we're in the big bad corporate world there's so much that sucks, but there's lots of good things too - recognition, structure, someone pushing you, and from re-reading your post I'm going to say recognition again!

In the freelance world yes, you miss out a lot of the shit, but ^^ the good things are missing too.

So you either accept that as part and parcel of 'the life' or you try and fill in some of the missing bits in other ways.

I bet if 'being witty and intelligent on a Radio 4 show' is a real ambition, we could come up with a plan to get you there!

JandLandG Tue 25-Feb-14 23:48:42

Spot on, Wilson.

I see the staffers enjoying their comeraderie and remember the good ol' days (of crap money and long hours) and youthful keenness.

Recognition...aaah, yes, I remember that.

Just very quickly, I worked for a big company for 3 out of the last 4 weeks. Shit money really now that the young London interns will do something for nothing, but I chose to do it. Can't remember why now, but not going to starve to death.

Anyway, I did a good job for them, easy enough, under worked, no hassles. In 3 weeks, I didn't even get an acknowledgement that I'd turned up. Never mind a glimmer of gratitude. Never mind a quick "thanks for your efforts" e mail. A "well done" or "great stuff"? Not a fucking chance.

The two people in question will no doubt go far. Shameless, hard-faced, bullet-proof self confidence.

Jammy so-and-so's!

WilsonFrickett Wed 26-Feb-14 11:08:24

Yeah, but that's part of the freelance thing too. I almost fell off my chair earlier when I got a 'thanks that was a great job' email from a client - the only recognition a freelance gets is a re-book grin

redmapleleaves Wed 26-Feb-14 13:19:37

Sorry to hear how you're feeling. I think there is some great advice above.

I'm mid-40s feeling a bit similar. Read two great books recently. One, called One Thing, (can't remember who its by but a bestseller) is about always identifying the one thing which would make a critical difference and aiming at that. Could be fun to do that exercise of tearing pictures out of magazines which speak to you, sticking them on some paper, writing a bit about what they mean to you - a board of what the unlived dreams might be. Having a clearer vision is cheesy, but powerful, and helps us shift habits.

And the other one is by Julia Cameron, The Artists Way. Its about bringing more creativity into your life, but I've found the exercises amazingly powerful - and good at getting me unstuck and moving. Really fun, one for eg is about writing a list of 50 things which make you angry, you can be as petty as you like and go back as far as you want. E.g. that Susan G got tap lessons when I was 7 and I didn't. and then you go back again and identify a possible step you could take in this direction....

I'd also think having someone to check in with, a career coach or something could be invaluable, to hear things differently and reflect back to you. good luck

JandLandG Thu 27-Feb-14 12:12:20

Thanks, Red

I've always been against self-help/improvement/motivational type stuff, but maybe I should open my mind and have a look.

I really do think it's a bit work related...not much responsibility/kudos...just disappointed in myself and need to move onwards and upwards...somehow.

I sense I'm losing my powers a bit as well....physical is just a part of ageing that you can accept but I'm not as sharp mentally as I used to be...probably through lack of use!

Woe is me, eh? Sitting in a nice house with a lovely family and friends, healthy and warm. Ha!

What an idiot!

homeworkerwithkids Thu 27-Feb-14 14:34:27

I'd see some old friends, go out for a comedy night. Have some fun. I had one of those, a midlife crisis. Although I called it a mid week crisis as the worse of it hit on a Wednesday!

JandLandG Fri 28-Feb-14 01:19:34

Homey...I like your way of thinking....

However, as previously referred to, I'm an absolute, fucking idiot.

Drove a hundred miles to work today.

Ridiculous, but true. Worth it financially (just)...and I'm trying to get back in with the firm, so I made the effort.

With exquisite timing, on the way home, I've been done for speeding.

I drove there, taking nearly 3 hours, at 61 mph to save fuel and therefore cash.

I thought I'd floor it on the way back to get home at a decent hour.

Slow speed on the M5 south for 8 miles in a 50mph roadworks sone...so speeded up straight after it.

Pulled over. Big fine and points coming.

Weep.

I feel so ridiculous, I'm not going to tell anyone.

I've done it before. Not telling anyone, I mean. No one in RL will know about this.

Christ, I wish it wouldn't have happened. It could so easily not have. I normally drive so slowly these days to save fuel.

With further irony as I had a health check this morning and was pronounced supremely healthy. Physically, at least. They didn't ask one question about how I felt, felt, felt.

Either way, I've been caught doing something illegal.

That's where my life is at nowadays. People regard it with disdain, contempt or pity.

Slightly drunk again if you cant tell.

Once again, actually not too bad, but you'll allow me the self indulgence. No fucker reads these anyway.

MinesAPintOfTea Sat 01-Mar-14 04:46:19

It sounds as though you're being very hard on yourself: I'm sure everyone doesn't judge you that way. But its very hard to make constructive suggestions without knowing what you do/what you want to do. Other than not speed wink

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