Life advice please!

After several months on the forum, and seeing all the wise words of wisdom and kindness being exchanged, I just wondered if anyone would be able to share what type of work they do, and whether they would recommend it. I know it's a weird ask, and that this is a running forum, but given the positive outlook of so many people, I hoped that some of this happiness might come from a happy and fulfilled work life? Maybe?!

I'm trying to implement some pretty big life changes at the moment, one of which is facing up to the fact that the career I trained four years for and spent far too much money on, isn't for me. It's really sad to finally accept this, but I want to set myself a new challenge of finding work that is worthwhile. I feel that through running and sticking to a programme like this I've shown myself that I AM worth more than just hoping the next 25 years will pass quickly so I can stop working.

I know that no job is perfect, but would love to hear from anyone who has any thoughts about career changes more generally.

No suggestion will go unconsidered! Thanks for reading x

40 Replies

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  • Im a secondary school teacher, and it's the most stressful thing I've ever tried to do BUT having taught, I can't really now imagine doing anything else. So yes, fulfilling, but really bloody hard as well.

  • They are always looking for people to do what I do. I think it's because it's very rare to find people prepared to leave the UK and travel anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat.

    I am a governess. You could try something similar for a year if you wanted. Most contracts are for one year. However, I find that families often wish to keep you.

    The downside of my job: your work hours can change daily; no promotions in this field; you can be isolated if your not outgoing; you have to coupe with different cultures and adapt. Most importantly your leaving your family for a few year.

    I would say if your unhappy, consider your options. I would never do a job that I did not like.

    I also got retrained when I was 30. I was a nanny but I got too old to be one. So I went to uni to get a degree. Once I passed I started work here in Azerbiajan.

  • I'm an IT consultant doing low level management type things. It's not at all what I expected to end up doing when I got my degree in computer science, but it pays the mortgage and my current assignment enables me to work from home most days so I can do e.g. running in my lunch break and flex my time a bit, which I'm grateful for. And that's probably what gives me a positive outlook.

  • I work in a Primary PRU (pupil referral unit) with children who have been permanently excluded from their mainstream school. I love it with a passion BUT it is also incredibly challenging and emotionally demanding. Rediscovering running recently was part of my attempt to manage my stress and it worked a treat until I got injured (ironically not running but playing in the playground with the kids!)

  • I work in a university doing admin quite boring but rewarding when you see your students graduate after their years of study. But like you I can't wait to finish work. Good luck with whatever you do.

  • I'm a Chartered Accountant. Financially it is very rewarding but emotionally I need to fill my time with other activities to feel like I am making a positive contribution to the world!

  • I work in a primary school. Love it to pieces but I do work in a lovely village school. Other bigger and less well run schools have been a nightmare. Before I had children I worked in medical research. That was marvellous too. Good luck finding something you enjoy

  • I am an operational trainer in the food business, spend a lot of time driving or trying to find a parking space. I am in the main a chirpy person but can get stressed at times, less so now I am in my middle 50s, (bit of a firecracker when I was younger). Finding running late in life had helped me de stress, Monday after a 1.5 hr drive and a 1.5 hr wait for a ferry couldn't wait to get home kick off my work shoes, pull on my running gear and trainers and get out in the fresh air and run, not very fast but runX

  • I spent years in sales of Photocopiers of all things, in the end I didn't know if I was in sales or imprisoned in a metal box for hours on end sat on congested roads or motorways, I was losing the will to live. I often joked Paula Radcliffe could run it quicker to my office than I could drive. In the end I sold the business, not enough to retire on, but then I realised money wasn't everything, I'd had Mercedes cars, BMW's, now I'm happy driving my 10 year old Peugeot with 180k on it, but I'm happy. I don't sit in my flash little metal prison cell for hours now (car), I can walk or run pretty much when I want. I wheel and deal in coffee machines, and earn relatively little to what I did and I don't care, I have enough to do what I want but I'm happy now, semi retired since the age of 42 and will never take a full time job no matter what the money, I don't want to lose the will to live again. I coudnt care less about cars, a metal box with wheels on it, designed to be parked up either in a car park or on a road or motorway, so what. I'd rather walk or run it and be healthy lol.

  • I was an operations manager for a local depot at a national company, good money, nice car, but the stress was ridiculous (and I'm not a stressy person) and I was forever driving up and down the M1 and never at home, so I got a job ten minutes from home at a local firm doing admin and I'm much happier. Occasionally my brain feels a bit neglected and unchallenged but generally I love it. I also made other changes in my life too, my marriage wasn't working so we separated and then divorced so I certainly struggle for money much more without the higher paid job, it's worth it though....and I ended up meeting my other half who I wish I met years ago.

    I'm definitely a firm believer in changing the things your not happy with, which is why I started the C25K plan, I need to get fitter, healthier and loose weight so I'm doing this.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  • Thanks guys! Lots to think about and take into account. My job is most similar to goonkeepongoing's (I'm a solicitor) and some days I really struggle feeling positive. Yoga, running and pottering about in the garden keep me sane. It's time to make some changes.

  • If you think it is time to make a change then it obviously is. The best piece of career advice I was ever given (and is sort-of repeated by others here) was to ask myself weekly "Do you feel in control of your career and your home life?" If the answer is No then you need a change. Life is way too short to spend any period of time miserable. Good luck :)

  • I work part time as a retail assistant in a greetings card shop.simple, enjoyable, I go and do my job and go home again. I fit my family,dogs,horses,running around it (almost) quite easily. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you're happy, you work to live not live to work as the saying goes.

  • I trained to be a quantity surveyor but due to family illness had to change my plans. My husband has bouts of quite severe illness, so I care for him and In between that when he is well we run a local bowls club, I do the catering and he does the green and both of us fundraise for the club by holding parties where he dj's and I help out on the bar. I also volunteer on here as the admin. To keep my mind active when he has been ill I take nutrition courses to compliment my love of cooking.

    Good luck with your choice it's scary changing everything but it can be exciting at the same time.

  • I'm in IT (databases), working for a council. It's incredibly hard work, and the stress when things go wrong is horrible. But no day is the same, and thousands of people rely on me keeping things running smoothly. I find it strangely rewarding and the guys I work with are great. I did similar work in my last job and vowed I'd just do 9 - 5 in this one, but that went out the window within days,

  • I'm not going to tell you what I do (it's not important), but I wil tell you that I'm 52 now and have been working in my line of business since I was 18. I believe that it's not what you call yourself or the title they give you or the line of work that you're in that matters. What matters is that you put your soul into it such that you are able to look yourself in the bathroom mirror the next morning and say "yes - I made a difference" and know that it's true. If you can do that, then not only will you enjoy what you do, but others will recognise your worth, your stock will rise, you will succeed and you will be rewarded.

    The only truth is that if you do nothing, nothing happens. So go make it happen.

    Have you done W5R3 yet? If so, you already know what it takes to succeed and the good news is that the work thing is easy in comparison.

  • From a purely personal point of view, I would say that being self employed is the way to feel in control of your life, which I believe, for most people is one of the worst parts of being employed. I would earn more if I were employed but would have nowhere near the same level of satisfaction that I get out of doing my job the way I want to. I work to my standards, not those imposed by some penny pinching boss and as a consequence have happy clients who come back time and again and do all the advertising I need.

    I can, if I wish, take the day off to go running or windsurfing or whatever takes my fancy, whenever I wish. In practice I rarely do and work more weeks of the year than most employed individuals, but the knowledge of that flexibility is a huge benefit. I am a joiner, making things that will live on long after I move on. That hands on creativity is also, for me, essential. I have worked in retail and in offices in my youth, but doing something real with tangible results that other people appreciate beats them all hands down. I love what I do, where I live and work and the varied people I meet.

    Wishing away your working life is a sad way to approach the world and you are doing the right thing in reappraising your career. You will find happy people in any profession, alongside miserable ones. It is not necessarily the work you do that makes the difference, rather more the way that you approach it. Some environments stifle the individual and are best avoided. I wish you all the best in finding a new path.

    A Smug Bastard.

  • Realfoodieclub, so sorry to hear you couldn't pursue your plans, but sounds like you have made the most of the situation.

    It certainly is scary contemplating change, especially when I can't even change what I eat for breakfast without feeling uneasy.

    (By the way, my apologies for "wise words of wisdom". Tired from ... work, unsurprisingly.)

  • I started off doing a banking apprenticeship in Germany and worked for a bank in Oxford when I first came to the UK. The followed some temping and an accidental move into accounts/admin and PA work first in a manufacturing company and for the past 14 years in an engineering consultancy. Some days are dull, others very interesting and fun, but I am incredibly lucky to work with lovely people and have a lot of flexibility with working from home, taking time off for voluntary work and making time up on other days. I "only" do 30 hours, and it allows me to do other things during the week (apart from my family) like involvement in our church where I am treasurer and being both a primary and secondary school governor, and of course it means I can fit in hour long runs when I get home at 4pm :-)

    It's the balance in life that's important and I am lucky in that respect even though it can all get rather hectic at times.

  • Gave up career and full time job to raise 4 children. Now doing 2 days admin a week which suits me just fine.

  • I don't currently work. I had the chance to apply for disability due to my brain injuries but chose not to go down the easy route, I'm a qualified level 2 gym instructor, I qualified in 2013 after 3 brain injuries, I do a few hours of work experience at this local small hotel which is great because it means I get hands on experience and the people I work with are really nice and understanding of my difficulties, they give me 3 hours + to do the rooms, bathrooms and corridors just in case my head's gone to mush but usually I manage to do everything plus extra things within a couple of hours, I've got a good reference from them without even asking them they offered me a reference after only 2 days and am looking for a more permanent job maybe cleaning, a friend does cleaning at this college and he wants me to go and apply for a cleaning job so we can see more of each other, which I'm planning on doing in a few weeks, I'm applying to work in gyms but all the gyms I've applied for are looking for level 3 so saving up for a personal training course which is a level 3 and then I can finally get a job in a gym, orgo on to become a pe teacher as I've done a pathways to teaching course whilst I was in college, sorry just waffled, for me any job will do, I've even applied for a job where I clean horses and cows pens at a farm near to where I used to live growing up, but didn't even get an interview,

    Hope you find something that you enjoy doing,

    Take care,

    Siobhan x

  • I work as an office admin assistant in a small but very successful family owned business.

    I have a fantastic relationship with the girl who works with me . Over the years , she has become like a sister to me . We can tell each other anything and everything and I would trust her with my life and I hope that she would say the same about me . Plus we share the same sense of humour and somedays we are sat there in absolute tears from laughing .

    It is well paid , compared to what I would recieve for a similar position in other companies, plus I have a brilliant boss !

    I am soooo lucky ! :-) xxx

  • I originally qualified as a chef many years ago. But then 10 years ago after my husband was medically discharged from the Navy and our daughter was three we decided that I would go back to work, I went to a local residential home and asked for a job, I was given a weeks trial to see if I liked it and if they liked me. 10 years later I know work in a community hospital as a band 4, it's been hard work but worth it. I enjoy my job very much seeing someone improve and being able to go home is a good feeling. I've only just started running ( last 6 months) it helps me to destress. Go with your heart / gut feelings in what you want to do.

  • I started out as a research scientist after doing my PhD. Then I had children and stayed at home with them for a few years due to various unfortunate circumstances. By the time my third had started school I thought I'd been out of science for too long to go back so did a PGCE and was then head of biology in a secondary school for 5 years. I loved the actual teaching but not all the other cr*p and the behaviour discipline side of things I found very stressful. In the end I knew I was heading for a heart attack or nervous breakdown so resigned last year with no clue what I would do. Then in Spetember I managed to get a job back in science research - lower pay, full-time (as opposed to 4 days a week as a teacher) but no stress, lovely place to work, fantastically interesting. I am back doing the job I always loved. I have gone back at a lower level and am now a research assistant and lab manager rather than post-doc status but it suits me perfectly as that means less stress with no conferences or grant proposals to write but I still get to do the fun lab work. I now also have time at evenings and weekends to go running and go to my allotment rather than always marking or planning.

    So, my advice is to stop doing what you're doing if it's damaging your health and happiness. Follow your real interests and be prepared to retrain to persue what you really want to do. If you can take some time out to really think carefully about what you want and what you enjoy that would be best as then you can research your options and make a plan.

    Helen

  • Me too! I am notionally employed by my husband to help out with his admin, but that doesn't take much out of my day, and apart from that I'm free as a bird, hence the running. I feel very, very lucky. I sometimes feel a bit lacking in identity as I don't have a 'non-home personality' if you see what I mean (when you go out to work you can be a different person in your professional capacity), but the advantages far outweigh that.

    My husband gave up a well paid career to set up his own business 8 years ago, and he's never been happier.

  • MS and depression forced my early retirement, and now I'm generally well and much happier. Fortunately my husband's new venture has been successful enough to keep us housed and fed, and that's enough for us (though he works way too many hours, or course, and is abroad a lot). We're by no means on the bread line, and earn a lot less than we used to, but money isn't everything and our life is definitely improved.

  • I'm a scientist with our local government regulator. Working for the government isn't for everybody, most of my colleagues in industry make far more than I do. But the work is interesting, the work-life balance is really good and I feel great working for the public interest.

    Work doesn't have to define you and be the best thing ever, but if it's miserable that's a lot of hours each day to be unhappy. I'd try volunteering or job shadowing in some different industries to get a flavor for what the actual work might be like. And ask people that know you what they could see you doing - it's pretty insightful.

  • Also a scientist ( seem to have a run of them) started out in research , now working in private company on public health... but also looking to change for similar reasons.

    The thing is, years ago, people would work for the same company and do the same job for life , now 'career change statistics suggest that the average person will be making a career change approximately 5-7 times during their working life.' ( which I'm not sure I TOTALLY agree with as a stat) but it does mean.. what you are looking to do is the norm not something unusual , so it IS achievable ( which i guess is nice to know?) and if where you are/ what you do NOW is affecting your health , probably eminently desirable... ( if scary)

    Good luck anyway

  • I did a degree in modern languages then went into the computer industry as a technical writer. This gradually morphed into becoming a more general manager (I've done project management, team management, account management, and even a short spell as MD of a small company). I'm currently Quality Manager for a medium sized company and am heading our effort to get certified against one of the ISO standards. Certification audit is at the end of the month and running is definately a much needed stress reliever.

    I do this half time, and in my other half time am doing a Batchelors in Theology which I absolutely love. Dissertation due for Christmas, so more running as stress relief will no doubt be required. (I'm 48, the theology degree grew out of my 40th birthday present, which was a commitment from my family to give me peace to study for an individual module back then.) Not sure what will be next, but I'd like to move out of tech and into something using the theology degree. Or maybe I'll do a masters (and then a doctorate ?). Oh yes, I'm married with 3 teenagers as well.

  • Crikey - that sounds full on! I studied philosophy a few years ago, and it was so interesting. Never made it to the end of the degree because illness, depression and life got in the way. At 50 and with the new fee structure I'll never finish the degree now, but my reading matter is far more interesting than it used to be!

  • Never say never ! You might be able to pick it up again via the OU at some stage.

    If I do go on to a masters or further I'll probably want to give up my job - but half time work combine with half time studies has been surprisingly OK so far.

  • you need to get out more lol

  • I am retired. I used to work in a private school as a Library Technician. A dying breed as computers are taking over. Loved it. Loved the kids. We had lots of fun. You feel you never grow up. Hubby was in mining until a year ago. Working away from home like the majority of Western Australian. Running is a necessity as camp food is fantastic and plentiful. Most of the guys (and girls) just get overweight.

  • Bless you Prune! It must be very hard to admit that your career choice isn't for you after the time and money you have invested! I think you need to consider if there is any aspect of your job you do enjoy (or a different specialism) and see if you can capitalise on that first of all. It maybe that you could find a smaller practice to work for or find a (paid) position for a charity or other ethical institution. If it is a complete change you need then you already have skills that any employer would find useful. Good luck with what you decide to do x

  • I feel for you - I have a few friends who also trained as solicitors and have found it's not what they'd anticipated it to be after years of expensive study, and I also know three former teachers who went through the same. It's a shock when you spend a long time invested in something that you think you want to do, only to find that it's not what you'd expected. You've realised it and are prepared to take control and do something about it, rather than carrying on and finding years down the line that you've become unhappy.

    Personally, I wanted to be in the Army for years. I saw an article in a magazine in the school library when I was 11 and wrote to the Army career's office. They sent me back a lovely letter telling me that I was far too young to be a soldier, but when I turned 13 I could become an Army Cadet. I spent the next 18 months begging my mum to let me join the ACF, which she eventually did, and I loved it. When I was 16, I went for an Army scholarship to fund me through A Levels and University. It would have guaranteed me a place at Sandhurst and a minimum 5 year tenure as an Officer. I had to spend two days undergoing gruelling tests for 90 scholarships, and I didn't get one. I was devastated but determined to carry on with my dream. I opted to study Russian and German at University as I wanted to be an Intelligence Officer and joined the Officer Training Corps during my first week as an undergrad. By that time, my Army dream had been going on for over 6 years and had dictated most of what I'd done as a teenager. Other girls had posters of Boyzone on the wall; I had Apaches and badges of rank. But by the end of my first year at Uni, I simply changed my mind about the whole thing. The war in Iraq was raging and I realised that by joining the Army, I'd be signing up to fight battles I didn't agree with. I also didn't like the people who were in my OTC intake, and worried that I'd be spending my career with similar characters. I suddenly found myself at a huge crossroads. All I'd ever wanted was to be in the Army. I had absolutely no clue what to do instead, and to make it worse, my dad told me he was really disappointed in me for changing my mind.

    I've somehow ended up in an area I never considered, thanks to several factors (graduating in the recession, being in the right place at the right time, being desperate for a job). Ten years on from that crossroads, I now work in digital advertising, advising global brands on how to make the most of the advertising space that they buy. It's quite creative, and fairly technical as well, which I never imagined. I work for a company that you probably use as your default search engine. It's a fabulous company to work for, but not the job I dreamed of. However it has good benefits and I met my partner working here - and as we start to consider starting a family, I realise that other things in life may end up taking priority for the next few years.

    Prune, you should follow your heart. If you're not happy doing what you're doing, don't be afraid to try out something new. Because I'm not in a position to change direction right now, I'm trying to complement my job with other things - I've volunteered to tutor a student through their GCSEs as part of the Access programme, and I joined a volunteer organisation that has one foot in the military world so I could continue to 'scratch that itch' so to speak. Perhaps some volunteering could help you find your new direction, or a short course in a new area?

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope that it offers some thoughts, along with all the other great advice everyone has already supplied. Good luck xx

  • Wow Grubby - what an interesting career story! You sound amazing, and you have proved to your dad that you made exactly the right decision for the right reasons and made a success of your alternative career. And you volunteer as well, which I am always talking about doing and never seem to get off my bum and organise properly. Note to self: get on with it!!

  • Spent 23 years in the Royal Navy as as Aircraft Technician, started on Sea King Helicopters, then Canberra's and finished up on Harriers. Did all three aircraft carriers we did have :( Travelled the world (mostly in drunken haze). Spent 9 years of the 23 stuck on RAF bases, met my wife whilst based in Cambridgeshire and after living in Yeovil (Somerset) and Stamford (Lincs) moved back to Cambridgeshire.

    Started where I am as a Design Engineer in 2008, did that for 5 years and was then offered a good sidways move into tech support.

    So now I am a Tech Support Engineer (avionics) I look after Foreign Military Transport Aircraft. I could tell you all about it but then I would have to...........................................

  • I'm currently an in limbo person - I make income from various part-time freelance jobs - with all the insecurity of being self-employed and none of the advantages (no sick pay, holiday pay, and frequent unpaid gaps between 'jobs'). I'm also studying part-time for a PhD. I'm trying to transition from earning so little that I end up claiming housing benefit etc to make ends meet, to being a respected university lecturer. I'm 35 and still confident that I can make a big change like this. And I don't necessarily feel like I got it wrong before - having made the leap to be an artist, which is what led me to accrue a colourful career of part-time jobs to support that (cleaning, retail night shifts, stock room/cash office jobs, etc.) - I still have all the experience of having done what I did, the good as well as the bad. What I mean is change doesn't necessarily have to mean you got it wrong in the first place, it can just be part of your own life progression. Also it doesn't necessarily have to mean you will no longer capitalise on the training you did to be a solicitor - loads of transferrable skills there. Good luck though!

    By the way - making a career change as a result of feeling in control through running - I think I came at it the other way round. Starting the PhD last October felt like such a big achievement that I felt empowered to make lots of other changes too, including looking up running programmes :)

  • I really believe in career/work/life changes - the main thing is to do what makes you feel good . I could have written what IannodaTruffe wrote - more or less :)

    I did a few jobs... sailing instructor, skipper, translator (of sailing books..) and then finally managed to get a degree in Architecture. I worked for a couple of years and then came to Ireland for a summer... worked as a cook in a sailing school, spent the winter fixing boats, went to cookery school, worked as a chef in restaurants and on a tall ship. (and I am still in Ireland 18 years later)

    Now I bake bread in a health food store - just a few hours a week, do some private catering, and teach Mindfulness Based interventions and meditation.

    What I discovered is that for me helping people to feel happier is one of the most rewarding things . Wether it is by creating a good environment to live in (as an architect) offering good real food, teaching how to find the skills in ourselves to be more contented (by teaching mindfulness) it does not matter, it's the joy I feel in seeing people's smile that makes it worth.

    I have very little income, but I am free...

    And in the future... I may just decide to become a full-time potter, who knows?

  • I'm a Process Technician (fancy name for operator!) in a Soya processing plant. American company & can be very stressful at times. So much so that I had to have a few weeks off last year with stress (Docs orders) & was the first time I've had off sick in many years. It scared me a little but woke me up to the fact that work is just a way to pay bills & not worth stressing over.

    Took up Meditating (Don't laugh, all my family & friends did ! lol), find it briliantl along with running (slowly !), cycling & long walks along the Leeds -Liverpool Canal. All in all feel a much happier Me (Re-set to my factory settings). Can't really see a career change for me as I'm 52 now, but making these "Tweeks" to my life have made a difference.

    Good luck X ! :)

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