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Career crisis... what would you do?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Rusty Chainsaw, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. I've got a bit of a problem I'm hoping some of you might be able to help me with... I've hit a bit of a career crisis, and, at 35, that's proving to be a problem. :)

    I'm a web developer. Have been for quite a few years. And, to be honest, I'm not bad at it. But, frankly, developing websites on a full-time basis doesn't really appeal to me any more, and certainly isn't something I can see myself doing for the rest of my working life. It's something I do because I can, not because I enjoy it. I've lost interest in improving my skills, and every day I seem to come up with new ways to procrastinate (when the internet's involved, there's always new ways to waste time. :D ).

    There are other things I'm good at - I'm good at writing, I'm good at music (natch), I'm good with people, and I'm good at art. I've considered being a journalist, a teacher or a full-time musician. But I'm scared to try and pursue a job in any of these other fields because I don't have work experience in them, and therefore couldn't command a decent salary. I can't afford the time away from work that I'd need to go to college to get qualified in any of these trades, and my missus is scared of me losing my ability to earn a good wage.

    What would you do?
  2. Try to narrow down what you would enjoy doing that might provide the income you need to replace your current job. If you're going to make a change you need to pick one and devote your all your energy and creativity twoards it. It took me about 3 years to make the transition from working as a machinist to going full time with knifemaking. I switched to night shift allowing my more productive hours to be focused on setting up my workshop, business and making knives. I tried to make sure I had all the equipment I needed and orders lined up before I quit my regular job. It all worked out and I could never go back to working for someone else. Once you start making some headway with your new venture, working for just a paycheck to fuel your new passion wont be so bad!!
  3. Dino Monoxelos wrote a great column in BP last year about making a full-time income from music without necessarily "making it" in the music business, and that inspired me a lot. Basically, it made me see that you can make a decent living from several part-time gigs. I thought along the lines of having a paying music gig (good cover band or something), teaching bass, then writing articles on various subjects and shopping them around. And probably still a bit of freelance web development on the side.

    The problem is, getting myself into a position where I can pursue something like that with the minimum amount of risk. I'm thinking that saving some money so we'd have at least a couple of months' worth of expenses in hand, and then going for it would be the prudent thing to do... would this be the best way? Or should I try to get some of these other concerns going while still maintaining the full-time web gig?
  4. Most of us change careers at leave five times. Just look around and choose a new direction that has appeal and where you can find an opportunity. The chance is always there.
  5. Rusty, can relate to changing careers in mid-30s. For me, that was exactly 10 years ago. I'm not thinking about your situation as an "i've been there - listen to me" kind of thing. But I know what you face, and am going through a fresh period of similar ponderings myself in recent year. Am in the thick of it right now, but I'll likely stay with technical writing.

    Given your technical apititude, and interest in writing, is there any technology at which you could establish yourself as a technical writer, working in that technology? Tech writers who do technology (rather than mortgage banking, for example) can be ever-sought all the time, because you can't fake (1) native mastery, and (2) skill that you can certainly demonstrate on demand, given your background. And technology can, ironically, be a more steadily active industry than mortgage (for example).

    The question becomes - can you somehow stay happy in technology? I'd love to have been the tech writer who did the manuals for Zon bass, for example (and I've looked them up), but try to think in terms of salary plus stock options, if at all possible.... For me? I'm likely to stay in tech writing, but my interests are starting to wander.... Save as much as possible before busting a move. Otherwise, if you get into a crunch later, you are forced to settle for something less, and your resume and contiguous salary history suffer... Contract writing for awhile, perhaps?
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yes. The most prudent path would be to keep the full-time job going until you've taken the new venture as far as it can possibly go without having devoted yourself to it full-time. Try to anticipate every possible need - then add a fudge factor of xx% additional funds to your savings - just to be on the safe side.

    Set up your new business processes in advance just as much as you can. Then once you make the transition, make it quickly and smoothly - and don't look back.

    Don't be concerned about making a career transition in your mid-30s. It's not nearly as old as you think...

  7. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Quit and find something else to do. I'm only 24 so it was probably easier for me but still, I could not imagine staying in a career where I feel the need to conjure up every excuse possible just to avoid work. You run out of excuses after a while. I think I've killed just about every family member I have at least once!
  8. I was in your position and was a technical lead for a major software company. Working 24/7. Always up to my ears in work, and reading tons of techincal books. It was required in my positon to have all the certifications, Microsoft, Sun, Cisco, Citrix, Novell. My life is better now that I got out. I still work for the same company but in a non technical position. Its nice to be able to see my kids everyday and not take the work home with me. I was a misrable person and no one wanted to be around me.

    Here in the USA, people are married to jobs they hate because of health insurance. Its just too expensive to get a good plan for yourself and family.

    If I were you, I would save a yrs worth of bills and then start that career change. You still have plenty of yrs left to work. Its never to late to be happy.
  9. I don't think it's technology that's the problem. I'm definitely still interested in that. It's more that I'm finding developing websites utterly unfulfilling.

    Being a technical author sounds like a good idea... that's something I could definitely do. How do you get into it? Is it well paid?
  10. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    Who writes the text that goes on your websites? (I mean the factual stuff rather than just the PR blurb).

    It you do then you've probably already done some tech-writing. If not you're already working with them. See if you could take on more of that as part of your current work.

    Most companies employ people (or subcontract) people to write their documentation - as a web designer you've got the advantage that you're already in a related field. If you're designing sites for different companies, then you've got the contacts to get more involved.

    If you decide to change more radically, you've got the advantage that web-design can be done on a casual/freelance basis. Think about how you can arrange you web work, so that it's 4 days a week leaving you a day free to develop your new skills. You'll be broke for a few months, but get by, without giving up your main income (if you're serious about this you can live without beer, meals out, cable, etc). . Once your new career starts kicking in, then you can shift the balance further.

  11. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Just follow your heart man. It might sound reckless, but do what it takes to be happy!
  12. Humblerumble


    Feb 22, 2004
    Having made a career change in my thirties, I would recommend a Myers-Briggs type personality assessment with a career emphasis. If you have not taken one they are available on the web (usually around $50 or 60) and can be a real eye opener. It will give you insight to how you are wired and how to use that to your favor, and what types of careers to avoid. Hope this helps.
  13. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Take your time and think this one through. Aren't you the guy who moved over to New Jersey from Europe and then went back after you decided you didn't like it there?

    I happen to like my job, but I am past the point where I feel like I have to like and enjoy my job. A job is just a tool to help me meet my living expenses. I would never work somewhere I dislike, but it won't ever be to the point for me where I equate happiness with my job choice.

  14. Yep, that's me. Might be doing it again soon as well, if the missus has her way (she's really homesick)... not sure I want to, but that's another, rather long, story.

    I dunno... I guess I'm just at a stage where I want the 40 or so hours I spend working every week to mean something more to me than just a pay cheque. We'll see.
  15. louieeadg

    louieeadg uncle petey?

    Jun 13, 2007
    outer banks, nc
    Happiness is a state of mind.
  16. Rusty, I've sent you a PM with a couple links, and can likely follow up further soon. No cliches, either. (grins) been traveling, and that delayed my response. otherwise, generally, check out www.stc.org as the central location for technical communication. the overlap between web development, and content development, is significant, others have cited it, and it's an angle to consider prior to busting a move.

    but I can relate to needing a change. few people, if any, eat hotdogs for three meals a day for a lifetime, for example...... (for a rough analogy)....
  17. MoD_Scotty


    Jul 22, 2007
    Thrapston, UK
    Why not do web developement, catering to the music industry? Lots of bands would love to have something more substantial than a Myspace page. And it can all be done from a distance...so you could theoretically have clients all over the world.

    Personally, I'd love for my band's Myspace page to look a lot better. But I don't know enough about html to do it.

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