Professional mid-life crisis

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Miguelito
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:21 pm

Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Miguelito » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:34 pm

I am under 40 and a well-regarded engineer that has recently moved into management. I like the job and I am doing well in revitalizing the group, setting a new direction, correcting many past mistakes, and overall rising the profile of the group within the company (a lot in part by leveraging my technical expertise and using it to expose the lack of talent in the group and poor direction in the past). But I feel that strategically, the running this group is not where I really want to be even in the medium term. I was (am) hoping it's a "quick" stepping stone to another internal position.

The company as a whole does like me, my compensation is reasonably competitive, and the people and benefits are great. But the position is a bit frustrating because my group straddles two organizations and one doesn’t appreciate all the work that I do for the other. It’s not crazy hours, but it is stressful and I feel somewhat unappreciated by upper management. Perhaps the best benefit is that it is 4 miles from home (wife has a long commute). So it’s good for one of us to be near the kids. There are very few companies/jobs like mine near where I live. Relocation for a better job is out of the question.

I feel a bit trapped because with my spouse’s income we do very well. Well enough to max both 401k’s + backdoor Roths, are on pace to pay off our nice home by the time the kids go to college and already have good balances in retirement and non-retirement accounts. We have no debt other than house.

After about decade in this job, leaving for another company to prove myself again and almost certainly have a much longer commute seems like a tough decision. It’s but a given that I would not get enough of a pay increase elsewhere to make up for the risk and additional time in the near term, and an extra 10-20% won’t affect our standard of living very much.

As I see it, here are my options:

1) Suck it up. It’s not a bad place. Stick around for 1-3 years and hope a better internal position opens up. There is a decent chance this could happen and it is the default option. (Loftier and more interesting jobs from parent company require relocation, and that is not going to happen).
2) Look for a job and deal with the inevitable (much) longer commute. This will take time if I want a management job, since I have limited experience. I’d hate to go back to engineering when I just got my break into management. But if a spectacular technical job appears, I might consider it.
3) Be patient and buy a business I can run somewhat related to my field (engineering/manufacturing). Big risk and big dollars – using up most non-retirement funds as down payment and equity and other assets as collateral for financing. Huge potential upside in terms of independence and finances down the road. But yeah, risky.
4) Start a business. Easiest would be engineering design/consulting. Risky. I also have some ideas for products that I could try to launch as well, but I’d have to invest money and time to develop them and see if they are feasible. Also risky. To do it on the side would consume too much time away from family which I value greatly.
5) Go back to school for an MBA. For above reasons, I’d hate to do it part time, even though company pays 100%. Doing it full time (I’d only do this for a top program like Sloan of HBS – If I can get in) is a huge expense (cost + 2 years’ salary) and I don’t know if there is an ROI in that. Given that I already have a MS in engineering, I don’t know that not having an MBA is a barrier unless I make it above director level.

Thoughts?

KlangFool
Posts: 7189
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by KlangFool » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:45 pm

OP,

The first question that you need to ask is what do you want?

A) More money?

B) More responsibility?

C) More frustration?

You have ENOUGH money to reach almost all your financial goals. So, (A) is out. Then, why would you want more responsibility with a little more money?

BTW, it is common and normal to be unappreciated in the middle management. It goes with the job.

KlangFool

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 11782
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Watty » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:11 pm

It sounds more like a case of the blaughs instead of some crisis.

Sure there are some issues with your current position that could be improved but every job has that to one degree or another. It sounds more like you are just not getting jazzed up about the work now.

One thing I did not see in your post was that you missed not being in management and "just" being a hands on engineer so my impression is that stepping back from being a manager would not improve your situation.

Do you have a lot of outside interests other than your work and family?

If not then developing more outside interests that could be your passion in life instead of work might improve your situation. When is the last time that your tried something outside work that was new and outside your comfort zone?

Miguelito wrote:As I see it, here are my options:


The stress level on any of the big changes you mentioned would be off the Richter scale.

staythecourse
Posts: 5067
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by staythecourse » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:22 pm

KlangFool wrote:
BTW, it is common and normal to be unappreciated in the middle management. It goes with the job.

KlangFool


I will go one step further I don't know ANYONE I have met who has said, "Boy my boss really appreciates all the hard work I do" OR "Boy I am getting paid way too much for what I do".

I will say I think the overconfidence we talk about in behavioral finance holds true with folks opinions of themselves in the working world. EVERYONE thinks they are underappreciated and not paid well for their efforts on the job.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

KlangFool
Posts: 7189
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by KlangFool » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:35 pm

staythecourse wrote:
KlangFool wrote:
BTW, it is common and normal to be unappreciated in the middle management. It goes with the job.

KlangFool


I will go one step further I don't know ANYONE I have met who has said, "Boy my boss really appreciates all the hard work I do" OR "Boy I am getting paid way too much for what I do".

I will say I think the overconfidence we talk about in behavioral finance holds true with folks opinions of themselves in the working world. EVERYONE thinks they are underappreciated and not paid well for their efforts on the job.

Good luck.


staythecourse,

<<Boy I am getting paid way too much for what I do".>>

if that happened, time to look for a new job. Laid off is around the corner.

KlangFool

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 34331
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by nisiprius » Mon Sep 05, 2016 6:23 am

Miguelito wrote:...I feel that strategically, the running this group is not where I really want to be even in the medium term. I was (am) hoping it's a "quick" stepping stone to another internal position...
The things I'm about to say are the sort of things that are easy to say and hard to do.

First, in my personal career, I have found that it is far easier to make a small career change and start doing something new while staying at the same company. Within the company, you're a known quantity--you're a low-risk "hire" because they know you're competent and reliable, and they know you're not padding your résumé. If manager X needs someone to do Y and you say "I can do that," they'd rather trust you than go through the anxiety of dealing with a new hire. In my case, I was writing software and they were willing to trust me when I said "I've never written embedded firmware, but I'm sure I can." In contrast, whenever I've switched companies, the hiring manager really wants to be sure that what you were doing yesterday at your old company is exactly the same thing as she needs you to do tomorrow.

Second, it isn't too good to go to your manager and say "I need something new." It is much better to identify a specific opportunity that exists within the company. (Rarely, it may be possible to sell them on the idea of creating a new group or position.) That means being patient and keeping your eyes and ears open and looking for something specific to open up inside the company. (In my case... it was the sudden unexpected departure of the engineer who'd been working on the firmware before me!) "Find a need and fill it."

Third, much depends on your relationship with your manager, but at some point you are going to have to ask what the company really thinks of you. If you are just feeling vaguely restless and ambitious, then a few months before your review... at about the time when you send your manager your short list of things you've accomplished during the last year to help him write that section of your review :) , or during the review itself, you have to start using language like "ready to take on greater responsibilities" etc. And you have to deal with the fact that you're taking some career risk by doing so. It's not likely that they're going to fire you just for saying you want to do more, but if they start thinking of you as restless and discontented in the only job they have for you, and that you might be looking for another job, you'd better be gearing up psychologically for a job search.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
plannerman
Posts: 646
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:42 pm
Location: NC Mountains

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by plannerman » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:06 am

I could have written your post thirty some years ago. I think many, if not most, professionals go through what you are experiencing--that's why they call it a midlife crisis. I have no idea what you should do. But I sucked it up, bought a red T-top sports car, worked my a$$ off for 15 more years, retired at age 55 and lived happily ever after. There is life after work.

plannerman

JWooden10
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:26 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by JWooden10 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:35 am

I'll throw in my 2 cents as someone who manages engineers who run various groups. My comments:
* I think nisiprius has some decent points above. #1 is right on in my experience. For #2 and #3, if you have a decent relationship with your manager, I would outline for them exactly the sort of advancement and challenges you are looking for regardless of any available opening in the company. You have then identified for them what you want, shown organization and foresight, shown them respect by having the conversation, and indirectly put them on notice that they have a valuable but restless employee without doing anything that feels like a threat. I personally wouldn't submit a list of accomplishments unless you think your manager is too busy to even remotely recognize these things (they are out of town and you interact only monthly, for example). For me these sorts of notes always feel like raise campaigning when what you really want is your employer to proactively work to help align your future with your needs.

* Be very careful buying a business or developing a product (and then monetizing it) as these pursuits will require additional skill sets that are likely quite different than your current position. Not saying you don't have the skills, just advising that you not assume success in your current position automatically translates into success with these other pursuits. Also, if you are the sort of person that values the work-life balance provided by the short commute, then you may not be a good fit for the all-consuming nature of successful entrepreneurialism. Not a criticism (I'm with you), but an observation rooted in several experiences mentoring people who thought they knew what they wanted but were then miserable once they attained their desired position.

* Commutes stink, but you'll still spend way more time at work than commuting. A long commute isn't nearly as long if you love your job and want to be there. Also, many employers are increasing the amount of time you can work remotely. May not translate well to the manufacturing field.

It does sound like you have some good options. Good luck!

Miguelito
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:21 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Miguelito » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:49 am

Thanks for the feedback. Just to be clear, the reason for my "crisis" has more to do with my feeling that I could be doing more important things. It's more feeling unfulfilled than anything else. I have high expectations for myself and feel I have high potential. I've made career sacrifices for the family - which I do not regret at all. I guess I am just trying to have it all while having some important constraints.

I don't want my feeling of lack of appreciation to come across as a central theme, but it is tough when any one director basically thinks you job is only half of what you do, and on the technical space they are not aware just how much high-level engineering I still influence (strategic decisions, architecture, resolving technical hurdles, etc.). As an engineer, all they had to do was look at my work and be impressed. Now they are not aware to what how much I still do on the technical side by way of consulting, design reviews, etc. in addition to my current job with a different group. It's as if they never lost me as an engineer (other than the actual task execution).

And I do have many interests outside work an family - which is why time is precious.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 41578
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:50 am

(I'm trying to phrase this as politely as possible, but I think a straight-forward approach is needed.) Here's the crux of the problem:
Miguelito wrote:...I feel that strategically, the running this group is not where I really want to be even in the medium term. I was (am) hoping it's a "quick" stepping stone to another internal position.

...But the position is a bit frustrating because my group straddles two organizations and one doesn’t appreciate all the work that I do for the other.

Being a first-line manager is the most difficult position in every company. You have to hold the company line while keeping your direct reports under control. Your candle is being burned from both ends.

Not only that, you are now managing people - not technical things. "People" means "politics" and you have to have the personality to deal with it.

The OP made a career choice that isn't working out.

Miguelito wrote:1) Suck it up. It’s not a bad place. Stick around for 1-3 years and hope a better internal position opens up. There is a decent chance this could happen and it is the default option. (Loftier and more interesting jobs from parent company require relocation, and that is not going to happen).
2) Look for a job and deal with the inevitable (much) longer commute. This will take time if I want a management job, since I have limited experience. I’d hate to go back to engineering when I just got my break into management. But if a spectacular technical job appears, I might consider it.
3) Be patient and buy a business I can run somewhat related to my field (engineering/manufacturing). Big risk and big dollars – using up most non-retirement funds as down payment and equity and other assets as collateral for financing. Huge potential upside in terms of independence and finances down the road. But yeah, risky.
4) Start a business. Easiest would be engineering design/consulting. Risky. I also have some ideas for products that I could try to launch as well, but I’d have to invest money and time to develop them and see if they are feasible. Also risky. To do it on the side would consume too much time away from family which I value greatly.
5) Go back to school for an MBA. For above reasons, I’d hate to do it part time, even though company pays 100%. Doing it full time (I’d only do this for a top program like Sloan of HBS – If I can get in) is a huge expense (cost + 2 years’ salary) and I don’t know if there is an ROI in that. Given that I already have a MS in engineering, I don’t know that not having an MBA is a barrier unless I make it above director level

Options 2 through 5 are attempting to solve the problem by changing to a less-than-desired career path. There's a reason you didn't follow these in the first place. Doing otherwise now will be a very bad case of buyer's remorse and you'll be (mentally) worse off than doing nothing at all.* Also remember that you're not solving problems, you're changing them. What you don't like now will be something else later - and could probably be much worse to deal with.

Option 1 is your best, but it doesn't go far enough. Let's go with Option 6:

6) Talk with your manager that this isn't working out. You'd like to get back to engineering, or at least do enough of a percentage to keep you sharp. You'll have the best of both worlds, as you'll still be helping the company fix the management problems while redirecting your career path back on target. You won't be the first person to go the "engineer --> manager --> engineer" route, nor will you be the last. I've known a few colleagues who've done this.

Hoping an "internal option" opens up doesn't work until you actually communicate your intentions. Besides, someone else may beat you to the forthcoming position. Acting now will push the odds in your favor.

* I once tried an MBA. It was incredibly boring, so I stopped after 2 courses. There's no ROI, it's too late in your career.
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

Miguelito
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:21 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Miguelito » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:56 am

JWooden10 wrote:I'll throw in my 2 cents as someone who manages engineers who run various groups. My comments:
* I think nisiprius has some decent points above. #1 is right on in my experience. For #2 and #3, if you have a decent relationship with your manager, I would outline for them exactly the sort of advancement and challenges you are looking for regardless of any available opening in the company. You have then identified for them what you want, shown organization and foresight, shown them respect by having the conversation, and indirectly put them on notice that they have a valuable but restless employee without doing anything that feels like a threat. I personally wouldn't submit a list of accomplishments unless you think your manager is too busy to even remotely recognize these things (they are out of town and you interact only monthly, for example). For me these sorts of notes always feel like raise campaigning when what you really want is your employer to proactively work to help align your future with your needs.

* Be very careful buying a business or developing a product (and then monetizing it) as these pursuits will require additional skill sets that are likely quite different than your current position. Not saying you don't have the skills, just advising that you not assume success in your current position automatically translates into success with these other pursuits. Also, if you are the sort of person that values the work-life balance provided by the short commute, then you may not be a good fit for the all-consuming nature of successful entrepreneurialism. Not a criticism (I'm with you), but an observation rooted in several experiences mentoring people who thought they knew what they wanted but were then miserable once they attained their desired position.

* Commutes stink, but you'll still spend way more time at work than commuting. A long commute isn't nearly as long if you love your job and want to be there. Also, many employers are increasing the amount of time you can work remotely. May not translate well to the manufacturing field.

It does sound like you have some good options. Good luck!


Thanks. Good points.

My father ran a couple of business so I am well aware of the amount of time and risk involved, which is why I am cautious about the prospect. Also, I have had those conversations with upper management. I think it's just a matter of timing (which unfortunately has not worked in my favor the past few years).

SuzBanyan
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:20 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by SuzBanyan » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:02 am

Miguelito: Is your current position flexible enough that you can take advantage of that short commute and spend more time involved with your kids activities in school or after-school? Maybe coach a team they are on, even if it means both arriving and leaving work early one or 2 days a week?

cherijoh
Posts: 4067
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by cherijoh » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:09 am

It sounds to me like that the honeymoon with the new job is over. Engineers like to fix things and solve problems, so it sounds to me that you are bored with the job. I'm not sure how realistic your expectations were - a first level manager gets to juggle competing priorities, attend a lot of meetings and hopefully coach and develop his or her direct reports. He or she has very little room to set the strategic direction of the business unit and generally has very little interaction with "upper management" beyond 2 levels of management above him or her. (I'm not sure how far up in the organization "upper management" is by your definition).

BTW, I hope your people skills are better in reality than they come across in your post:

I am doing well in revitalizing the group, setting a new direction, correcting many past mistakes, and overall rising the profile of the group within the company (a lot in part by leveraging my technical expertise and using it to expose the lack of talent in the group and poor direction in the past).


This comes across as extremely arrogant to me and a sure fire way to alienate all your direct reports.

User avatar
wander
Posts: 2323
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:10 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by wander » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:11 am

Miguelito wrote:It’s not crazy hours, but it is stressful and I feel somewhat unappreciated by upper management.

Many bosses do not show appreciation to their employees. There are many reasons for that. If you do not do a good job, then you need to do it better; But if, in your best knowledge, you know you are doing the best you can then there is no reason why you need to worry about what people're thinking.

Miguelito
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:21 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Miguelito » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:19 am

LadyGeek wrote:The OP made a career choice that isn't working out.
Option 1 is your best, but it doesn't go far enough. Let's go with Option 6:

6) Talk with your manager that this isn't working out. You'd like to get back to engineering, or at least do enough of a percentage to keep you sharp. You'll have the best of both worlds, as you'll still be helping the company fix the management problems while redirecting your career path back on target. You won't be the first person to go the "engineer --> manager --> engineer" route, nor will you be the last. I've known a few colleagues who've done this.

Hoping an "internal option" opens up doesn't work until you actually communicate your intentions. Besides, someone else may beat you to the forthcoming position. Acting now will push the odds in your favor.

* I once tried an MBA. It was incredibly boring, so I stopped after 2 courses. There's no ROI, it's too late in your career.


I actually think my move to management has been a success. The issue here is that I took a job to manage a group under a different director (B). The group also supports the work from the first director's (A) department (he hired me and we are very close). My boss (director B) is thrilled, but long-term, I really just want to manage a group under director A's department and eventually be director A myself. That's what I am good at. The fact that I've done so well at my current job is only a testament to my ability, but I took the job because there seemed to be few chances to break into engineering management. It's a tremendous learning experience, because in the future I'll get to say (as few others can) that I have that other experience. But it's frustrating because weeks after I took the job, one of those coveted jobs in my old department opened up (which director A himself said he would have given me). But for political reasons I could not back out of the job I had just taken.

Let's just say that if anything opens opens up, in the department I want, it's but a given I'll get the job. The only question is when? If not, how soon can I break the news to my boss that I don't want to be in the role much longer? I'm still rebuilding the team, establishing procedures, etc.

Miguelito
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:21 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Miguelito » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:26 am

cherijoh wrote:It sounds to me like that the honeymoon with the new job is over. Engineers like to fix things and solve problems, so it sounds to me that you are bored with the job. I'm not sure how realistic your expectations were - a first level manager gets to juggle competing priorities, attend a lot of meetings and hopefully coach and develop his or her direct reports. He or she has very little room to set the strategic direction of the business unit and generally has very little interaction with "upper management" beyond 2 levels of management above him or her. (I'm not sure how far up in the organization "upper management" is by your definition).

BTW, I hope your people skills are better in reality than they come across in your post:

I am doing well in revitalizing the group, setting a new direction, correcting many past mistakes, and overall rising the profile of the group within the company (a lot in part by leveraging my technical expertise and using it to expose the lack of talent in the group and poor direction in the past).


This comes across as extremely arrogant to me and a sure fire way to alienate all your direct reports.


The underperforming engineers are gone, my directs like me, and my new hires are great. I am sorry, I am not going to write a novel so that you can feel better about what I said. I am sticking to the facts for the benefit of everyone. The group was in shambles and they wanted someone to fix it all. I interviewed for the job proposing a plan and I am executing that plan successfully and people aver very pleased with the results.

KlangFool
Posts: 7189
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by KlangFool » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:40 am

Miguelito wrote:
LadyGeek wrote:The OP made a career choice that isn't working out.
Option 1 is your best, but it doesn't go far enough. Let's go with Option 6:

6) Talk with your manager that this isn't working out. You'd like to get back to engineering, or at least do enough of a percentage to keep you sharp. You'll have the best of both worlds, as you'll still be helping the company fix the management problems while redirecting your career path back on target. You won't be the first person to go the "engineer --> manager --> engineer" route, nor will you be the last. I've known a few colleagues who've done this.

Hoping an "internal option" opens up doesn't work until you actually communicate your intentions. Besides, someone else may beat you to the forthcoming position. Acting now will push the odds in your favor.

* I once tried an MBA. It was incredibly boring, so I stopped after 2 courses. There's no ROI, it's too late in your career.


I actually think my move to management has been a success.



Miguelito,

What do you think actually does not matter. Only the opinion of the people in power matter.

How do you know that THEY actually think that you are successful and doing a good job? Do you get an above average pay raise and bonus? Do you get the larger budget to hire and spend?

Money talks in the corporate world. Everything else is just a bunch of BS.

KlangFool

rgs92
Posts: 1466
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:00 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by rgs92 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:44 am

Decent non-contractor full time employee jobs are very hard to find and keep these days. Count your blessings. Get a nice hobby you like. If you want to design the next iPhone in your garage or build amplifiers or restore cars or whatever floats your boat, use your nice income to do so, but don't jeopardize your job.
Stop thinking so much about the normal nonsense that is work now (and has always been it seems) and come to your senses.

moshe
Posts: 419
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:18 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by moshe » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:49 am

Hi Miguelito,

I am trying to read between the lines and what i am hearing is that you 1) like personnel and technical challenges and are not especially bothered by the failure risks that these challenges by default must include; and 2) rose quickly to the challenge presented and am now looking for a new challenge; and 3) tend to be a bit "me" and "my" rather than "we" and "our" focused which can cause problems in a larger enterprise.

Simply, insatiability is part of the human condition and you seem to have it in spades. Nothing wrong with this at all.

My advice and it is worth what you paid for it is: 1) make sure your boss seems your enthusiasm, can do attitude, and preparation/willingness to take the next step; and 2) to set a stop loss on your time. Give it 6 months, 1 year, etc. to see if the firm offers you a new challenge and then take it, otherwise start your own firm. Note that i did not suggest buying a firm unless you have some compelling reasons to do so. Many reasons for this but that is off-topic.

~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

me112964
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:12 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by me112964 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:22 am

Wow! I was literally writing the same question to post. I am a physician in family practice for 20 years and am feeling very, very burned out. Looking at the same options though I am 51. I realize that there is a value to continuing to work (financial and for perks of knowing how to navigate my families medical needs) but can't do it this way anymore. I am helping my in laws who are getting older and refuse to stick them in a nursing home like so many patients I have treated. I am not at my target for retirement and will likely get there in 8 years.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 41578
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:24 am

Miguelito wrote:...Let's just say that if anything opens opens up, in the department I want, it's but a given I'll get the job. The only question is when? If not, how soon can I break the news to my boss that I don't want to be in the role much longer? I'm still rebuilding the team, establishing procedures, etc.

I underlined your assumption. Anything can happen between now, tomorrow, or 6 months from now.

Talk to your boss now and turn your assumption into reality. The worst possible thing that can happen is for a boss to say "I never knew about it".

What matters is how you pitch your plan. Ask your boss for a suggestion on how to do it. Working with your boss will earn their respect, which has a high brownie point count. They may not agree with your plan, but will appreciate the fact that you brought it up.

If your boss says "not a chance", then thank him/her for their time and go with the other suggestions in this thread to spend time outside of work on more interesting projects.

If your boss says "OK, let's work on it", you're in.
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 298
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:57 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Tyler9000 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:53 am

Miguelito wrote:As I see it, here are my options:

1) Suck it up. It’s not a bad place. Stick around for 1-3 years and hope a better internal position opens up. There is a decent chance this could happen and it is the default option. (Loftier and more interesting jobs from parent company require relocation, and that is not going to happen).
2) Look for a job and deal with the inevitable (much) longer commute. This will take time if I want a management job, since I have limited experience. I’d hate to go back to engineering when I just got my break into management. But if a spectacular technical job appears, I might consider it.
3) Be patient and buy a business I can run somewhat related to my field (engineering/manufacturing). Big risk and big dollars – using up most non-retirement funds as down payment and equity and other assets as collateral for financing. Huge potential upside in terms of independence and finances down the road. But yeah, risky.
4) Start a business. Easiest would be engineering design/consulting. Risky. I also have some ideas for products that I could try to launch as well, but I’d have to invest money and time to develop them and see if they are feasible. Also risky. To do it on the side would consume too much time away from family which I value greatly.
5) Go back to school for an MBA. For above reasons, I’d hate to do it part time, even though company pays 100%. Doing it full time (I’d only do this for a top program like Sloan of HBS – If I can get in) is a huge expense (cost + 2 years’ salary) and I don’t know if there is an ROI in that. Given that I already have a MS in engineering, I don’t know that not having an MBA is a barrier unless I make it above director level.

Thoughts?


Well, if you have no debt and enough savings to legitimately purchase a business, then you're missing option 6 -- really study your investments and expenses and set a goal of financial independence. Imagine all of the options that would open up if your current career path was truly optional and if you could pursue whatever interests you without regard for total compensation because your expenses are already covered by your investment income. That feeling of crisis you're experiencing now would give way very quickly to a newfound sense of empowerment and freedom.

GrandDesigns
Posts: 83
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:40 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by GrandDesigns » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:56 am

For what it's worth, having very strong passions outside work have helped me weather tough times at jobs to make it to the point where things either improved, or when I finally moved on it was to the right opportunity. My friends who claim work is their big passion in life seem very easily dismayed if things start to go through a dry patch at work.

I also had a very long commute (1hour and a half) each way for about two years, and that is an untenable situation. It will put serious stress on you, your relationships and your family. I would never recommend it to anyone.

I'm only in my 20s, so I'm no fountain of wisdom but I've seen a lot of friends do pretty extreme things just because they lost their "passion" at work. I am very glad that I found other hobbies and passions and weathered good times and bad. Being respected as a stable, hard worker in times good and bad is one thing in my career I pride myself on the most. I'm not saying you aren't respected for those things, I'm just saying the long term payout of being patient has worked out well for me.

At a previous high stress job, I worked with an older engineer who was very zen about things. His reason was interesting: he was financially independent so he didn't care. He could do his job on terms that he found rewarding and if he was ridden too hard, he could just move on and he knew it.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 11782
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by Watty » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:26 am

I might have missed it but just how long have you been in the new management job?

cherijoh
Posts: 4067
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by cherijoh » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:56 am

miguelito wrote: But it's frustrating because weeks after I took the job, one of those coveted jobs in my old department opened up (which director A himself said he would have given me). But for political reasons I could not back out of the job I had just taken.

Let's just say that if anything opens opens up, in the department I want, it's but a given I'll get the job. The only question is when? If not, how soon can I break the news to my boss that I don't want to be in the role much longer? I'm still rebuilding the team, establishing procedures, etc.


It sounds like you are suffering a classic case of "buyer's remorse" for taking the new job when waiting a few weeks could have netted you your dream job.

Had that role not opened up, do you think you still would be as dissatisfied with this role? Or would you have been satisfied that you were making progress toward your ultimate goal? A career path in management is rarely a straight line these days as organization structures are generally flat. Jumping ship to another company isn't likely to speed up the process since the bulk of your experience has been as an individual contributor.

What are the norms for time in role at your company? At my company anything less than 12 months in a role would raise a red flag and less that 18 months would raise eyebrows. But every company is different. How long have you been in this role?

User avatar
vitaflo
Posts: 818
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:02 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by vitaflo » Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:15 pm

staythecourse wrote:I will go one step further I don't know ANYONE I have met who has said, "Boy my boss really appreciates all the hard work I do" OR "Boy I am getting paid way too much for what I do".


I know many people who have said this. They are all business owners.

Being an employee will only get you so far. It doesn't matter what you do.

User avatar
nedsaid
Posts: 8821
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:33 pm

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by nedsaid » Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:18 pm

My reaction to all of this is to suck it up. It sounds like you are doing pretty well and you have a good personal situation. Count your blessings.

That being said, discontent on the job can be a good thing, that is if it propels you into something better. It boils down to either working within a corporate environment or going out on your own. You might actually have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

If you are making really good money, make sure you save a decent chunk of it. I call it "thanks but no thanks" money. If you save and invest well, it will give you nice options later in life. If later in your career you get asked to do something you just don't want to do for whatever reasons, you can say, "Thanks but no thanks."

Sadly, as you get older and older, you will get to be a target for lay-off. So in the next 10-15 years, either position yourself to semi-retire and take up something less stressful or get yourself in the position to go out on your own. Believe me, loyalty just does not exist, whatever loyalty is out there is between people and not with companies. So don't forget to make friends and network. It is a sad fact that people have a shelf life and at some point your company will likely determine that your services are no longer needed. Hopefully, you will be the happy exception.
A fool and his money are good for business.

User avatar
dandan14
Posts: 928
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:32 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by dandan14 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:07 pm

You can pursue both paths.
Start putting some feelers out, go to some networking events, but don't go into full "job-hunt" mode.
In your current job, look for ways to break out of the blahs. On the other front, you may just stumble into something you never even thought of.

staythecourse
Posts: 5067
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: Professional mid-life crisis

Post by staythecourse » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:57 pm

vitaflo wrote:
staythecourse wrote:I will go one step further I don't know ANYONE I have met who has said, "Boy my boss really appreciates all the hard work I do" OR "Boy I am getting paid way too much for what I do".


I know many people who have said this. They are all business owners.

Being an employee will only get you so far. It doesn't matter what you do.


If you mean running your own show is the best way to go to avoid the feelings I mentioned above then I COMPLETELY agree with you. I am a physicain who used to be in a bigger group and left to be solo and both those feelings I mentioned above disappeared overnight when I started my practice. I am sure it is different for different folks but running your own business is the BEST. No matter the extra work it is great to know you won't get fired and can do whatever you want whenever you want. Now I totally understand why folks who own their own business never fully retire. It doesn't really feel like work when you do things for your own benefit vs. when you work for someone elses benefit.

There are so many intangible benefits of running your own business.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Post Reply