No longer desiring promotion - change career?

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Count of Notre Dame
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No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

Hi Everyone,

I am in my late 30s and have lost any ambition I once had to "be successful" and continue to progress in my career. I have been in my role at my company for several years now, and have not applied for a promotion (to be a middle manager) as the job just does not stimulate me and the compensation is not a significant enough raise to justify enjoying my job less. I have two young children (ages 4 and 7) and a wife with a high-paying job. I don't think it would be best for my daughters if I was a full time stay at home parent, but I do spend a lot of time with them as I work from home twice per week and don't feel as though I need more time with them. It's difficult looking back at my high school and college days, remembering I was 2nd in my class in HS and went to an excellent college, only to realize I no longer want to push myself to "succeed". I continue to put that in quotes as I used to define success only in financial terms which is obviously not how all others define it. Is something wrong with me if I don't want a promotion? Should I be working in a field where I should want to progress and is it a sign I don't love my current field? Do I need a career change? My wife is very supportive of whatever will make me the most happy and engaged with my family. Thanks for any advice you might have!

Edit: My current plan is to quit work around age 45-50 and have my wife go to part time until she is about age 60. We are on track to have a paid off house and the kid's college paid for by age 45-50. My income is mostly being used to accelerate our financial goals and just keep myself busy. If we had to we could cut back on our expenses and I could quit work altogether right now.
Last edited by Count of Notre Dame on Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
jjface
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by jjface »

Nothing wrong with not wanting a promotion. Much more to life than work and work status.

Right now is probably the worse time to think about a career change anyway so just keep going if you are content where you are.
bloom2708
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by bloom2708 »

Are you feeling pressure to be a manager vs individual contributor? Is it internal or external (job)?

I've gotten to 49 at a mega corp without being a manager of any type. Did I pass up some income? Probably. Is more income always the best goal? Probably not.

This current environment is not really the time to make a drastic career decision. If you are being pressured in an up or out environment, that could make a difference. If not, just coast along. Resist the self-pressure to always climb the ladder.
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
yohac
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by yohac »

There's absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to go into management. I went through my entire career avoiding it. Still retired early. Now, if your current job isn't doing it for you either, that's another question.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Things are somewhat different, but it reminds me of my last job interview before deciding to be a Stay at Home Dad (SAHD).

My career had been going well, but so had my wife’s. For various reasons, I wasn’t ready to be a SAHD, and needed a new job. During my interview, I told the hiring manager that he would be getting 90% of the best software developer/architect he had at the company (that wasn’t ego on my part; it was a low hurdle). He looked surprised and asked me to explain. I replied that I’d work hard most of the time, but if my wife and I needed to take a business trip at the same time, her need would trump mine. Ditto working on a weekend. Otherwise, I’d be happy to travel and work extra. I got the job and stayed for a couple of years, getting additional responsibilities along the way, including managerial ones which I didn’t mind since I was still sufficiently technical.

Eventually, I left to be a SAHD full time and my wife’s career zoomed. All’s well that ends well :D
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mathwhiz
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by mathwhiz »

This is all very normal and healthy reaction to work for people as they age and their priorities change with family and kids. Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder anymore. And that's expected! Organization and compensation charts are like a pyramid structure. As you climb the pyramid, fewer and fewer opportunities to advance present themselves or are considered attractive. Usually, climbing the pyramid means more responsibility, more work, more office politics, more stress for somewhat more money. Whether the "somewhat more money" part is worth it to you is your choice.

There's nothing wrong with coasting a low stress job as long as possible! Just beware not to stagnant and to keep your skills up because high paid experienced "worker bees" as they enter their 40's and 50's are at high risk of layoffs and replacement with younger and cheaper worker bees.
oldfort
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by oldfort »

Is it you don't like your field or you don't like the particular company you work for?
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Golf maniac »

Don’t underestimate the need of daughters for their fathers to be around. If you don’t want to do it, that is one thing. But to not do it because you think it would not be best for them is probably not true. In your situation there is nothing wrong with quitting and staying at home for a few months. This will allow you to see how you, your daughters, and your spouse responds to you being home all the time. It will also provide you with time to look for another career field to work in if you decide to work again. You are very fortunate to have this opportunity to change careers, most of us never get the chance.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by swordandscales »

When you are on your deathbed and your children are there, what will success mean at that point?

That, to me, is all that matters when it comes to “succeeding” in life. What have I done for those I’ve loved?
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by jebmke »

If your company has opportunities for lateral moves into different functions, I'd suggest exploring them. Multiple times in my career I jumped out of my main functional area in essentially lateral moves - sometimes because I wanted to try something different and sometime because someone in the company asked me to. It helped my career in the long run.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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Watty
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Watty »

I retired a few years ago and I spent my entire career as a computer programmer/software developer/software engineer of one sort or another.

I was a "techie" and did not have the right type of personality to be a manager and the few times I did a bit of it I hated it. Realistically I would not have been a very good manager either. Deciding not to try to get into management was the right decision for me and it worked out well.

At least in the tech field it is real common for people to try to go from being a hands on tech person to be a manager then five years later they are in a bind since they are not good managers and they have lost the edge on their technical skills so it would be very difficult to get back into technical roll.

In talking about this with other computer people someone had a good analogy. That was if you were a dentist then people would not expect you do anything else for your entire career and that would be OK.

One thing to look at is if you could do what you are doing, in some form, for the rest of your career and still be able to stay employed. If so then that can be OK but you will need to be sure to keep your skills current.
Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:10 am Should I be working in a field where I should want to progress and is it a sign I don't love my current field? Do I need a career change?
They may have made more than I did but I had more than one IT middle manager tell me that they had regrets about giving up the hands on work since it was more enjoyable than spending their days dealing with budgeting and scheduling.

Now is not a real good time to be looking at a change anyway. I would put it on the back burner for at least six months to see how things shape up then.

You may also be in a situation where you need to look for things outside of work for your fulfillment.

One I had worked for 20 years or so I found that getting excited about a job was not like it was when I was right out of college. That is not to say that it could not be enjoyable at times but my family and outside interest were more important to me by the time I was in my 40s.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

bloom2708 wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:19 am Are you feeling pressure to be a manager vs individual contributor? Is it internal or external (job)?

I've gotten to 49 at a mega corp without being a manager of any type. Did I pass up some income? Probably. Is more income always the best goal? Probably not.

This current environment is not really the time to make a drastic career decision. If you are being pressured in an up or out environment, that could make a difference. If not, just coast along. Resist the self-pressure to always climb the ladder.
I've always put the pressure on myself, as my company is somewhat unique in that they value employees who are not interested in a promotion. The problem I've always had is I am a top performer (performance review and rating reflects that) and can easily perform well in the role above me, I just don't think I would like it.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

mathwhiz wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:36 am This is all very normal and healthy reaction to work for people as they age and their priorities change with family and kids. Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder anymore. And that's expected! Organization and compensation charts are like a pyramid structure. As you climb the pyramid, fewer and fewer opportunities to advance present themselves or are considered attractive. Usually, climbing the pyramid means more responsibility, more work, more office politics, more stress for somewhat more money. Whether the "somewhat more money" part is worth it to you is your choice.

There's nothing wrong with coasting a low stress job as long as possible! Just beware not to stagnant and to keep your skills up because high paid experienced "worker bees" as they enter their 40's and 50's are at high risk of layoffs and replacement with younger and cheaper worker bees.
My current plan is to quit work around age 45-50 and my wife go to part time. We are on track to have a paid off house and the kid's college paid for by that time.
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Taylor Larimore
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Count of Notre Dame:

One of the reasons for my happiness on the job was that I tried to do the best I could. It was easy because many of my my co-workers were interested in doing less.

My personal happiness, knowing that I was the best, meant more to me than almost anything else (even a promotion which came, anyway).

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

I am currently working in a field (investment operations) that I am interested in and have been since age 14 or so. It's not my only interest of course but as far as working goes I'm ok with it. It's just that more often lately I keep asking myself "where am I going with this?" and have to remind myself that I'm taking care of my family and continuing to stimulate my brain. These existential questions starting hitting me once my wife became successful with her work now that I no longer "need" the money in the basic sense. Reminds me of a documentary I once watched about rich kids with trust funds and how bored all of them were - I don't want to be in that situation.
fatFIRE
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by fatFIRE »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:10 am Hi Everyone,

I am in my late 30s and have lost any ambition I once had to "be successful" and continue to progress in my career. I have been in my role at my company for several years now, and have not applied for a promotion (to be a middle manager) as the job just does not stimulate me and the compensation is not a significant enough raise to justify enjoying my job less. I have two young children (ages 4 and 7) and a wife with a high-paying job. I don't think it would be best for my daughters if I was a full time stay at home parent, but I do spend a lot of time with them as I work from home twice per week and don't feel as though I need more time with them. It's difficult looking back at my high school and college days, remembering I was 2nd in my class in HS and went to an excellent college, only to realize I no longer want to push myself to "succeed". I continue to put that in quotes as I used to define success only in financial terms which is obviously not how all others define it. Is something wrong with me if I don't want a promotion? Should I be working in a field where I should want to progress and is it a sign I don't love my current field? Do I need a career change? My wife is very supportive of whatever will make me the most happy and engaged with my family. Thanks for any advice you might have!

Edit: My current plan is to quit work around age 45-50 and have my wife go to part time until she is about age 60. We are on track to have a paid off house and the kid's college paid for by age 45-50. My income is mostly being used to accelerate our financial goals and just keep myself busy. If we had to we could cut back on our expenses and I could quit work altogether right now.
There's nothing wrong with defining career success in financial terms. That's also how I think. FYI, my career benchmark is to be in the top 10% of the organization, and it needs to be a tier 1 respected organization too. It's a good balance between achieving something worthwhile and being practically achievable.

There is nothing wrong with coasting and going into "rest and vest" mode once you've made it. From a pure numbers perspective
- You mentioned the raise is not sufficient for the promotion. Ask yourself, would you want to climb further if the raise is more?
- If no, go "rest and vest".
- If yes, look for other companies within your field. Will their salaries match your expectation?
- If others in your field cannot meet your compensation expectations, look at other fields that you could be loosely qualified based on training and experience. Are there any that match your expectations?
rich126
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by rich126 »

I may be sending a mixed message here but I can relate in a different way. I've done well at most every job I had but, especially when I've worked at the government, I've turned down positions that probably would have benefited me in the long run because I enjoy technical challenges and enjoy working by myself or with a small team.

I turned down a technical director position because at that level (for that group), it would have been mostly sitting in meetings for 60-80% of the day. I've also turned down management positions because in the government you can't really do what is needed (get rid of the non-workers).

At some point in a career you either get burned out, or just kind of "lost". I'm totally bored in my current job (their tech is outdated) but occasionally a good tech problem comes up and I'm excited for a few days. At least it isn't stressful and I'm within 2-4 years of retirement.

i think I was spoiled for my first decade out of college because I enjoyed the work, good people and stable and good management. Since then, it has largely been unfulfilling. At your age and with your responsibilities (I don't have children or a wife) it is different and sometimes you just have to grind it out.

I'm wondering how things may change in a couple of years when I can retire. Then I'd be getting a small pension and health insurance. That would allow me to take any job I want, and it may feel pretty liberating, and allow me to take more challenges or risks since I'd have no real concern of losing a job. Of course I may then find something and wonder why I didn't take a chance sooner :oops:

And I'm guessing more than a few will say this but when you turn down a promotion that could change management's perception of you. In the government it wasn't a big deal although it probably affected any future promotion for me (although I was near the top anyhow) but in private industry it could. I've never been a management person in a company because I like tech and middle/low managers tended to be the first ones let go. Also once you stop doing tech, you can fall behind quickly so getting back into it can be hard.

Good luck.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

rich126 wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:27 pm And I'm guessing more than a few will say this but when you turn down a promotion that could change management's perception of you. In the government it wasn't a big deal although it probably affected any future promotion for me (although I was near the top anyhow) but in private industry it could. I've never been a management person in a company because I like tech and middle/low managers tended to be the first ones let go. Also once you stop doing tech, you can fall behind quickly so getting back into it can be hard.

Good luck.
Compensation and career progression at my current large mutual fund complex is run a bit like the government in that bonuses are within 10% for all levels of performance and life-long roles are welcomed. Most middle-managers have realized that the experienced technical experts in single contributor roles are much more valuable than the middle-managers anyway, as they coordinate all of the production work and perform all of the training.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Keenobserver »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:10 am Hi Everyone,

I am in my late 30s and have lost any ambition I once had to "be successful" and continue to progress in my career. I have been in my role at my company for several years now, and have not applied for a promotion (to be a middle manager) as the job just does not stimulate me and the compensation is not a significant enough raise to justify enjoying my job less. I have two young children (ages 4 and 7) and a wife with a high-paying job. I don't think it would be best for my daughters if I was a full time stay at home parent, but I do spend a lot of time with them as I work from home twice per week and don't feel as though I need more time with them. It's difficult looking back at my high school and college days, remembering I was 2nd in my class in HS and went to an excellent college, only to realize I no longer want to push myself to "succeed". I continue to put that in quotes as I used to define success only in financial terms which is obviously not how all others define it. Is something wrong with me if I don't want a promotion? Should I be working in a field where I should want to progress and is it a sign I don't love my current field? Do I need a career change? My wife is very supportive of whatever will make me the most happy and engaged with my family. Thanks for any advice you might have!

Edit: My current plan is to quit work around age 45-50 and have my wife go to part time until she is about age 60. We are on track to have a paid off house and the kid's college paid for by age 45-50. My income is mostly being used to accelerate our financial goals and just keep myself busy. If we had to we could cut back on our expenses and I could quit work altogether right now.
I think it may be due to wisdom beyond your years, that you realize that life not about financial " success" whatever that may mean. I know some very intelligent people who have refused promotions because the extra pay / prestige is not worth the extra headache/ stress. If you are realtively content and not always comparing yourself to a benchmark, I congratulate you. You will find many regret stories of people chasing the wrong goals in their lives, only to realize that its too late. Enjoy your children and be well.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Its not uncommon in engineering for employees to never go into management out of preference. Some companies recognize this and have advancement positions beyond senior engineer and principal engineer, going the academic terminology route with fellow or consulting engineer. I'm one of those engineers who never wanted to manage anything an I've turned down offers inside the company to move into management. So no....that's not unheard of.

You're too young for mid life crisis, so I guess "buy a Vette" won't do it. I don't know. Maybe in a year, when hopefully this virus crisis is over, you'll find another job that you'll like doing better. Look around and see what's out there. I wouldn't make a career change as that typically comes with entry level pay and competing with fresh college grads.
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unclescrooge
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by unclescrooge »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:10 am Hi Everyone,

I am in my late 30s and have lost any ambition I once had to "be successful" and continue to progress in my career. I have been in my role at my company for several years now, and have not applied for a promotion (to be a middle manager) as the job just does not stimulate me and the compensation is not a significant enough raise to justify enjoying my job less. I have two young children (ages 4 and 7) and a wife with a high-paying job. I don't think it would be best for my daughters if I was a full time stay at home parent, but I do spend a lot of time with them as I work from home twice per week and don't feel as though I need more time with them. It's difficult looking back at my high school and college days, remembering I was 2nd in my class in HS and went to an excellent college, only to realize I no longer want to push myself to "succeed". I continue to put that in quotes as I used to define success only in financial terms which is obviously not how all others define it. Is something wrong with me if I don't want a promotion? Should I be working in a field where I should want to progress and is it a sign I don't love my current field? Do I need a career change? My wife is very supportive of whatever will make me the most happy and engaged with my family. Thanks for any advice you might have!

Edit: My current plan is to quit work around age 45-50 and have my wife go to part time until she is about age 60. We are on track to have a paid off house and the kid's college paid for by age 45-50. My income is mostly being used to accelerate our financial goals and just keep myself busy. If we had to we could cut back on our expenses and I could quit work altogether right now.
I heard Scott Galloway in an interview on Yahoo finance today. He's incredibly successful in business, and as a professor as NYU. He wrote a book on happiness which you should probably read. Basically,
happiness comes from engaging with friends and family. It doesn't come from making more money.

It's okay to coast. After a certain point, working harder has diminishing utility.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Dennisl »

I agree that it's fine to stay where you are. I've worked my way up to as high as I want to be on the management side of things. I hate managing people and it stresses me out. I'm good at what I do on the non-management side and I get paid a reasonable amount and I don't want to work harder or more hours than I already do.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

I really appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback! I find that I am only unhappy when I think about what I "should" be doing or comparing myself to others. When I remain in my own blissful bubble I think I'm the luckiest person in terms of money, family and health.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by renue74 »

I'm a small business owner and began to "burn out" about 2 or 3 years ago after 21 years of doing the same thing.

Look at other job opportunities. Maybe it's just your company's environment that you are not likely any longer. A change of pace, new co-workers, new interesting projects may change your thought process.

I agree now is not the time to jump ship because of the unknown short term future.

If you completely hate it...look into retooling into a different profession. But be ready to take a pay cut because you'll be working at entry level. Retooling could mean online courses, college programs, etc.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by BV3273 »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:12 pm I really appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback! I find that I am only unhappy when I think about what I "should" be doing or comparing myself to others. When I remain in my own blissful bubble I think I'm the luckiest person in terms of money, family and health.
Stop comparing yourself to others.

I’m 34 and feel the same way sometimes. Then I take a step back and look at all of the great things I have. A wife, 2 healthy kids, and a career with a top company. You could be unemployed eating Mac and cheese sitting in your parents basement playing play station right now, but I’m not going to compare you to my cousin.

I doubt you and I are the only millennials that feel this way. Buck up brother. We’re lucky. Play the hand your dealt and fold, retire early, when the opportunity arises.

If you’re anything like me work and home life are all you have. It might be time to get a hobby outside of finance.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

BV3273 wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:23 pm
Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:12 pm I really appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback! I find that I am only unhappy when I think about what I "should" be doing or comparing myself to others. When I remain in my own blissful bubble I think I'm the luckiest person in terms of money, family and health.
Stop comparing yourself to others.

I’m 34 and feel the same way sometimes. Then I take a step back and look at all of the great things I have. A wife, 2 healthy kids, and a career with a top company.

I doubt you and I are the only millennials that feel this way. Buck up brother. We’re lucky. Play the hand your dealt and fold, retire early, when the opportunity arises.

If you’re anything like me work and home life are all you have. It might be time to get a hobby outside of finance.
Hobby? What's that? Something I probably did back in my teens and early 20s? Yeah I'll need a plan once my children are older and won't want to spend as much time with me!
Stick5vw
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Stick5vw »

Out of curiosity, what sort of organization do you work for? In many places (from what I've seen) within the financial services industry, there is a slight "up or out" mentality and it's actually frowned upon if you are seen to be coasting or not looking for "growth" anymore. I once turned down an expanded role and my boss was furious, and it became quite a thorny situation for all involved. So be careful how you approach this as you may become an easy target for a layoff, and even moreso when you are of a certain age unfortunately.

That said, I don't think there is anything wrong with what you are feeling. If I compare my goals as a 25 year old to what they are now (at 40), they are very different. IMO once you achieve a certain level of material success and you are able to knock out a few "milestones" in terms of career growth, then it's inevitable to feel a little bored. That's when you need to figure out how to take on new assignments (internal/lateral transfers, side projects, etc) or look for things outside the office (family, hobbies). Like you I'm starting to tilt towards the latter myself as I now have a toddler at home who I want to spend more and more time with. However I consider this more to be a passing phase, especially because I know that once kids get to a certain age, they may not actually want to spend all that much time with parents anyway - pretty standard for teenagers I think! So you may well get to a point in a few years where you actually want to be more involved with work again, so leave yourself some wiggle room to make a few moves and have some optionality.

Is your wife's job/income secure? That safety net gives you a lot of options...but overall I'd use the next year or two to think hard about your next step(s) before making any hasty decisions. You're in an enviable position so make the most of it!!
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by smitcat »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:12 pm I really appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback! I find that I am only unhappy when I think about what I "should" be doing or comparing myself to others. When I remain in my own blissful bubble I think I'm the luckiest person in terms of money, family and health.
It appears that any issues you may want to identify and improve have nothing to do with your job and everything to do with yourself.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by smitcat »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:25 pm
BV3273 wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:23 pm
Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:12 pm I really appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback! I find that I am only unhappy when I think about what I "should" be doing or comparing myself to others. When I remain in my own blissful bubble I think I'm the luckiest person in terms of money, family and health.
Stop comparing yourself to others.

I’m 34 and feel the same way sometimes. Then I take a step back and look at all of the great things I have. A wife, 2 healthy kids, and a career with a top company.

I doubt you and I are the only millennials that feel this way. Buck up brother. We’re lucky. Play the hand your dealt and fold, retire early, when the opportunity arises.

If you’re anything like me work and home life are all you have. It might be time to get a hobby outside of finance.
Hobby? What's that? Something I probably did back in my teens and early 20s? Yeah I'll need a plan once my children are older and won't want to spend as much time with me!
Many of our favorite hobbies and pastimes are/were shared with children.
They are not mutually exclusive at all.
PVW
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by PVW »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:10 am Hi Everyone,

I am in my late 30s and have lost any ambition I once had to "be successful" and continue to progress in my career. I have been in my role at my company for several years now, and have not applied for a promotion (to be a middle manager) as the job just does not stimulate me and the compensation is not a significant enough raise to justify enjoying my job less.
In my opinion, the world needs about 50% less managers. It's not that I dislike managers or have experience with poor managers, it's just that I think most of them are inefficient at doing their job and are always trying to manage something instead of guiding and contributing to something. Management is where careers go to die, but the pay is better.

Career progress to me is to have interesting and challenging work. I have a small amount of management responsibilities and I see it as a burden not a reward.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

Stick5vw wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:58 pm Out of curiosity, what sort of organization do you work for? In many places (from what I've seen) within the financial services industry, there is a slight "up or out" mentality and it's actually frowned upon if you are seen to be coasting or not looking for "growth" anymore. I once turned down an expanded role and my boss was furious, and it became quite a thorny situation for all involved. So be careful how you approach this as you may become an easy target for a layoff, and even moreso when you are of a certain age unfortunately.

That said, I don't think there is anything wrong with what you are feeling. If I compare my goals as a 25 year old to what they are now (at 40), they are very different. IMO once you achieve a certain level of material success and you are able to knock out a few "milestones" in terms of career growth, then it's inevitable to feel a little bored. That's when you need to figure out how to take on new assignments (internal/lateral transfers, side projects, etc) or look for things outside the office (family, hobbies). Like you I'm starting to tilt towards the latter myself as I now have a toddler at home who I want to spend more and more time with. However I consider this more to be a passing phase, especially because I know that once kids get to a certain age, they may not actually want to spend all that much time with parents anyway - pretty standard for teenagers I think! So you may well get to a point in a few years where you actually want to be more involved with work again, so leave yourself some wiggle room to make a few moves and have some optionality.

Is your wife's job/income secure? That safety net gives you a lot of options...but overall I'd use the next year or two to think hard about your next step(s) before making any hasty decisions. You're in an enviable position so make the most of it!!
I probably shouldn't say where I work, but I do work for one of the following mutual fund complexes, to give you a sense of the environment: Vanguard, Fidelity, American Funds, John Hancock or PIMCO. I work in investment operations rather than in the front office and I work on a critical function to our business that will be around for at least another 5-10 years. Our department does not have an up or out attitude at all - it is very hard to fire someone actually.

I think my point in life is more akin to your average mid 40s family man than late 30s as most people choose to have kids at an older age than I did. With that said, I didn't achieve my original career progression goals partly because I was too distracted with having kids in my late 20s but also because my wife has an incredibly secure and lucrative job as a doctor. I will have kids in college by my late 40s and plan on having a very active life in terms of travel and enjoying life after I retire or semi-retire with my wife.
srt7
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by srt7 »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:12 pm I really appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback! I find that I am only unhappy when I think about what I "should" be doing or comparing myself to others. When I remain in my own blissful bubble I think I'm the luckiest person in terms of money, family and health.
Are you me? :D
I can't think of anything more luxurious than owning my time. - remomnyc
veindoc
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by veindoc »

The only downside is when you find people who are not as smart or capable as you now supervising you.

I was probably as ambitious as anyone out there. From the start of my career, my intent was to be the boss. And I certainly had the intelligence and skills to do so. But then I had kids and frankly didn’t want to work that hard. Fourteen hour work days were now completely unappealing. I wanted to drive my kids to school which ruled out 7am meetings and I wanted to go their sports practice which ruled out 5pm meetings. So I accepted the fact that I would be a producer not manager.

But over time I felt like some of my managers were shortsighted, lazy, unimaginative and a host of other adjectives. I had various ideas about how to approach things or improve upon them but the amount of work needed to implement them were inconsistent with the work balance I desired. I had to actively resist the desire/need to take charge. It was not a pleasant feeling. So I quit, started my own gig and became my own boss.

Now I can tailor my work to my schedule and home life but at the same time steer the ship as I please.

You will find your way.
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Count of Notre Dame
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

veindoc wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:14 pm The only downside is when you find people who are not as smart or capable as you now supervising you.

I was probably as ambitious as anyone out there. From the start of my career, my intent was to be the boss. And I certainly had the intelligence and skills to do so. But then I had kids and frankly didn’t want to work that hard. Fourteen hour work days were now completely unappealing. I wanted to drive my kids to school which ruled out 7am meetings and I wanted to go their sports practice which ruled out 5pm meetings. So I accepted the fact that I would be a producer not manager.

But over time I felt like some of my managers were shortsighted, lazy, unimaginative and a host of other adjectives. I had various ideas about how to approach things or improve upon them but the amount of work needed to implement them were inconsistent with the work balance I desired. I had to actively resist the desire/need to take charge. It was not a pleasant feeling. So I quit, started my own gig and became my own boss.

Now I can tailor my work to my schedule and home life but at the same time steer the ship as I please.

You will find your way.
Unfortunately the manager role is too much like an HR job and less like a "I know how mutual funds work" job at my company. For the reasons you stated I never could have a job in the front office, although my SAT score and college pedigree would have initially gotten me into the entry level job on that side of the business had I pushed for it years ago. Most jobs in business that are stimulating and require a lot of brain power also require far too many hours, unfortunately.
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TxAg
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by TxAg »

I hear ya loud and clear.


I think a hobby would help. And also fitness goals.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:10 am Hi Everyone,

I am in my late 30s and have lost any ambition I once had to "be successful" and continue to progress in my career. I have been in my role at my company for several years now, and have not applied for a promotion (to be a middle manager) as the job just does not stimulate me and the compensation is not a significant enough raise to justify enjoying my job less. I have two young children (ages 4 and 7) and a wife with a high-paying job. I don't think it would be best for my daughters if I was a full time stay at home parent, but I do spend a lot of time with them as I work from home twice per week and don't feel as though I need more time with them.
Besides family and financial responsibilities, you own your career, not anybody else. Don't mix it up with anybody else's.
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by EFF_fan81 »

I am in a similar position. Good job but capped out on growth here but don't want to leave just yet. I also am pretty much capped out on pay and have some fixed expenses (e.g. mortgage in HCOL area) that mean I'll pretty much save 30-35% no matter what. I have three young kids, so I'm in "rest and vest" mode for two more years. It's an odd place for someone previously ambitious to be.

I'm learning to just be zen about seeing stupid stuff happen and neither being asked to fix it nor really wanting to spend nights and weekends fixing it for no extra pay anyways. I feel like the boxer in Bib Dylan's hurricane: It's my work, and I do it for pay. When it's over, I'd just as soon go on my way.

Question is can you stay at this level for a few years and then advance or switch later or is it now or never? I'm pretty confident I have at least a few more years before I have any issues with advancing somewhere else.

Also, trying to save enough to be FI in my 40s (savings rate was previously higher so we can "coast" a bit now). That's the only real protection against some sort of mass layoff.
musicmom
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by musicmom »

I'm recently retired after 40 yrs in a great career.
I never wanted a managerial position. Fortunately, I had the choice to remain in a challenging technical position that was constantly evolving. Never felt bored or resentful.
Had many opportunities to move up but wanted to keep my work life contained so I also enjoyed raising 2 children with DH.

My managers also benefitted from my decision. Often pulled in for short/mid term projects as a technical expert, interfacing with IT, HR, physicians, pharmacists. Enjoyed these immensely but always happy to return to my lab afterwards.

Moved up to my positions salary ceiling with excellent reviews. Yearly merit increases and occasional bonuses.
Feel like I sculpted exactly what I wanted/needed in life.
Enjoying retirement on the lake with DH. Watching adult children thrive.

OP, create your own life. Dont be influenced by other peoples opinion of what you 'should' do.
Best to you.
siriusblack
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by siriusblack »

OP-- you are wise beyond years. Middle management is much higher stress, and you are much more dispensable unless you have a major/core talent for management. The pressure and politics of dealing with upper management is much higher, and you can easily get into an "up or out" situation. Longevity and happiness belong to the folks who are content to be strong individual contributors, who stay on top of their expertise, and who continuously add value.
Nowizard
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Nowizard »

Not wanting promotion may be a positive and reflect a broader goal regarding a balanced life rather than a need or desire to change a career. Those who do very well in their profession are "rewarded" in many ways by their bosses. Since bosses are upwardly mobile, offering promotion is assumed to be a reward that is almost always sought by others. Discussion of that process typically centers around those who are promoted to and beyond their level of competency, but there is a sub-group that simply considers work a part of a broader life. Personally, there were many opportunities for greater "Success," but a one-man office with secretarial help suited best. Though it does reflect being considerably older than you, a favorite saying during working years was "Everyone does not have to be Johnny Carson. Ed McMahon has it pretty good as second banana."

Tim
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by Dottie57 »

yohac wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:25 am There's absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to go into management. I went through my entire career avoiding it. Still retired early. Now, if your current job isn't doing it for you either, that's another question.
+1
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8foot7
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by 8foot7 »

If you know now you don't want to be in management, then you are almost certainly right. Most folks who reach that opinion taste it first and then have to take an unfortunate step back in their careers. Some never recover from that pullback.
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gr7070
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by gr7070 »

yohac wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:25 am There's absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to go into management.

Now, if your current job isn't doing it for you either, that's another question.
This!

Being a manager is way overrated. But the latter item is important. Definitely need to be motivated and challenged at work.

You are correct that the money should not be what motivates you, but you should still expect to be compensated fairly, too.

I moved into a government position and get paid grotesquely less; but it's an appropriate amount for my position in government.

Just make certain you have the proper balance between family (huge priority) and work (which is important and should not be an afterthought) [edit to add:] and self (get that below mentioned hobby).
Last edited by gr7070 on Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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gr7070
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Re: No longer desiring promotion - change career?

Post by gr7070 »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:25 pm Hobby? What's that? Something I probably did back in my teens and early 20s? Yeah I'll need a plan once my children are older and won't want to spend as much time with me!
You need one, preferably more, now! Don't wait for the kids to grow.

While you're absolutely correct to make family your #1, 2 and 3 properties; after work at #4 a couple satisfying hobbies really matter!

It's hard, but one needs to carve out (and guard) a small amount of time for other interests.
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