Time to Move On… But Where To Go?

I thought maybe, just maybe, with a new boss and a more focused role I’d be able to keep my head down and get my shit done and I wouldn’t be a total train wreck. I knew that was highly unlikely, but the hope was there.

The historical self-sabotage rears its ugly devil head yet again, and I’m on the fast track out of this org, as soon as my superiors have enough documentation on the things I do wrong and enough new resources to manage the pieces I still run so nothing so much as briefly falls apart in my absence. The clock is ticking and soon my time will be up.

I’ve had a decent stint with a few substantial wins and I feel I’ve for the most part earned my keep, but I can’t be the person I need to be in order to impress my boss and play my bit part in this show. I seem to continue to say all the wrong things at exactly the worst possible times – one of my rare talents – and I dig myself into holes that are so deep no one can imagine what the bottom looks like.

My friends tell me that I should get a job where I make less money — because then, ah, then there is some magical role where I’ll be a great employee. Except, that isn’t true at all. Lower-paid roles tend to focus more on detail-oriented, get a lot of shit done type of work, which happens to be what I’m not so great at. Strategic roles tend to be higher paid by nature, if you can convince someone to pay for you as visionary. Otherwise, you’re just a widget in the machine someone else built, turning along and hoping not to offend anyone else.

Lots of people hate me. At work. I don’t know about if they do in the real world. I like to think I’m a pretty basic person with no ill will against anyone. But at work, they hate me because I want things to make sense and I think about systems and how they all connect and why fixing one piece of the process isn’t going to solve the bigger issue… even though that’s none of my business and I should just shut up and focus on getting my own stuff done. Nevermind that my anxiety is ridiculous and I can’t actually get anything done at the office and I can’t work remotely so I’m pretty much staying up late to get the shit done that I should have done during the day and waking up exhausted to do it all over again.

I’m so so so terribly fortunate and yet god I’m broken. I thought this week to myself you know what I have a really good job. It pays well, the company is filled with some truly wonderful people, and the actual problem we’re solving is exciting and interesting. How many people would kill to have exactly what I have? And yet, I’m miserable. Why? It’s not the job I hate, it’s my career. This isn’t new, but for a while I thought maybe I could just find a job that would be the right fit, but the career is so far off from right there’s no way to make it work. I mean, I’m sure I can make it work… for 35 years… that’s about 18-23 different jobs if I last 1-2 years on average per job. I can’t live like that, not for the rest of my working life, and especially not when I have a family.

I’m not complaining about all this, just figuring out what to do. It seems I really need some sort of education to switch paths — I know the market well and I know what I can get interviews for… and what I can get interviews for and what I can get hired to do is exactly what I’m doing now. That’s not the objective. I need out of this and on to something else. But what if that something else is just as poorly suited to my abilities as this is? Or if the depression is so clouding my view that this is in fact the perfect role for me and I’m going to throw it all away to try something else that isn’t a fit at all.

I’ve tossed around the idea of becoming a personal finance planner… a CFP… which seems theoretically doable with an online class for $5000 and some more study for a big test. But what happens then, even if I pass? Do I leave my career and find a big financial firm to work for as a planner, and have to sell their “great” high fee (shhh) funds to those who trust me to give them advice? Or do I go off and create a new blog and build up my own brand and somehow get a network of clients and provide advice that isn’t bullshit but actually valuable and useful and helpful? That would be the dream, wouldn’t it, only I’d have to actually be capable of providing real advice based on actual math not just some fairytale concept of personal finance in which I occasionally discuss in blips on this blog.

I don’t see myself in any one particular role. I know that if I could have a job where I did not need to be in an office all the time, I’d be much happier. I don’t know if I could work for myself permanently, especially if it involves finding and keeping clients, even though theoretically that should be what I’m best at given my background n business. It seems very stressful and challenging compared to working in a full-time role, despite that the stress levels now are through the roof.

I think I’m done with this pretending to be someone part of my life. I’m just not a business person. I either care too little or too much, and when it’s too little my work suffers and when it’s too much I make enemies who think I’m just a brat who wants everything done her way and that I’m not a “team player” which is that thing you have to be in order to be successful in the business world (while also somehow being a leader at the same time.) There is no similarities between my personality and that of a successful vice president type and there never will be. I’ve grown to be ok with that, to accept that I’m not meant to be presenting to boards and navigating the murky waters of corporate leadership. No one should waste a cent sending me to executive training because it won’t help. I’m not trainable like that.

This is all ok. There are plenty people in this world who are not that, and they get on just fine. There is only one head of each business department in an organization and even though there are many organizations in the country, the number of leaders is far smaller than followers and others.

I’ve put so much pressure on myself, for virtually no reason, to be something. I long ago gave up on having to be someone — some celebrity or great persona — and instead, just settled for “something.” In our culture, we are our jobs, and so I wanted to not just be any job but I wanted to have a brand of success, or moving up the corporate ladder, of having a seat at the table. The higher I climbed, the further there was to fall and what seemed like a bit of a joke became a terrible trap in which one could look down for there was way too far too fall and letting go meant death was all but certain – death of the professional brand that has taken so long to build.

But who cares? I’m tired of being defined but this career which isn’t even something I’m proud of — I’m not proud of my work, I’m quite frankly embarrassed by it. I’m proud only of being able to get things done that are better than they should be with the resources at hand, and occasional strong work supplemented by a whole lot of “why haven’t we fired her yet” quality output.

It’s clear it’s soon time to move on… really move on far away from where I am. But, where do I go from here?


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2 thoughts on “Time to Move On… But Where To Go?”

  1. Have you considered consulting? It sounds like you do good on the high level plane but that it goes south when you get into the weeds. Maybe if you got to do consulting and work with companies for brief periods at a time and stay on that high level, you would find success? I don’t know enough about your industry to know if this would be feasible, but seems worth throwing out there.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Breaking Down Our Madeira Beach Vacation

    1. I’ve definitely considered it. The challenge with consulting is that in order to consult I need to be an expert and in order to be an expert I need to be good enough at my job to have the experience to merit someone hiring me as a consultant one day. That’s kind of the goal, but it takes a lot of time. I also am not clear how to get consulting roles… it seems to be mostly through existing networks and I can’t say I have a great one. I’d like to consult in my 40s, that’s the plan.

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