Not happy? Make a change

Thursday, September 21, 2017 Permalink

It’s kinda fitting that it was on this exact day five years ago I finished full time work. I’d accepted a redundancy package from my government job and had decided to make my seachange. Within a couple of weeks I’d sold my place, bought a new one and by the end of October 2012 I’d moved.

I’ve loved my post-seachange life. I decided – at one point – that I never wanted to work full-time again. After all…. I’d been working full time non-stop since finishing University in my early 20s, over two decades before. I wanted a break. My world revolved around my job/s and left little space for anything else. I wanted the proverbial work / life balance. Or I wanted A LIFE full stop.

The biggest struggle after moving though was finding a job. Finally almost two years ago I scored something in government at a much lower level than I’d been previously, but sounded interesting and was – most importantly – part-time.

And it’s been good. However…. though I’ve made it a rule to NEVER talk about my job / what I do online, I have struggled so much over the past few months I’ve actually talked about work publicly: via my ‘I’m so unfulfilled’ vlog, and my values post.

So I realised I needed to stop whingeing and start doing…

not happy

And like magic or fate or something, a one-year project job (with my current government agency) was advertised. It’s full-time, a slightly higher level and a good fit with my background. So I applied for it and got it. It’s all happened pretty quickly, but… I’m excited. And nervous. Nervicited. Or something.

It probably won’t surprise you though to know I’ve been overanalysing my decision. By which I mean I’ve been weighing up the positives and negatives.

On the plus side

More money. I’ve talked before about my need for financial security. Which is almost as great as my desire to loll about all day and do nothing. Seriously, why am I not a trust fund baby?! (Joking. I would not swap my parents for the world!) However, I already have a lengthy wishlist (below) and worry a little that the increased salary (slightly higher level and full time) won’t stretch as far as I’m hoping.

Holidays! When you work part-time and are on a very tight budget it’s almost impossible to justify taking a holiday or a ‘break’ of any kind. I mean, I’m home (not working) half of the week. Even if I don’t allow myself to read or watch TV during the day it’s not like I’m in an office working for someone else and tied to a desk. So, there haven’t been any holidays for a while and now I can afford AND justify one. Eventually.

A new challenge. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my teeth into something a bit meatier. (Ugh… too many mouth metaphors there.) Now I’m back in project management and this role will be a bit different so there will be stuff to learn and challenges afresh.

Oh, and did I mention more money?!

As for the minuses

FULL. TIME. WORK. I’d kinda hoped I’d never have to work full time again. And yet, here I am. I’m not quite sure how I’ll cope with my lack of free time but hoping I settle into it quickly. And the good and bad thing is that this position is only for one year, so I can rethink things in October 2018.

Scary new challenges. Interestingly my confidence tends to erode if I’m not feeling mentally ignited and that’s probably been the case recently. I’ve enjoyed a lot of elements of my current job but I’ve felt as if I’ve been deskilling and have lost some confidence as a result. Which makes changing jobs a bit scary. It’s something I did a lot of once – jumping from project to project and across a range of sectors – but not for a while.

Most importantly

I’ve weighed up the positives and negatives and I’ve realised I kinda have to be the adult in this relationship. (Being single and all that!) I can’t whinge about money or fulfilment and then do nothing about it. I struggled after leaving full-time work. I initially felt untethered and purposeless because my identity was COMPLETELY wrapped up in what I did, rather than who I was. And then there was the guilt. Of not working.

I think I (mostly) worked through all of that and I’m pretty sure I’ll cope with whatever comes my way in the next iteration of this life I’m designing for myself.

How do you cope with major life changes? Do you sometimes go against your values (like my need for freedom and balance) to do the more responsible thing (earn more money)?

the-lovin-life-linky The Lovin’ Life team includes:

46 Comments
  • Jo
    September 21, 2017

    You know, it doesn’t feel like 5 years since you made your sea-change. I get what you’re saying re the pluses & minuses, but I have the feeling this will be good for you – & solidify one way or another the things that you want. Good luck with the new job – I’m sure that you’ll nail it.

    • Debbish
      September 21, 2017

      Thanks Jo, I hope so. I think the old me would have been more confident about it, but that’s slipped a little…

  • Ingrid Ingrid
    September 21, 2017

    I’m going to be accepting a redundancy from my job at the end of this year. Having been in this job for over 20 years YIKES! it’s a major change for me and a bit scary as I’m currently well paid for what I do and I will then need to start looking for a new job, attend job interviews etc etc etc as I need a job to survive financially.

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

    • Debbish
      September 21, 2017

      It was a big change for me Ingrid as I’d not had a break from the workforce since my Uni days. I can’t remember if it’s in one of the links I included or in another post from the time (I read over several from back then when deciding what to include) and was reminded of how weird it felt not HAVING to go to work… that sense of dread gone in many ways and feeling free. But I also felt guilty – even though I’d been working many many years to pay off my mortgage and have a little money to live on for 6mths of no work – that I was able to do so. It was a weird time for me.

      In all honesty I’d love to not have to work again, but until I can get my head around living with less (or little) and not wanting to dine out (ever), buy wine, or get stuff fixed around the house I’m going to have to work in some way for a while.

  • Vanessa
    September 21, 2017

    Well I’d love to work part time but when I did have a part time job (not by choice) the pay was so awful I was shopping at food banks to save cash for bills. So yeah, I guess I’m stuck working full time for the foreseeable future. I do have my eye on a few places I’d like to work so I make sure I check their websites weekly to hopefully swap to a place with less of a commute, as I think that would make full time work much easier.
    I also have the deskilling fear, I haven’t gotten to work in my sector in a while and there is that underlying “will anyone hire me again?”. I think that’s part of why I studied last year.

    • Debbish
      September 21, 2017

      The thing I’ve disliked about myself over the past year or two here Vanessa is that temptation to make excuses or act as if what I’m doing now isn’t good / important enough. I’ve tried really hard not to, but almost always find myself telling anyone (who asks about my job) that I was a much higher level once and I’ve been happy to settle for a lower part-time role cos I’m living this balanced and zen life. I realise that’s more about my fear re how others perceive me, but I think it also says something about my own values etc…

      Having said all of that (though not sure exactly what I said), this time (particularly before I started this part-time job) have been good for me as I’ve have to reprioritise my spending and haven’t been able to eat out regularly, buy expensive clothes etc (as I once did) and it’s forced me to consider what I really need vs want etc… (and it’s hardly like I’ve been living below the poverty line!)

      • Vanessa
        September 21, 2017

        For me it’s that I miss having my opinion trusted/respected at work. It have it more than most but it just doesn’t interest me enough to care.
        The biggest thing I struggle with is that the work I want to do seems to have been in a slump for years so I am overall in a good place, I’m just restless with it intellectually.

        • Debbish
          September 21, 2017

          I’ve been fortunate in my current role as I’ve had a lot of autonomy and my boss has mentioned he’s aware I’ve worked at higher levels so has no problem with leaving me to it but I know what you mean about the intellectual thing. I thought I’d be satisfied getting that from blogging / writing, but…

  • sizzlesue15
    September 21, 2017

    Good for you Deb and although full time can be a shock after part time work I’m sure you will find it a good challenge. As you say it is only for a year and I can tell you that will fly. Do hope you will still be blogging though! Change can be difficult but it is your attitude towards it that makes the difference. Best of luck!

    • Debbish
      September 21, 2017

      Ah yes, I had some ‘plans’ in there re blogging but the post was already ridiculously long. I do intend to keep blogging and I did blog several times a week when I worked full time previously. Book reviewing takes up a little more time than my personal blogging, but I’ll see how I go.

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    September 21, 2017

    Exciting times and here’s to change and challenge that brings happiness.

    SSG xxx

  • writeofthemiddle
    September 21, 2017

    I think this was meant to be. It will help you work out what works best for you and what you want. I left my corporate job around the same time you made your seachange. It was 2012 – big year. I know all about losing your sense of self. I was ALL my job too. I’m still working out who this new me is and what she wants to do. Difference circumstances but similar objectives. Hope you love this project and the people are fab (makes such a difference)!! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Thanks Min. I suspect one of the big differences is that I’ll be part of a team which hasn’t been the case in my current role. I’ve had a lot of autonomy – which has been great – but sit in a workspace with people from a range of teams within my Dept which can sometimes be a bit isolating.

  • Jodie
    September 21, 2017

    I love how you analyze things, Deb! And part of getting older, is realizing that we do have a decision. If you hate it, it’s not like it’s permanent like a tattoo, right? And you’ll never know until you try!
    Congrats, and can’t wait to hear how you are doing with it!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      True and later Jodie I wondered if the post should have been less about me and more about encouraging people to make changes when they’re not happy. Obviously for many – changing jobs or moving house etc isn’t possible but I suspect it’s about making small changes until we can make the bigger ones. (Or at least trying to look at situations differently, which I think I tried to do for a while!)

  • Johanna
    September 21, 2017

    Really wishing you all of the very best with your new job – yes, as you say, it will bring many benefits. I think change is an inherent part of life. We make this change or that change hoping for things to be better or different (and they are for a while) or we have changes thrust upon us and we have to make the best of them in whichever way we can. Nothing lasts forever, so being positive about change and embracing it is absolutely the way to go. For the time being your change sounds good, sounds as if it’s just what the Dr ordered (almost!), and when it isn’t anymore, I bet you’ll make another plan 🙂 Go you!

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Yes Jo… I’m hoping I love this job and the people and feel really contented – or at least okay about going to work each day. (That’s not always been the case in jobs for me!) I’m actually hoping I’m surprised by how well I adjust back into full-time work and that it’ll make me appreciate my free time all the more.

  • leannelc
    September 21, 2017

    I like that it’s for a fixed period Deb (altho that might change!) so you can go into with the thought that you can always go back to part-time later down the track. I personally hate working full-time, I love the work/life balance but I also understand that bills need paying and sometimes you do have to be the grown-up and make tough choices. I hope you enjoy the challenges and that the people you work with make it fun (or at least bearable!) to come to work every day x

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      I’d initially assumed I’d be temporarily released from my permanent part-time role Leanne – which ‘should’ have been the case (higher level, same agency, 1yr etc) – but they refused so I had to resign from my permanent job to take on this temporary one. However, I’ve no doubt I made the right decision. My current boss was very shocked I was prepared to do so but hopefully understands that I need to put me first – my financial needs and need for intellectual stimulation / challenge etc… And who knows what will be happening in a year’s time?!

  • budgettraveltalk
    September 21, 2017

    Good on you for trying a change Deb. I’m sure you will love it and your experience in this job will help you decide what you want to do when the year is up.

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      True Jan – I’ll probably appreciate my free time more next time around (after going back to work full-time) and perhaps even be able to do with less of it. Perhaps there’s some middle ground in my future?!

  • maxtheunicorn
    September 21, 2017

    I absolutely hate major life change, and pretty much change in general lol. Wishing you much success and fulfillment with your new job though, and I hope you adjust well and it’s all smooth sailing!

    Di from Max The Unicorn

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Thanks Di. I’ve had a lot of major life change (moving towns, countries, jobs and so forth) and am usually okay but think I sometimes underestimate the impact it has on me and it manifests in some other way… I stop sleeping, start eating badly (or worse than usual!) but think I’m getting better at recognising that stuff now. I’m trying to prepare for the change to full-time work and more stress etc at the moment (planning ahead with some blog posts, looking at exercise options) so, fingers crossed.

  • Retiring not Shy!
    September 21, 2017

    It sounds perfect for you right now and if it helps you tick off at least some items on your wish list then you are ahead of the game. Good luck, I hope you enjoy it.

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Exactly! A lot of the things on my list are house-y things – some of which are one-offs and doing them now will mean a better lifestyle (ie. cooler bedroom with an aircon in there and better sleep; verandah balustrades which won’t break!) and if I can squirrel away some savings as well for a little while, it’ll be a buffer for next time around!

  • Kooky Chic
    September 21, 2017

    Congratulations this sounds like it could be you year. Who knows what might eventuate?

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Oh, fingers crossed. The last couple of years have definitely offered up some surprises!

  • Jenni | Unclutter Your Universe
    September 21, 2017

    I think taking this contract on for a year will help you sort out in your own mind what is really important to you. Is it having more free time, with less or working more and having more disposable income? Getting your teeth stuck into something big that will challenge you, will also boost your confidence to take on other projects full or part time in the future.

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      You’re right about the confidence thing Jenni. I managed all sorts of complex and large projects in the past and – in most roles – felt quite confident. I’m hoping this will be the same once I get there. And worse case scenario – I WILL better understand what values are more important, or at least what I’m willing to live with or without!

  • seizetheday20
    September 21, 2017

    You go girl! This new job may be just what you need. Who knows, you may even find fulfillment! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Thanks Lyndall! Big changes afoot! (PS. My blog post was initially called ‘changes afoot’ before I remembered the SEO thing and had to use a title that others might search for!

  • best custom essay writing service
    September 21, 2017

    I’ve read your article and found here my own lifestory….Seriously! I had the same trouble with a full-time work, so that once I’ve just gave up and fired. I just needed some time to rest from all that awful tiring routine…And you know, it has worked! I’ve made my hobby as my main earning while sitting at home. So sometimes we have to quit everything to understand that your vocation is not a full-time work at office center.

    • Debbish
      September 22, 2017

      Oh I’m glad you could relate and I hope that – my past experiences (work being my life) – mean that I’m able to ease up on that approach now. Also I’ll appreciate the money more (because I’ve struggled a little over the past five years). And if / when I do get to work less hours again, I’ll appreciate that free time even more. I think – for example – I might get rostered days off and already I’m thinking what a treat that will be…. to be able to do stuff on a weekday. (When in reality I currently only work 5 weekdays each fortnight so have HEAPS of weekdays free – which I fritter away!)

  • Natalie
    September 22, 2017

    Congrats, and best of luck, Deborah! It’s an exciting time for you.

  • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
    September 22, 2017

    Congratulations! That’s exciting news! I totally agree that if we are not content, we are the only ones with the power to change things. Oh and nervoucited is totally a word! I had an 8-year-old client some years ago who told me that 😀

    • Debbish
      September 23, 2017

      I tend to moan and whinge more than I should Sanch and I do know better and try to stop myself. I know it’s something that frustrates me about others and I want to shake them and tell them to bloody do something about it. So it’s good (I guess) that I’m walking the walk (or talk or whatever) and making a change given how unhappy I’ve been.

  • Janet Camilleri
    September 23, 2017

    Good for you Deb, you may find it a bit tiring and hard to adjust at first but I don’t think you’ll regret it. Also, there is a huge difference between having to work full time, and choosing to do it x

    • Debbish
      September 23, 2017

      I hadn’t thought of it like that Janet – that I’m choosing to do it. I have a colleague in my current workplace (she sits near me anyway) who came back to work after retirement cos she hated having nothing to do. The rest of us bemoan the ‘having to work’ thing whereas she was reticent to recently take holidays because she’d miss work!!!

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    September 25, 2017

    The best thing about decisions like this are – you can give ’em a go and if it’s not working for you, you can change it again. You get to create your life however you want it. It’s gonna be great Deb! #teamlovinlife

    • Debbish
      September 25, 2017

      Thanks Leanne. Fingers crossed.

  • Jess
    September 25, 2017

    Oh good luck. I over analyse too and can definitely relate to how you are feeling. And full time work does suck on a lot of levels, but the money and the challenges will hopefully be worth it for 12 months.I look forward to following along. You seem much happier and more in.tune with yourself especially since your move to your new place.

    • Debbish
      September 25, 2017

      Thanks Jess and yes, I think it’s a combination of things and the new place and the fact it allows me to feel like I’ve ‘come home’ is wonderful.

  • yinyangmother
    October 10, 2017

    Hi Deb – by now you are probably settling into the full time gig again – I’m catching up as I’ve been offline in China. I think it sounds like a good move for you – project roles are always good for autonomy and feeling like you are achieving something – that sense of taking on a project, maximising the opportunity, and then seeing what comes next, without the pressure/commitment to an ongoing role, which can leave you feeling stale and trapped. I think we ride our careers and lives in waves and if we do what feels right at the time then that’s all that really matters. We are all together in finding the ever-changing best version of balance and I think now that we are almost 50, gulp, we should stop worrying about other’s perceptions of our work/life situations.

    • Debbish
      October 12, 2017

      Oh yes, very true Kathy re not worrying about others judging us but I often find it’s easier said than done.

      I’m only a week into my new role and I’ve been pretty tired and have had to rein in the overwhelm on a few occasions. I’ve noticed some old bad habits creeping in and need to work on those before they get worse.

I'd love to hear your thoughts