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deciding whether to stay or go at work

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Normally, I’m the one that everyone else in my family hates because I have a job that I really enjoy. I’m a maths geek and for a living I work with spreadsheets and data a lot of the time, and proper maths some of the time. I work for a company where not that many other people do this, so my skills are sometimes in demand. The industry I work in is something I’m fairly passionate about. It’s not charitable, nor is it cool, but I believe that what I do is important. Of course, every job is a job and it’s not all fun all the time, but this one has been pretty good time for long stretches.

trouble in paradise?

Right now, and for no particularly good reason, all I want to do is get out of my job. We’re talking about future projects at work, and even the fun stuff doesn’t stop me thinking that I’m not sure I can face months and months and months of this place with no end in sight.

Being a sensible sort of person, I’m looking to see what other jobs are in the market. I saw one that’s not right but in the perfect company and ended up applying (have heard nothing yet, deadline was a week ago). I’ve seen jobs that I could do which pay about the same (band advertised is +/-£2k of what I make now) in similar fields and completely different fields. I’m tempted by a full time website-y role I found (kind of like paid blogging, but not). If I was currently redundant, I would definitely be applying for all these jobs.

The jobs that really further the career aims I decided I had just a couple of months ago either are not vacant at the moment, or are in the wrong location anyway, and I really don’t want to move house now, it would add a lot of risk to my financial position (I owe more than my house is worth) and would detract from my general happiness elsewhere. I can leverage work in my existing company into the right direction more or less, but working here is making my skin crawl.

my actions and decisions (or lack of)

The tactic for the last 6-7 months (since my two closest friends at work decided to leave the company) has been to regularly check for new suitable jobs with the idea that I’d apply if there was something right, rather than if there was something that was close but not really what I think I want. But I’m now rethinking that strategy.

I’m not great on decisions, and I don’t know what to do.

If I move into an unrelated field, I’ll miss all the cool stuff about what I do now. I would probably be losing some capital that I’ve gained in my specific field - I’ve had a paper published, made presentations to industry groups, an article about my work was in the trade press and I got involved in some things with the Open University.

On the other hand, on a day to day level it probably wouldn’t make all that much difference if I worked in a different area. I could probably get fairly enthusiastic about a number of things, not just the stuff that I currently do. Moving sideways for the same money (more or less) wouldn’t be a bad thing in and of itself, and most of the jobs would involve a lot less travel, which is something that I find particularly tiring.

a time for everything

I guess, it’s hard to know whether you want to really make a move, or you’re just kinda tired. One of my favourite sayings is

You are not your code

Which shows that I’m a geek, but I kind of interpret it sometimes as your value does not lie solely in your work and what you produce. It’s easy to begin to identify yourself with your job, and it’s easy to always look inside the box for the answers.

Perhaps a recession is actually a good time to re-evaluate the way you get an income, and see if you can make yourself happier doing it some other way. Or maybe it’s the perfect time to just put up, and shut up.

I’ll explore some of these thoughts soon (and I promise I will, because I’ve written the posts already).

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6 comments for “deciding whether to stay or go at work”

  1. ah. exciting stuff here. brave of you to see the economic shake - up as an opportunity to shake yourself up too; so many now are clinging to where they are as to a life raft. i can sympathize with the stifling environment; we have a similar mantra in the academy. “you are not your dissertation.”

    Posted by neimanmarxist | March 3, 2009, 10:47 pm
  2. I’m facing the stay or go question as well. Since I’m teaching, the end of the school year will provide a natural breaking point where I can decline to sign on for another year. Although I like many aspects of teaching, I don’t feel safe at my school or supported by my administration so I find myself dreading my job.

    Posted by E.C. | March 4, 2009, 2:00 am
  3. Hi,
    I’m not sure what you do now, but I also work with spreadsheet geekery for an Operational Research group with a Consulting firm. Always worth a look if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

    Feel free to get in touch if you want to know any more.

    Posted by Emma | March 4, 2009, 11:15 am
  4. I understand the feeling. I’d say that if you can find jobs to apply for that look interesting, are comparable to your current position, and appear not to be more unstable, then it’s worth applying at the least. If you don’t have the energy for an all-out job hunt, then apply to the ones that interest you.

    When I was at my previous job, I was ok with being there but stress was building and I started wanting something different. So I would periodically search relevant jobs, apply, until I got this one. I think it was a good choice because I didn’t push myself to hate the old job as I looked for a new one, and I had time to find something I really liked.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | March 5, 2009, 2:27 am
  5. Sounds like you have an awful lot on your mind. I hope everything works out perfectly!

    Posted by Cathy @ Chief Family Officer | March 5, 2009, 4:28 am

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