Attn Life Coaches: Your thoughts/advice on starting a new career

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eugenefl

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(This is griping-about-life/downer thread. Pass on this subject if it's not your cup of tea.)

Greetings fellow TRFers. I seek advice from the many corners of the globe on this one. There are so many different backgrounds on this forum that hopefully my situation is someone else's history. Thus, I value your thoughts if you have a moment. I've never had a mentor, and up to this point in my life, have done better than my parents ever did with theirs which isn't saying a whole lot (my dad was a shoe salesman and my mother a school teacher when she started her career). That's all they ever expected of us kids; however, during the times when I find myself lost - yet again - I typically only have my intuition to turn to for advice. Frankly, I'm tired of following my own advice. It typically puts me on a path of frustration. I'm just ready to evaluate other people's life plans and set aside what it is I want for a while.

My situation: In mid-November of this year my job is coming to an end when our office closes its doors. It happens everyday in corporate America and I am just another part of those statistics. I have accepted that life sucks, is hard, and for the most part, is out of our control. Some part of me tells me that it doesn't have to be this way. There are so many successful people that walk, live, and breathe around me that somehow I feel like I missed out on the part of life where they (whoever "they" are) tell you what the plan for success is. I am sure some of you are thinking "If you ever meet 'them' please let me know."

My problem: I'm sick and tired of job hopping. I'm tired of putting on the suit, updating the resume, landing a job, putting forth 200% effort only to be laid off or offered a measely pittance for my efforts. I am worth more than 6-12 months of employment and certainly worth more than minimum wage. This is my 6th professional job in less than 10 years and my resume attests to some of the places I have fought tooth and nail to work at only to be let down in some shape or form. Inbetween some of my professional jobs I have done odd work such as clean pools and assist a home inspector, completed college work, studied a collection of technical books to increase my proficiency, learned other aspects of my trade - i.e. I AM NOT LAZY. Essentially, I have had 8 jobs in 10 years. FOUR of those years I spent in the Air Force which doesn't leave much room on the timeline for all of the other jobs. (i.e. 7 jobs in 6 years). Some days - most days actually - I regret making the decision to leave the Air Force.

The thought process: I think it's time for a new career. I almost don't care anymore what I do for a living - seriously. If I can't keep a job doing what I enjoy, or make a respectable income that supports the basic qualities of life (a modest home, a reliable car, money for retirement), then it's not worth it...PERIOD. The job I am currently with is offering me a severance and incentive bonus for staying until our doors close - something I've never been offered before. With this closing deal I have a chance to start anew. My current thoughts are to go back to school full time, study something else, and stay as FAR away from a computer as possible. So, basically I am back to square one in life much like approaching my high school graduation day. I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. I certainly don't want to earn a 4-year degree to make what I can on street smarts. (A 4-year degree in my mind should equate to a $50-60k+ a year gross salary in this day and age. Housing costs rise each year and life isn't getting any cheaper. I know it can be an unrealistic expectation, but it's a significant investment of time and money to spend 4 years in an institution only to make a few bucks an hour.)

MY QUESTION(S): Should I go back to school? Should I get that degree? What should I go back and study? What is a safe bet in terms of career choices? What careers offer significant growth potential over the course of 30 years? What careers offer the best return on investment whether a 4-year or master's degree? Should I consider becoming an entrepreneur? Should I just put the suit back on, grin and bear it, and hope for the best out of my next job? Most importantly, for those of you with the insight, where do you see that I have gone wrong? WHAT am I doing wrong?

In closing: I recently started listening to Dave Ramsey audio discs and have been a Clark Howard fan for about a year now. They are both financial gurus that offer a glimpse of hope into the world of personal finanical planning. (Oh yeah, no one ever tells you about *that* part of life unless your parents or other significant influential figure has been there to help guide you. Each of my siblings has struck out in our own ways and are all making corrections to avoid those pitfalls. I'm not financially stupid, but having had 8 jobs in 10 years does not exactly facilitate financial planning or any other type of life plans for that matter. I can't even imagine thinking about starting a family.) I'd like to read other books or other audio CD's that offer practical advice and solutions to other things in life very much like Dave Ramsey. I'd prefer to not stand in front of the self-help section of the book store only to have a stupid look on my face because all of those books look the same. No offense to those of you who turn to your faith for hope, and I DO respect your choice and welcome that kind of advice, but I can't afford to wait for answers that may never come. Drugs (which I have never tried), alcohol, or therapy seem to offer more practical remediations at this point.

Thanks for lending me an ear. I know I have brought up this topic in the past, but reality seems to be hitting me harder these days and I will be forced to make some tough decisions real soon. Thank you.
 
Whats the one thing you know in the back of your head you wanna do with your life but you're avoiding because it sounds too ridiculous? Do that.

I cant speak career wise. Hell I'm 17, but at least school wise everything sucked until the point where I just accepted the fact that I want to go to some sort of art related-film/photography-probably gonna be homeless for the rest of my life route.

You do the photography thing. I don't know if you'd want to turn it into a career. But if you did, you said your not lazy, and thats half the battle. You could go out and market yourself for whatever you'd want, journalism, real estate, commercial... if your free time is consumed with going out and bugging people, you'll end up with a job eventually.

I'm just being the voice of complete non reason here. If you wanna be an astronaut try for that. Personally I'm gonna go for astropresographer.
 
Whats the one thing you know in the back of your head you wanna do with your life but you're avoiding because it sounds too ridiculous? Do that.

I cant speak career wise. Hell I'm 17, but at least school wise everything sucked until the point where I just accepted the fact that I want to go to some sort of art related-film/photography-probably gonna be homeless for the rest of my life route.

You do the photography thing. I don't know if you'd want to turn it into a career. But if you did, you said your not lazy, and thats half the battle. You could go out and market yourself for whatever you'd want, journalism, real estate, commercial... if your free time is consumed with going out and bugging people, you'll end up with a job eventually.

I'm just being the voice of complete non reason here. If you wanna be an astronaut try for that. Personally I'm gonna go for astropresographer.

I wish I had your brain at 17.
 
Eugenefl,

I've not been exactly where you are but you might find echoes in my story. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and 14 years of experience. 2 main employers but multiple job descriptions within those. I served 10 yrs in the Army Reserve and active duty for Desert Storm (stateside). After my last layoff I was unemployed for 2 years with no significant offers but I did work for slightly more than minimum in a bookstore (bills still gotta get paid). We are a deeply religious family (I won't preach but it's just who we are) and somewhere along the line I felt God's call to go back to school and attend graduate school at a local Seminary. Only AFTER, I was enrolled in seminary part-time did I start getting job offers, and then only out of state. All that is just to say that from my standpoint, I think God leads us where we need to be if we take the time to listen (something I'm often not very good at).

I think the best thing to do is to do that thing which you are best equipped to do and which fuels your inner passion in life. Figuring out what this thing is can be difficult on your own. Perhaps there are similar secular tools out there but I am not familiar with them. Again, I'm not trying to preach or push my view, but I am familiar with some good tools that are Christian based and I think would be useful even if you choose to ignore the faith part of it. I believe that each human being is uniquely crafted by God, the thing is to find out what he has made us good at. I use, and recommend, "Network" subtitle - "The right People...In the right places... For the right Reasons" by Bruce Bugbee, Don Cousins, and Bill Hybels. This comes out of the giant Willow Creek church in Chicago. Again, I'm not pushing the Christian part (although I recommend it:D) but even aside from the faith part, I think this is a very enlightening process that will help you determine how you are uniquely put together.

Another tool that is reputed to be good for youth to determine what to study in school or to help with new directions is from Crown Financial Ministries but I haven't used it yet personally. This is computer based and more expensive so I don't know if it's right for you but there it is.

https://www.careerdirectonline.org/

Again, I know you weren't looking for religious stuff and I don't mean to preach, but that's who I am and that what I know. I really think that the Network book would be a good place to start even if you aren't a person of faith.

If you do have questions about religion, this isn't the place for it but you can feel free to PM me. We've been through some tough stuff in the last few years, you do indeed have my sympathy and support. If there is anything I can do please let me know by PM.
 
Eugene,

In the end, only YOU can tell you what the right course of action is. Part of me envies the idealism of the young rabidsheep. And if you’re 17, I agree with him 100%. At that age you should chase your dreams until you’ve either achieved them or the pursuit no longer makes sense. Otherwise, odds are you need to mix a bit of pragmatism in with the idealism. In my idealistic world, I’d say get as much education as you can stand and then work hard to make yourself better than everyone else at what you do. But my more pragmatic self looks at the path I’ve been on for the last 20 years and realizes that even that only takes you so far. Education, smarts, and hard work count for something but, unfortunately, who you know counts for much, much more.

Here are my answers to your specific questions (take them for what they are worth…):

Should you go back to school, get that degree? In my opinion, yes. Education is always a good foundation. Not a sure fire solution, but it boosts your odds quite a bit.

What should you study? Only you can answer that. Make it something you really are interested in and could be good at, but balance that with a measure of common sense. Some degrees might be fun, but totally useless after you graduate. You may need to do a bit of research to figure out which fields are worth pursuing – look at job growth statistics, ask people who work in the field, and so on.

What careers offer the best return on investment? Great question. The only constant is change. What looks good now might not cut it in 10 years. That’s life. But a firm educational foundation will help you adapt to that change. I studied fluid dynamics in college, but haven’t used ANY of that knowledge for nearly 15 years. Things I never studied have replaced that as my career, but the firm educational foundation made that change possible.

Should you become an entrepeneur? Depends. I made that leap a couple of years ago, which is one reason why I don’t hang around here much anymore – too busy. Do you have the guts to handle a variable income? Do you have the skills to market yourself? Do you have a network of customers ready to go? Do you have a unique product or capability to sell? Being self-employed is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but its working out so far. The money isn’t really any better (for me), but I enjoy the freedom. Also, being self-employed you realize every day that there is no such thing as security. Employment tends to provide the illusion of security, but it sounds like for you at least that illusion has already been crushed.

Should you just keep doing what you’ve been doing? Maybe. Hard to go back to something like that when you clearly don’t look forward to it. But if you’re taking proactive steps to change that situation in the long run, maybe that’s the right thing to do for now. Maybe going to school part time while working is the right path?

What have you done wrong? Maybe that’s not the way to think of it. Maybe you should think of your current introspection as doing something right. Look at it this way. I know LOTS of people with advanced degrees working high tech jobs that are just plain miserable. MOST of those just put up with it and they hate their lives, counting the days until retirement. A few of them are more introspective, realize their situation, and are either asking the same questions you are, or have already put themselves on a course for change. Sound familiar? I respect the latter group quite a bit.

Keep your chin up. You’re asking the right questions. But, odds are you aren’t going to find the answers with us. You’ll find them on your own.
 
.... WHAT am I doing wrong? .....

Actually, it is not you. The job market has changed. There is no such thing as job security.

I could give you a speech or advice, but without knowing a lots of details it would be very hard. But Illini says it best and would reread his advice.

Either going to school or being an entrepenuer will take time and money. But one must always being learning. Most businesses, unless you have a special skill, fail.

I would avoid any get rich schemes, anyone who promises change buy taking a course, or anyone who promises anything who charges for advice or "special" knowledge.

The economy will, depending on where and what you do, stay soft for the next few years.

Don't despair, but always look to the future. And you should be doing something now. Don't wait until November.
 
Actually, it is not you. The job market has changed. There is no such thing as job security.

Aside from the military contract that kept me employed for 4 years straight, I have yet to keep a job for more than 2 consecutive years. At this point in my life I define job security as being any job that I can work at for at least 2 years without being phased out, laid off, or having a contract end early.

I could give you a speech or advice, but without knowing a lots of details it would be very hard. But Illini says it best and would reread his advice.

Agreed. I too have withheld some details regarding my employment history, but the general emphasis on my situation is frustration with trying and reaping no reward. Illni's advice seems to have that fatherly tone - i.e. - "Keep your chin up. You’re asking the right questions. But, odds are you aren’t going to find the answers with us. You’ll find them on your own."

Grrr...so much of life's "finding answers on your own" to me seems like a HUGE re-invention of the wheel. Getting an education, whether through practical means such as going to school or working on the job, in order to perform a trade, should not be rocket science. Working a job and earning a wage is a practical part of living that everyone has to go through. I'm not asking for advice on how to win over a girl's heart, seek an answer to one of life's great mysteries - which by the way working a job and making a living should not be a great mystery, or pursue that "dream job." All I want is a job so that I can make some money...and...well, LIVE. It's just rediculous to me how hard something so simple can be. In other words, I have succombed to the fact that I will not be tomorrow's instant millionaire, invent something everyone needs, become a superstar, an athlete, or even the CEO of some big company. I'm ready to just be a peon so I can earn a check every 2 weeks, pay my bills, and when time and money permit, take my soon-to-be-wife and one-day-to-be-family to a theme park or a bi-annual vacation. How hard can that be? Seriously?

Either going to school or being an entrepenuer will take time and money. But one must always being learning. Most businesses, unless you have a special skill, fail.

I would avoid any get rich schemes, anyone who promises change buy taking a course, or anyone who promises anything who charges for advice or "special" knowledge.

The economy will, depending on where and what you do, stay soft for the next few years.

I have made modest efforts at the school and entrepreneur ventures. Both seemed like a great waste of time and money. I guess diving in completely is the only way to go. i.e. - "go for broke" I laugh at all the infomercials aimed at the unemployed. It makes me think that I should have been the clever one to sell that piece of turd dream to someone else so that I don't have to be the sucker buying into them.

Don't despair, but always look to the future. And you should be doing something now. Don't wait until November.

I am doing something now. I am in despair and asking for advice because I am being forced to look into the future. :) Learning from the mistakes of others - and my own - is essentially what I am looking to gain from this thread so that I don't have to waste anymore time. Sure - I'll hang up my ranting hat and hit the pavement within the next few weeks, but for now it's the perfect time to reflect on what's happening and deal with the changes.

Thanks all for the PMs and thread replies.
 
After years of real estate and ad sales, odd jobs in between, I threw my suit in the garbage and decided to find a new direction for my life that made me happy.

I go back to school in a month to become a welder. Will also be taking some ornamental iron work classes. I also hope to find a blacksmith to learn from on my own after school. I have always been fascinated with metal working of all types. So, I chucked it all and am starting over at 39, with a wife and kid. Rabidsheep has the right idea. The 17 year old idealistic dreamers are the ones we should be listening to since they haven't spent years becoming jaded and bitter living in the "grown up" world. If you can do it without living in a box in an alley, chuck it all and find what makes you happy.
 
Well I can most certainly relate. After spending 95% of my adult life in the fields of electromechanics, I am about to move into the healthcare field. Never in my life had I ever thought I'd say that. I just finished about a two-year course of study into taking x-rays. Let me give you my two cents on why I think it's my best move:
Short school time - less than two years
It involves electronics, both AC and DC.
No long term patient care. They come, you x-ray, they leave.
There is an art involved in getting all the images required. A wrist is 3 or 4 views, a neck 6 or 7, and a lower leg usually two. One of the last x-rays I took in school was the lower leg of a 50-something woman whose horse fell on her leg while barrel racing. How do you get two pictures of a leg that can't be moved and is shattered top and bottom...that's the art of it.
Every day is different. Although about half of the x-rays you take are of the chest.
X-ray leads to many other very interesting, highly paid fields such as MRI, CT, ultrasound, mammography, nuclear medicine ($$), cardiovascular internvention, etc. Here in Jacksonville, the market is rather soft at the moment. I'm having to get real creative about where I send my resume. Other places in the country are offering sign-on bonuses. I personally really can't move right now but half of my graduating class did.
Right now, against the advice of others, I plan on training in MRI as soon as I can. The pay is much higher. X-ray around here starts about $16/hr at hospitals and $18/hr at imaging centers. I know an x-ray technologist who was dating and MRI technologist. The MRI guy was pulling down $33/hr.
I just wish I discovered this 20 years ago. I find it fun, challenging, fast paced, and I'm actually good at it. I actually take some pretty good x-rays. Now if I can just find someone to pay me for it...
Check www.monster.com and search "Healthcare - Radiology/Imaging."
 
Many know that two years ago I made the transition from 22, active-duty, years in the Air Force to the Aerospace Industry (Boeing). My passion is aviation, full-stop. I don't care if it's flying planes, r/c aircraft, rocketry, etc. it's anything to do with aviation/aerospace!

However, over the past years I've also learned that simply being in the industry hasn't fulfilled every desire I've imagined - even with a great deal of education and certifications. I call it the "grass is always greener syndrome". I'm with a great company (Boeing), have good benefits, and a good retirement plan, plus various incentives. I'm not trying to be aarogant or bragging because I know our family is blessed, however my point is that, in some aspects I still feel that there's a "need" to be filled.

I do remember when I was on the otherside of the fence, in the Air Force, wearing either a flight suit or BDUs (camo) and wishing I had more fulfillment, outside in the civilian world. So I attempted to position myself with education and skills.

I have to admit, that in some aspects there's many people on this board who I greatly admire - those that are able to support themselves fully while fulfilling their passions. I'm truly happy for those people - honestly and sincerely.

My point, outside of a few minutes of rambling, think about where you'll be in a few years if you don't pursue your dreams. And then think about them if you do pursue them. Which road will you be most happiest on? Truly happy! That may mean meager pay, but high job satisfaction - or high pay and little job satisfaction. Only you can choose.
 
Maybe don't give up on the IT path. Try changing location. I'm not not sure exactly what your skills are, but with a military background and computer experience, I think you'd be able to find a decent government or defense related job in the MD/VA/ DC area. NSA, and other defense related gov't agencies, Lockheed, Boeing, BAE Systems, etc.
 
You know, unfortunately there is simply no easy answer, so easy solution to your problem. And it's hard on purpose. You've heard the phrase that anything worth having is worth working hard for... There is some truth to that. If success and being successful were easy, then everyone would be doing it. And then who would we have to work the drive thru's or carry our bags to our rooms?

If you want a great series of books to read that shed a bit of different, yet practical perspective on the financial world and money in general, I HIGHLY recommend "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki. His series of books are some of my favorites and are real eye openers. He talks about some of the things that some folks in this thread have mentioned- About how the market has changed and about how having a job only gives you an illusion of security. He has plenty of other nuggets of knowledge in there as well. Also read "Think and Grow Rich" by Napolean Hill.

If you are going to go back to school, might I recommend business and finance classes? Business is something that is always going to be around, and having that degree will actually help you land better paying jobs. Plus, this leads me to my next point:

Perhaps it's time to start your own firm? Surely you've made contacts over the past 10 years or so, and obviously what you're doing is something you're good at and have more than an average interest in. Start talking to some people and get their feedback. See what they would think about the idea of you starting your own <insert type of company here> firm and going into business for yourself? Yes, it will be a lot of work, and is risky, but this is one area where hard work will truly pay off. You'll have a steep uphill climb initially, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

The bottom line is that no matter what it is that you do, you're going to have to continue to work extremely hard to make it to wherever level of success that you desire. It would be nice if there was a step by step guide to being successful, but since there isn't, the only thing that I know of for a fact that does work is persistence. Just simply not giving up. Most people have no idea just how close to being successful they were when they quit.
 
Illni's advice seems to have that fatherly tone - i.e. - "Keep your chin up. You’re asking the right questions. But, odds are you aren’t going to find the answers with us. You’ll find them on your own."

Sorry about that -- 3 kids will do that to a guy. :)

Seriously, though, without knowing the intimate details of your life story (which I'm not asking for), it really is hard to give more than general advice. I'd wager just about everybody on this board has made career mistakes, myself included. The ideal for most, I'd guess, is to have work that is both satisfying and pays well (*extremely* well), but I don't know many (any?) people that have achieved that. It sounds like you're willing to sacrifice satisfying for pays well with stability, but stability is almost a myth. The most stable job I ever had was working for the government. But satisfaction and pay suffered. If stability is all you seek, then move to the DC area and take a government job -- there are jillions of openings for shiny new bureaucrats. The most satisfying job I've had is self employment, but pay is average and stability is non-existent. Beyond that, specific recommendations like "plastics! get into plastics!" is awfully hard to give.
 
Maybe don't give up on the IT path. Try changing location.

I was going to mention this same possibility. I live in a community that is generally healthy in the economic sense and as a result employment is steadier than what I'm hearing in many other locations. In fact the two jobs that I almost never hear of lay offs here are teachers and computer types at a major corporation.
 
Hello Eugene,

I have been where you are, bouncing all over the place, form carpenter to mechanic and all types of odd jobs, all dead enders.

I got hurt, bad, (again), and at 50 years old went to tech school. I went and built computers for a few years and now have landed a job as a contractor for the FAA. I work at a radar site, manitaing equipment, and soon will move over to work on beacon system, a MODE-S and a nav-aid, a VORTAC. So far so good for me.

I would not give up on the IT field, there is good work out there. It has been said here that maybe location is the problem. I have no doubt you are a good worker and a good employee, it just sounds like you are not in a good location where high tech IT's are needed.

Find what you like and go after it. I did, and I'm happy, and so is my wife and family. FYI, I am now 60. I did it, and I know **** right well you can. I believe in you and I know you family does. Go man, go!:D

Best to you.

Jack
 
For what its worth.

GET A JOB NOW!!!!!!!!!

ANYTHING

Just get to work now, Pressure make you think better. and the pressure to get out of doing something you really don't like is a huge motivator to get you on the right track.
 
I am certainly not surprised by some of the valuable advice posted. Good stuff. It'll be interesting to come back to this thread sometime after November to see where I have landed or if my life is any different than it is now.

I was in the toy aisle of the dollar store today looking at all the stuff in there for a buck. In a hazy daydream I depicted myself tossing those plastic GI Joe parachute guys up towards the ceiling in my living room from the comfort of my couch. In the other hand I'd be shooting at them with the cheap ping pong ball gun all while eating Ramen and watching some daytime show that I have zero interest in since there is nothing else on the TV. :cry: Thankfully it was just a daydream.

All in all I'm thankful to not be the only one that's gone through this. It's just too bad all of life's experiences are basically a reinvention of the wheel. All of us get to go through it. Fun fun.
 
TRF - the great community of people that talk about rockets and life. It's 11 May 2022. I just found an old thread I posted in September of 2007. Not quite 15 years later, I came to the "Off Topic" forum suprised I had posted about a topic I was JUST getting ready to post about AGAIN for the EXACT same reasons. So what changed in 15 years? Grab some popcorn. Here's a brief update.

After I had posted this thread (2007), a few months later I worked for Wachovia and after 5 weeks on another I.T. contract job (low level tier 1 help desk) thinking I could do something a bit simpler that I enjoyed which was helping people. I quit because the culture was HORRIBLE and the job was basically a ticket taking job. Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo in December of 2008 so my intuition on that place was accurate. In spring of '08 I landed an entirely interesting new and different gig. I got to work in NASCAR traveling 38 of 52 weekends with Richard Childress Racing from Spring 2008 - Spring 2010 supporing their mobile I.T. infrastructure. The work was exciting, my third job in professional sports, and having ended a 10 year relationship I was enjoying the "frat" life so-to-speak being on the road with a bunch of motivated and competitive race mechanics, engineers, pit crews, crew chiefs, etc. Because of the demands of travel and for other reasons, I gave up my pursuit of photography (another good choice) as a potential full time job. Later the market would be flooded with better tech/cameras including those found in phones. My high school sweetheart came into the picture while I was working in NASCAR, the "honeymoon" and demands of travel were not providing me the foundation for the life I wanted, and in spring of 2010 I left NC to move BACK to FL. I got married (including becoming a stepdad) to the girl and continued fumbling through I.T. jobs - about 3 of them in 3 years - watching the industry shift to the cloud. It wasn't until 2013 that I made a pivot into InfoSec/CyberSecurity at a financial services firm and had a LONG run. After about 9 years and a few toxic bosses (including one that I accurately predicted would harm someone - he actually murdered his ex-girlfriend), finally getting my 4 year degree in Computer Science, multiple certifications, etc. I finally quit that job. I've come to find out that in 2021 alone the company had a 50-60% attrition rate. Incredible.

So here I am, in 2022, unemployed, re-BAR'ing in rocketry (4th time?) trying to find some respite/relief, fighting to find work. COVID was hell. Career burnout is real. The rat race sucks and I feel like my entire network of professionals and friends dried up primarily because I stayed in 1 company for too long. Ever heard of Taylor Swift? The common lyrics of her songs involve bad relationships. I can't recall the comedian, but he basically said something to the effect that "maybe the problem was her." Am I just Taylor Swift except having the wrong perspectives on life?

I discovered TRF in 2001 after 4 years in the Air Force, had a brief controlling ownership of the forum for a period of time around 2006-07, and have always found a home here while trying to build a career and live my life. I've been gone from active participation in the hobby (building/flying) since 2006-ish with a small handful of posts here and there when curiosity piqued my interests. In Q4 of 2021 I joined TRA, got out to the local club (Tampa Tripoli), and continue to dabble and post here and there (including some Facebook groups).

Folks, I wish I had encouraging news, but the truth is that life sucks. Everything is a constant battle. The trials don't change. People come and go as do hobbies. In a 20 year period the glass HAS BEEN and CONTINUES to be half empty with pockets of nostalgia, new experiences, and some mainstays that provide witness to life. I was 22 or so when I picked up rockets as an adult and found this forum. I'm 43 now and I fulfilled and did much of what I set out to do when I originally posted this thread with the biggest differences being a bigger house, bigger savings account, a loving wife and stepdaughter, but many of the same struggles. Midlife crisis? Who knows. I try to continue to put good out into the world, but the world has no kindness or good to give back. So here I am, yet again, wondering what it is I am looking for and what it is I need to be doing differently to change the outcomes. Time waits for no one. I am grateful this forum still exists and that I was able to find an old thread to remind of where I was when I originally posted this. Unfortunately, not much has changed. Be well.
 
I've had 2 day jobs since I was 19 years old. I'm 47. 22 years at the current job and I'm nearing the end of that one by choice, not the company closing the unit (the first job).

No question, I'm in full-midlife crisis mode/whatever its called now. I don't want a new wife, Corvette etc., I just want to feel like I've got a bit to contribute moving forward without the misdirection of the current company. I've got a few side projects and they are good at times and money pits at times. Overall, half my income comes from the day job and half from the side projects.

Where I am right now, sometimes people remember the major projects they contributed to (like Apollo or something like that) or the life they lived. It is more important to me now to have meaning in what little stuff I do and the individuals I interact with vs. the money the company makes because of me or the possible patents etc. I expect to be unemployed by a real company in the next 6-7 months, but I expect to be busy either growing my own ventures or working with someone else who runs a small venture. The economy makes that sketchy, but time moves forward way faster than you ever expect and few people on their death bed say 'I wish I would have finished that report earlier'.

No question the C19 stuff has been terrible for everyone, physically at times but mentally for most of us. Add in the random life events that happen (C19 is #4 on my list since 2019) and it just changes your outlook. What you do with that change in outlook is going to be hard, but might be a gift. I kind of don't care at this point, as something needs to change and you can't blame someone else for how your life is and have to try something different if things aren't working right now. At least that is where I am right now. Given my track record, I wouldn't suggest you consider this as advice, but at least commiseration.

Sandy.
 
Commiseration...I hear you on that. In many ways, I felt it necessary to update this thread, if only to commiserate. Cheers.
 
In 1987, I had my career change. For me it turned out to be the right choice. Fueled by a lifetime interest in aerospace, I went from being a retail jeweler back to college to become an engineer. It turned out to be just the right decision for me and I loved my career, finally retiring at age 60 when I became a grandfather. Along the way I got back into rocketry which continues to bring challenge and purpose to my life in many ways. I also learned that I love learning and that constantly learning is an imperative for me. My career choice and my hobbies reflect that also.
I believe there’s a career choice for each of us that’s fulfilling, but sometimes it takes awhile to find. The support and love of my family was the single most important thing that enabled me to make the change.
So, I’m not so much writing to commiserate as to encourage you to stay positive and keep looking.
 
Advice I give but rarely taken. The Faces song "Ooh la la" always comes into my head on this subject.

If you want to be successful and rich, find a rich and successful "life coach" and hang around with successful and rich people. Don't ask people on a rocket or any other internet forum for life coaching, those people will not likely be there.

Find a small successful company in your area, it could be tech, it could be a plumber, it could be a commercial real estate company, it doesn't matter. Find the owner and ask him if you can have a half-hour of his time, most will say sure, statistics are on your side.

Tell him/her your story and ask for their advice. Based on your background he/her will be impressed enough with you to hire you on the spot. Then you will learn, and become wealthy and happy. The door will be opened. Its that simple really. You got to get into the "club". Traditional going to schooling, getting degree, shopping yourself around etc will give you a decent living, but you will likely remain outside the "club".

Or if you are young enough you can plan to marry someone inside the "club". But most people do not realize the value of this path until its too late.
 
Advice I give but rarely taken. The Faces song "Ooh la la" always comes into my head on this subject.

If you want to be successful and rich, find a rich and successful "life coach" and hang around with successful and rich people. Don't ask people on a rocket or any other internet forum for life coaching, those people will not likely be there.

Find a small successful company in your area, it could be tech, it could be a plumber, it could be a commercial real estate company, it doesn't matter. Find the owner and ask him if you can have a half-hour of his time, most will say sure, statistics are on your side.

Tell him/her your story and ask for their advice. Based on your background he/her will be impressed enough with you to hire you on the spot. Then you will learn, and become wealthy and happy. The door will be opened. Its that simple really. You got to get into the "club". Traditional going to schooling, getting degree, shopping yourself around etc will give you a decent living, but you will likely remain outside the "club".

Or if you are young enough you can plan to marry someone inside the "club". But most people do not realize the value of this path until its too late.
The underlying theme here is 100% spot on. @eugenefl , you need to engage in a mentor/mentee relationship with someone that will hold you accountable to take action, and move towards attaining your goals. If your goal is simply to make a boatload of $ that's ok IMO, just be clear with your mentor that is your goal, and create a plan how you will get there. Among other things, your mentor might ask you to think about what specific skills you have today, and what other skills are needed (or need to be fine tuned). A good mentor will not tell you what to do, but help create opportunities to uncover many/all possible paths to get to your goal.

You are trying to solve for a complex problem, and the way to do that is to break it down into smaller pieces:
- Define specific, measurable goals that you set for yourself. Money, time off, benefits, what problem are you solving for? Be specific and honest with yourself.
- Find a mentor, let them hold you accountable, accept (appreciate) constructive criticism, set a regular cadence with mentor if possible.
- Define skills you have today, understand what needs work
- There is lots more to unpack here, but some food for thought... :)

Best,
 
Just my opinion, but most of the people I know who have “getting rich” as a goal, are never satisfied in their lives. Regardless of how much money they end up with, they don’t have a sense of fulfillment.
On the other hand I know people who find what they really enjoy doing, whether it’s being a lineman or a farmer or rancher or a teacher (or in my case an engineer) have a strong sense of fulfillment and feel rich.
 
Just my opinion, but most of the people I know who have “getting rich” as a goal, are never satisfied in their lives. Regardless of how much money they end up with, they don’t have a sense of fulfillment.
On the other hand I know people who find what they really enjoy doing, whether it’s being a lineman or a farmer or rancher or a teacher (or in my case an engineer) have a strong sense of fulfillment and feel rich.

To build on what Steve Shannon said, no one ever died wishing they spent more time at the office. Honestly, to me you sound like you have a pretty good thing going with a decent house and a loving family. I've found myself much happier when my career is just a job (a great job that I don't hate and that pays the bills and then some) and more of my focus is on personal goals and enjoying life. Maybe it's cheesy but it's worked for me.

The best advice I think I can give you is to find yourself a big, stable company to work for that isn't going anywhere anytime soon, like Intel or AMD if you're into computer science (just throwing out big computer companies I know of), and find yourself a niche in whatever work group you end up in. If you want to advance, go for it, but if you find yourself happy where you are, I don't think there's much need to sweat it. If you're content, just allow yourself to be content and don't feel like you have to keep up with the rat race if it's just making you miserable.
 
Just my opinion, but most of the people I know who have “getting rich” as a goal, are never satisfied in their lives. Regardless of how much money they end up with, they don’t have a sense of fulfillment.
On the other hand I know people who find what they really enjoy doing, whether it’s being a lineman or a farmer or rancher or a teacher (or in my case an engineer) have a strong sense of fulfillment and feel rich.
On the other hand if you are unfulfilled it's better to be rich and unfulfilled than poor and unfulfilled. Rich is relative.
 
Wow, thank you all for the words which are really your means of support and encouragement. Some of the biases at play in my life are negative and continue to be negative because I continue to fall into very similar patterns OUTSIDE of my control. A few things I want to put out there - I have zero interest in chasing "money" to be "rich" - the thought of that sounds awful - but I do value the freedom that comes with being debt free and substantial savings to not have to be "under the gun" to find the next opportunity. To be more succinct, there's not an object that would shift my "happiness". "Stuff" matters not.I have always felt like money/income is a side effect of good work by adding value to a business and as such have always lived fiscally conservative (zero debt, paid for cars, mortgage that is <20% of household income, etc.). All of this being said, I know I've been in the rat race applying 210% and giving far more to companies that didn't deserve the level of output I put into their success only to be shown the door due to "Peter principle" managers, ESG/diversity hires/preferences, or political narcissists.

@jderimig codified and explained precisely what I am seeking - an opportunity to be a supportive "right-hand" man to a small/med business owner who is overwhelmed, needing someone that can create processes, streamline the day-to-day, looking for someone to trust with integrity beyond reproach (i.e. toss me the keys to lock up the business, or personal home), strong work ethic, loyalty, help manage growth, manage/mitigate business risk, lead/manage others, and join the fire-fight to win in the marketplace. I am less interested in the business entity type as long as the business has integrity, provides a valuable product or service, and stands behind its product/service when something goes wrong. For the right opportunity built on trust and mutual respect, I am easily a 50-60+ hour dedicated workweek employee even after being told to "go home, sign off work" when the minimum hours in a workweek have passed. Passion is something I will not squander again.

@rfjustin - mentors? What's that? I find myself mentoring young I.T./cybersecurity people all of the time. I've prayed to come across the right mentor leader to recognize my potential and give me an opportunity via healthy challenges, feedback, criticisms, and growth opportunity.

@Antares JS - you described the job I had for the last 9 years. After many years of pinballing my way through companies that would close their doors, lay off personnel, become acquired, contracts that wouldn't convert to permanent, etc., I finally found a long term "home" of 5+ years. 2021 was the exception. Boss #3 post re-org was a narcissist bent on "pushing" out employees that were not his friends outside of work. The year prior I landed a corporate CEO leadership award, yet from one year to the next, I found myself facing termination due to "performance." 8 stellar years of performance, high ratings, and ONE horrible boss. To place things into perspective, my last company had a 60% attrition rate in 2021 alone.

I appreciate all of the perspectives, feedback, etc. My apologies if I did not respond directly to someone's comments. I'm still trying to overcome burnout. On the up side, I've been scratch building clones from the 1990 catalog. It's been cathartic to spend hours redrawing decals, cutting fin patterns, assembling parts, etc. and seeing something long OOP come to life before my eyes all while playing hour+ long Bob Ross videos in the background. LOL...therapy! :)
 
Just my opinion, but most of the people I know who have “getting rich” as a goal, are never satisfied in their lives. Regardless of how much money they end up with, they don’t have a sense of fulfillment.
On the other hand I know people who find what they really enjoy doing, whether it’s being a lineman or a farmer or rancher or a teacher (or in my case an engineer) have a strong sense of fulfillment and feel rich.
Early in my I.T. career I held tech support, help desk, and desktop support roles where my level of interaction with people was much higher. You know what brought me the highest level of satisfaction? Helping people. Whether it was a senior employee working well past retirement holding a job to help their ailing spouse, help managers/execs fix printer/software/hardware issues so they could make that big presentation, or even young insecure employees fearful they wouldn't learn the new software to make their job work, I was passionate about the interactions, follow up, customer service, and at times - lending an ear. I used to spend lunch breaks tutoring or holding "lunch and learns" before those were a thing for employees that needed extra training on a new application or process. I picked up scripting to help teams better manage manual workloads that were aided by automation. With I.T./Information Security, the bigger dollars seemed to be found in data centers, behind monitors developing, or in places of isolation where there was less people interaction and more time/focus on technical issues/development. The further I have gotten away from those core principles the less fulfillment I have gotten from work.

A few years ago I took a career/vocation quiz via Psychology Today for about $29. The results for top 3 career paths: 1) Data Science Requirements Management (which is a position I actually held in my last company for almost 2 years), 2) Mechanical Engineering, and 3) Psychologist. What do these 3 recommended jobs/careers have in common? All of them have abstract challenges that require in-depth analysis, application of critical thinking, problem solving, and prescriptive actions to fix/repair/resolve an issue. For several years I found fulfillment participating in a men's ministry via my church. This involved a lot of volunteer work and community outreach, but to be honest, the years of doing topical work that had deeper root causes contributed to my pessimism. Perhaps I wasn't observing or seeing the impact or outcomes of some of this work, but the sadness in me has to deal with observing consistent patterns in society that play out in the news, in our communities, schools, etc. that all have common root causes that I can't fix.

Chasing money to get rich is for the birds. A quote I once came across says that "We have infinite wants in a finite world." Basically, no amount of buying "stuff" will ever provide fullfilment as much as having purpose in doing work or seeking pleasure that goes beyond material acquisitions. For me, camping within a stone's throw of a creek nestled in the mountains is all the wealth I could ask for.
 
@rfjustin - mentors? What's that? I find myself mentoring young I.T./cybersecurity people all of the time. I've prayed to come across the right mentor leader to recognize my potential and give me an opportunity via healthy challenges, feedback, criticisms, and growth opportunity.

A possible mentor is not going to come to you with opportunity/feedback, rather you need to facilitate not only the identification of who might be a good mentor for you (inside OR outside of your field), but engage them in a meaningful way to foster a professional relationship. You are asking them to invest their time in you, and you have a responsibility to bring your A game to each and every engagement. I've had three "official" mentors in my career, and many unofficial. Each time they were people significantly higher in rank and experience than I had at the time. We always talked about where I was today, where I want to be tomorrow, and what is needed to get there.

Above you mentioned: "- an opportunity to be a supportive "right-hand" man to a small/med business owner who is overwhelmed, needing someone that can create processes, streamline the day-to-day, looking for someone to trust with integrity beyond reproach (i.e. toss me the keys to lock up the business, or personal home), strong work ethic, loyalty, help manage growth, manage/mitigate business risk, lead/manage others, and join the fire-fight to win in the marketplace."

What you wrote above is in essence referring to operation excellence and continuous improvement, especially in reference to risk mitigation. Sounds like you need to plan a path leading to VP of Operations. :cool:

Perhaps consider a more generalized approach as there are many paths to consider...

Best,
 
I'm not certain I can provide any fantastic advice. Unfortunately, I do believe part of the answer is more dependent on Luck (or Divine Intervention depending on your beliefs).

I recently retired after a long career as an Electrical Engineer. The work I did was not really related to my degree specialty, but I found a niche that the company needed and I enjoyed. While I did electrical designs, I became more of a Systems person developing the "Big Picture" as opposed to doing the detail nitty-gritty design work. I had many managers over the years, Some great, most average, and a few "toxic" that nearly drove me to leave. But I gritted my teeth, as I found the worst managers didn't tend to stay long. In any large group, there will always be those that you get along with and some that you never want to work with again. Realistically, even look at some of the threads here on TRF. The majority of threads are fellow Rocketeers working together to help each other, but some breakdown (to the point that the threads get locked and/or people "put in jail") with a degree of divisiveness between members. One needs to learn to accept this reality.

Based on my company's needs, the big demand is for Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, as well as Software Developers, Systems design, and EMI specialists. This has been fairly constant for over 40 years. I say "fairly" because any company will have peaks and valleys. And there are always period layoffs (for my company it averaged about once every 8~9 years) as there is always a growth of "deadwood" of people that just are not productive. As a side note, I will say in my company, the IT group was never as well supported/paid as the engineers. To me it appeared as they were handled as a necessary "tool" to support the company, but not actually producing content for our products.

If you still have an opportunity to attend college, an engineering degree can be part of the ticket. I can't promise it will always get you where you want to go. I have some old friends from college that had struggles like you had, and unfortunately you continue to have. But an entry engineer will make around $70,000 for a starting salary. In some areas and companies, it could be even higher.
 
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