Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Life Change

I have known that it was time for a career change for a while now.  I don't have any passion for my job any more.  What my job used to be and what I thought it could become are no longer possibilities.  If it weren't for fitness I think I would have quit years ago.  Teaching fitness has feed my soul and kept me from losing my mind.  After a miserable day at work all I want to do is eat a pint of ice cream and watch reality TV.  But I can't because there is a group of people depending on me to give them a good workout. 

So I drag my cranky ass to the gym.  Sometimes I have a sour look on my face when I walk in the door because I'm still thinking about my work day.  But once I see one of my students it erases all the crap from the day.  And once the class gets going and the music is pumping and I'm starting to sweat it's like the rest of the day never happened.  It is an amazing feeling. 

Am I person who enjoys being the center of attention? Absolutely, if it's for the right reason.  I don't want to be on the Jumbotron at a sporting event.  I would hate for someone to throw me a surprise party.  I can't think of anything worse than being on any of the shows that I love to watch (What Not to Wear, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Dog Whisperer, House Hunters, etc).  I love to watch reality TV.  I would hate to be a part of it.  I hate having people in my personal space if I didn't invite them there. 

I have always been an overachiever.  Professionally, I have been successful at most things that I have attempted.  These achievements have earned me recognition that I enjoy receiving.  I love tackling difficult problems.  I love picking things apart and discovering issues that some one else overlooked.  I thrive on finding new and innovative ways to solve old problems.  This is at it's core what an engineer is to me.  A problem solver.  An innovator. 

Unfortunately many large corporations employ engineers as people managers, legal consultants, real estate advisers, community liaisons and a number of other unsavory tasks that don't require engineering skills.  I'm okay with these tasks being a component of my job as long but they have become 90% of what I do on a daily basis.  Many engineers are okay with this.  As they move deeper into their careers they no longer want to deal with the daily grind of site management and problem solving.  They like being in the office and dealing with the business side of things.  In my 14 year professional career it seems that this transition is expected if you work for large corporations as I have.

I started my new job search 2 weeks ago.  I have been searching for engineering/project management jobs.  Demanding, high pressure jobs that are commensurate with my experience.  Jobs where a lot will be expected of me.  As I look over my resume and the jobs that I think I am qualified for I don't think it will be difficult for me to a find another job that is similar to the one that I have now. But do I really want that job?  Do I want to go down that path again if I know where it's likely to end up?

When I was in college I was at my happiest.  I had a full course load, did a lot of volunteer work, had an awesome social life and participated in numerous extracurricular activities.  I was very busy but I was never bored.  When I got my first engineering job it was difficult to maintain all of my hobbies and still work full time.  Slowly, as the demands from work increased, my extracurricular activities decreased.  Add in a few pets and a husband and it's nearly impossible to manage everything without major sacrifices in some, if not all, areas. 

I have been teaching fitness for 4 years.  I teach an average of 10 hours a week but those 10 hours of teaching equal about 20 hours of preparation.  It is a part time job.  Even though it is fun it requires a lot of work.  When I think back to when I first started my engineering career I was working long hours.  60+ hours a week for several weeks at a time.  If I'm going into another situation where I'm expected to be a problem solver, this initial time commitment will be a must.  I have no desire to go through that again at this stage in my life.  My fitness and my family are too important to me. 

It struck me that what I need is a part-time job.  A job where I can have the flexibility to teach fitness classes on the side.  A job with a social component to it but not one where I am spending 40 hours a week in an office with a bunch of people.  I recognize that even though I may be solving problems, I probably won't be a senior member on staff.  I will not be in the spotlight.  But I'm in the spotlight with fitness and maybe that's enough.

To have the time to dedicate to my hobbies.  To not have to carry my cell phone at all times just in case there is an emergency and I'm needed.  To stop checking my e-mails once I sign off for the day.  To truly put in my hours and then leave work at work. 

Assuming my ego can handle me being just another member of the team, can it handle me making significantly less money?  As my husband moves into a position in his career where he is the go to person.  The person who has to check his phone at all times.  The person who can't leave work at work.  The guy in the spotlight.  His salary has increased dramatically during this time.  I still make more money than him but I don't think that would be true for very long.  Maybe it's time to let him take the lead financially.  He is only 2 years into his career.  I am 14 years into mine.  He made a career change 2 years ago to do something that he loved. I need to do the same thing. 

Recently my husband and I have clashed over his lack of contribution to the household.  The maintenance of the house, meals, shopping, the pets, projects, setting up appointments, etc are all my responsibility.  I have always taken the lead with things but he used to be around more to offer assistance and appreciation.  At this point it seems like there is the assumption that I will handle everything.  That I am the housewife.  Maybe that's okay.

If no one is making huge demands on me at work I don't know if I would mind this transition.  I enjoy being the "house manager".  I take pride in all of the things that I do with the house and the pets.  I like taking care of my man.  Maybe that's an old fashioned way to think of things but it's absolutely how I feel. 

So I need to start looking for part time jobs.  Financially, we will probably have to go through a period where I'm working 2 jobs so we can pay down debt and set up a nice emergency fund.  So that my husband can take over the role of primary bread winner and I can find a new career path that will make me happy.  Somehow just acknowledging that this is the change that needs to happen makes me feel better.  I'm ready. 

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