Posted by: Matt | October 3, 2007

Explaining the Slump

I’ve been trying to figure out my recent blogging funk, and I believe I’ve figured out one of the more influential reasons.  Lately I seem to be having a bit of a career crisis.  What I mean is that I’m nearly 30 (many of you may be thinking that’s not very old, but it feels pretty old when you start to approach it :)) and I’m coming to the realization that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

It seems to me that college basically prepares you to do one thing and now I’ve realized that I’m not sure that’s want I want to do the rest of my life, but I have no training to do anything else.  I’ve thought of a couple of other options, such as becoming a librarian, but I can’t afford the graduate programs I have looked at.  I also looked into law enforcement, which might seem kind of strange, but the pay cut would be too great for my family to manage.

So for the moment I’m stuck, and it’s dragging me down.  I’m not sure of my chosen profession and I don’t like my job or my working environment.

Sorry if that sounded whiny, my intention was merely to explain, not to seek undeserved sympathy, things can obviously be a whole lot worse…



  1. Matt, sorry for your situation!

    I think this happens to a lot of people, if that’s any consolation (it probably isn’t!).

    I’m thinking of going back to grad school, too–and I’m 39. My husband knew several people in their 40’s and 50’s when he went to law school in his 30’s.

    My belief is just to find the best possible combination of money/happiness. Sometimes that’s so hard, though!

  2. Matt, I totally understand. I’m 39 and just started library school having figured out only at the end of last year what I wanted to be when I grow up. Good luck figuring it all out. What ever you decide, be sure you follow your heart.

  3. Well, Matt, I’m the old guy of the bunch…59, to be exact. I worked in one industry for well over 30 years and didn’t enjoy it much for at least a couple of 5-year periods. My solution was to stay in the same industry but to switch over to a slightly different part of it…going from domestic to international jobs, etc., working more with the technical guys than the finance ones, etc. Each time I changed jobs (within the same company) I got a fresh start…but than the staleness worked it’s way back.

    Is that kind of a switch available to you?

    If not, try to figure out what you want to do and, if at all possible, do find something that you love because unhappiness at work is not good for you or anyone around you everyday. Sometimes I wish I had done things differently and followed my heart when I was your age (or younger) instead of going for what seemed to be a better paying and more secure future in the oil business.

    I know that it is scary to contemplate, but you won’t be able to do this if you wait until your are 39 instead of 29. It only gets tougher to switch because you are more and more locked in to the job and its pay and benefits every year that you stay.

    Think about what you want to do and make the decision that is best for you and your family. Sometimes that means biting the bullet and staying put…it’s a tough and a relatively dangerous decision, so take a little time and think things all the way through.

    OK, I promise…no more preaching.

  4. But it is the oldest *you’ve* ever been.

    It’s true enough, it only gets harder as you go along to change gears, but don’t fret too much about preparing to do one thing and then wanting to do another. Half of us have ended up in entirely different fields, some out of choice, some not. Life has a funny way of shuffling the cards on you.

  5. You have my deserved sympathy and have gotten lots of sound advice. I was in the arts for over 20 years where wearing lots of hats was a matter of survival – teaching, directing, fundraising and other administration (for companies and as a consultant), acting…. It gave me an ability to be flexible and resourceful and not to crave too much security. And that had both its pleasures and its frustrations. I contemplated serious change once around my late twenties early thirties but changed my mind. Was that right? I don’t know. Now I’ve gone back to school at 40+. I’m enjoying it a lot and am apprehensive about what I will actually do with it all. That’s just to say there are many types of change – radical and not so. And all sorts of ways to do it – in your field, tangential to your field, and outside it.
    Dissatisfaction is just your dashboard light going off. You wouldn’t drive your car if one of those lights were flashing, so you don’t have to feel apologetic for taking time to check your engine. Any inquiring mind abhors stasis so, on the flip side, applaud yourself for still being curious.
    I wouldn’t jump right for a graduate program or an instant career change, I’d say dip a big toe in the water. Take a course or two or see if there are any volunteer opportunities in the areas in which you’re interested so that you can try them out. You’ll meet other people with the same interests and you might find something you like, or you might find what you really like is thinking about the subject a lot but that being in it all the time isn’t really what your fantasy of it was.
    Change feels sucky, but it’s good for your brain and it beats the alternative.

  6. Hey Matt, I’m there. I’m 30 and just took a break from teaching for the past 6 years. Now I’m working customer service for an airline. It’s a nice change and hopefully a year of it will help me decide when and if I want to go back to teaching. Let us know what you do.

  7. I’m thinking about going to grad school for library science as well! I’d have to take out loans, but it seems like I’m going to need some sort of masters to do any of the jobs that sound good.

  8. That is tough. I just turned 30 last year and I don’t see anything whiny in your post at all – its a hard time because the future seems long but short at the same time. It’s hard to sort out the differences between what we want to do, what we should do and what we can do…if we can even define those three things easily. On the other hand, you’re still young enough that making a big change isn’t irreversible…there’s always time to make another one. Good luck as you sort this out.

  9. Best of luck – I’m turning 30 myself in a year, so I understand. Nothing’s worse than working a job you hate, so good luck as you try to find a path that better suits you 🙂

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