Friday, 20 May 2011

Work. A Moan.

It's Friday afternoon at last, another week in the office is almost over and two whole days of freedom ripe with possibilities await. It's not very gardening related I admit, so I hope you can excuse the change of topic and tone for today, but I have to ask, am I alone in feeling that way?

I know most people would obviously prefer to not have to go to work (footballers, actors and rock stars aside), but I imagine most people also get some kind of enjoyment or satisfaction out of their work at the same time? I don't. I work as a computer programmer and I genuinely hate it. It's not that the company I work for, or the people who work there, are horrible, they're not. In fact I'd go so far as to say if I liked computer programming then it would be a lovely place to work. No, the problem is that the longer I do it the more I realise I hate being a programmer. I get no job satisfaction from it at all, I'm not particularly great at it so there's a continual sense that I'm never far away from making a huge job costing mistake and I'm surrounded by people clearly enjoying themselves and being good at doing the exact same thing, making me feel even more out of place.

‘So change job' you may cry. I'd love to. The problem is, change to what? The skills I have are so specific to what I currently do there's very little that's transferable in any way. I'd also want to get out of the IT industry as a whole; I no longer have any real interest in the world of computers and have long since tired of keeping up with the continual forward march of technology. The problem, obviously, is that with no training or skills suitable to doing anything else I'd be starting at the bottom rung of whatever ladder I chose meaning a massive drop in earnings that we as a household simply couldn't support.

Yes, we could downsize our (small) 2.5 bed house to something even smaller, cut back on the few luxuries we buy and perhaps find a way of scraping by. But is that really the kind of life I want to live and subject M to? We don't by any stretch of the imagination live an opulent life; we drive old cars, holiday in this country and think about money before we go for a rare meal out. I earn a wage that's at the bottom end of the scale for the job I do (as I said, I'm no programming guru) so there's not exactly much room for belt tightening as it is, a substantial drop in wages would mean a substantial drop in everything else too. Basically I'm stuck.

Of course with all the economic problems in the world at the moment I'm grateful to have any job at all. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm lucky in many many ways and I appreciate more than ever how blessed I am that this is pretty much my only gripe with life as a whole. But still, with thirty five odd years of my working life still to go I do wonder if I can really do this for that long.

I keep my eye out for horticulture jobs from time to time (an unlikely dream), I've thought about re-training as a plumber (if I could magically afford the training course and somehow come up with some savings to tide me over while I started up a business), I've wondered if I could earn a living from writing in some way (unlikely even if I was good enough) and I've speculated about somehow growing something like chilli's, brewing or producing 'something' on a more commercial scale (again, would need start-up capital), but it's really just to keep me from going spare rather than because they seem like plausible escape routes.

Perhaps in the future something will present itself, perhaps I'll magically win enough money to buy a smallholding somewhere and forget about work entirely. Until then I'll keep counting down the minutes till 5pm on Fridays each week and dreaming of ways to avoid having to return to the office on Monday mornings.

Apologies for the wildly off topic self-indulgent venting, normal service will be resumed tomorrow...


john bain said...

Living the simple life is not easy. I can manage it because I'm on my own. Also I'm a lot older than you. I hope you achieve your dream someday. By the way, there is nothing wrong with a good old moan occasionally.

takaeko said...

Well, I understand how you feel since I also have worked at the same office for over 10 years. Sometimes I've got bored.

When I feel bored and tired of working, I try to realize what I've got such as my wife, kids, my house and my career, not to pursue what I don't have but someone has.
And then that can give me confidence like "Yeah, I've done all of those!"

I believe what you've done is not smaller than you think.

Captain Shagrat said...

Your train of thought strikes a cord with me, clock watching but ever so grateful to have a job in these hard times. How about some kind of training in horticulture, maybe see what your local college has to offer. Perhaps just as an experiment scale up your love of growing chilli plants and get a stall on a farmers market, it probably won't be that cost effective or make you alot of cash but I bet the feel good factor will be raised big time. Lots of jobs these days sap our energy rather than give us that real deep sense of personal satisfaction which is good for the soul.

Nome said...

I really, really feel your pain. I've never been happy working for other people, for a number of reasons, yours included.

I chucked my job in the end and am giving myself a year or two out to explore other avenues. I've only been able to do that because we're lucky enough to be living virtually rent-free for a time, and it's not a very secure or comfortable existence. I'm in a race to earn a living again before that bit of luck runs out!

But you don't have to chuck your job in to explore better ways to make cash. Why not push a few doors and see if they open? You'll never know what you can achieve until you try. You write? Then polish up a few pieces and send them off. Fancy selling chillies? It wouldn't take a lot of capital to start on a small scale at car-boot sales and markets - you could build up from there, raising your own capital. Want a job in horticulture? Have you tried?

Not many people have the means or good fortune to change their lives overnight, but progress is progress. You don't get anywhere without taking a first step, however tiny.

And I know it's scary throwing money at a course or a licence or a business venture, but it's a worthwhile investment which will more than make your money back as long as you're committed to seeing it through.

I recommend the book 'Screw Work, Let's Play' by John Williams - about how to make a living from... pretty much whatever you like!

Best of luck.

I think I might write a post on kinda this subject in the next few days...

Jo said...

I really feel for you. My hubby goes through phases feeling exactly the same as you, then he gets his teeth in to a new project and he's ok again. He's been in the same job since leaving school 27 years ago, so it's only natural that he'll have phases of boredom I suppose, and he's very lucky to have never been out of work. I stopped working in March 2010 when my company moved offices. I was only working for twelve and a half hours each week anyway and the move was 25 miles away from home so it really wasn't worth moving with them. I had hoped that they would make me redundant but they wouldn't so I ended up just leaving. At the moment we're managing on one wage but when the interest rates start to rise I may have to find a job.

Amy said...

Sorry to hear you feel this way> I have to say that yes I do get some satisfaction out of my job but I know plenty who don't. It seems like the really hard part is deciding what it is you want to do, after that you just need a plan to get there.

Good luck.

Paul and Melanie said...

Thank you all, it's nice to know I'm not alone, or mad... :)

I need to do some serious thinking and, like a few of you say, take some small steps in the direction I want to go and see where it takes me over time...

I'll keep you all updated... :)

Sue Garrett said...

Someone on our allotment site retired from the police and started his own small business as a gardener and does fairly well but he had his police pension etc to set him up - it's hard when you haven't and a gamble really but life is short.

We are lucky as we 'retired' early - once our savings looked as though they would see us through to retirement age we handed in our notice(s) and haven't looked back.