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I Don’t Want a Career Anymore

I Don’t Want a Career Anymore

I don’t want a career anymore. I’m not interested in vying for raises, bonuses, or promotions. After my layoff, I thought I would return to my former profession, but now, I’m not so sure.

It feels strange to say that. Is there something wrong with me? My mind keeps swirling with conflicting ideas. Aren’t we supposed to covet our occupations? Isn’t that why teachers ask us what we want to be when we grow up and why every introduction begins with, “What do you do?”

As a child, I wanted to become a speechwriter, English teacher, professor, and author. In my teens, I added psychiatrist and social researcher to that list too.

I daydreamed about my future partner, children, and a small house out in the country. I spent a lot of time envisioning my future career too.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

This September, my Facebook feed overflowed with smiling children holding back-to-school signs. The titles all looked similar; First Day of Preschool, First Day of Third Grade, and even First Day of Senior Year.

Many of the signs included the child’s name, grade, and future career. The first read I want to be a firefighter when I grow up, the next listed teacher. Others included veterinarian, you tuber, doctor, basketball player, park ranger, and ballerina.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Think about that question for a moment. How did you answer it when you were a child?

As I looked at those back-to-school boards, the question suddenly seemed small and narrow. Why do we ask kids about their future occupations?

Why don’t we ask, “What are you passionate about?” or “What do you love to do?”

What If I Don’t Want a Career?

Shouldn’t we ask open-ended questions that broaden our children’s minds? Questions like:

  • What do you want to learn?
  • What fills you with joy?
  • Who inspires you?
  • What makes you feel proud?
  • Who do you want to help?
  • What do you want to accomplish?

Why don’t we ask any of these questions? Instead, we emphasize a child’s future occupation. Staring at those back-to-school signs, it’s easy to see why our careers define us in adulthood.

By asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we focus our children’s attention on making money instead of creating a life they love. Why don’t we focus on who they want to be and what they value?

I Don’t Want a Career

This should’ve been the year that my youngest went off to kindergarten. I planned to walk into the classroom, hug my son, and then drive off to my new job, but COVID-19 threw a wrench into that plan.

In January, I was actively looking for work. By March, I stopped my search. At the time, we withdrew my five-year-old from preschool and began the arduous process of virtual school for my eight-year-old.

At the beginning of the year, I intended to return to my former career as a software engineer, but as the days tick by, I find myself changing course. The more I think about it, the more I realize, I don’t want a career.

I Don’t Want a Career Anymore

After graduation, my career provided the external validation I craved. I needed others to tell me I was smart and capable. I defined myself by the amount of work I could complete in a day, and the number of times I could figure out a problem that no one else could solve.

The more my bosses praised me, the harder I worked. I tied my value to my job. When my salary grew, so did my confidence. I wore my work ethic like a badge of honor. I stayed later than anyone else and completed more tasks than most of my coworkers combined.

Do you know how people think it’s good to be busy? I was never idle at work. I began to correlate stress with success. A healthy work-life balance didn’t exist for me.

When I was first starting out, I needed to hustle and push. As the youngest member of the team, I had to prove my worth. The harder I worked, the more respect I received. The more business managers reached out and asked for me by name.

My persistence paid off both in salary and promotions. It also helped me work on the best projects with the best people. I rarely maintained the code I wrote, which is a software developer’s dream. As soon as I implemented features, I moved on to a new project.

I pushed myself, and I was proud of the work I produced. I still am, but things are different now, because I don’t need a career to define me.

As time passes, ideas keep swirling in my mind, and each time the conclusion seems to be the same. I don’t want a career anymore. Maybe I don’t want to work anymore at all.

I Don’t Care About My Career Anymore

Don’t get me wrong. There are benefits to having a career, significant financial benefits! If I hadn’t become a software engineer, I wouldn’t be living mortgage free or have the option to consider not working anymore. I wouldn’t be able to say, “I don’t want a career.”

I’m passionate, energetic, and ready to help the world, but that doesn’t mean I want a career path. I don’t care about my career anymore.

There are certainly perks of working, like learning new skills and working with fun and intelligent team members.

I didn’t love my job, but I didn’t hate it either. There were parts, like problem-solving, that I enjoyed immensely. I know a lot of people are miserable at work. I wasn’t one of those people. Work never became a drudgery for me.

I haven’t worked for nearly nine years. After such a long absence, it’s tough to envision going back to work. It’s hard to think about the time commitment and the lack of vacation days.

It’s not that I never want to work again. I just don’t want a career that pits me against coworkers or forces me to work long nights in the hopes of attaining raises and year-end bonuses.

I didn’t intend to walk away from my high-paying job nine years ago. If my employer hadn’t given me the boot, I wouldn’t have had the strength and courage to quit. It’s the reason I think of my layoff as a blessing in disguise.

Lots of people earn enough and step away, but I think I would’ve kept going. I would’ve kept climbing that corporate ladder even if my job didn’t make me happy.

I Want a Job, Not a Career

Why don’t I want a career? Quite honestly, I don’t want to feel stressed. At my old job, I suffered from a combination of bad management and short deadlines.

It was stressful to meet the demands of our business team while producing clean, bug-free code. If I return to work, I don’t want to feel that same pressure.

When I mentioned this problem to a friend, she said, “I want a job where I don’t have to think. Maybe you should get a mindless job where you don’t have to think either. You don’t need to feel stressed, and you don’t need to push yourself so hard. Pick something easy that makes money.”

I considered this for a moment, but I’m not sure I want to work on mindless tasks. That might be worse for me than the stress of working on complex problems.

Plus, an easy job won’t pay well. That’s why people pursue high-paying careers in the first place. It’s nearly impossible to make money without skills or talent.

Do I want a job without a career? Am I willing to give up time for a job that doesn’t pay a lot of money? It’s a question I keep asking.

Some people don’t have the option to pursue a high-paying job, but I have the skills to attain one. Should I use those skills or ignore them?

I Don’t Want to Work in Tech Anymore

I don’t want to work in the IT field. I don’t want a corporate job either. I worked as a software engineer for twelve years, and I don’t want to return. Instead of returning to my old career or searching for a new one, I’ve considered looking for a high-paying job that doesn’t require me to climb the corporate ladder. Does such a job exist, or is it merely a pipe dream?

Over the last nine years, I’ve had time to focus on the things that matter. Can I find a job that allows me to exercise, get a solid night of sleep, and take care of myself? Can I find a job that won’t force me to deal with deadlines, commutes, or excessive workloads?

Financial success is no longer my priority. I don’t need a career to alleviate my monetary stress, fears, or anxiety. I want to make a difference in the world, and my old job didn’t do that. My software didn’t change the world, or a single life, for that matter.

I don’t want to work in tech anymore. I’m not passionate about learning new technologies, tight deadlines, or staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Should I search for a job that isn’t in the IT field? Should I focus on a career change?

I Don’t Want to Work Anymore But I Need the Money

I know I’m not the only one that doesn’t want a career anymore. If you stumbled upon this post, you must be feeling similarly.

COVID-19 is changing our work patterns and behaviors. It’s forcing us to question what we do for a living and whether or not we enjoy it.

My neighbor recently said, “I don’t want to work anymore. I don’t want to return to my old job when the building reopens. This year made me realize how exhausted my work makes me. Now I see it and I don’t want to feel run down like that ever again.”

“But, how can I quit my job?” He said with a sigh. “I don’t want to work anymore, but I need the money. I’d like to hand in my computer and stop being an employee, but how can I?”

My neighbor is in his mid-forties and doesn’t want to work anymore. He wants to stop working at his current job so he can pursue a less stressful side hustle.

Not wanting a career might sound strange or unusual, but many of us would jump at the opportunity if we had a chance to leave a draining profession. If you could quit your full-time job, focus on your mental health, work fewer hours, and create a better work-life balance, would you do it? How incredible would it feel to walk into work today and not return to work tomorrow?

I Don’t Want a Job I Just Want a Life

I could see the pain in my neighbor’s eyes. What if I don’t want to work anymore? What should I do? It’s a question many of us ask ourselves.

What can you do if you don’t want to work anymore? It’s not easy to quit your job or choose not to pursue a career in the first place. The first step is to decrease your expenses so you can save money. Learn to stop buying stuff you don’t need and to live simply with less. As your costs decrease, you won’t feel so dependent on a big salary. 

The second step is to earn as much as you can and begin stockpiling it. Take the money that you used to spend and stick it right into your bank account. Invest the money in the stock market so it can grow and support you. Passive income provides the path to financial independence, but you’ll need to find an effective way to build wealth.

Most of us can’t quit our careers when we decide we don’t want to work anymore. We have to build our nest eggs, which may mean climbing the corporate ladder a little longer.

I know that’s not the answer you were hoping to find here, but it’s true. If you already have a successful career, you’ll need to downgrade your lifestyle significantly or hold on to your job while you save for the future. If you learn to live simply, you can quit your job much faster.

Many people don’t want to work anymore but need the money. Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of your job is to decrease the amount of money you require.

I Don’t Want to Work Anymore What Should I Do?

What if I don’t want a career? What should I do? Should I pursue a dream job, search for a less stressful career, or give up on searching for one altogether? Will I find a new occupation, a job that doesn’t force me down the career track, or an alternate way to earn money? Maybe I don’t want to be an employee anymore. Should I venture out on my own to start a small business?

I am grateful for my twelve year run as a software engineer, but I’m not sure what should come next. My core values no longer align with a job in corporate America. Long term I would like to find a job I enjoy or pursue creative endeavors that make money. Do you have any suggestions for me?

AF

Monday 21st of March 2022

Thanks for taking the time to write this post and sharing your thoughts.

I am not career oriented - might have been many years ago but not any more. Used it to our advantage and paid off a 25 year mortgage after just 15.

The other thing that changed my mindset about a career was my mum dying just a year into her retirement - my parents both spent many years working to have a nice retirement but it was cruelly cut short. This affected me a lot and I didn’t want to be in the same position.

So I quit working for greedy corporate fat cats and started to work at a local charity in a ‘job’ that required me using my skillset and knowledge - unfortunately the grass is not all greener.

Now I’m not paid anywhere near what I was and am still finding that I am suffering with being overworked and stressed out - the difference being the cause is now a worthy one not lining someone’s pockets.

I’d love to be in a position to retire early (I’m 48) but unfortunately even living frugally I do need some sort of income so will need to find something that doesn’t make me wake up every day and not want to go.

I do think that I have some sort of depression that is clouding the issue with regards not wanting to work.

All the best in whatever you choose.

Zzzzzzzz

Thursday 17th of March 2022

Ugh software engineer, no wonder you don't have to work like the rest of us slaves because you made a great income, paid off your biggest debt and now you're making money from ads all over your blog... I'm jealous of people like you admittedly. Unfortunately we can't all make over $100k in salary. I want a way out of this horrible slavery. It's miserable and I'm only 37 years old. Everytime I picture myself giving up 40-50 hours a week (work & traffic), I want to f*cking scream.

Trinity V.

Saturday 20th of November 2021

I just resigned from my executive director position yesterday morning. I'm 37. No plan in place. Would love to chat. Honestly, it's been on my mind since I got the job. And I really started to rethink much since my dad passed away two months ago (I resigned on his 2-month death anniversary).

I am going to take my time to think how I want to move forward. I'm a single mother, but I'm also in a pretty decent spot financially. Wasn't always. Used to struggle big time... which is what led me down the path to endless hours of work whenever my son was asleep, so many jobs at once, and climbing the ladder quickly. I had the motivation.

But now I'm finding myself.

I am grateful for this read. It's literally everything I needed and more right now.

One Frugal Girl

Monday 29th of November 2021

Thank you for your comment and I am sorry for your loss. I hope that your decision leads you in the best direction. My dad's failing health and my own medical problems in my twenties definitely refocused my values and led me to make life altering decisions. Feel free to email me if you feel the need to chat.

KT Campbell

Wednesday 1st of September 2021

I stumbled upon this post while researching another topic (Google's search algorithm apparently hiccuped--LOL!). But I stayed because I found the article--and comments--insightful and fascinating.

Like many other commenters, I worked in tech (every company from Amazon, Uber, Dell, Cisco, Verizon and Intuit to tech startups. (Yeah...I job hopped a lot.) What I have found in working with the big tech companies is that switching jobs for greener pastures is futile; essentially, it's just "same crap, different toilet." The "crap" is inane meetings (OMG I hate meetings!), deadlines, intense workloads, non-creative co-workers, insecure coworkers who try to throw anyone under the bus who they think might be threatening...and on and on.

What I realized is that there isn't anything wrong with the employees who don't want to work again; the deficiency lies with these companies. They all pride themselves on "fast-paced, Agile" environments with a "scrappy" (which, to me, is just crappy) attitude. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a job posting that read anything like this:

"We're looking for highly talented, quality-minded individuals with strong critical thinking skills vs groupthink. We're more interested in doing things right than doing things fast. We give employees the quality parameters we're looking for, and expect high-quality results. We have long deadlines, and short mindless meetings. We realize creative thinking requires some "stare-out-the-window" time whereyou aren't tapping on a keyboard. We believe in long vacations, and flexible work hours. And, we are 100% remote."

I wrote that job description the last time I quit my job two years ago, as a mental exercise of the type of job I wanted.I had always (for the past 12 years) worked remotely--even before the pandemic made it commonplace. I always negotiated that as part of my job offer. But I just couldn't take the other BS. (Fortunately, I have the skills to freelance and make just as good of an income than when I worked full-time, albeit without paid vacations and healthcare. I'm single, never married--so no spousal support as a cushion or fallback. I've paid off my mortgage and live well.)

When I wrote that job description, I "knew" no such job existed.

Except that it does. Just not with a large tech company, but with a small, well funded 53-person startup. My salary is the highest it's ever been; ever two weeks we get four-day weekends, the company offers unlimited PTO and 100% healthcare coverage. It's fully remote, and they allow flexible hours. And time off is sacred--meaning you are expected NOT to respond to emails or answer calls during your time off--and that includes evenings and weekends.

The only downsides are that they do have meetings (darn it! Ha!) but they are kept brief and to a minimum. And they even have "No Meeting Mondays" and "No Meetings After 4 p.m." every other day.

When we work, we work. We're all-in. Yes, there is the stress and ever-changing directions commonplace with startups. But I can honestly say this is the job with some of the best work/life balance I've ever had.

So...chin up. It might take awhile, but you WILL find that job that suits your lifestyle. Oh..and this company contacted me via LinkedIn; I didn't even apply to a job, as I didn't even know the company existed. LOL.

Is this my perfect job? No. Nothing is perfect. Everything in life is a tradeoff. But it's pretty damn near perfect.

Oh...and the last 4 tech jobs I've had, I landed while in my mid-50's. I'm now nearing 60, and am still getting recruiting calls. So, age is not a deterrent if you have the energy and right attitude.

Good luck to all.

Tracy Dearling

Tuesday 28th of September 2021

Wow! That is an encouraging post. I've been using Linkedin, Indeed and ziprecruiter along with government jobsites. Lots of interest but no hires. Networking, some irons in the fire.... Just keeping one foot in front of the other. Practicing interviews, have the reference letters....trying to keep one foot in front of the other. Just ... keep... going.... ugh

One Frugal Girl

Monday 27th of September 2021

I'm so glad you've found a job you enjoy. Thank you for leaving this comment and giving others hope that the right job might be out there after all!

John M

Monday 17th of May 2021

This is a GREAT article.

I'm 63 years old, spent 48 years of those working. I got a mechanical engineering degree many years ago and have spent a lot of years working in that field. And guess what, I really haven't enjoyed it for the last 10 years. So, last year, I got certified as a Life Coach, specifically a Neuro-Transformational Results Coach. I found out, at 62 years old, that I love helping others discover their WHY. Turns out, it is one of my greatest passions.

Congratulations on discovering that life is not what others expect of you, but what you want from you. So many people never discover this.

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

Congratulations on changing your career to something you love! Would you mind sending me the information on how you trained for your coaching job? You can send me the information directly through email. I love that you pivoted your career. I would like to search for something new and rewarding this time around too.