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’m 40 and I don’t want to work anymore. Could my thoughts be age related?

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 tech? 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? Will I find a new occupation, a job that doesn’t force me down the career track, or an alternate way to earn money?

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 the technology sector of 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?

88 thoughts on “I Don’t Want a Career Anymore”

  1. 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.

  2. Hi!

    I would say to all here is to find a passion. Have you always wanted to start a business or turn a hobby into a side hustle. I’m struggling with this myself as a single mom wanted to make a difference in my community but I am paralyzed by fear. Fear of failing, fear of being judged or questioning my value or where I came from which is big in the town I live in. I feel like you must come from somewhere to be included or accepted when that’s not the case.

    I would say “go for it” and live out your dreams!

  3. I’m feeling this now. I was just laid off from a salesperson role… I have 4 years experience in sales and 8 years experience drafting; and I don’t want to do either. Problem is that all my experience is in these areas which means I am qualified for higher pay in those areas… but I’m sick of it. Sick of chasing the mighty dollar. Almost out of debt, but now will burn through savings… sigh. Got to find something to provide well for my wife and our five kids. I guess I need to forget myself and go to work.

  4. Work is slavery. What is the difference to times when some lord or king made people work for them? Ok, maybe labour rights, money and holidays, but in the end, no job no money, no life. So basically not much changed. You go to work to eat, have a roof over your head, if you dont work, wow the decline goes really fast. Why do we have to live like that? Because some are gready, because your boss getts 3x your pay. If hes fair and capable and takes responsiblity, is a good boss, good for him, but do you know a boss like that? Work for the pockets of outhers, work till your dead tired ad drained to make som fuck richer? Its time to wake up, its time to start the change, call out, refuse, stop living this life of consumption, for in the end it comsumes you.

  5. Yes. I just want a job now! I’ve been a lawyer for 14 years, in corporate for last 2 1/2 and I’m over it. I thought moving in house would be the ticket to work life balance – ha! My colleagues are always scheming and brown nosing to get the next title and raise and are constantly stressed and overworked. Sure they have big houses and nice cars but are miserable, boring people. I can live nicely on my current salary and don’t want any extra projects or travel and the politics required to move further up. But I could never say this out loud they would decide I’m not “dedicated” enough and therefore not a good employee even though my work is good and my internal clients love me. I moved for this job and miss my friends and family so I’m moving back soon – going to tell the job I’ll work remote if they’ll let me and if not, see ya. I’ve saved up enough to start my own thing or take a break and look for something new. So grateful to be able to make this choice.


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