Monday, 1 October 2012

I Love You When We Fail

It's my birth month. October 12th is my 30th birthday and I think I might be having some sort of crisis. Am I making up for a missed quarter life crisis? Is this my midlife (depressing thought!) crisis?

I officially left my soul-crushing job two months ago. I've been ... floating. Coasting along trying to figure out what I do next. I don't have a plan. I don't have goals. It's troubling.

Part of the problem is that I'm not exceptional at anything. I'm good at some stuff. I'm alright at a lot of stuff. But I'm not very good at anything. Nothing jumps out as the Thing I should be doing. I feel passionless. I can't find the drive, the spark, the whatever.

I stumbled into my last job 7 years ago. I stayed because the money was so good but I gave up so much of myself. I left feeling all used up. I don't want to fall into another job because it's easy or convenient or safe. I want to feel passionate about what I'm doing. Or at least not hate it.

Months ago I was trying to think of what I could do to mark my 30th birthday. I considered training for a race (but my knees quickly vetoed that idea.) I tried to plan a trip (but then I quit my job and our disposable income disappeared.) I couldn't come up with anything until tonight when I was rocking sweet Gus to sleep. For my 30th birthday I want to become un-stuck. I want to un-stick myself. I want to make a plan and then I want to follow that plan and I want to end up with a job that I love. I want to find what I love to do and then I want to do it.

If anyone knows how to do that please let me know because I'm terrified.


  1. Oh, Hills. I know exactly how you feel, and I've been in the same place for a long time now. If you get any answers, please share them with you. I hope you're able to unstick post-haste.

  2. That is a life-changing 30th birthday wish, Mama!

    To make it happen, I say you:

    1) Get clear on how you want to feel in your dream job (ie. maybe you want a job that makes you feel helpful? Resourceful? Free to express creativity? ...etc.) and why those feelings (to find out if those feelings are coming from a place of fear or insecurity, for example).
    2) Define the dream job. What does success look like? The location? The work environment? The people? Your duties? The company manifesto? ...etc
    3) Brainstorm how you can reach there. You'll end up with a list of subprojects with deadlines.
    4) And finally, make a list of what exactly you have to do next to get you closer to your goal.

    I also recommend finding someone who is well-established in your dream job to get him/her to mentor you!

    Truly hope your wish comes true!
    Nat Nanton

  3. Hi Hillary,

    You've had your soul sucked out. That is very common with people of our age, especially following a prolonged period of grateful, but unfulfilled employment (i.e. you were just happy to have a job, so you put up with it).

    I do know how you can fix this. I know it sounds very cliche (or whatever), but you need to find a life coach. They know how to help you discover what you're passionate about and how to go about finding (or creating?) a job that you love. My mom has done some coaching and so has my uncle, and it is fascinating. You might benefit from talking to someone. ...

  4. I don't know if you're inside my head but you just wrote exactly what I'm feeling (minus turning 30 which happened 3 years ago for me - didn't do much by the way, just went out for dinner with Matt).

    I'm still in that soul crushing job (which I can't leave because basically we would be house-less and eating from dumpsters, wish I was kidding). I'm scared of finding another job that will do the same to me all over again, but I have to.

    I am of no help, but take this time definitely to figure out what you want to do and don't rush yourself. Be patient. Find something you enjoy and I think that takes a bit of time to figure out.

    Oh and go buy yourself (not for Grady, not for Shawn, for YOU) something. Every single birthday I make it a point of buying something for myself (no matter how shallow it may be).

    Hugs lady, BIG cupcake hugs!

  5. I feel this way frequently. At 27 I am not doing what I want to do but out of college I kept taking the fairly well paying office jobs with benefits because I have grown up bills and student loans, which sucks. No backpacking in Europe or "discovering myself". :( I work to pay bills. And like you I am not exceptional at any One Thing...or at least that's what we think!

    I found this blog post to be really good inspiration to get me out of my funk:

  6. I think finding a mentor is such great advice. Find someone who you look up to, admire, is doing their dream job (maybe it's a job you're even interested in) and just soak up as much as they'll let you.

    I also really, really recommend taking 30 minutes of mind-clearing time a day. Meditate, sit somewhere silent with coffee, talk a solo walk, etc. I know that feels next to impossible as a mom, but it makes all the difference. I occasionally get up earlier than the rest of the house and the difference is PALPABLE in my motivation and drive for the rest of the day.

    Also consider writing more and more, Hillary, because from where I stand you are pretty exceptional at it.

    1. Yes! Meditation will make a guaranteed difference. Good one!

  7. I lost my job after my 30th - more or less in a 'we don't like you anymore, though you're a kick-ass worker' kinda way, and it hurt.
    I felt lost after my 30th and though the build up was terrifying (I did my best to occupy myself with a whole year of parties (i have no kids, as you know :)) to distract myself.
    Be good to YOU. You need to be happy with YOU first, and the rest will just happen.

  8. If you get any good suggestions send them my way because I am seriously bored in my job and would love to find something better!!

  9. Thanks for writing this, Hillary. It couldn't have come at a better time. I may end up stalking this post to see all of the good suggestions you get. As another October baby (though I'm turning 28 on Saturday, not 30), let's make this month awesome!


  10. I think the feelings that you are experiencing are rather universal. I have not found any magical answers to this dilemma in the last several years. There was an interesting post on this recently on Lifehacker.

  11. 1. You're coming out of an abusive relationship. Give yourself some time to heal. (People spend as much time at work as they do with family. An abusive job takes a toll.) It took me years (until I finally got some therapy) to get over the experience of having an abusive boss right out of college. Love yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Learn to forgive yourself for staying in a bad situation.

    2. Girl. GIRRRL. 30 is not old. I freaked out about turning 30 myself (cough -two- cough) years ago. My thirties have been so much better than my 20s. I'm more confident, less self-sabotaging. I have more stability in relationships. My moods have finally started to stabilize. The 30s are fabulous.

    3. For me, I don't have a remunerative passion (at least, not at this point). My passions are family, friends, and trying new things. Once I let go of trying to find a job that completed/defined me, I was much happier. I found a job that I'm pretty good at, where people like and respect me, and that I don't dread going to in the mornings. For now, this is what I want. I'm learning to be satisfied with enough for now, and fighting against the idea that I should always want more.

    4. You are beautiful, intelligent, caring, funny, and introspective. Please don't forget that!

  12. Hey Lady,
    i heard the best thing on the radio the other day. Three keys to finding a satisfaction in a job:
    1. Having a feeling of atonomy.
    2. Doing something you are good at.
    3. Feeling like you are making a difference.

    So simple and so true. Whether you find your passion serving lattes at Starbucks or creating your own business making moustache memorabilia, ensuring the above three things apply just. makes. sense.
    love you to bits!!!

  13. I was going to say something very similar to Joy - I've found I am much happier, and feel much more satisfied and fulfilled, when I DON'T expect my job to provide my general sense of worth for me. I finally figured out that my job is a means for me to make money to enable the parts of my life that DO fulfill me. Don't get me wrong - a good work environment is also SUPER SUPER CRAZY important to ensure that my overall life satisfaction is high, but my biggest passions in life (travel, eating, spending time with friends) are in no way fulfilled by my job. Which is fine (I finally realized). My goals are outside of work; work is a means to enable those goals. Working at a great company with good people where I receive recognition is definitely important, though - it's hard to enjoy the rest of my life when i'm working at a miserable job.

    hugs, friend. my 30th bday was awesome, i hope yours is too xoxo

  14. I think that when you have been working intensely and you are suddenly not employed, it's very easy to feel untethered, although in reality you are not actually floating. You have a very strong family, and things and people to ground you. But the figuring out of the what you love and how to do it...the suggestion of a life coach is probably a good one. Several friends have talked about this recently, and I like how it sounds. I haven't figured out the answer, but for now I am focusing almost all my energy on family. Work gets a little bit, but very little. My job doesn't interest me, but it's health care (I know that's not an issue for you), mortgage money, etc. And that's mostly it. Big hugs, hunny bunny.

  15. I wish I had actual advice but I feel rather stuck these days too. I think if you just sit and write down what it is you want, your job idea might just come to you or even your life idea. I mean it sounds silly to just write it down and hope for the best but at least if you put in words what you want it makes it more tangible?

    I feel like I'm speaking gibberish here but I hope you know what I'm trying to say :)


  16. I unstuck myself by going back to school.
    I recommend it.

  17. Wow, I have been there, am there. I recently wrote a blog post myself about what the heck I should be doing with my life. I too am not really great at anything but so-so at some stuff....horrible at a lot! I finally stopped worry about how much the career would pay, and just followed where I naturally focused my attention, I found photography, writing, and education in some form. Maybe just see what you spend your energy doing and then see how to turn that into a career? I'm still at my crappy job because I have bills, but at least now I am honing in on a change...someday.