There’s a post today over at Futuretense about thirtysomething women ditching their jobs. My situation was pretty much what she describes except that I was not at all passionate about the theory (and I didn’t have a cat). I just decided that marketing was eating my soul and I needed to stop manipulating people for a living.
However, I’ve also noticed a lot of people checking out of their jobs recently and taking time off or switching to something less lucrative but more rewarding. I’m not convinced this willingness to take a leap into the unknown is specifically age-related. I would not have left my job a few years ago simply because there was such a slim chance of finding something else, and I’m sure that many older corporate drones are just as burned out but not in a position to leave. I’d bet it has more to do with where we are career-wise and in our personal lives than with our actual age. Think about it:
- You’ve accomplished enough to be taken seriously and to have developed a set of skills, but not so much that you get to call the shots.
- You’ve been doing the same thing for the same people a while, trying to build up those skills and look stable to potential new employers.
- You finally make enough that leaving your job won’t leave you destitute.
- You’re still single and childless and therefore mobile.
- The economy is strong enough that you have a decent chance of either making it on your own or finding work elsewhere.
Who wouldn’t leave? Well, if you have a family or a mortgage you’d be less willing to gamble with your finances. If you’re in a higher position and have more control over your own work there’s less incentive to leave. But for the rest of us in the classic burn out situation of responsibility-without-power, there is no better time to go.
And yes I’m talking to you, David.