Careers and age

Dec 26, 2007
Got a question for the older folks here. I’m 35 years old. In my late teens and 20s, I was what I’d define as a slight workaholic. I wanted to climb the ladder and I took pride in my work ethic. I’ve always worked since 15. Sometime last year, I think I burned myself out.

I changed jobs to one that is less demanding for a better life balance now that I’m married with a child on the way (arriving here in a few weeks).

Perhaps my priorities are shifting, I’m getting older or both. I no longer feel that passion I used to have. I do my job and check out at the end of the day. My attitude shifted from “I have to get it done at any cost” to “it’s just a job - it can wait.” I honestly don’t feel like I care anymore about excelling in my job. I think part of that stems from putting in a lot of effort above and beyond and it never really paying off like I imagined it would. I feel too young to feel this way - I am a long ways away from retirement. .

What say those who have experience this? Any advice? Is this just a season of life and to be expected?
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When you have a child on the way you re-define your priorities. That is just a natural way to think. I went through all that with each of my boys and again now with grand children. Children make you look at life differently. There are many jobs to be done and you aren't the only one that can do them. Enjoy your family but keep your job so you have something to give them for all the pleasure they return to you..
GMF, As someone who has at least 20 additional years on you, I can appreciate your recent change of pace let's call it. I also agree with VWM.....having a child also makes you step back and look at life's perspective. That happened to me too as well as losing each of my parents whom I took care of until they each passed. Losing them really made me realize my own mortality.

Since you are soliciting advice, here is what I would tell you. Get another focus besides your job. Something that has "a long view" so to speak.....maybe personal finance and investing. Your child will most likely want a higher education and now is the time to start preparing for that need while time is on your side. At the same time, prepare for your and your wife's own retirements. For me, I am a believer in the saying "that no one cares more about your money than you do". There are plenty of resources on the net to help you get educated about investments, and personal finance. At the same time, stay away from financial pundits, who only want to sell you products, and not help educate you on what financial resources and strategies are proven time and time again to achieve positive results.

Kudos to you realizing the change that you are going through, and for seeking advice for same. Good Luck in whatever new interest, journey or pursuit you choose and I am glad I was given the same advice I am giving you now.
I guess we all have to just realize, we're all here to be a slave to the almighty dollar, to just one day die.
I used to work basically six or seven days a week, many of those days were would total 10 hour days, sometime 12 hours. I was married, no kids. At around age 45, I started to back off and work more normal hours and started making it to family dinners, parties and making time for friends and family. I decided that I want to enjoy family and friends more than "getting ready to retire, or get financially sound" by getting everything paid for, including the house.

I am happier that I spent time with my parents and enjoyed family and friends more than money. We got everything paid off, but just a little later.

Balance was not my strong point before clicking over to about 45 years old.
You can do your best without the "at all costs" attitude, put in a good honest day's work and leave it at the door. Congrats on a different job with a better life balance. The events of the past 2+ years have caused many to look at their situation and make changes.

Also congrats on the upcoming baby. Enjoy as many good night's sleep as you can now because they're going to be few and far between soon. ;)

And share with you wife what my wife's baby doctor told her before the big day came: "Don't bring chicken, it's no picnic." 😁
I been at the same company for 29 years and have the same work ethic now that I did on my first day. I feel it and I’m looking to get out next year. All my company cares is if all the spots are filled for the day. If you show up and have a heart beat, that’s all they care about. The burden is on people like me that will step up and do more then one person should be doing. I curse my parents for passing along their strong work ethic to me.
Once you learn something challenging, it then becomes nothing but exercise over time the more you do it. Soon it just becomes a paycheck. It doesn't matter if you're a carpenter, or a cardiovascular surgeon. Something you're good at, and do day in and day out cannot remain challenging forever.

And if you make your hobby or passion your job, it will not remain your passion. It's just how life is. We have a fellow at our gun club who served 20 years in the Air Force. Flew all over the world. Was even part of the airborne team that tracked Pablo Escobar via his cell phone signals.

Flew 727's and L-1011's commercially for ATA after that. He told me he's selling his plane, (Cessna 182) because it's just not as much fun to fly anymore, in relationship to the expense and upkeep.

He still enjoys life, and keeps busy. Our gun club would fall apart without all of the time, effort, and work he puts into it. But he enjoys it..... For now.
Do what is best for you. In the end, your employer does not care. Take it from someone who always did a good job. My employer piled up work on me that others wouldn't complete but never held them accountable. I burned out after 30 years on the job, left the company and have no regrets. Found out late that when you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life.
By the sound of it, it sounds like you’re out of options at work. Invest in yourself, create some options and move on. You didn’t say what you do, or your education level. You’re not too old to enhance both while staying employed at the same time. Even with a newborn (although that makes it harder).
Congrats on the upcoming new baby. I believe you need to find a company that appreciates your hard work and ethics. It's more about working for a good company than working for a company that doesn't have any where for you to succeed. Try to find a company or continue your education in order to make higher wages. I know it's not easy but it can be done. Switching jobs is not fun but if you get lucky it can be very rewarding. I do not know what type of work you do however in my area the hospitals have great programs available where you can advance with additional training. You are young enough to make a change.
Don't worry. 529 plans, schooling choices (public vs private) and does it require moving, retirement, will surely rekindle that fire.

For example, I have family who spent $60k/yr on private high school for 1 of 3 children, approx $20k/yr in total for their extracurricular activities, while fully funding 529 plans for all of them, and saved for retirement. BIL retired at age 54.
I wouldn’t say “I have to get it done at all costs” is a good work ethic, it’s just a mindset of many young people that want to prove themselves. I was there too.

A good work ethic is keeping your promises and striving to do the best job you can. Not jumping through hoops. With experience you learn not to over promise and keep realistic expectation. You will also have to learn to say no, or “it will have to wait”.

Otherwise you may find yourself in trouble because of one task you could not deliver, where you did all previous ones. You may end up in your bosses office trying to answer “what happened?” Guess how I know…
I'm currently 34 and been at my current company for 5 years now (mechanical engineer working in the aerospace industry at the moment). The company I work for is extremely laid back, excellent work/life balance and I hardly ever do more than 40hrs a week (if so, we are paid by the hour so we get paid for it). I could probably change companies and make even more money, but it's not worth the risk to me to make more money just to work longer hours or have a more stressful job. I simply work to get paid so I can go on multiple vacations a year, support my many hobbies, etc... That's where my happiness comes from. Absolutely not from work or proving myself or climbing a corporate ladder. Add in flex time, nearly 4 weeks PTO a year, etc... My stress is super low and I can't ask for more at the moment. On vacation, I don't check work emails nor do I get bothered, I can completely disconnect and I do the same at home most of the time. When I leave the office at 3pm or so, I'm checked out.

I do well at my job, but I don't really strive to go above and beyond... Not much to gain from it, honestly. My reviews are excellent, I get nothing but great feedback from my bosses, etc... So they are happy, I'm happy and all is good in the world.

I view work as a place only to make money, not give my life meaning or importance. All that good stuff happens away from work. If I could retire tomorrow, I would in a heartbeat!
We're about the same age. Depends on the kind of work you do. If you're in STEM you should be on the move constantly. I've worked in a lot of different fields and I've never made anywhere near as much from a promotion as I have from moving on - not even close. Most employers can be treated like bullet points on a resume and nothing else.

Be passionate about making money, not about doing your absolute best for your employer. You'll find that passion for your work again if you find a field that pays great money AND you find an employer that treats you well. That's been my experience.
Interesting commentary. I punched out twelve years ago and never looked back. Realize that unless you are the company owner, an employee that designed or accomplished something that historians will take note of you are simply a cog in a machine. Likely once you are gone your contributions will be washed away like a tide erases footprints on a sandy beach and probably nobody will even remember you.

My point is don't take yourselves so seriously. It will ease your slide to the other side when work is just something other people do.
Nobody has ever been on their death bed wishing they had worked more hours.

I work hard, and at 32 am starting to realize that a good balance is very important for mental and physical health. Some "work" is fun for me (running my small engine side business, yard work, etc) but it is also necessary to have down time to recover.