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Posts Tagged ‘mid-life crisis’

  1. Choices, choices, choices

    June 29, 2010 by superlative

    I have been looking at some of my options this morning for what study I could undertake, and I have ended up overwhelming myself a little with the possibilities. Unfortunately I’m interested in quite a lot of different things, and as has been the case for me for years and years I have no particularly strong desire to do one thing over another.

    The main options that I have identified so far are:

    • A BSc(Hons) in Mathematics at the Open University
      I’m quite keen on this, as I like maths very much and I think I’d find it challenging. Being the Open University, I also have the option of not completing the whole degree if I don’t want to, and instead claiming a Certificate or a Diploma depending on how far through I get. However the downside is that I may not like some of the later maths modules when it starts to get very abstract and theoretical; I’m not sure I want to embark on a course that will take up to six years to complete; and I already have a BA, so a further undergraduate degree is perhaps not especially valuable.
    • A BSc(Hons) in lots of different things at the Open University but featuring quite a few maths modules
      This is similar to the above, but as it’s the Open University you can choose to combine quite different courses and achieve what they call an ‘Open Degree’ at the end that isn’t in any one thing. So I could do some of the maths modules I want to study, and I could also do some other things like maybe some language courses (either new ones or to brush my French back up), some computing modules, a politics module, and even a geology module (told you I was interest in diverse things).
    • An MA in French Language and Culture at Kings College, University of London by distance learning
      This would basically be a continuation from where my degree left off, and would bring my French back up to a high level and then take it further. It’s a more obvious course to take after my degree, and it’s postgraduate so I’d get that masters I’ve been coveting. I’m not totally sure I want to study the French any more than I already have done though.
    • An MA in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth by distance learning
      Similar to the above, this would let me continue my language study but in a more applied way. I’ve studied translation before and worked as a translator for a while, so it might be OK. Translation theory is a bit dull though, and if I’m studying for pleasure and academic fulfilment rather than to get a job out of it I’m not sure if this is the right course for me.
    • An MA in American Foreign Policy at the University of Leicester by distance learning
      I found this one this morning and was quite keen on it straight away. I’m really interested in American history and politics, and this course would allow me to study some of that at postgraduate level. You have a choice of modules, so you can choose the aspects that most interest you (for instance I could do the role of the presidency, or a module on intelligence and security). As with the other two MAs above, I could do this course in two years rather than the six for the Open University degrees, and it’s an MA.
      I’m not sure if my degree would qualify me to apply for this course though, as their entry requirements are a degree in history, politics, international relations or a related discipline. My languages degree featured quite a lot of history and politics, and so I’ve emailed them to ask if it would be suitable.

    So you see, I have a lot that I could do, and still no idea what I am actually going to do. I hadn’t looked around properly for distance learning MAs before today, and that’s thrown me a bit. It was only because I realised just how much an Open University degree would cost me and how long it would take that prompted me to have a look – before I’d thought if I’m not going to do an MA at Sussex or Brighton (where I can do them for free) then it’s not financially worth it. But given I was considering spending up to £5,000 in total at the Open University that suddenly became less of a consideration.

    Oh I don’t know. I’m still confused. I’ll wait and see what Leicester say. The OU still has the advantage that I can just do a module or modules for fun and then stop if I get a new job or I can’t afford it any more.

    Choices, choices, choices, far too many choices.


  2. Update on the mid-life crisis

    June 1, 2010 by superlative

    I have been doing some further thinking about my previously mentioned mid-life crisis over my career, and I think that I’ve sort of decided what it is that I need to do. Whether or not I’ll actually do it remains to be seen.

    Basically, I had a good read of a book called ‘Changing your career’ at the weekend,  having decided that as with most problems in my life I could solve it by getting a book on it. It was quite good, and it talked about the reasons people have for changing career, and what you need to consider before doing it. I also spent some time thinking about what things I enjoy in my work, and what things I don’t, and how that might affect what I want to do in the future. The back section of the book was devoted to profiles of about 20 different careers, so you could have a look through them and see if the type of work would suit you.

    The upshot of my research, my personal audit (that’s the wanky technical phrase the book used), and the comparison to the career profiles was that the job that seems most suited to me is Web Developer. Which is what I’m doing at the moment.

    So… um… There you go. I was a bit surprised, but actually it makes a lot of sense. I moved to this job from my previous administrative roles because this was more what I wanted to be doing. None of that has gone away, I’ve just lost sight of it after two years in post and the creeping boredom being in the same job entails. And in particular I have issues with this job, not my actual choice of career.

    When I looked at the things I have most enjoyed in all my previous jobs, they were (apologies for the inarticulate phrasing):

    • Being given a goal and being asked to work out how to achieve it
    • Taking something, unpicking it, working out how it works, and then understanding it
    • Learning new skills
    • Checking things – proof reading, making sure things add up, being meticulous

    All of these things fit fairly well in web development, or at least they seem to to me. The projects I have most enjoyed here have been the ones where a designer sends me a set of images and a list of requirements, and says “Can you make that?” Sometimes I know how to do it straight away, and sometimes I have to go away and learn something new in order to achieve it, but I get there in the end.

    The problem I have with my job at the moment is that, despite being called a Web Developer, I actually do very little development. Most of the time I’m limited to web editing, which is just updating text and fiddling about with a pre-existing website. And even then, my workload is quite light, and I have to ration what I do so I don’t get too bored. Both of those things leave me feeling unfulfilled, unstretched and quite de-skilled, as anything new that I do learn while working on a project then doesn’t get used again for nine months, by which time I’ve forgotten it.

    So anyway, it seems to me that web development is an OK career for me still to be in. What I need to do though is either fix this job by taking on more work from somewhere, and hopefully making it more interesting work, or find a new job where I’m actually a web developer and not just called one.

    The latter may well mean working in the private sector, and this concerns me. My only experience of working in the private sector was not a good one, as it was a smallish company and any mistakes you made had immediate financial consequences attached to them. I’m also not keen on any role that involves a sales aspect, and I don’t enjoy being public-facing.

    So I’m not actually sure where I go from here. My plan is to start keeping a closer eye on local web jobs, and if I see something that looks promising I’ll apply for it. If it means taking a pay cut for a while, that’s OK, because I know my current skill level doesn’t really match my salary here. Luckily, Brighton has one of the highest concentration of ‘new media’ jobs in the country, so at least I know there are lots of web-type employers around.

    I’m also considering starting some study in my spare time, so that I feel more mentally challenged (not in the spakka sense) and might gain a new qualification. I’m having a look at the Open University undergraduate courses in Maths at the moment, and I might think about doing it as a second degree. I enjoyed it at A Level and it would be nice to use those skills again; and you have the advantage with the Open University of stopping part-way through if your circumstances change or you just go off the idea. So I’m going to give that some thought anyway.

    I feel a bit more positive than I did last week, and at least now I feel I’ve narrowed down my options and given myself some areas to focus on.


  3. Early mid-life crisis

    May 21, 2010 by superlative

    frustratedFirst of all, hello and welcome to my new blog. It’s the same blog as before, but it has moved home now to this cosy little bit of webspace of my own, rather than the ugly fugliness of Blogger.

    I intend to do a proper design of my own for it sometime soon, but for the moment I’ve just picked a nice-looking theme and bunged it up. I’m also going to try to develop some different sections on this site, where I can post other things that I find interesting or stimulating.

    But anyway, that’s enough administrative stuff. To business.

    OH MY GOD I seem to be having a total mid-life crisis regarding work and my life in general, and I don’t know what to do about it. Essentially my problem is as follows:

    I have a job, and it is fine. Fine but boring. Really really boring. I don’t have enough work to do, and the work I do have is generally quite dull. Furthermore, I don’t know if my job (as a web editor/developer) is what I really want to be doing. I didn’t choose this as such, I didn’t study with this career in mind, I just kind of drifted into this after uni, and now I’ve found myself at a dead end with no possibilities for advancement, and without sufficient qualifications to do much else. Which is sad, because I’m clever and I have a first class degree, but a degree in French and Italian doesn’t lead to many obvious careers.

    Most of my friends have proper professions or career paths: they’re teachers, or nurses, or conservation officers, or lawyers. And I don’t. I have no idea what I want to do long term, and I feel like my life is slipping past without me actually achieving very much.

    But without knowing what I want to do long term, I don’t know what I can change in my life, what career I could change to, or what further study I could do, and so I feel totally stuck.

    I don’t like feeling unfulfilled, and I don’t like being bored. I think that I have the potential to do a lot, to do anything if I really want to, but without any focus I end up doing nothing.

    I’ve talked it over with Chris, and I’ve spent quite a long time this morning discussing it with a friend at work (thanks Dom!). But ultimately no one can tell me what to do: I need to decide for myself. I just don’t know if there is a job I’d rather be doing, and so I continue to bumble along.

    I think that a key decision I need to make first of all is if I want to change job or career at all. I could do, and with that comes the need for further study or taking a pay cut in order to start again in a different field. That’s one option. My other option though is to seek fulfilment elsewhere: through study or something else in my life, and let work take a secondary position. My job is fine after all, I get paid quite a lot, and it doesn’t stress me out. So I could do something else for passion or love, something I enjoy, or something that stretches me, but have it not be a work thing.

    I’ve thought about doing a masters before, and about doing a creative writing course and trying to write a novel. I’ve always wanted to learn a martial art. These things could easily fill the gaps in my life if I pursued them. But I’d have to accept I’m not going to be a massively high-powered, high-earning person and stop worrying about having a ‘career’.

    So what do I do?? Which way do I jump? I need to do something I think, I can’t just continue as I am, I’ll get depressed and the years will slip past without anything changing.

    All I *can* do is give it more thought and try to come to a decision. I just don’t see at the moment though how I’m going to find anything to push me one way or the other. Hum.