Separating from your career…

…It’s hard to do.

Brauwhester made the comment that retiring from a career is like a divorce. I think that’s a good point. There are many similarities.

The mental change one undergoes or must undergo to leave one’s career is similar to breaking up a long-term relationship. This is very different from hopping from one job to another which can be compared to a series of ejaculations, i.e. high-frequency serial monogamy.

I’ve been “married” to my career for about 17 years (counting my initial obsession, my master’s and PhD degrees, and my postdoc positions). That was about half my life at the time, which can be considered a long time no matter how old you are. In this sense, it was not just a job, but more like a partner; In this case a partner who has been with me far longer than any of my flesh and blood partners. This was what I thought while showering in the morning (get your mind out of the gutter This was the last thing I thought about before I went to sleep. Sometimes I wake up after going to bed to write some notes. The profession can also be considered a partner in terms of how you interact with it. Is it prestigious (hot?)? Does it require sacrifice, for example, you have to move to Budonk, or Elbonia to stay there? Does it take you to interesting places? Does he do performance reviews? Do you have to renew your marriage every two years? Does it make you think? Are you having fun together? Does it do you any good? Is your relationship meaningful? Does he love you back? Is he taking advantage of you?

Have you ever thought about what your career as a partner would be like?

(Post your answer in the comments, creative people can draw a picture and send it 😉 )

It’s easy to narrow some breakups down to a single reason (for example, your partner decides one day without provocation to squeeze the toothpaste tube down the middle, what?! 😀 ), but many breakups occur because of so-called “irreconcilable differences” which in business euphemism translate into “the pursuit of other interests”; Practically the same thing. In this case, one spends, in my case, years trying to reconcile those differences, and if it works, great, and if it doesn’t work, well, not great.

The alternative is to live in “convenient/comfortable misery” – something I hear a lot, for example, “I don’t like my job/my wife/anything, but I like security and predictability and change would be too risky/too much work…”

With such “irreconcilable differences”/“pursuing other interests”-type separations, whether at the professional level or at the partner level, I think one generally remains on equal footing, because at the end of the day, there are still things In the partner he loves and that caused it. Attraction in the first place. However, a partner or career will no longer be a part of one’s life as it was before. “I’ll call you… eventually.”

I also believe, but I may be biased by my personal experience or personality, that such breakups are not as instantaneous as a single breakup event would suggest. For example, I started considering other options 4 years before my final resignation (after the first “irreconcilable differences surfaced”), measured finances a year before my resignation, and found a potential replacement 6 months later, all while continuing to work. . I gave my current situation “one more chance” until the last minute to try to make it work. Then it happened very quickly. “Like telling your partner you’re seeing someone else” – kinda fast 😀

The funny thing is that while things are changing externally at that point, very little is changing internally. Some have asked me how I feel about it. The answer: “Nothing, really.” In this sense, “we” may have long since drifted apart.

I guess none of this really applies if you’re a so-called ‘professional’. Now I expect some arguments because not everyone understands the word “professional” the same way I do. For me, being a professional means turning your mental skills into an automated component as much as “humanly” possible. I don’t see any particular virtue in that (it seems like a soulless Protestant work ethic-inspired way to control the creative class) and in my opinion that’s no way to live. Think about whether you are willing to treat your relationship with your spouse on a “professional” basis or whether you would marry someone who was a “professional” spouse? We call this prostitution. Why does your career, your life’s work, have to be like this?

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Originally published on 2009-03-19 11:05:22.

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