The Curse of the 18 Month Burn-Out.
I was talking with my wife, the other day. I was complaining about my job. I have a job that is a pretty good job, making decent, not earth-shattering money, but we get by and put away a few shekels for a rainy day.
Being the semi-egotistical person I am, I think I should make more money, have a higher paying job, have less time invested, etc.
This always seems to be the overall problem in my career, I jump from job to job, hoping for more money, better opportunities, or better hours, less work, work independently, etc. The grass always seems greener on the other side. The grass is greener because of a giant septic tank overflow, usually.
I was thinking about this, and it usually takes me a while to get disgusted with a job, the average according to my wife is about 18 months. Hence the title, “The 18 Month Curse”. I think it is actually about 6 to 9 months' time. That is what it usually takes me to learn the job, get good at it, then find all the flaws, turn them, in my mind, into HUGE, psychotic, insurmountable problems, and leave the job, sure that it wasn’t me, but the blankity- blank job that screwed me by whatever I imagined being wrong with it.
After careful scrutiny, in about 85% of the jobs that I have left in disgust, is that looking back, it was probably just me. Anyone feeling like this, can you relate?
God, that is the hardest thing to admit. I have to admit it to try to be a better, more adjusted person. It is really a difficult thing to admit you are wrong, especially, when it has taken a toll on my income, my mental health, and the ability to take vacations, have time off, get good health insurance, build retirement income, etc., etc .
Mostly in the last 15 years, I have hopped from job to job, looking for the pot of gold, and finding good jobs, not great, but they all would have provided for the family, built retirement savings, etc.
Doing this has been the biggest mistake in my life. I hurt my relationship with my wife, I set us back a few years from retirement, and my brain gets mushed with guilt, fear, and dread if not finding something better, even though I show the brave, egotistical face of, “I’ll get something better right away.”
The last time I bounced was the kicker that made me realize that maybe I am not a CEO-level employee, and I have to “ settle” for something that is “beneath” me. (When you need to put food on the table and pay the mortgage, NOTHING should be beneath you.
I went to work at a job in a “phone room”. My wife had been after me for years to get into “customer service “. I railed against that, as I was sure my sales experience of over 40 years was WAY more valuable than listening to people bitch and moan all day. She said my likable personality and good voice would win the day at customer service. I was sure my head would explode! How could I possibly stoop to a phone room job?
I’ll tell you how maybe it will help you. The job turned out to be great. I sort of still don’t like being bound to a 4×4 cubicle, with adherence to it as part of the deal, I can’t wander around, (I get it, I need to answer the phone). I have to say what the corporation says to say, within reason, and they listen to every syllable I say. I really thought I would hate it.
It is NOT my dream job by any stretch of the imagination. I loved selling, this is a sales-type job, per se, not customer service, people call in, and I help them with specific needs. I don’t have to listen to complaints, usually, that is rare, and most times I feel like I am helping people. Other times people are rude, crude, stupid, etc. You take the good with the bad.
So why do I stay if it isn’t a dream job? Good question! I found during the training that I really liked the atmosphere. The people that trained us were upbeat, happy, friendly, and very encouraging!
Wow-what a difference between selling cars, my last job, where the people wanted the walk-in customers for themselves and tried hard to make you feel bad enough to quit. Not to mention very little training, and a lot of yelling, blaming, and b.s.
I got out of the training and my supervisor was a real gem! He helped, never denigrated, never scolded, he understood what I was going through. I LOVE this! I have made mistakes, but never got talked down to, or given an attitude, just help to get it right. Nice. I think they realize that I am intelligent enough to listen and take helpful criticism. I feel we are friends, and he is a good guy, I groan and he listens and helps with my rants and problems.
So, after almost 2 years, of being here, looking for new positions, checking out new jobs, finding opportunities that were junk, buy yourself a job at best, invest a ton of money to maybe make it back if the stars line up right, and they rarely do in these cases. I have decided that I am ok right here.
The money isn’t life-changing, but the people are, and isn’t that the most important thing, really? To enjoy the folks you are near every day? Yeah, I do have my “side hustles”, I do freelance voice work, I do the noon to three-shift at Sky7, Only Classic Rock channel, a digital radio station, and a couple of other small things, mostly for entertainment and a hobby.
I am trying VERY hard to be more complacent, easygoing, content with the job, I tell myself every day that it could be worse, I could still be at a crappy retail job, fighting for customers, or worse. With this job, I can forget it when I go home, I turn it on when I go there to work and turn it off when I leave. Yes, I could try to make more money, but I’m sure it would be more stressful, and the environment would be worse, stressed to the max day and night. Maybe it ain’t so bad right where I am.
So how do I rationalize this mess? I don’t. I just have to realize without a large degree from a monster expensive college, which I got nowhere near, or rich parents, who did ok, not wealthy, but comfortable, or hitting the lottery, (I don't play), I have it pretty damn good. The roof over my head, nice cars, great wife, super kids. So I don't retire as early as my Dad, so my car isn’t brand new and has a Bently emblem on the hood, so what?
I am comfortable. Maybe I am not rich and famous, that’s ok. Do you see the turmoil in the world of those rich and famous people? Holy crap, the drama they attract! My life overall isn’t full of drama, or problems that I can’t handle with brains.
Is this sounding familiar to anyone? Do you have the job-hopping syndrome. If so, STOP! Try to make sure beyond a shadow if a doubt that the grass isn’t greener due to a septic tank issue.
If you do keep job-hopping, you will end up like me, never building up vacation time, 401k investments are slim, health insurance is minimal, etc. So if you can by all means, stay put unless it is really intolerable, or the next opportunity is fully investigated to be really as good as it sounds. Look into every nook and cranny, every aspect of the job to make sure it is really better. My Dad used to say, “a bird in hand makes it hard to blow your nose”. I have no idea what it means, but it sounds funny, so I use it.
If you like this story, just look for my other articles on Medium.com, search for me, Dean Benson. Also, come listen to me on SKY 7 digital radio. You can hear me on Only Classic Rock channel, playing Classic Rock 7 days a week from Noon to 3 pm Arizona time. Listen in, you may hear some of my “Dean-isms.”
The Dean of Rock & Roll