Burned out, trying to find a new direction

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Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby ljp » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:32 am

Hello everyone.

I'm new here in a way ;) I visited and participated in this forum years and years ago. Drifted away, got busy with life. But now, I have found myself grabbing Barbara's "Refuse to Choose" book off my shelf again and am reading it.

I've found myself in a place where I'm not very comfortable. For the past 4 1/2 years, I've been doing freelance website development. I kinda stumbled into it while taking a few online classes at a local community college, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I had created a niche-type website in 2006 and learning how to manage that lead me to learning more code and more about the CMS (WordPress) and things just culminated in my being brave enough to hang out my shingle.

I would say that I've been a success. I've managed to make a decent full-time income while working from home. But it has also been challenging. Web and tech stuff moves so quickly and I've finally become frustrated with it and I don't think a lot of it fits my personality or makes me happy. My days as a freelancer were somewhat stressful in that I had to be constantly teaching myself something new AND working on client projects. I felt like I was in school full-time and working full-time. On top of that, I'm married, so I'm the one taking care of the house, etc.

In the middle of it all, we sold our house in a down market AND built a new house...on and on. :)

This spring, I felt like I hit a wall. Lots of the web stuff just wasn't getting through to my brain. I didn't like it. I couldn't really find someone who would tutor me. I'm tired of trying to learn things by reading tutorials (soooo sick of reading tutorials!). I like to tweak code and do behind-the-scenes stuff, and I think I was getting more and more into a focus of design and making things look pretty, things I just don't agree with. At the same time, I'm a woman in a very male-dominated field. I'm also not 20 something. I also got sick of sitting in front of a computer all day, the muscle aches, eyestrain, the isolation...all of it. I just got down on myself. I wanted out.

I've got a few more niche websites that I run and I've done okay with them. They actually make money. I've been pursuing that more and not doing much with my freelance business except a few small jobs here and there with two remaining clients I like.

I feel panic sometimes. The extra money I was making freelancing was nice. My husband is retired and his income is decent. We're not really hurting at all and I always considered my income to be "gravy." But I'm worried that we've gotten used to that extra gravy. I worry about money, which is NOT like me. I'm in a decent position where I don't really need to make tons of money.

I feel like I'm searching for the next thing I want to do but I have no idea what it is, really, or how to figure it out. Frequently I just feel like I don't know who I would talk to who could give me the resources. I don't know where I should spend my time. I think with my skills (which I tend to downplay, for some reason) I would make someone a great admin-assistant. I'm spoiled though because I haven't worked a traditional 9 to 5 job in over 20 years. I've done other things besides my freelancing though.

I keep thinking I need to quit thinking about how to make a bunch of money (which I tend to do) and think about things I love. Honestly, I know you should follow things you love. Quite frankly, my mind just gets overwhelmed most days and I'm not sure what to do. Even the whole "do what you love"...not even sure where to go from there. I think that's why I grabbed Barbara's book again.

I've seriously thought about starting a MeetUp group, something similar to what I see here called "Idea Parties." I was thinking more of a brainstorming group.

Not sure how to reach out to people I may know in case they know of something I could do.

I know I'm trying to wrap a bunch of thoughts up in one long post. Sorry! I just am hoping that in reading here or connecting with others here, I might start to find some answers.

Thanks for listening!
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby SquarePeg » Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:19 am

Welcome back!

Yes, a Meetup might be rewarding. Is there a local Wordpress users group that meets regularly? You could swap ideas and commiserate with other WP users.

I thought this was interesting: "On top of that, I'm married, so I'm the one taking care of the house, etc." I'm sure I've misinterpreted it, but I wonder if you wouldn't have to take care of a house if you weren't married? :)

Allow me to relate my own experience with burn out. I'm now on year 21 of the same job. It's still fun and rewarding, but there was a time I dreaded showing up for work. I was overwhelmed, I couldn't keep up, and I even thought I'd have to file for disability if things kept getting worse at the same rate. Well, it turned out there were some medical issues involved: Sleep Apnea, Adrenal Fatigue, sluggish thyroid. I consulted with a Naturalpathic Doctor. He encouraged me to alter my diet, commit to a daily walk at mid day, and make sure I got to bed early enough. Fatigue and brain fog went away within one week. So keep taking care of yourself, and discuss your situation with your doctor at your next checkup.

Good luck!
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby ljp » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:23 am

Hi SquarePeg. Thank you for responding.

There is a local WordPress group that just started up here. I may check in with them. But I guess I feel like although I have built up skills in that area, I'm ready to do something a little different. I am burned out on the whole website thing.

Thanks for chiming in on the Meetup idea. One thing I know for sure is that I'm feeling isolated. It is nice that with web stuff you can work anywhere. But I feel lonely. I have some people I've connected a bit with, but still, I don't feel like "me" is coming through, is appreciated. I guess it's hard for me to describe. I just feel like I need to be around people.

I think you did misinterpret my comment about taking care of the house while being married. ;) All I was really trying to get through is that I have found it pretty challenging to teach myself stuff on the job, do that job, and then at the end of the day, still have household duties, cooking dinner, trying to relax. I realize I'm not alone. We all have these things to juggle. Throw in having a house on the market for a year and a half and having to interrupt your job at home at the drop of the hat because someone wants to show the house. Then I'm cleaning house for an hour, etc.

I think I'm really trying to figure out how to come up with some resources that can help me find some direction. I feel like I have skills (even though, at times, I tend to downplay them). i don't really want to go back to school but I wouldn't necessarily rule out being trained for something if it were rewarding. I think I've spent years doing searches to find tutorials, and having to teach myself and I guess I long for face-to-face or classroom training at this point. Anyone else feel that way? ;) I sometimes think I'm weird about that. I'd like to have something flexible.

I know that there are things out there. Just from reading here, Barbara's books, and things I stumble upon, I realize that there are lots of things out there that we never even think exist. And people make their own way just like I've done with freelancing. I think it's the resources and knowing where to start that I'm trying to find. I feel like I don't know where to turn. At the same time, I know I have to have some talents that would be useful to someone. I'm just kinda tired of working in a corner of my home at this point ;)

I hear you, SquarePeg, about making sure that you don't have underlying medical issues.

Thanks!
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby SquarePeg » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:22 am

Yes, about the desire for classroom learning, I've had that. But I might take a class only after thoroughly teaching myself, and I end up feeling like I could have taught about 95% of the class myself. It tends to be a waste of time and money for me. But it does give me a sense of satisfaction of being the very best student! :)

I am glad I get to go to work every day. I don't collaborate often, but there is a team atmosphere here because I'm in a design and manufacturing company, and we have various and unique roles to play in order to ship an end product. Myself, I generate data, and sometimes trouble. LOL

Good luck!
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby Scenario Thinker » Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:38 pm

First of all, ljp, you're way ahead of me in the web design arena. I started teaching myself stuff starting with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, but then stopped short of learning how to hook web pages to databases. I know it would be good to know, because I keep thinking that there's got to be all these neat web sites I could create. BUT, even with basic web sites, I just never get around to it.

I totally agree about the in-person classes, I almost treat it like a vacation, and HAVE taken vacations to take classes. I remember they had what they called CRT training (Cathode Ray Tube), which in the mainframe days, just meant online training. I never did like it. Looking stuff up on the internet is a lot easier these days, and for me, it's basically my user manual (and a lot of the time, the "hits" are from the language support site for the language that I'm using, but not all the time).

But, I also agree with Squarepeg, I enjoy already knowing a lot, so I can go in there and just learn fringe edge things that I hadn't found out already, and breeze through the exercises, so I really CAN have a vacation. :) For example, I took a semester of HTML/CSS at a community college, then took a three day class at a professional training center on Dreamweaver, but no knowledge of HTML/CSS was assumed. So that part was a breeze, where several students had trouble if the teacher went "into the code" and they liked the visual design aspect better (of course, a lot of them were designers, not coders).

So, in my professional life as a secondary skill set, I use VBA in Access and Excel. I enjoy it, because it doesn't evolve too fast, and I like having to solve a problem given certain technical and language constraints (versus always trying to find a new widget to solve the problem). Having created all these Access/Excel apps, I thought I would enjoy creating web sites, but it hasn't taken off for me yet. Maybe it would if I had to do it for work. But, our infrastructure at work isn't conducive for web design unless you're in IT (I'm in Marketing). We mainly have a network drive that I put the databases on and share them. These are mainly apps used within our department, and they sure are a lot better than the old spreadsheets people used to maintain month after month.

My main technical skill set is programming in SAS and Teradata using SQL. Also slow moving. There's not much I have to keep learning year after year, and I can solve problems given the technical constraints of the language.

So, why haven't I burned out on this? Not sure. Maybe it's partly the working remotely thing, maybe not. We work from home some of the time, but we're in the office enough where we feel like we know each other. Maybe I wouldn't burn out either on web design/programming if that's what I did for my main job. I used to be in the IT department (COBOL, DB/2, etc.), and I did get out of that, so now I do more of an adhoc type of data processing, but still considered "production" by Marketing, so maybe that has something to do with it. A lot of the apps and systems don't have to be "perfect" and there's no production support or 3AM phone calls or pages to fix programs (Oh, how I loved the day when I got out of that!).

It also may have to do with the fact that these technologies ARE slow moving. If I had to keep going faster and faster to keep up, I might get more burned out, too. I think people who live on the bleeding edge have a certain mindset to really thrive. They love learning of course, but they have to constantly fix the bugs of the new stuff, and even have to realize that the technology is broken and wait for a fix. I like being behind the curve a little and be innovative on what is fairly stable already.

You also added some things to what you said about the housework. The fact that you're trying to sell means a lot of extra work trying to keep it up. If you weren't selling, you could slack off a bit (like I do ... a lot :) ).

I also have a medical story. Somewhere in the late 1990's I started getting these migraines every once in a while, then every few days, and over the years they got worse and worse, to where they sometimes would last all day or even a couple. Nothing really helped. I would spend all day in pain working, and even if I tried to lay down, it didn't help, so working actually made the time go faster. Then, eventually it would clear up and a few days later I would get another one. Sometimes they could have been considered to be caused by something, like wine I drank, or whatever, but I would get them regardless. Well, one year, I had my blood pressure measured at work for a health fair (I would go to the doctor every year, but for some reason, it was never high enough to cause a concern), and it was quite high from what I was used to. So, I went to the doctor, and even though they said the HBP didn't cause the headaches, they thought a blood pressure medicine would help, since they wanted to put me on it anyhow. Well, I went on it, and within a week, the migraines were gone pretty much for good! I felt literally like I had gotten my life back. I could work hours and stare at the computer with no adverse effects. So, it's been years now, and my attitude about work has really changed because of that. Work can seem really bad when you're in pain.
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby skannie » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:10 pm

Hi ljp

Welcome back! Did you have a different username before? I've been visiting here for quite a few years so maybe I would remember you.

Since you’re re-reading Refuse To Choose I'm guessing that you must be a Scanner. It's essential for Scanners to have plenty of variety in their lives to keep themselves mentally healthy, and we also need to do things that we find fascinating and fun. You don’t seem to be getting much variety or fun in your life right now and you need to take steps to change that.
ljp wrote:I keep thinking I need to quit thinking about how to make a bunch of money (which I tend to do) and think about things I love.
Yes exactly. I think you need to relax for a while and take some time to gently discover who you really are and what you love doing. Get a scanner daybook and start writing down all your ideas. Try to resurrect any half-forgotten dreams, however crazy they might seem, and write about them too. If there’s anything you've ever dreamed of doing, or used to love doing, or think you might love doing, or feel some irrational fascination with, start trying it out in a small way, or surround yourself with books, pictures or objects connected with it.

Also start noticing whenever you’re enjoying doing something, and then find ways of doing more of it. And vice versa, do less of the things you don’t enjoy. Barbara’s happiness levels exercise is very good for that. Another good exercise is to run back through your past life to when you were 5 or 10 or 15 or 20, and remember the things you loved doing then, and write them all down. Then try doing those things again to see if the spark of love is still there. Or you could carry a small camera around with you and take photos of anything that attracts your interest. When you look at them all later you might see some themes emerging.

Scanners generally love learning, and learn very quickly, as long as we are interested in the subject. But if we try to force ourselves to continue learning something after losing interest, it’s like flogging a dead horse. I think that’s why you’re finding your website work so difficult now. So I suggest you cut out all the work that’s no longer enjoyable, and just keep doing the bits you like. It might lead to a reduction in income, but you say you don’t need the money. In the long run, if you want to continue earning, it might be good for you to develop multiple streams of income, which could include a part-time job. But at the moment forget about the money. Consider yourself to be semi-retired, or on a well-deserved scanner holiday, and just focus on self-discovery and what you love doing.

I know how isolating and physically demanding it can be working from home at your computer, because I was doing it for a few years too. Barbara Sher is always telling us that “isolation is the dream killer”. So you certainly need to get out of the house more, mix with people more, and have more variety of activities and environments. Do you have any interests you can pursue in a social setting? Are there any clubs or societies or groups you’d like to join? Any meetings or workshops or festivals or fairs or exhibitions or concerts you can put on your calender?

What does your husband do with his time now he’s retired? Does he have any unfulfilled wishes and dreams? Can you explore any outside interests together? Or do you feel you have too much togetherness now and you need more time apart?

I’m guessing you had a traditional style marriage with him being the main breadwinner and you being the main home caretaker. And even now he’s retired and you’re still working, it seems to have been assumed that you will continue doing most of the housework. That’s fine if you really enjoy doing it (I believe there are some weird people who even love cleaning floors and toilets) but otherwise I think you would benefit from doing less of it, because repetitive maintenance work is usually not the best use of a scanner’s brain and body. Have you asked your husband to take on a bigger share of it? Or could you lower your standards a bit and clean less frequently and stop doing non-essential things like ironing? Or just make yourself unavailable when he needs things done so he has to do them himself? Or hire someone to do the worst parts of it?

If you need some help with all this exploration, I think Barbara’s Hanging Out Club would be perfect for you. You can interact with more of us scanners there too.
http://barbarasclub.com/hangingout
www.beyond-mountains.com
www.scannertribe.com
Scanner Tribe Group on Facebook
Scanner Tribe group on LinkedIn
Twitter - @scannertribe
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby ljp » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:49 am

Skannie...I really appreciate your post!

Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm a scanner. I found Barbara's book "Refuse to Choose" years ago at the library and checked in out several times. This past January, I thought of it again and picked up my own copy at the bookstore.

You are totally correct about my needing to relax and figure out who I really am. I think I just finally came to that realization a few days ago, after going through months of nearly constant anxiety since this April. I realized in April that I didn't want to continue doing what I am doing but I got myself very scared about losing the income I was making. No, I don't technically need the money, but I've become accustomed to it and it does help me do extra things if I want to. It also gives me an important sense of independence and power in that I'm not just dependent on my husband's money. I feel like I contribute and have a little more say in things. Not that I have none. Don't want to paint the wrong picture but maybe you know what I'm saying.

This needing to relax and figure things out is why I'm rereading Refuse to Choose and also diving into What Color is Your Parachute. I'd never read Parachute before. Now I need to make myself slowly do the exercises. I think it will help, as one of my obstacles at the moment is feeling that I have NO skills whatsoever. I know that can't be true. I look at others and think that I couldn't possibly qualify for other tasks/jobs. It's a problem for me. ;) I think when I consider doing something else I just feel like I have to know everything or I'm no good. It's the same with my website stuff. Even though I have taught myself a ton of stuff, I never feel like I know enough...or I think someone is going to ask me something I don't know and then consider me a phoney. By the way, I realize there's a name for that phoney feeling: Imposter Syndrome. Read a great book on that as well. So I disqualify myself before I get started, even though I may see someone I know doing something and think wow, I didn't think they had the skills for that. Maybe they didn't have everything at first but they built them up.

I guess it's a combination of insecurity and perfectionism.

I know I could be an asset to someone. I really do have a good set of skills and experiences.

Some of my anxiety has been fueled by realizing that I'm not getting younger. I'm in my late 40's and I guess I feel like I've got to do something now. I realize some of that thinking is limited. There really isn't a time limit. But I feel like at some point I'm not going to be as attractive to employers (if I choose to go the employer route).

Skannie, your comments about noticing when you're doing things you love, thinking back to yourself at a younger age, multiple streams of income...I agree big time and have been working on that. I am going to start my journal, as Barbara suggests, with ideas, thoughts, etc. I can't tell you how long I've had the book I want to use for that but it has sat empty. I keep all of these things in my head. I just can't seem to write things down. Don't know what that is. Maybe the fear and perfectionism again.

I have been actively looking for activities around me that are interesting and going out and attending them. Right now, I've done almost all of these with my husband, to get us both out there and doing things rather than staying home and doing things around here. So I do have things on the calendar that I wouldn't have had even a few weeks ago.

My marriage is not really traditional. I worked when I met my husband. I quit to get a degree then never went back to the traditional work environment after that. It has been over 18 years since then. I've split my time since then doing the typical housewife stuff and also managing properties we own. Over the years, I keep coming back to a fear of not using my brain, searching for what I "should" do or trying to find opportunities. I admit it has been hard to find resources. I also feel like I've lost myself over the years. I think I'm at a point where it is time to find me.

I probably shouldn't have mentioned the housework. ;) I think that I do have it under control and I have relaxed by standards and only do what's important without trying to create something unreasonably perfect. Part of the stress from the housework came from having a house on the market too, where things had to be kept to a certain level so that it was manageable to get looking great at the drop of the hat.

Well, I've just typed a whole bunch and feel like I've really exposed myself. ;)

I would like to start a Meetup group for scanners, an idea party-type thing. I think that might be good as well.

So lots of stuff.

You are so right to quote Barbara that "isolation is the dream killer." I have just realized how much isolation has killed so much of me. I DO need to get out of the house and around people. Back to the whole noticing when you are doing something you love...I realized last month, after attending a reunion and seeing some old friends, that I need to be around people. My personality and sense of humor comes out. I feel more energized. Although I've always considered myself an introvert, I think I also need interaction. (I'm also working on NOT labeling myself!) For so many years, my only interaction every day is with my husband. Yes, I have emails with others or occasional call with client. But still...I'm realizing you can't just interact with one person for 24 hours every day. It becomes your only point of reference of yourself! Wow...I'm having some epiphanies just writing this post. ;)

Last month I started a list of things I love. It's part of the whole process for me of noticing what I love, things I'm drawn to, hoping to find some answers. I keep having this feeling that I'm on a path to something, that something is just around the bend. Maybe that's just silly thinking, but I think what's important is that I'm open, you know?

Skannie, I've also checked out the scanner Facebook page and the LinkedIn group in your signature. I think they will be useful resources.

Thank you so much. I'm saving this post on my computer because I think I really need to keep it, reread it, and expand upon it going forward. :)
Last edited by ljp on Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby Scenario Thinker » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:44 am

Just Skannie?
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby ljp » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:45 pm

S. Thinker, I appreciated a lot of what you said as well. I think a lot of what Skannie said were things I have been thinking and saying myself so resonated, that's all. Not trying to exclude or ignore. Not always easy responding to every little thing or each person on a forum...no matter how much I type ;)
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby Scenario Thinker » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:27 pm

Thanks, ljp, no need to respond to every little thing I said, just looking for acknowledgment.

There's not that many members on this board any more, and the ones here can spend quite a bit of time composing posts, so it helps to know we're not wasting our time.

Thanks, again.
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Re: Burned out, trying to find a new direction

Postby ljp » Sat Sep 21, 2013 4:33 pm

Rest assured, Scenario Thinker, that you are not wasting your time posting to me! :) I appreciate it BIG time.

I wondered if this forum was very active anymore. I know there is the Facebook pages that I mentioned before from Skannie's signature. Are there others, perhaps more active as well? I think the hanging out club does look interesting but I'm not really ready to spend the money to join. LImiting myself with such spending at the moment.

Best to all!
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