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A Secure Job Vs Happiness - What's Better?


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I am not sure if anyone can relate to this, but I am in a weird place in my life right now.  I've actually been sort of struggling for the last 4 years with where my life is going next, especially with regards to my career vs my overall life.  I haven't been happy for a very long time (in fact I don't know if i've actually ever been happy period).  But I can't seem to find a balance that I can deal with.

 

What's better:  A high paying relatively secure job with a nice retirement that you hate, or struggling to try and find some sort of happiness or fulfillment in life?  That's where I am.  I am torn between financial security and doing something with my life that doesn't entail dreading every Sunday because I have another 40+ hours of prison to endure before I am released again on Friday at 5:00.  I literally feel like I am doing time. 

 

I really wish I was one of those people that could just look at the cup as half full and relax and be happy with what I have.  I look at a lot of people I know, and they seem content with going to the same job every day doing the same thing on the weekends, and working away until they can hopefully one day retire.  But for whatever reason, whether it's brain wiring or whatever, I don't internally possess whatever that is that makes people content with that kind of life.  I don't know if I am an adrenaline junky, or a born gambler, or I need the fast life, or what.  But I just can't seem to just accept that life and deal with it.

 

Does anyone else have this problem?  Is it possible for someone like me to even be happy, or am I just too fucked up? 

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Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing personal struggles today. First of all, I want to say that I don't think you are fucked up. Lol  Sounds to me like you're bored. And boredom can be a real problem because we can make a lot of bad decisions if we are bored...I just want to give you my 2 cents worth. (my opinion only of course Lol)

 

Financial security is everything as far as I am concerned. We can't do all the things we want to do in life without the financial security. I thought there were times when I would lose my mind if I had to do one more haircut in my life. I'm also the type of person that wishes I could visit a different country every couple of months. I love excitement. I hate the dreary.

 

 I had to change my attitude about my job just about everyday because my job was my financial security and my ticket to being able to do some interesting things in life..

 

I think that whatever one does after so long, it can become boring. We have our favorite foods and if we ate them everyday, day after day.....we would soon tire of them. I also think it's one of the reasons that relationships suffer....boredom. And I think it's up to us to make the changes to create excitement in our lives and relationships.

 

I know many people who do not have financial security and it is most depressing. They can't even get a trip outside the city. If I were you (my opinion) I would stay with the company that pays you well with a retirement and create a totally exciting life for yourself outside of work. In order to do this, you will have to have a real attitude change about going to your job. I used to have a plan for something that I really enjoyed after I got off work everyday.....something I could look forward to.(even if it was just a good movie on TV with popcorn) 

 

Just thought I would give you my opinion today. You are bound to get a lot of friends responding to this, so it will be interesting to see how you decide. Will you keep us posted? Best to you today. I know this is a real hard decision to make. Take your time with it whatever you do. How easy would it be for you to change jobs? Would you get the same pay and benefits? Those of course are all questions you must ask yourself. 

 

I'd stay and create a lot of excitement outside of work. Take up sky-diving if you have to!! You may just be in a rut and that's only human........ *hug*

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Even a "secure" job isn't really secure. Why deliberately choose a life of misery? The stress will make you sick and send you to an early grave. Don't get trapped into a commitment to doing something you hate. Life is happening now; enjoy!

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I'm also a natural-born "half empty" person. And I'm also somebody who gave up corporate life to seek greater fulfillment. So I know where you're coming from, Mike.

 

Nothing you write hints that you're f*cked up; you're just at one of those places where you're presenting yourself with a choice: what path to take from here on out?

 

I can tell you from my experience that I'm very glad I left the corporate world. But unlike what you read in inspirational biographies and self-help books, leaving corporateland doesn't automatically mean that life becomes more fulfilling. If you're going to leave prison life behind, it helps to have a realistic mission, something you really want to do. You should also be prepared for economic insecurity for perhaps years to come. And you must, really must, understand that "wherever you go, there you are." Whatever temperament you have, you'll take it with you.

 

I'm always glad I left, but being the person I am, I still often feel burdened by the demands and disappointments of life. The one great consolation is that I now have a lot more choices about how to handle those problems.

 

While I tend to agree with Florduh, and to believe that if you don't take the risk at some point you'll always regret it, I'd also say choose carefully. Know what you want (not merely what you DON'T want) and know yourself before you jump. Good luck!

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I am not sure if anyone can relate to this, but I am in a weird place in my life right now.  I've actually been sort of struggling for the last 4 years with where my life is going next, especially with regards to my career vs my overall life.  I haven't been happy for a very long time (in fact I don't know if i've actually ever been happy period).  But I can't seem to find a balance that I can deal with.

 

What's better:  A high paying relatively secure job with a nice retirement that you hate, or struggling to try and find some sort of happiness or fulfillment in life?  That's where I am.  I am torn between financial security and doing something with my life that doesn't entail dreading every Sunday because I have another 40+ hours of prison to endure before I am released again on Friday at 5:00.  I literally feel like I am doing time. 

 

I really wish I was one of those people that could just look at the cup as half full and relax and be happy with what I have.  I look at a lot of people I know, and they seem content with going to the same job every day doing the same thing on the weekends, and working away until they can hopefully one day retire.  But for whatever reason, whether it's brain wiring or whatever, I don't internally possess whatever that is that makes people content with that kind of life.  I don't know if I am an adrenaline junky, or a born gambler, or I need the fast life, or what.  But I just can't seem to just accept that life and deal with it.

 

Does anyone else have this problem?  Is it possible for someone like me to even be happy, or am I just too fucked up? 

 

The world doesn't owe you a living. Nor does it owe you happiness. "Happy" is just a childlike word that doesn't really map to anything real in the brain anyway. "Satisfied with life despite its many obstacles and letdowns" is a more mature and attainable goal than "happy." Life isn't an episode of "The Partridge Family."

 

I'm guessing most people have jobs that they don't like. I do. That's my fault; I chose a "career path" with very limited possibilities because I didn't want to go to college and be in debt. I ended up in debt anyway. So I work for people I don't really like, doing things I don't like, for very little pay. Which means I'm in the same boat as 70% of the population. Does that make me unhappy? Not really. I'm realistic enough to know that there are very, very few jobs out there that are personally fulfilling, intellectually stimulating, AND well paying and secure. 

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Money doesn't buy happiness but poverty sure makes people unhappy.  I know a lot of people who would kill for a slightly-secure career.  But in the end it is your choice and your life so do what is best for you.

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I am not sure if anyone can relate to this, but I am in a weird place in my life right now.  I've actually been sort of struggling for the last 4 years with where my life is going next, especially with regards to my career vs my overall life.  I haven't been happy for a very long time (in fact I don't know if i've actually ever been happy period).  But I can't seem to find a balance that I can deal with.

 

What's better:  A high paying relatively secure job with a nice retirement that you hate, or struggling to try and find some sort of happiness or fulfillment in life?  That's where I am.  I am torn between financial security and doing something with my life that doesn't entail dreading every Sunday because I have another 40+ hours of prison to endure before I am released again on Friday at 5:00.  I literally feel like I am doing time. 

 

I really wish I was one of those people that could just look at the cup as half full and relax and be happy with what I have.  I look at a lot of people I know, and they seem content with going to the same job every day doing the same thing on the weekends, and working away until they can hopefully one day retire.  But for whatever reason, whether it's brain wiring or whatever, I don't internally possess whatever that is that makes people content with that kind of life.  I don't know if I am an adrenaline junky, or a born gambler, or I need the fast life, or what.  But I just can't seem to just accept that life and deal with it.

 

Does anyone else have this problem?  Is it possible for someone like me to even be happy, or am I just too fucked up? 

 

Greetings, sir. I endured a very secure career that I hated but paid pretty damn good. Now I'm retired and that retirement is pretty awesome. :-) A close relative worked for close to 40 years doing something they loved (though not a secure job and they moved a lot to keep working in the same career field) and is now struggling because they have no pension.

 

It's nice to do something you like but it might be difficult to find that particular job. Isn't there a statistic that says most people are in jobs they don't like? Another consideration is work is work, no matter what you're doing. A friend works in a career field I always wanted to get into (but was probably too lazy to work at it) and he loves the field itself, but he's 'bored' where he is. There's no challenge for him. Even something you like can get repetitive.

 

There will always be something 'wrong' with one's career. I understand exactly what you're talking about. You have one life to live. Why suffer in a rotten job? But remember that when you find the perfect job, it won't be perfect. It may get boring. Or be repetitive. :-) Or you may work for some asshole. Or there may be some other unexpected suffering.

 

Work is often short on its entertainment value. And the great money doesn't seem to make up for that. But you find yourself staying there anyway.

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What's better:  A high paying relatively secure job with a nice retirement that you hate, or struggling to try and find some sort of happiness or fulfillment in life? 

What do you mean by happiness and fulfillment in life? Another job that you would enjoy more? Going to college? Traveling?

Maybe you can look for another job in the field you are working in (but not quiting before you find something better),that is more exciting...for example if you are an account you could try to work as a consultant which includes more traveling,meeting more people etc.

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What's better:  A high paying relatively secure job with a nice retirement that you hate, or struggling to try and find some sort of happiness or fulfillment in life? 

What do you mean by happiness and fulfillment in life? Another job that you would enjoy more? Going to college? Traveling?

Maybe you can look for another job in the field you are working in (but not quiting before you find something better),that is more exciting...for example if you are an account you could try to work as a consultant which includes more traveling,meeting more people etc.

 

 

My question too. What are you considering replacing your job with?

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Mike:

 

Perhaps you are presenting a false dichotomy. Is it possible that you could find a job that was rewarding and also financially secure? Such jobs do exist. Don’t presume that happiness and financial security are mutually exclusive. Construct a mental framework for tolerating where you are now while you use your free time to search for the combination that will fit you better. Perhaps a visit to a local university or community college would be in order. Many of them have re-entry programs for people just as yourself.

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I can only speak for my own experience and personality- but I agree with MyMistake:  Money may not buy happiness (not that I'd know from direct experience- it's just what I've been told), but a lack of money can sure as hell cause a lot of UNhappiness. 

 

Mike, I think your experience has been different enough from mine that my opinion might be pretty much irrelevant.  But personally my previous jobs have been dirty, difficult, thankless, dangerously hot, painfully cold, often illegal in some respects, and managed by illiterates, abusers, and occasional drug/alcohol addicts.  These days I'm just thankful to show up every day to a job that doesn't meet any of those criteria.  I don't have any source of money otherwise. My parents barely have enough to retire on, and I'll count myself lucky if neither ends up living with me at some point.  So for me, work is just an unavoidable fact of life.  I don't expect it to be exciting or fulfilling- that's why they have to PAY me to do it.  I count myself lucky that my interests happen to align with something marketable.  If that wasn't the case things might be more difficult- but I'm at least marginally interested in what I do these days.

 

i would like to think that I could find fulfillment outside of work.  It sounds good, although I can't say that I really have.  The fact is, you're spending the majority of your waking hours with co-workers.  Of course it will have a major effect on you- there's no way to avoid that.  I will say that my co-workers these days are for the most part very intelligent and well-intentioned (if not particularly sociable- they're engineers after all).  Not necessarily fulfilling... but not unpleasant either.  And that latter part is worth a lot to me.

 

I can't be happy without some level of financial security- I can state that much with 100% certainty.  I'm finally approaching that token amount of financial security- just two years into my new career and my finances look FAR better than they did after 16 years in my previous career.  That's not to say that I'll ever really BE happy with my life- I'm not confident about that at all- just saying that I'm pretty sure I CAN'T be without something akin to financial security.  But I'm far less UNhappy than I was previously... no doubt about that.  I can pay my bills without too much stress, put away a modest amount for the future, buy a house... all that was damn near unimaginable for me just a few years ago.

 

One thing I'll add is that I've seen your posts around here for several years... I'm pretty sure that like me, you suffer from some form of low-grade depression.  It's one of those adaptations that served our ancestors very well- conserving resources via depression and avoiding conflict via anxiety has probably kept many a cave-man alive... but it doesn't work so well in the context of modern society.  Just like physical pain- the mental pain of depression has kept people alive for obvious reasons... but serves no useful purpose whatsoever in its chronic form.  Evolution doesn't care about pain- or much of anything except except death before reproduction.  I've come to see no value in my natural state of depression, and have recently started taking an anti-depressant.  I'm only 2 months into this, but so far I'd say the results are 100% positive.  I'm happier, anxiety is 95% gone, and I've yet to notice a single side-effect (though that wasn't the case with a couple of previous antidepressants).  Maybe you should give it a try- there's something to be said for taking the Blue Pill rather than the Red one.  For me the biggest obstacle by far was just the idea of DEPENDING on taking a medication every day.  But I've run into some nasty health problems over the past couple years- so that I pretty much either have to take pills every day and be ok... or die a slow, painful death if I don't.  And now that THAT bridge has been crossed... what's one more pill?

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Thanks for all the differing views everyone, this gives me a lot to chew on.

 

One thing I should state for the record, is that my life has been somewhat of a rollercoaster.   I've had my years of being flat ass broke and semi-homeless at one point, to almost semi-retired in my 30's because I had made so much money.   Then I lost almost all of it, and was broke again.  I guess what I am saying is that I know what it means to be without money and not knowing where my next meal is coming from, and that's something I have to draw from when comparing to my current situation. 

 

I have a lot to think about.... will reply with more when I have more time.

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One thing I'll add is that I've seen your posts around here for several years... I'm pretty sure that like me, you suffer from some form of low-grade depression.

Just thought I would respond to this real quick - you are very astute and correct. I don't take anything for mine, and I am starting to learn that what helps mine is constant change. I think even change for the worse is better for me than a steady state of comfortable boredom, which really has a negative impact on my depression. Boredom is really my biggest enemy, I think.

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[snip]  dreading every Sunday because I have another 40+ hours of prison to endure before I am released again on Friday at 5:00. [snip]

 

I have the same problem. I call it my Sunday night depression.

 

My job that I hate gives me the money to do other stuff that I like. What is the alternative? Not having money or having just enough? I won't be happy being that guy. 

 

I know, I know... Money doesn't buy happiness blah blah. Fine. In that case if I'm going to be unhappy anyway then it's going to be in a BMW and not on a bicycle.

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I would take job security.  Happiness is at best fleeting, and a person needs a job.  If I knew my job was secure, even if it were not a great job, that would contribute a lot to my happiness.  I have a great capacity to adjust to routine, boredom, and difficult people.

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Does your decision impact anyone else? Do you have kids who are depending on you, for example?

 

I have known people who have left high paying jobs because they were sick of them only to end up living in someone's basement or on the street. Not cool when you have a family depending on you.

 

If this decision only impacts you, then there's no real decision, is there? Do what makes you happy. Otherwise, I don't know that one can easily find both happiness and honor.

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Most people seem to be able to just cope with jobs they hate.  I'm not one of them.  I completely understand Mike's Sunday depression.  I lived with that for years until I finally had enough.  The one solution that's worked for me is working for myself.  Going back to work for someone else is my version of hell.  Others can do it.  They aren't me.  I'd seriously put a gun in my mouth if I had to go back to that life as it wouldn't be worth it.  Again, just me. 

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Vigile,

 

Putting a gun in your mouth would only make you talk funny. Plus you run the risk of chipping your teeth. That just sounds like a silly way to approach things to me.

 

:-)

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Vigile,

 

Putting a gun in your mouth would only make you talk funny. Plus you run the risk of chipping your teeth. That just sounds like a silly way to approach things to me.

 

:-)

 

How clean is that gun? If it goes into my the mouth it's gotta be clean.

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I did many years of various long-term "perma-lance" gigs with various ad agencies. (I was always freelance, on a consultant basis, sometimes for years at a time.) Now I work exclusively at home, and would never go back to an agency setting. (Too many scatter-brained "creatives", slacker "artists", ego-driven account reps, and watching my profitable work pay for others to fiddle around all day, to name a few.)

 

Working at home is awesome because my daughter is 8 -- I can go on her class field trips, do her homework with her at 3:00 at the table out by the pool, not panic if school is closed, drive her to school in my pajamas with no makeup and a sloppy ponytail, and on and on. I can work alone in total silence with my dog and the birds at my window feeder, or I can stream youtube videos on the desk next to me all day. I eat lunch when I'm hungry, and take a nap and finish the work later if needed.

 

However, the money can be scary. Sometimes I don't get paid for a month (yep, I get the phone calls from the bank), and then I will have two months income deposited on one day, with a giant rush to pay stuff and plan for the coming month and figure taxes and fill out forms and all that junk. I constantly have to decide when to take money from savings, or wait it out and suffer a couple of late fees. My husband works at home, too, so the freedoms are amazingly enviable, but the money can get really crazy scary. I take my laptop on every vacation, and I work nights and weekends as needed, but it's just part of all the other glorious freedoms we enjoy. It is a definite lifestyle choice, but one that I am willing to make.

 

One thing I have noticed by working through all those agencies: People get let go all the time. A big client moves to another agency, and several people are then just gone from the agency I'm at. There is no security, even in their fulltime "secure" jobs. I am the one with irons in other fires. Yes, it sucks for me big time when a big client moves on (I am dealing with this at this every moment), but at least I have other small ones to milk until the next big solution comes along. Those full-timers who got laid off have nothing, and have to start from scratch. The good thing for me is that they all end up at other agencies, which just makes more contacts for me!

 

Over the holidays we visited my brother who works for the government. (I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, lol.) He is counting the weeks until he retires, but he has like 17+ years to go. My husband and I were so shocked that we could not respond. My brother has the ultimate security, outrageous benefits and time off, and all that -- but he has to deal with bureaucracy, incompetence, boredom, repetition, etc. ad nauseum. No thanks! My hubby and I talked about it. We don't even think about when we will retire. We love what we're doing, so for now, we don't seem to care if we work a little older than my brother will have to. By then our house will be paid off and we'll be done with this darn private school tuition and stuff like that, so we can work less and still soldier on. Since we love what we do every day, that thought does not bother us one bit. (I say that now... ha ha.)

 

Can you quit your job and become a freelancer / consultant? Connect with all your contacts. Many companies are forced to downsize, but there are still chunks of work that they are having trouble getting done with fewer workers. You could be the answer to their problem. Do you have any savings to get you through until you can get some things lined up? If not... if you have courage and faith that things will eventually pan out, you can do what I did and max out a credit card to get started. It's not ideal, but it's an option.

 

I would obviously choose freedom and happiness versus security, but that's just me. Are you willing to keep working past 60, rather than retire at 55 or 60? If you love what you're doing and actually like getting out of bed every morning, and have your debts paid down, it might just be no big deal.

 

In the meantime, take a vacation. A real vacation -- like 5-8 days, so you can really unwind for the first few days and then have a few days to think clearly.

 

I know what you are wrangling with right now. I have been there so many times. It is a scary and painful period, but eventually you will make a decision and that angst will clear up... until it comes back in a few years, and you start the process over again. (At least, that's my experience, lol.)

 

Keep coming back and putting your thoughts together with us. That will help too. We want you to find fulfillment, so don't feel alone in this trying adventure. You will figure it out!

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Personally, I go for job security.  That allows you have enough money to do what you want in your free time, assuming your job doesn't rob you of it.  You could stay in the same career and find a job at a place that isn't so dreary.  You might find that your career isn't so boring after all.  I was raised to choose security over some fantasy that I could do what I love and still live like I was raised.   People who turn down jobs because they aren't "what they love" or there is some aspect they don't like piss me off...  I see them as spoiled children.   I'm all about helping people during hard times, but I don't like the fact that our welfare system sometimes supports these kinds of spoiled brats.  I can understand not taking a job at McDonald's because of the pathetic low pay, but turning down a decent office job because you want to be an artist is just stupid.  You can only afford to have that attitude if you are independently wealthy, incredibly talented and lucky, or you can turn your particular love into a stable, marketable skill.  Some people just can't fathom having to give some to get some. You take major risks being so picky depending on what your "love" is, but I do understand that certain personalities aren't able to handle certain jobs, and some people are successful at working for themselves.  But I'm not a risk-taker like that.  And my desire for stability has paid off despite my struggles to get here. My career is fulfilling (nursing) so I have the best of both worlds, even though it isn't my first choice (which would be becoming a millionaire off making thrown pottery and artsy stuff).  I tend to think that if you have a wanderlust personality that you will be resentful and unhappy in anything you choose unless it is your ideal.

 

I also think it is good to have a backup plan, and more than one job or more than one way to make money.  I'm a little neurotic about my financial security and if I don't have it (and like you, there have been times I didn't) I get very depressed, anxious, and impossible to live with.  It doesn't matter if I am doing what I love if I am filled with anxiety about paying bills and not being able to do recreational things I long to do.  

 

I wish you luck on your journey.  It might be helpful to know what kind of thing you want to do and what you do now.  Some people on here are pretty creative and have great advice. smile.png

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as someone that's recently unemployed (well under-employed) I would go for job security and income every time. it's nearly impossible to find work out there. not a single IT firm wants to look at my application. and I've been turned down for even unskilled min wage jobs. You can't have any happiness when you are living under a bridge. anyone that says money can't buy happiness or that your worth as a human isn't tied to your net worth in $ is just lying to you. become jobless with no money and see just how much the world values you as a person. 

 

I may be a bit bitter but it's pretty much true as far as modern society is concerned. everyone, particularly the middle class is being thrown under the bus right now. If you have a job that pays well, has retirement and benefits consider yourself very very lucky. there's at least 300+ applications that will come in a day for any unfilled position and all of them are eager to take your place. 

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as someone that's recently unemployed (well under-employed) I would go for job security and income every time. it's nearly impossible to find work out there. not a single IT firm wants to look at my application. and I've been turned down for even unskilled min wage jobs. You can't have any happiness when you are living under a bridge. anyone that says money can't buy happiness or that your worth as a human isn't tied to your net worth in $ is just lying to you. become jobless with no money and see just how much the world values you as a person. 

 

I may be a bit bitter but it's pretty much true as far as modern society is concerned. everyone, particularly the middle class is being thrown under the bus right now. If you have a job that pays well, has retirement and benefits consider yourself very very lucky. there's at least 300+ applications that will come in a day for any unfilled position and all of them are eager to take your place. 

 

I feel ya bro! I'm in the same predicament. I desperately want to get out of what I'm doing but I can't even get an interview.

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Become the best at what you love and are capable of doing well.  People will be willing to pay for your talents.  In the meantime, a steady income is a good thing.

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Mike D: You have received a lot of suggestions with many differences.  I think they are all right and all wrong. That is, because each of them could be the right thing in a given situation. the issue you face has virtually as many answers as there are people. 

 

Burnedout is a right on point. The decision you make must be made to fit you.

 

Stress at the workplace can be all the way from helpful to absolutely intolerable. I was in a very stressful profession for 41 plus years. It was almost intolerable for me. The reason I say "almost" is that, despite the stress, I stayed with it. Yes, and chronic low grade depression, and sometimes not so low, was one of the results. I now know I made a mistake in the early years, not in the later years.

 

See, my situation changed: The longer I stayed in the profession the less beneficial it was for me to leave and get another job. Timing is important. It's not that the stress got less, but the costs to me and my family got higher as the years went on. Had I chosen when I was younger I believe I would have had a happier life, not to mention avoiding  the affects of my stress on my wife and kids. But at a particular time in my life I decided I could not afford to sacrifice the loss of income if I changed careers.  Earlier I could have, because I did not have so many financial obligations.

 

So, indeed no one can answer your question for you. No one knows enough about you, perhaps not even your relatives do. There are multiple considerations and I can guarantee you that it will be a very tough decision. I struggled with it for many years. Get yourself a career counselor as suggested, test out potential employers in whatever you determine fits you and make a decision and be prepared to live with it. Do it with your eyes fully open.   Best luck to you.    bill

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