Saturday, December 16, 2006

Early Career Crisis: Payoffs & Deficits

Early Career Crisis? Count me in that cubicle clique. And I'm not alone, according to this article about under-40 career shifts from the New York Times.
"Midcareer workers — those 35 to 54 — are most likely to feel dead-ended and the most likely to feel they’ve got too much on their plates at work,” said Robert Morison, director for research at the Concours Group, a research, education and consulting firm in Kingwood, Tex. --New York Times

My scenario: Shortly after 9/11, in early 2002, I realized that if I wanted to accomplish any of my major personal, professional or financial goals (a national column and a book contract), it was now or never. So I quit my post as a very, well-paid staff writer for a business publication and started a new freelance writing career.

The Financial Upside: Great earnings potential as I work on assorted book projects and other goals. I've also launched a career as a columnist for a major newspaper and I've become a happy blogger.

The Downside: No benefits (insurance, paid vacation, or retirement perks) and I used my retirement savings to finance my new career.

The Payoff: It's great to be my own boss; I enjoy the extra time with my family and the potential to test new markets.

What I would change: In hindsight, I would not have tapped into my retirement account and I would have saved more while fully employed.

I totally agree with these summary from the New York Times:

Liz Bywater, president of her own organizational consulting firm in Philadelphia, said, “Today’s workers are increasingly looking to find their passion, and they’re not content to simply bring home a paycheck.”

Ms. Bywater and other career specialists say the Internet is partly responsible for the job fluidity. Technology has allowed people to telecommute, so they are no longer beholden to an office the way their parents were. What’s more, having witnessed or participated in the dot-com revolution, the midcareer workers know that risk-taking is always an option, and that failing is O.K. (It’s even kind of cool, if you do it right.) But most important, they refuse to spend their lives stuck in a career that does not mean anything to them.--New York Times



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moneysmartlife said...

I admire you for taking the plunge! It's a hard decision to make, safety and security on one hand and the freedom to do what you love on the other.

If you write a book, I'll buy it!

Joan said...

I left corporate America to become a freelancer a couple of years ago. I wish I would not have touched my 401k either :( You said you do not have insurance, etc. But have you figured out ways to overcome that one? Like obtaining private insurance, starting a vacation fund, opening your own retirement account of some kind, etc. Just curious?