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Quarter-Life Crisis....Advice Needed!

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    #21
    This is ultimately going to have to be a decision that only you can decide for yourself. And I wish you the best of luck whichever route you decide to take!

    For me personally, I would stick with the office job and keep the horses as my hobby. I worked a farm job before my current job. It started out with similiar hours and quickly morphed into 24/7 bc something is always injured, sick, limping, needs meds, something. I quickly burnt myself out and for awhile questioned whether I wanted any animals. I spent a couple years owning a single cat after I moved to my current office job.

    I now have a farm with horses, cows, dogs, cats, and chickens and am loving it. For me personally, having a stable income with health insurance, retirement and PTO is a huge benefit to me. My salary is fair but steady and comes with a good retirement plan.

    Comment


      #22
      Another perspective, as some people that love working with animals daily as their job, I would not work where I had to go home after so many hours.
      Every horse job I had depended on my living on the premises, some times in very nicely appointed little houses or apartments, others in run down places.
      Working in a barn you want to be there and checking and available all the time.
      Caring for horses is a job for a setting hen type disposition, it demands all your time and energy.
      To have those kinds of workers in barns is what makes barns so good.
      Or so bad when everyone is looking at a clock to go home to their other life, family, friends and entertainment and weekends and vacations and such.
      If a horse looks a little off, will see how he is in the morning, it can wait, right?
      Maybe 9 out of 10 times he will be fine, but will you feel ok if it is that one time he was starting to colic or to run a fever, watching him for a bit longer may have caught something earlier rather than later, but you choose to hurry home to take a kid to practice or tend to your own horses or fix dinner or go to a movie with a friend?

      Those that want in their lives time for other than horses, that require 24/7 oversight, and their owners, that many expect someone to be there when they want them or their horse needs them, they won't be happy leaving the barn to go enjoy other, when they know something may be needed in the barn.

      Just read all those threads where people with their own private barn won't even go on a vacation but rarely.
      Even if they have excellent barn sitters, their vacation is spent fretting.

      Are you willing to spend some years of your life being that one slave to caring for many horses owned by someone else, people that would never really understand your dedication to the horses?
      Stables as a worker there, or as the client coming and going and enjoying their horse/s tended to by others, or being a student or even barn rat, are not on the same league.
      Will following the idea of working with horses all day in a barn fulfill what you want from horses in your life, over what you have already with those two you care for at home?
      Only you know.

      Comment

        Original Poster

        #23
        Thank you all so much for your thoughts and perspectives. I truly appreciate it.

        It's very interesting to hear how we all handle our career/life balance with such an expensive and time-consuming passion.

        Comment


          #24
          I know some people are miserable doing work that they don't "love." My experience is that such people rarely stick with any "love" for a very long period of time anyway but they do tend to reach misery fairly often.

          OP, I'm not saying this is you---but it sounds like you want some different things (like more activity) in your daily work day. Consider whether you can transform your current work (even with personal choices to exercise mid day, you might be happier) or transition to a new form of work with different patterns that continues to offer you a decent living.

          The happiest people I know who work in horses came from significant resources----and they have significant back up plans if they have to change their equestrian pursuits. The next happiest came from nothing, expected just a little, and they are employed by a generous and fair farm.

          p.s. In times of a pandemic and economic downturn, do not expect barns situations to remain unchanged.

          Comment


            #25
            I remember listening to a radio program that discussed "modern work", and one of the central themes was that a lot of modern work is disassociated from the product or the effect of the service. Used to be, you were a baker and baked bread. Now, thousands of people work for Keebler and almost nobody actually deals with the bread itself. Used to be, you built watches. Now, you work for whatever conglomerate owns or manufactures Timex or Rolex or whatever, and you have no connection to the building of the watch.

            The other thing about modern work is that there are usually ladders in the conglomerates that do not exist in the non-conglomerates.

            You might be very happy working as a barn manager. But there is no where to step up, and there's no reason for you to get a raise of any significance, since the size of the barn is the size of the barn, the # of horses are the# of horses.

            Whereas, if you keep pushing papers, there are more important papers, and there's a ladder to climb (usually).

            So whether you are a daily do-er or an ambitious mover-upper kind of matters in the question.

            (Being a business owner is the best, she says, from personal experience, but it's not a door everyone is willing or able to open).

            Comment


              #26
              I totally get that not everyone has to be a 'corporate worker bee', but work gets more interesting and satisfying as you gain responsibility, clout, and yes, compensation. But an attitude of <meh, it's just a salary and I kinda hate my work> will be obvious to everyone, and will hold you back from advancing to these more interesting and lucrative roles. I mean, the "steady eddie" types in any company have value, don't get me wrong. There are folks who are happy to just show up, reliably get their tasks done, and don't make lots of demands of their employer. But you're not happy, and given that you are five years in, I agree the time for change is now.

              But I don't think that change should be a barn job. I'd advise giving your current job a jolt-- dig in and force yourself to engage. Have a heart to heart with your boss and say you're looking for a challenge, ask if there are any projects you could take on. Not just pushing paper, but something that gets you a bit outsde your comfort zone. Maybe there's a team (or one could be formed) looking at how to improve certain processes or solve quality issues. Start building some successes and let other people see how smart you are, and even more projects will materialize. A good network will be formed, where people in other departments start to know who you are-- and think of you when job openings come up in their area. A great measuring stick for when a person is a good candidate for promotion is when they're recognized as a good employee by people outside their work area. When you make your boss and department look good, good things flow back to you.

              When I was first starting out, I was working for a manufacturer-- picture a large, loud, greasy factory making huge rolls of coated paper and films. A place where this French Literature major would not exactly fit in. I needed a job, so worked in accounting, and then in purchasing, just for the salary and benefits. But I got myself out on the shop floor whenever the opp'y presented itself. Asked lots of questions, got myself put on teams. Asked lots of "Why?" and "How does this work? What doesn't work well?" types of questions. In doing so, I learned about a particular chemical that I was responsible to buy was not working all that well out on the shop floor. Machine operators told me it was a pain in to have to constantly get new drums from the supply room, because the machine used that chemical more quickly than any of the others. In talking to the supplier, I asked how was this chemical made -- again, I had no freaking idea, I'm not an engineer, but hey, figured the more I know the better I could help. Turns out the last step in their process was to dilute the chemical, because that's what our spec called for. So I went to engineering and said, hey, what if we bought it more concentrated form, and diluted it here, at the machine? What would that take? Turns out this idea worked, we saved six figures annually because the concentrated chemical was lower cost and cost less to ship.Operators were happy because they weren't constantly running to the supply room to get another drum. All because I was nosy and bored with what I was doing.

              In short, you can make an uninteresting job more interesting just by asking for more/different stuff to work on. Over the next 30 yrs I progressed to more and more interesting roles in different industries, and I really enjoy my work. None of which I would have remotely envisioned (nor would I have considered interesting) in my early 20s.

              Comment


                #27
                Oh, and you can get away from your desk during the day and get more active. Use your lunch hour to power walk and clear your head.

                Comment


                  #28
                  I'd buy a standing desk and stay put.
                  www.abacusfurniture.com

                  Bit Chair: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNfIUYig...bacusfurniture

                  Comment


                    #29
                    I was in almost the exact situation you are—only I was a couple of years older. I knew the barn because I had been taking lessons there for several years—wonderful farm—great people. I considered the BO a friend—she was very hands-on.

                    My job was at a business that was growing, so my responsibilities changed, sometimes yearly—good benefits, not boring.

                    When the BO offered me the job, I thought about it for a few days before I realized (and told her) that I really didn’t want to work that hard. I also knew that I would probably find it hard to make an effort to ride either in the middle or at the end of the day.

                    I promise I’m not that lazy, I just felt like there would always be something I needed to do first and I was afraid I would start to resent how the “work” interfered with a ride.

                    It turned out to be the right decision for me!

                    Comment


                      #30
                      Just a thought....could you take 2 weeks of vacation and work at a barn ? It wouldn't give you an exact idea but you might get tired of driving 45 minutes every day.

                      Comment


                        #31
                        You just described what my life used to be. We are in opposite roles though as I was in the horse industry straight out of college and left.

                        I had up to 4 horses at home and a 40 minute commute to run an equestrian program. Salaried with benefits. I got to the point where I was incredibly unhappy in life, because I did not have one. Even though on nice sunny days where everything went well, and I thought "man, aren't I lucky to be able to work with the animals I love and be outside in this amazing weather?" it never lasted.

                        I woke up and took care of the horses at home, drove 40 minutes and took care of those horses (was supposed to be teaching, paperwork, and riding, but there was plenty of horse care and stall mucking to do when we were short staffed, which was pretty much all the time, and would add time onto my day), then drove 40 minutes home to take care of more horses. Would usually eat dinner and fall asleep in the chair. I think I slept in my breeches more than my pajamas (and would be very interrupted sleep as I would wake up, say "I gotta go to bed" and drift right back off to sleep, so I always felt tired). I didn't spend time with my personal horses besides their basic care needs, and I hated that I still could not escape horses on the weekends since I had them at home. I came to resent my horses, which was a horrible, terrible thing.

                        Speaking of weekends/being at home, you're still on call. You're never off the clock. It was a miracle if I made it through an entire weekend without a work text. Lots of 6 AM, "I can't come in today" from employees, and now I have to drag myself out of the house and 40 minutes away in addition to the 40+ hour week I just worked. Or have to run in if a horse was acting off. Even just non-emergency texts that I simply had to answer started to get annoying. YOU ARE NEVER OFF THE CLOCK, and you will put in way more hours than you bargained for, and plenty of hours at the drop of a hat and you will be canceling all your day/weekend plans you had while you're commuting. Do you spend holidays with your family? You will probably start missing some of those. Your husband will probably have to pick up on house and horse duties at home, unexpectedly.

                        Speaking of commuting, a decent chunk of my (barely making anything) pay went to gas and fast food. There's going to be plenty of nights you leave late and don't want to drive 45 minutes home without eating something (or maybe that's just me... I like food, heehee). I lived paycheck to paycheck. I was in my early 20s, nonstop working (or physically/mentally exhausted from work), and no savings to show for it. My life was passing by, and I wasn't living it.

                        Sure, there were good moments where I loved everything and I met SO MANY wonderful, wonderful people I luckily still talk to, but I hit a point where I was working all the time and the negative thoughts really started creeping in, but I kept thinking "it will get better. We will have a great staff one day and I can work normal hours, or I'll get a nice pay raise and not have to financially struggle. I just have to stick with it." One day, I realized I was dreaming and that wouldn't be happening. I got a desk job, and it saved my life. I have set hours, and when I am not clocked in I FORGET about work (yeah, you'll also continually stress and think about the barn when you're not there. Sometimes the nights I wasn't sleeping I actually was in bed staring at the ceiling thinking about the barn. It rarely ever left my mind). The stresses I deal with at my office job do not even compare to the stress of having so many living creatures depending on you, along with farm operations (seriously when I got my job and realized I could just show up and do my job and ONLY my job, that was a huge moment. No cleaning, no covering duties for other people, no building or grounds maintenance, no dealing with employees, Amazing). I still am not raking in big money, but I have the time and energy to cook and meal prep, helping my wallet and waist (and working out is now a thing!), and I can work from home, cutting drastically on gas money (oh yes, don't forget needing to show up to work in ALL weather/road conditions when at a barn!). I have actual down time where I can be productive or invest in self care (any free time I had before I was too exhausted to do anything). And now I ride and show!!! Yes, the horses are still at home and still command some of my time every day, and that does still wear on me, but it does not even compare to what it was before.

                        So that was my hard truth. You may be able to handle it, plenty of people do, but that was my experience. I am not the type of person who is go-go-go all the time, so if that is something that describes you, you might be fine. Honestly you are young enough that if this is something you really want to pursue, why not? It doesn't have to be permanent. The amount of people who see me now and knew me and then comment on it being like I'm a different person, and so much happier, helps me know leaving was the right choice for me (and I FEEL happy!).

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #32
                          Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post
                          I totally get that not everyone has to be a 'corporate worker bee', but work gets more interesting and satisfying as you gain responsibility, clout, and yes, compensation. But an attitude of <meh, it's just a salary and I kinda hate my work> will be obvious to everyone, and will hold you back from advancing to these more interesting and lucrative roles. I mean, the "steady eddie" types in any company have value, don't get me wrong. There are folks who are happy to just show up, reliably get their tasks done, and don't make lots of demands of their employer. But you're not happy, and given that you are five years in, I agree the time for change is now.

                          But I don't think that change should be a barn job. I'd advise giving your current job a jolt-- dig in and force yourself to engage. Have a heart to heart with your boss and say you're looking for a challenge, ask if there are any projects you could take on. Not just pushing paper, but something that gets you a bit outsde your comfort zone. Maybe there's a team (or one could be formed) looking at how to improve certain processes or solve quality issues. Start building some successes and let other people see how smart you are, and even more projects will materialize. A good network will be formed, where people in other departments start to know who you are-- and think of you when job openings come up in their area. A great measuring stick for when a person is a good candidate for promotion is when they're recognized as a good employee by people outside their work area. When you make your boss and department look good, good things flow back to you.

                          When I was first starting out, I was working for a manufacturer-- picture a large, loud, greasy factory making huge rolls of coated paper and films. A place where this French Literature major would not exactly fit in. I needed a job, so worked in accounting, and then in purchasing, just for the salary and benefits. But I got myself out on the shop floor whenever the opp'y presented itself. Asked lots of questions, got myself put on teams. Asked lots of "Why?" and "How does this work? What doesn't work well?" types of questions. In doing so, I learned about a particular chemical that I was responsible to buy was not working all that well out on the shop floor. Machine operators told me it was a pain in to have to constantly get new drums from the supply room, because the machine used that chemical more quickly than any of the others. In talking to the supplier, I asked how was this chemical made -- again, I had no freaking idea, I'm not an engineer, but hey, figured the more I know the better I could help. Turns out the last step in their process was to dilute the chemical, because that's what our spec called for. So I went to engineering and said, hey, what if we bought it more concentrated form, and diluted it here, at the machine? What would that take? Turns out this idea worked, we saved six figures annually because the concentrated chemical was lower cost and cost less to ship.Operators were happy because they weren't constantly running to the supply room to get another drum. All because I was nosy and bored with what I was doing.

                          In short, you can make an uninteresting job more interesting just by asking for more/different stuff to work on. Over the next 30 yrs I progressed to more and more interesting roles in different industries, and I really enjoy my work. None of which I would have remotely envisioned (nor would I have considered interesting) in my early 20s.
                          Just to let you know--I definitely put my all into my work. I just don't enjoy it. I get great performance reviews. Volunteer for travel projects and take on new roles. I've gone to Puerto Rico for two weeks on a detail and got given a brand new program to be put in charge of last fall. I'm involved in training new employees as well. Both my direct boss and the one above her have recommended that I look into the manager training program. So I output a good attitude, but it just feels disingenuous.

                          I also run every morning before work. Walk over my lunch break. And ride almost every day after work. And walk again after dinner. So I do know that there are ways to stay more active, but in spite of all of those things I still hate sitting all day. Maybe I'll invest in a standing desk for myself.

                          You all are probably correct that a barn manager job isn't the smartest move. I don't disagree and at this point I probably won't try for it (especially with the 45-minute commute). But I still do think that something will need to change for me in the next 5 years. We spend so much of our waking lives at work that I feel like it needs to not suck. Maybe I'm young and idealistic and spoiled. But, to quote my generation--YOLO.

                          Comment


                            #33
                            Making a career change is always a smart idea as long as the move gives you more money, more autonomy, and more free time. This very moment in time with the economy shrinking and COVID is not a great time to switch jobs. But you can certainly start thinking about what you would like in a job.

                            Would you be happy in a "desk job" if you felt more commitment to the produce or process?

                            Would you prefer a job with more interaction with the public? More outside work? More hands on practical work? More decision and policy making?

                            Is there a job higher up in your company that you'd love to do?

                            It sounds like you need to think about a career change. This might involve getting some further credentials. Maybe your current employer will help with paying for training.

                            As far as doing a horse job, barn managers don't get to ride much. It's an agricultural sector job not a management job and pay benefits and conditions reflect that.

                            I have had two major passions in my life. I made one into my career, and guess what? Now it's a job. Obviously it's great to do something you love at a fairly high professional level. But you also lose some of the joy.

                            I never wanted to be pro or make money on horses. Because that inevitably means making cost benefit analyses I don't want to do, and means spreading yourself thin over many horses. I like being an ammie and having an intense bond with one or two horses that can get everything I think they need.


                            ​​​​​​

                            Comment

                              Original Poster

                              #34
                              Originally posted by piedmontfields View Post
                              I know some people are miserable doing work that they don't "love." My experience is that such people rarely stick with any "love" for a very long period of time anyway but they do tend to reach misery fairly often.
                              I honestly worry that I am this person. But I've only ever held "office-type" jobs since I graduated. I had my first one for six months and cried before going into work most days. I sat in a cubicle and had zero interaction with people and zero flexibility in my schedule or day. The next one I had for about 2 years and it was casual and relaxed and offered flexibility, but I had zero benefits, crap pay, and only had about 5 hours of work each day so I got BORED. Current job I've had just shy of 3 years. It has great benefits, decent pay, and good coworkers. Boss is alright. I just feel like so much of my life is spent here that I should be more than "meh/ugh" about it. Maybe that's unrealistic. If so, that sucks but I guess maybe I'll accept it someday.

                              I used to think I was that way with relationships too. Never dated a guy for more than a year because I'd get bored with him too. But I've been with my husband for 7.5 years and I'm more in love with him than ever. Maybe that's why I think if I find the "right" job I won't get so bored and tired of it? Who knows. I guess I have my whole life to figure it out.

                              Comment

                                Original Poster

                                #35
                                Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                                Making a career change is always a smart idea as long as the move gives you more money, more autonomy, and more free time. This very moment in time with the economy shrinking and COVID is not a great time to switch jobs. But you can certainly start thinking about what you would like in a job.

                                Would you be happy in a "desk job" if you felt more commitment to the produce or process?

                                Would you prefer a job with more interaction with the public? More outside work? More hands on practical work? More decision and policy making?

                                Is there a job higher up in your company that you'd love to do?

                                It sounds like you need to think about a career change. This might involve getting some further credentials. Maybe your current employer will help with paying for training.

                                As far as doing a horse job, barn managers don't get to ride much. It's an agricultural sector job not a management job and pay benefits and conditions reflect that.

                                I have had two major passions in my life. I made one into my career, and guess what? Now it's a job. Obviously it's great to do something you love at a fairly high professional level. But you also lose some of the joy.

                                I never wanted to be pro or make money on horses. Because that inevitably means making cost benefit analyses I don't want to do, and means spreading yourself thin over many horses. I like being an ammie and having an intense bond with one or two horses that can get everything I think they need.


                                ​​​​​​
                                Thank you for this.

                                Comment


                                  #36
                                  OP, you sound like a great employee! I don't like working in an office all day either. I love operations and worked in manufacturing for most of my career in engineering. I love the factory life. I started in manufacturing as a co-op while in college and never left. My advice? Look into manufacturing or maybe construction. Both of these have lots of "get out there" flexibility, and it's so rewarding to be able to see what you contributed: products on the shelf, buildings, ... There are lots of roles in either of these industries: supply chain, finance, HR, and lots more. I did not have an option to be a barn manager or trainer, but knew some jr riders who did. I'm glad I took the path I did. I made enough $ that I ride for fun and pay someone to take care of my horse.

                                  Comment


                                    #37
                                    I once made barn work my life, and it got to the point that I resented the horses. I stopped riding for over a year and became completely uninvolved in the "horse world". I was lucky that my passion came back, and thought working at a different facility would be better... I learned that most facilities are similar, with the hours dragging on, and the to-do list growing. I also now learned my limits with working in the horse world. I discovered that I can't work 10-12 hour days for 6-7 days/week and still want to pursue my personal riding goals. Maybe you will be different! There are people out there who can make that commitment and not have it affect their passion, but the more horse people I meet, the more often their stories mimic mine - you can see that even within this thread.
                                    Personally, I would stay where I am, or at a minimum look for a job within the same field rather than as a barn manager. If you are wanting to consider the BM job, I like the suggestion others have made of using your vacation time at your current job to "test drive" the position... Another question to consider - as BM are you required to do night check? If so, even if you get off at 3:30pm, you'll be making the 45 min drive back out to the barn at night time to do your 20 min night check... that's a lot of extra driving for you!

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                                      #38
                                      I say find a job you DO enjoy. You're not in YOUR career yet. I fell into helping people manage their financial lives years ago and LOVE this career. It interests me, I really help people, and it's lucrative. Lucrative helps with the horsey habit. Someday you'll want to retire and need to have saved for that. I'm not seeing the BM job as providing that.

                                      Having an outside job allows you to go to the barn just to relax and play. Lots to be said about that.


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                                        #39
                                        A barn manager job isn't a walk in the park. I wouldn't trade places with any of the ones I knew when I boarded. I also doubt you will be truly 'off' at 3:30. The ones I knew had trouble finding time to ride. There was always some drama to sort out. If your current job involved looking after young, spiteful, children, I think it would be an easier transition.

                                        I'm sorry for the brutally honest assessment.

                                        It sounds like you hate having a desk job. What opportunities can you find with your degree to work outside? What is your degree in?

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                                          #40
                                          OP,

                                          If you dislike your job, there are more options than ‘desk job’ and ‘farm manager’. What is your degree in? If you hate sitting at a desk why not look into a new career, but one that is more stable (....haha) than running a farm.

                                          What is your degree in? Are you looking for outdoor work?

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