Tired of the 9 to 5

December 7, 2010

Leap with faith by Lemmewinks 1024x682 Tired of the 9 to 5

I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I just don’t want to abide by the 9 to 5 routine (technically, 8:30 to 5:30).

I don’t want to have to get up in the morning before the alarm goes off at 7. I don’t want to have a rushed shower and cereal for breakfast five days of the week. I, especially, don’t want to have to drive, or sit on the passenger side of the car, when it’s raining in the mornings and evenings.

It’s not that the work I do isn’t challenging. Or that I don’t get appreciated by my peers and supervisors. But I have become increasingly impatient with all the rustiness in the system — not just in this job but every job I’ve had in the last decade … The time it takes for good ideas to translate to something usable. The lack of urgency and respect for deadlines. The need to constantly educate clients on the same issues over and over.

I find myself wondering, what’s the point?

Not every day, but sometimes it’s hard to see the value of what I am doing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love writing. I love acquiring new media skills. I thoroughly enjoy the academic environment and the expansion of my gray cells owing to excellent faculty-student interactions. I don’t look at the clock for it to turn 5. I still give my all to everyone I interact with and everything I do. But is this really all I want to do?

Or can I put my skills to better use — and by “better use” I don’t mean another (or better paying) 9-5 desk job.

I want to travel the world. Meet new people. See new things.

I want to visit at least a 100 countries before I die.

I want to write for myself. I want to be able to express myself freely without being tied to any agenda, strategic plan, or campaign. (A book contract would be nice!)

I want to be so much more than I am — not in terms of a professional title, but as a person.

And I want to start before wasting any more time.

Perhaps, this is a sure-shot way to get my career graph squashed. Perhaps, voicing this urge — this unrequited want — isn’t the smartest use of this platform. But I want to know if there are more people in their mid-30s like me — folks who don’t want to wait until they’re 50 or 60 before chasing their dreams; talented men and women who are bored of a conventional routine; bright young people who secretly desire to break the mold; techies, nerds, accountants, designers, who yearn for something more…

Do you understand what I am saying? Do you “get” my discontentment? Do you feel trapped in a blanket of security like I do? Do you itch to get out of your comfort zone but don’t know how?

Or, have you been there, done that and survived to tell a tale of personal success/utter failure?

Talk to me.

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18 Responses to Tired of the 9 to 5

  1. anon1No Gravatar on December 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I hear you, but the question is.. what “all” are you willing to give up to chase after your dream ?

    I’ve had friends who have given up a lot to do this, a cushy job, spouse’s cushy job :) , relationships, family ties, comfort etc.
    Some think it was worth it, others gave up and returned back to their routines… some I know are still trying to figure out if they have it in them..

    I’m sure several of us have questioned status quo at some point in our lives (usually right after a long vacation :P ), but a majority falls back into routine pretty darn quickly…

    Do not underestimate the power of inertia ;)

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      What am I willing to give up? Isn’t that the million-dollar question?

      I thought long and hard about it and I guess more than a list of things I’m willing to give up, what I’ve come up with is what I can’t live without: My husband, a clean bathroom, a comfortable bed (and I don’t need a King-sized one with plush comforters — a sturdy mattress on the floor will do), and respect. We’ve lived with a lot of material comforts the last decade and both my husband and I have come to realize that when we’re traveling, what matters most to us is sharing the experience and a good night’s sleep. Everything else is extra.

      I don’t underestimate the power of inertia — that’s what’s been keeping me going, if you will, all these years. But I’m also not overestimating the power of desire — desire to take stock of where I am and where I should be headed. I hope you’ll read today’s followup post and share your insights.

      I really appreciate your critical words — they keep me grounded. And I don’t know if we’ve met in real life or not, but I can see us hitting it off if we did :-)

      Thanks, again, for your time and (veiled) support.

  2. Tina OwenNo Gravatar on December 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I totally feel your pain, Mansi. I’m not 30 any more (a long way gone!), but I have similar regrets. I’ve enjoyed my career too, but it’s not everything any more. Probably, it never was-which is a good thing. I know I should be grateful for everything I’ve got, but it doesn’t satisfy. And I don’t know what will.


    Sorry, I have no answers for you-lots of synmpathy and empathy, though, if that helps.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      I hear you, Tina. I don’t want to wait until I am 50 or 60 … I won’t have too much time (or energy) left to do the things I want to do then! I want to do it now. Money is always a concern when one things of leaving the security of a 9-5 job, but I also think where there is a will, there is a way.

      Thanks for the empathy. I send some your way, too.

  3. PatNo Gravatar on December 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Sounds like you are having a mid-life crisis too early! :) Good luck with your quest for satisfaction. Quit and start writing your book! Or work for a travel magazine/network and have the best of both worlds.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      I don’t know about a mid-life crisis Pat — people said I had it when I colored my hair red and got my nose pierced on a whim! I do have some plans taking shape in my head. Hopefully I will be able to translate them into reality sooner rather than later.

  4. BillNo Gravatar on December 7, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Oh Sweet Mansi, I’ve been away too long. I’m trying to find a new normal in my life & yet everyone keeps “shaking my snow globe” (an analogy I used in my blog) & changing things all the time that I the need to adjust to. Time hasn’t been plentiful & as I ease back into a more normal life I’m trying to reach out to the people I care about & you’re one of those.

    The idea of 9 to 5 is an antiquated way of looking at work. We need to transform that idea into a new paradigm that works for the transformation we are each going through & the transformation the world is making as a whole. Things are changing for each us in our own & in ways that we can’t even imagine.

    I encourage you to explore any opportunity you can as you grow in this position or any position you have in the future. I have been there & I just turned 50 last week (so not in that 30ish range =D )I know about opportunities lost. I’m not a person that has ever had regrets but I always encourage people to find new ways & to enjoy each moment. You have a lot to offer the world & I hope I’m around to see you achieve everything you want to in your life!!



    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      I have missed you so, Bill!

      I agree that it is an antiquated idea, but it is one that seems to pay the bills. Thanks to your encouragement and the supportive words of others, I may be able to find the courage to take a leap of faith. Faith in myself and belief that my decisions won’t lead me down a path of regrets. Please do see today’s post as a follow-up to this one.

  5. Tanveer NaseerNo Gravatar on December 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Mansi,

    I think what’s at the heart of these feelings of discontentment is a lack of addressing the following question – what is the purpose of my life? Now before you think this is overly philosophical or existential, let me share with you the story of one of my business coaching clients.

    This particular client is an ambitious entrepreneur and during one of our sessions, I asked him what he wanted to achieve through our collaboration. With a sureness in his voice, he said he wanted to make a million dollars within a year’s time through his business model. I told him that it’s good that he has a clearly defined target in mind and then I asked him, once we get your business to that 1 million dollar mark, what will that mean? Again, he responded rather quickly, demonstrating that he’d mentally mapped this out already, that achieving this milestone would offer him financial freedom ‘to do whatever I want’. Again, I responded in the affirmative and then asked ‘Okay, so we hit this 1 million dollar mark, you now have that financial freedom to do what you wish. So what will this help you fulfil as your life’s purpose that you couldn’t do otherwise?’ For the first time in our conversation, he didn’t have a quick answer. And the reason is simple – what he had been planning for was how to achieve a goal, but not figuring out how it would help him fulfil the purpose for his life.

    Similarly, when you write about how you’d like to travel, to meet new people, I think these are merely goals that all of us have in our lives of ‘things we want to do’. But I think for many of us it’s not what we see as our purpose, of what we want to put out there into the world. While I’m sure travelling would be memorable, fun, informative and enlightening, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few months later you find yourself back in this pit of discontent because all you did was divert yourself from pondering the question – what is the purpose behind what you want to do?

    And I think that’s reflective in your piece above when you wrote –

    “Not every day, but sometimes it’s hard to see the value of what I am doing.”

    Currently, we tend to let others define what’s valuable; that accomplishing such-and-such is to be successful. And yet, if you were to pool all the people who we consider “successful”, I’m sure you’ll find they share very little in common, except maybe having sizable bank accounts. But again, this is only a goal or a consequence of their pursuing their life’s purpose, and not the purpose itself.

    There’s a piece I wrote earlier this year called “How to Transform Passion into Purpose”. I think you may find it informative, if not also helpful in helping you understand what’s behind these current feelings and what you can do about it to turn things around.

    I think you’re on the right track by opening yourself to such introspection. Here’s hoping you find your answer around the bend.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      Dear Tanveer,
      Thank you so much for taking the time so share this insightful commentary. I really appreciate your efforts in clearing the distinction between purpose and passion. Please do read today’s post that incorporates some parts of your comment and the post you linked to. This is not the end of this discussion. It is only just the beginning.

      I am truly grateful to have people like you, whom I’ve only “met” online putting in the time to offer such meaningful advice. Thank you, again, for your helping hand, Tanveer.

  6. Brigades prasannaNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Did you start travelling. Are you ready to take that step? Then don worry. Come out of the comfort zone and start exploring. You never know. Life would turn better than it ever was. Little but true friends. Supporting partner and chasing the dream. You might never complain again.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      I have started traveling but not in the immersive way I want to. Thanks for the encouragement. It seems like I’m ready to take the first baby steps.

  7. Re-writing my life story | First Impressions on December 8, 2010 at 10:27 am

    […] I’d already written my post about the tiring 9-5 routine earlier that morning, this comment triggered an even stronger urge to question my reason for being […]

  8. Paul SwendsonNo Gravatar on December 9, 2010 at 11:34 am

    When I was 18, I entered college as a Computer Science major, looking forward to a future with a secure, stable, high-paying job. During that first year of college, I had a very early mid-life crisis. I kept having a disturbing vision of a future filled with staring at a computer screen in front of a desk. So I did something impractical, switching majors to social science because I liked the subject better. It was a risk, but it ended up being one of the best decisions that I ever made. Eventually, after a few years doing semi-nine to five teaching gigs, I started teaching community college, following the oddball schedule of a college student. I am still doing this today, and most of the time I love doing it. Still, I started writing about a year ago in hopes of experiencing something new and getting something a little more out of life.

    So what is the point of this brief life story? One of the few things I have learned is that the best things in my life have come after taking a risk: switching majors, getting up in front of a classroom, sharing my feelings with my future wife, having kids, etc. I don’t make a lot of money today, but I have two things that are more valuable: the opportunity to be creative and the time to experience much more in life than work. Whatever you do, I would recommend seeking opportunities that offer you those two things.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

      Dear Paul,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I truly appreciate the time you took to drive this lesson home. I am really looking forward to taking the plunge … to having more time to experience life and not just read about it in books or watch other people living it on TV. I’m getting into photography these days and discovering a whole new way of looking at the world … so different from a writer’s perspective … and I am enjoying discovering this facet of myself.

      Thanks to readers like you, I feel encouraged.

      Thanks, again, for your inspiring words.

  9. bcdcompostelaNo Gravatar on February 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Hello Mansi

    This is exactly what I am feeling this week. I can barely move from the bed thinking of the battle I have to face in the parking lot, the train and the road. Actually the battle starts from within.

    I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and it said something about following our dreams and fear should not stand in between.

    Like you, I also want to travel the world but still I am stuck in a 9-5 job. I’m 29 and I think I am not achieving my full potential.

    I love writing but I didn’t have the guts to do it.


    But tomorrow is a new day and maybe we can start one small step towards the never ending journey of freedom from 9-5 zombie rut.

    Good luck!

  10. JoelNo Gravatar on May 20, 2012 at 6:49 am

    I completely understand your point of view. I graduated from college as a mechanical engineer and very quickly became disillusioned with the working world. I quickly realized it wasn’t stability I craved but adventure. I, like you, do not want to wait until I am 60 or 70 to enjoy this freedom. I want to do it now while I am still able to hike through the mountains, run in the forests, and swim in the ocean. I recently undertook this by quitting the last 9 to 5 job I will ever have. I am now working offshore as an ROV pilot, and it is beyond my expectations. Finally, my job is an adventure. I see oceans, mountains, coasts, and feel sea breeze on my face. Damn, I feel alive for once.

  11. IrfaanNo Gravatar on July 8, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Hi All,
    Sunday morning and I am feeling like crap as I know work on Monday will be exactly as Friday “LIKE PRISON”.
    I love my career and job I do but so tired of the 9-5 it is like slow poison and one day I will be dead. I have missed birthdays – holidays – occasions just so I complete a project in order for the boss to reap the rewards and a pat on the shoulder for me and satisfaction I am closer to getting a much bigger complicated work load.
    We have a 19 year old and 9 year old, what am I doing?…what am I going to gain?……WHY?

    I want to STOP and think – feel free to do what I want when I want and not be rail road-ed into what is the required status qua.

    Anyways if someone has a solution please let me know, how do you pluck the courage to detach and be free :)



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