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Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - irishguy - 11-05-2020

Bear with me for the long post. I am looking for career advice because I still feel like I don't know what I want to do even though I'm in my early 30s. I think the background context is important to explain things properly. 

After attending college for 4 years and getting my degree, I entered the corporate world aged 24 and immediately felt like it wasn't right for me. I have a good degree to my name in a mathematical/statistical discipline that pays well (actuarial science). The problem is that I chose my degree for the wrong reason: I found it boring as fuck and I only studied it precisely because it paid well. 

The reality hit home when I entered the corporate world and worked for an insurance company, spending my days on Excel doing boring shit, fantasizing about seeing more of the world (a few months before my first job I visited SE Asia alone and really liked it), and hating mostly everything about the job except the after-work drinks that sometimes happened with colleagues. 

I guess I had an inner rebellion against the idea of spending 30-35 years doing work that felt meaningless to me. Even five years of that sounded too much. After 12 months with the insurance company, I fucked off to Australia on a working holiday visa. I tried some farm work and I worked in a supermarket for a few months. Because I didn't find Australia particularly interesting, I used my savings to see more of Asia rather than exploring Australia (being there was like being in any Western country, only hotter).

After arriving back home from Asia, I was 26 years old without any idea of what I wanted to do with my career. All I knew was that I loved to see the world. In particular, I loved Thailand, and not for the obvious reason you may think; the general lifestyle there was just infinitely better than my boring Western country. Cheap massages, amazing food available 24/7, nice weather, and what I can best describe as a feeling of "aliveness" that doesn't exist in most individualistic Western cities. 

Without any background as a writer, I decided to try freelance writing because I knew it would enable a location-independent lifestyle that would facilitate lengthy trips to Thailand. I started writing at content mills for shit pay, and I wasn't very good. However, after around 12 months, I improved dramatically and clients began to pay me a livable wage (livable in a place like Thailand anyway). 

I returned to Thailand for several months at a time from 26-30. This was not the pussy paradise experience you might think. As I explained on the game forum, I developed oneitis as a result of essentially being a beta with terrible self-esteem and I stayed with the same Thai girl for all my visits. 

Anyway, I continued my freelance work in cafes and co-working spaces while in Thailand, and I'm glad I got to see so much of a country I genuinely love being in.

Over the last 2 years, I've started to question the prospects of freelance writing more, though. The development of AI algorithms that can write human-like articles will likely render content writing much less in demand. Furthermore, I started to get a feeling of missing out by not having colleagues to work with. I'm introverted as fuck but that kind of forced socialization that comes with office work can be beneficial for someone like me who needs to practice socializing. 

This takes me to the present day where I'm as lost as ever. I still have one freelance client paying 95% of my wages. I know I want more structured work with better stability but I don't know what the fuck to do. I've taken tons of career tests and the same few careers always come up: data analytics, cybersecurity, and science communication. I've also considered civil service work and sales development rep work. My skills include writing, math, analytical skills, SEO, and problem-solving. 

My ideal path would be to get a full-time office job that has standard hours and good future prospects for people who can slog it out for 3-5 years on entry-level pay after which point my earning potential skyrockets due to experience. I could complement this entry-level pay with some sort of side project in which I could use my skills, such as freelance writing or affiliate marketing. If a particular side project took off, such as an affiliate website that earned way more than I expected, I could consider doing it full-time in 3-5 years. 

Cybersecurity sounds the most interesting of the available career choices from a personal level, but I've heard entry-level IT desk jobs are horrendous, and that's where I'd be starting. I think I've burned my bridges with actuarial work; no employer is going to believe I want to be an actuary seeing as I only worked in it for 12 months and then spent 8 years doing completely different things. 

I am pretty much just looking for some advice on the paths I can take. Or maybe some advice on new skills I should consider learning. Cheers. 

TL;DR 32-year-old with a good degree who had a rebellion against the corporate path in my mid-20s. I now want the stability that path gives but I don't know what career paths to go down. Looking for career advice in fields that use my main skills (writing, analytical mindset, great researcher, problem-solving).


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - norteamericano - 11-05-2020

Any reason why you can't do actuarial science remotely?


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - irishguy - 11-05-2020

(11-05-2020, 03:57 PM)norteamericano Wrote: Any reason why you can't do actuarial science remotely?

The only positions I could land with an 8-year gap in my actuarial progression would be entry-level roles, and even then it's extremely unlikely; companies would favour fresh out of college graduates who seem hungry rather than someone who fucked off for 8 years to try other stuff. Few to none of those entry-level jobs in my country are remote, although Covid may have changed that slightly. 

Becoming a fully-qualified actuary requires passing several very difficult exams after university. When you're in the fully qualified position, you can consider doing consulting roles and other stuff that may be conducive to remote work. Truth be told, I feel I've burned my bridges with that field and I don't really think I want to go back.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - New Ice Age - 11-05-2020

I don't really see the issue, just go into SEO, traffic data analysis and content marketing - that fits exactly your background. Many good opportunities in these fields currently. Also very easy to transition to remote roles or start your own agency.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Wintermute - 11-05-2020

Looks like analysis paralysis to me.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - WombRaider - 11-05-2020

One word: plastics.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - El Puto Loco - 11-05-2020

Give him a break, it seems difficult enough for him. Isn't this forum about assisting the weak?

Well, 5 years ago I would have simply said, yes, get an office job and plan great vacation trips to the wetlands.

Corona has moved the world fast forward towards the abiss unless you get yourself together and start living. Don't focus on career, that was 15 years ago, focus on what you want in life


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Contrarian Expatriate - 11-05-2020

Why don't you make a list of things you would LIKE to do and take it from there.   There is nothing anyone here can do to assist you.  You obviously are very intelligent if you have a degree in AS, so you could do just about anything you want.

It just seems to me that you rely to heavily on what others think and you have too little regard for what YOU want to do in life.

In the meantime, make your money and just be bored while you decide.  

One hint, international travel tends to enlighten people about what is important to them and about what they should do.  I highly recommend that you travel far and wide just to get perspective and hints about what you might want to do with your life.

I would also suggest professional counseling.  At your age, you should be farther along the path of knowing your life mission.  Who or what has set you back in that awareness would be good for you to know so as to overcome it (or them).  

Your Mission:  "Find what you love to do in life and let it kill you."


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - irishguy - 11-06-2020

(11-05-2020, 10:32 PM)Contrarian Expatriate Wrote: Why don't you make a list of things you would LIKE to do and take it from there.   There is nothing anyone here can do to assist you.  You obviously are very intelligent if you have a degree in AS, so you could do just about anything you want.

It just seems to me that you rely to heavily on what others think and you have too little regard for what YOU want to do in life.

In the meantime, make your money and just be bored while you decide.  

One hint, international travel tends to enlighten people about what is important to them and about what they should do.  I highly recommend that you travel far and wide just to get perspective and hints about what you might want to do with your life.

I would also suggest professional counseling.  At your age, you should be farther along the path of knowing your life mission.  Who or what has set you back in that awareness would be good for you to know so as to overcome it (or them).  

Your Mission:  "Find what you love to do in life and let it kill you."

You are spot-on that I rely too heavily on what others think. But still, when you say I have little regard for what I want to do, the issue is that I honestly don't know what I want to do. Part of me likes the freedom of working for myself, part of me hates the solitary nature of it and wants colleagues to bond with. Part of me enjoys writing, another part of me wants to try something different. I appreciate the counselling recommendation; I'll look into it. Maybe something along the lines of a life coach rather than psychotherapy.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Suits - 11-06-2020

What are your rates for writing work?


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - irishguy - 11-06-2020

(11-06-2020, 02:05 PM)Suits Wrote: What are your rates for writing work?

I typically try to charge a minimum of 10-15c per word depending on what the content is about. If it's something easy, I'll go 10c. If it's technical, I'll try to get 15c.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - norteamericano - 11-06-2020

(11-05-2020, 04:28 PM)irishguy Wrote:
(11-05-2020, 03:57 PM)norteamericano Wrote: Any reason why you can't do actuarial science remotely?

The only positions I could land with an 8-year gap in my actuarial progression would be entry-level roles, and even then it's extremely unlikely; companies would favour fresh out of college graduates who seem hungry rather than someone who fucked off for 8 years to try other stuff. Few to none of those entry-level jobs in my country are remote, although Covid may have changed that slightly. 

Becoming a fully-qualified actuary requires passing several very difficult exams after university. When you're in the fully qualified position, you can consider doing consulting roles and other stuff that may be conducive to remote work. Truth be told, I feel I've burned my bridges with that field and I don't really think I want to go back.

If there's a will, there's a way. 

Fact is that's going to pay far better and way less competitive than writing, coding or any of the usual thing digital nomads flock too.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Wintermute - 11-06-2020

I didn't mean to be cunty in saying it looks like analysis paralysis, but I probably should have elaborated. That's my bad. It takes balls to be this vulnerable on a forum full of people you don't know.

It's just that you're looking at making a career change from content writing into either data analysis, cyber security, the civil service or sales. These are all very different lines of work, and I think there's a high chance if you make any sudden movements you'll find yourself five years older and asking the same questions. Having too many options and no specific long term goals can lead to confusion.

I stopped aiming for job satisfaction a long time ago, because in my experience that's a rainbow you never stop chasing. Very few people are called to a specific vocation. A career doesn't need to be a straight line or even the defining feature of one's life, I'm currently planning a big change that is going to see me earning much less, but will enable the lifestyle I want. It's taken a lot deep reflection and hard work to make sure I'm setting myself up for a win.

Maybe instead of asking what job you want, asking what kind of life you want to live will help you sort out your priorities. Stability is a great thing to aim for, but what happens when you have it? What will it allow you to do, now and in 5, 10, 20 years time?


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Contrarian Expatriate - 11-07-2020

(11-06-2020, 10:59 AM)irishguy Wrote:
(11-05-2020, 10:32 PM)Contrarian Expatriate Wrote: Why don't you make a list of things you would LIKE to do and take it from there.   There is nothing anyone here can do to assist you.  You obviously are very intelligent if you have a degree in AS, so you could do just about anything you want.

It just seems to me that you rely to heavily on what others think and you have too little regard for what YOU want to do in life.

In the meantime, make your money and just be bored while you decide.  

One hint, international travel tends to enlighten people about what is important to them and about what they should do.  I highly recommend that you travel far and wide just to get perspective and hints about what you might want to do with your life.

I would also suggest professional counseling.  At your age, you should be farther along the path of knowing your life mission.  Who or what has set you back in that awareness would be good for you to know so as to overcome it (or them).  

Your Mission:  "Find what you love to do in life and let it kill you."
 Maybe something along the lines of a life coach rather than psychotherapy.
I am not a fan of "life coaches" because there is no rhyme or reason to their qualifications and modalities.  Consulting a psychotherapist does not at all mean you are "crazy."  It means you are using them as a tool to dig out what you really want in life and why it is not apparent to you.  These things are sometimes based in childhood where others have bashed or destroyed your personal preferences and desires so that you better fit what THEY want you to be.  Your being armed with self-awareness would permit you to tap into the real you without fear of judgement.

When someone tells me they don't know what to do with their life, I ask them to imagine their dream life situation 15 years in the future.  After some thought, they usually rattle off something they already knew but never felt the permission to acknowledge.

If you do that mental exercise, and you still cannot visualize your life dream circumstance, a therapist could help dig it out for you and identify who or what in your life beat that dream out of you as a protective measure going forward. 

Almost everyone could benefit from psychotherapy.  There is no shame in obtaining better self-awareness thru that means.

The other thing I wanted to suggest is simply do different things:

-Volunteer for a cause
-Travel
-Go to lectures
-Spend time in bookstores and note the sections where you tend to gravitate.
-Visit museums, industry exhibitions, and conventions of interest.
-Travel
-Work a part time weekend job that seems like a fun place to work. 

Did I mention travel by chance?  These experiences and others tend to go a long way towards finding your passions and therefore your life mission(s).

Finally, focus on what type of substantive work you would find personally gratifying, not so much on what would be your ideal work environments.  Very few people are actually working in ideal employment circumstances, but most of them are on their grind and moving forward towards their larger goals.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Wintermute - 11-07-2020

Fantastic advice.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - irishguy - 11-07-2020

(11-06-2020, 11:57 PM)Wintermute Wrote: I didn't mean to be cunty in saying it looks like analysis paralysis, but I probably should have elaborated. That's my bad. It takes balls to be this vulnerable on a forum full of people you don't know.

It's just that you're looking at making a career change from content writing into either data analysis, cyber security, the civil service or sales. These are all very different lines of work, and I think there's a high chance if you make any sudden movements you'll find yourself five years older and asking the same questions. Having too many options and no specific long term goals can lead to confusion.

I stopped aiming for job satisfaction a long time ago, because in my experience that's a rainbow you never stop chasing. Very few people are called to a specific vocation. A career doesn't need to be a straight line or even the defining feature of one's life, I'm currently planning a big change that is going to see me earning much less, but will enable the lifestyle I want. It's taken a lot deep reflection and hard work to make sure I'm setting myself up for a win.

Maybe instead of asking what job you want, asking what kind of life you want to live will help you sort out your priorities. Stability is a great thing to aim for, but what happens when you have it? What will it allow you to do, now and in 5, 10, 20 years time?

No worries bro, I didn't see it as cunty at all. 

I see your point about not making sudden movements into one of these areas. But a big life lesson I learned in my 20s was that action very often precedes knowledge. I'm a very well-read person on many topics but that doesn't mean I know shit about them. For example, I'm very interested in psychedelics from an intellectual perspective, and I could speak for hours about them, yet I've never actually taken any psychedelic. Taing a dose of shrooms would teach me more about psychedelics than any book.

What this means to me is that trying data analytics, or any other type of potentially decent job will tell me more about whether I like those jobs than sitting here and torturing myself about which path to take. 

Good point about one's career not needing to be a defining feature of life. It's probably because I'm not quite satisfied in my role as a freelance writer that I am feeling so lost. My dissatisfaction is prompting me towards work that actually involves colleagues instead of isolating myself with only my laptop for company. I'm highly introverted so I rarely have the energy to seek out these social opportunities in my free time. I think I also mentioned that I don't earn much. 

When I think about life that many years down the road, I want a lot of different things. I want to be able to continue travelling and seeing the world, trying different food, talking to people from different cultures. I want to continue writing in some capacity; but not as a full-time job. I want to explore various creative entrepreneurial side projects; affiliate marketing, blogging, etc. I want a stable job with decent earning potential and colleagues who aren't cunts. I want to continue learning music (currently learning the piano), I want a job that facilitates two long-distance trips per year. I don't want to do a job solely for the money; something challenging and rewarding would be best. 

In summary, I want a lot of things and some of them may even seem like contradictions, but that's just me and what I value.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Wintermute - 11-12-2020

At some point I want to hear all about you learning the piano - it's a hobby of mine too.

Taking shrooms vs reading about taking shrooms is one thing, but the same logic doesn't apply to something as significant and long lasting as your career. If you don't like mushrooms you used an evening to find that out - if you don't like data analytics you used a year or more. Then you are back to square one in your mid thirties.

From everything you've said I just think looking for the 'perfect' job is holding you back. If stability of income is what you need then make that a priority, there are heaps of jobs that can give you that. Spend a few years building your bank account and showing up on time every day and you might be surprised where that leads you.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Dash - 11-12-2020

(11-06-2020, 11:57 PM)Wintermute Wrote: I didn't mean to be cunty in saying it looks like analysis paralysis, but I probably should have elaborated. That's my bad. It takes balls to be this vulnerable on a forum full of people you don't know.

It's just that you're looking at making a career change from content writing into either data analysis, cyber security, the civil service or sales. These are all very different lines of work, and I think there's a high chance if you make any sudden movements you'll find yourself five years older and asking the same questions. Having too many options and no specific long term goals can lead to confusion.

I stopped aiming for job satisfaction a long time ago, because in my experience that's a rainbow you never stop chasing. Very few people are called to a specific vocation. A career doesn't need to be a straight line or even the defining feature of one's life, I'm currently planning a big change that is going to see me earning much less, but will enable the lifestyle I want. It's taken a lot deep reflection and hard work to make sure I'm setting myself up for a win.

Maybe instead of asking what job you want, asking what kind of life you want to live will help you sort out your priorities. Stability is a great thing to aim for, but what happens when you have it? What will it allow you to do, now and in 5, 10, 20 years time?

This is excellent advice. 

If you are expecting or need your job to bring you satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment, I got bad news for you. This is something only a very few lucky people get to obtain. 

I would recommend getting most if not all your satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment from hobbies, family, friends. Make that your focus. Can't go wrong when doing that. 

Realistically speaking, you should look at a job as simply a means of providing you the life you want/need. Look for a job that allows you to 

1) Pay the bills and save a little
2) Has a career path or regular raises and retirement (the sooner the better eg 20 years)
2) Allows you the time to enjoy your hobbies, family and friends
3) Is tolerable / Doesn't bring you much stress 

Sometimes you can pick out jobs that match your personality and preferences. Great if you can find that. 

If you feel like your life's worth is reliant on wealth and luxury material things, then prob best to focus on a high paying career. 

If not, you got a lot more flexibility and leeway.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - WorldConquest - 11-12-2020

Why do you want a stable job? Yes, the pay is steady, but it also means you're stuck with the same tasks and coworkers. Why not hang your own shingle? Become a consultant in something? It sounds like you're doing it in writing. Do you like that? If so, focus on a niche as there's too many people just doing general writing. Maybe become an "expert" in writing about actuarial stuff? Only consider that if you like it though.

Is your goal to live in Thailand? How much do you care about money? I had one friend who moved to Thailand, opened up a small bar, and made a basic living but it was fun, no-stress, and enjoyable.


RE: Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless? - Crisp - 11-12-2020

(11-05-2020, 10:39 AM)irishguy Wrote: After attending college for 4 years and getting my degree, I entered the corporate world aged 24 and immediately felt like it wasn't right for me. I have a good degree to my name in a mathematical/statistical discipline that pays well (actuarial science)....

Above advice is genuinely gold, can only really chime in with a trick that might come in handy.


In terms of getting back on the corporate ladder, a 5ish year gap is big but not insurmountable.

Would go about it like this:
- do some quick cheap refresher course for your CV (to show intent)
- make clear whenever possible you are looking for a job commensurate with experience not age
- anytime you apply for jobs, have a cover letter which is also basically repeated in the email/application portal
- this should include a story as to the gap that should be plausible but also interesting.


A few years ago I met a guy who spend 5 years playing online poker, also basing himself in Thailand. He'd given it up because:
- Money was good but not great
- Hours were long and Lonely
- It was boring and not a challenge (apparently most money came from from taking lots of small stakes from drunk Americans)

As an actuary, you could flat our lift that (checks out) and go from there.

Would bet there's someone in their 40's hiring, who dreamed of doing what you did in your 20's but never did, that would give you a chance - all you gotta do is give them an 'excuse' for the gap.

Then, "Oh you're the guy who had the poker business in Thailand! We like that entrepreneurial spirit here at Webster Webster & Cohen!"