Career advice for an early 30s guy who feels lost and directionless?
Just say that you spent five years crunching numbers for a rich Westerner who lives in Thailand who did investment in a niche area and liked having a guy who was good at math in his entourage for impromptu investment strategy discussions. You can’t discuss the details beyond that because you signed an air tight non disclosure agreement. It was a lot of fun, but after five years, you’re looking for a more stable lifestyle. If you’re pressed for more specifics than that, you can “let it slip” that it involved investment into the gambling industry. Then drop some fun facts about poker odds and strategy and you’ll seem like the coolest guy ever.
It seems that you have a mild case of freelance burnout. It happens, just as in a grey cubicle, it is just sucks way less.

Freelancing is inherently unstable, with work coming in unpredictable tranches, you rejected the stable path many years ago Irish, you are in your mid-30s man come on, chances of you reentering the rat race on entry level jobs are minimal. Besides, you hated being in an office 10 years ago, what makes you think that any employer would consider a guy living in Thailand to work in a team of people in their early 20s for low wages?

The covid situation actually plays into your advantage, as you already burned bridges and exited the rat race many years ago. In the next two years, the economy, the world and the way to earn money will significantly change in all areas, in all countries. Dozens of millions of white collar employees are or will be unemployed by mid 2022. Many of them never to return to the rat race or other race. This is by far the worst time ever to look for any job.

Many people say "reinvent yourself" or "now in lock-down use the time to reinvent". Well the issue about reinventing is that it is challenging and requires a plan, resources, investing, patience, tenacity, discipline and right timing. I have reinvented myself once and it took me 3 years, and I had savings for 18 months of life. Most people cannot or would not reinvent their skill set. And reinventing yourself in the worst economic collapse since the XVII century is not really an optimal proposition.

From your post, I might infer that instead of reinventing yourself, you need to optimize yourself. Your skills include writing, math and analytical skills. Well guess what, you already exploit them, mainly writing, how about you optimize your skills for scientific papers or niche mathematics or science heavy publications? There are online platforms that look out for co-authors for scientific papers at the phd level, you might try to freelance there. Get into niches. It will take months, yes, which takes me to the next question.

I always ask my friends: how many months of savings you have right now? It is called the fuck you fund. The more months, the better. If you have it, then lay back some months. The world in in chaos, and the old ways are no longer useful. No one really knows what will happen in 6 months, so if you can continue to freelance and have some savings, then take it easy until next autumn. Most countries will continue to be in lock-down, you are not the only person worried about the future.

In your case Irish, you have already reinvented yourself one, with a semi-mobile lifestyle on SEA. You are already ahead of the norm, and any stress or doubts you may have are temporary. You know what would be stressful? If you had stayed on the corporate path the past 10 years, perhaps got a mortgage, hated every day of it, and likehood of unemployment this year or the next well above 100%. A guy in his mid 30s, with no savings, no job, no skills and no industry to hire him, that would be challenging. And I am not even supposing that you have alimony or family to support.

PD. If possible, you might want to return with your parents or family. Being with your close ones can be a bonus in this age of chaos.
^^ People change careers all the time in their 30s and 40s. I even know people who did it in the 50s+.

Might it be harder and require more work/flexibility? Sure. But I wouldn't be saying it like it's unrealistic or overtly hard.

Fairly common thing tbt.
Yeah, I don't see the problem. Reinventing yourself only gets harder as you get older if you've got a mortgage, wife, kids etc. Without these things you can still do it.

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