“I hate my city AND my job. Now what?”

Do you hate your city? Non-plussed by your job? Starting over can seem impossible, but it's not. You're not stuck. Click through for 1,700 words + tons of actionable tips to get out of dodge! >> yesandyes.org
Dear Sarah,

I’ve lived in Reno, NV since I was a kid, and while I’ve done a lot of traveling, this place has always been home. But I feel like it’s stifling me at this point in my life. 

I’m 25 and just got my first Real Job in January, working for a local non-profit public health coalition. I majored in anthropology in school, so I’m not sure how that’s translated to public health, but I think I’ve discovered over the past four months that public health is not my thing. I am so apathetic towards my work, and that’s a really shitty feeling because I’ve always been highly motivated and a hard worker. 

My boyfriend is a freelance graphic designer, who also feels like Reno is slowly killing him, but we just haven’t made a concrete plan to get out of here. Every time we plan on it, something comes up. Do you have any words of advice for making the jump? Right now, we’re looking at either Portland, OR or Denver, CO, but I’m not sure what to do to get there. 

Girl. GIRL. I spent my 24th and 25th years in a job I disliked so intensely it gave me Sunday night stomachaches, dating a very nice guy I had no business dating. Two weeks before I turned 25, I moved to Taiwan, where I knew exactly zero people.
All of this is to say: I get it. Like, painfully so.
Luckily for all of us: Life is long and change is doable. Share on X

Here, in the single longest post I’ve ever published, are my suggestions for you.

Do you want to move? Change careers? tarting over can seem impossible, but it's not. You're not stuck. Click through for 1,700 words + tons of actionable tips to get out of dodge! Click through and start changing your life today

How do deal if you hate your job + how to find one you like

Be honest about what’s not working at your current job
Do you resent working 9-5 when you’ve finished all your work by 3? Are you buried under paperwork and bureaucracy? Do you feel like the work you’re doing isn’t having much of an effect? If you don’t know what’s not working, you won’t be able to avoid those same issues in the future.
I bet if you’re honest with yourself, you probably know what kind of work you want to do
This is something most of us do, isn’t it? We tell ourselves we don’t know what we want and even if we did, we wouldn’t know where to start.
But you do know what you want. As the very clever Danielle LaPorte points out, your real desires are hiding in the things that make you jealous and the things you’d do if money wasn’t an issue. They’re the things you loved as a kid.
The first step to figuring out what you want is to stop telling yourself that you don’t know what you want. Then commit to noticing the activities and moments that bring you joy.
Translate those moments of joy into job-related skills
After you’ve zeroed in on the things you love, you’ll probably want to send me an email that says “NICE TRY SARAH HOW DO I MAKE A CAREER FROM HOSTING DINNER PARTIES.” Touché, my friend, but I’m not going to suggest that you do the exact things that bring you joy (because then my job would be one-person dance parties.)
I am, however, going to suggest that you search for the kernel of truth and commonality in all your passions. Maybe you like hosting dinner parties because you enjoy planning and executing events or because you’re an extrovert who loves to lead groups. Maybe you like to make physical, tangible things with your hands or take care of people. When you know the ‘why’ behind your passions, you’ll be able to find a job that fills those same needs.
Finding a career you love can take a loooooong time
While you’re navigating a career change, be gentle with yourself. It takes most of us years and years to find the right career path. For many of us, there are degrees we don’t use, rewarding but low-paying jobs (or soul-eating high-paying jobs), lots of wrong turns and a few meltdowns in the staff bathroom. Finding the right career path doesn’t always happen in your early twenties.
This is not to say that it can’t happen or that you shouldn’t try to make it happen – just consider this a virtual hug and permission to cut yourself a tiny bit of slack.
When you do find that career, you probably won’t love it every single day
Through equal parts luck and tenacity, my partner and I both have our dream jobs and on a weekly basis we still feel exhausted, annoying, overwhelmed or uninspired. I mean, nobody’s thrilled about quarterly taxes or invoices, right?
Even when you do land the job you’ve always wanted, there were be boring, unpleasant aspects of that job. There might be months at a time that you question your decision to take this ‘dream job.’ That doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong job or the wrong field, it just means you’re a human who’s alive.
Know that “fulfilling work” and “work that fulfills you” are not the same
Before I wrote full-time, I was an ESL teacher, scribbling on whiteboards in classrooms all over the world. I loved my students and I was proud of the work I did. I was also wildly underpaid, overworked, and emotionally, physically, and psychologically exhausted. It was ‘fulfilling’ work that absolutely drained me.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine worked at an ad agency. She was pretty ambivalent about her clients and the work they do (toilet paper, dog food, etc) but loved the creative atmosphere. Her work friends were her real-life friends, her contributions were valued, and she saw her work in national publications. I’m not sure she’d say her work changed the world, but it certainly fulfilled her creative and social needs.
In a perfect world, we’d all have fulfilling work that fulfilled us. But it’s good to remember that you might have to find that fulfillment elsewhere – and if you do, that’s not a failing on your part or your job’s. It’s just your professional reality at the moment.
Action cures anxiety
When I’m overcome with indecision or anxiety, my favorite response is to binge watch Netflix while eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. Surprisingly, this doesn’t help very much.
You know what actually helps? Doing something. Anything. Googling ‘career coach’ and then reading a few blog posts. Looking through your fifth-grade scrapbooks and remembering how much you loved art class. Taking a career quiz.
Be aware of a job’s day-to-day realities before you make a career switch
So let’s say you’ve talked with a career coach, you’ve taken tons of quizzes and your path is clear: elementary school teacher.
Before you sign up for a single class, talk to a minimum of five people who have the job you’re interested in. Ask them how they got into the field (maybe you don’t even need to go back to school!) and ask them for a breakdown of their day-to-day work lives.
Ask them very bluntly about the benefits and drawbacks of this job and what surprised them when they first started. If possible, talk to people who have been in this field for different lengths of time – a first-year teacher will have very different insights than a 20-year veteran.
For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a journalist. And then I wrote for a newspaper and experienced working weekends and holidays, asking people very awkward questions they really didn’t want to answer, writing under tight deadlines, all while receiving the lowest pay of any professional field. That was the day-to-day reality of the job I’d always wanted. Be ye not so stupid as me! Know what you’re getting into!
Also: it’s totally fine to “just” have a job that you don’t mind and fill the rest of your life with wonderful things
Oprah and Marie Forleo (and maybe even this blog) have all contributed to the idea that if you follow your bliss, you’ll never work another day in your blahblahblahbutwhatabouttherent. You should never work a job you hate. You shouldn’t spend eight hours a day, five days a week, doing something that brings you sadness or guilt or crippling anxiety.
That being said, very few of us fantasize about being logistics coordinators or tax attorneys when we grow up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a full, exciting life while putting in 40 hours a week in a cubicle. You are not a ‘sell out’ if you find a job you don’t mind and then spend money from said job on things and experiences you truly love.
You are not contractually obligated to the universe to make a career of your oil paintings. It’s totally okay to be an accountant who sells her paintings on Etsy and teaches the occasional Community Ed class.
Also also: you don’t have to pick something and do it forever
So let’s say you decide to go back to school to become an elementary school teacher and six years in, you’re burned out. A: welcome to the club! B: You should be proud of yourself! You tried something new. You pursued a dream and it worked for a while and now it doesn’t and that’s okay.
The average American has 11 jobs in their lifetime. If you feel one career winding down, return to those old passions and start noticing your moments of joy and clarity.Career-related resources for you: The entire Create As Folk blog  and The Miracle Worker ecourse
Do you want to move? Change careers? tarting over can seem impossible, but it's not. You're not stuck. Click through for 1,700 words + tons of actionable tips to get out of dodge! Click through and start changing your life today

How to move to a new city + hate your current city less

Be honest about why you don’t like about your city
Just like you did with your uninspiring job, I’m going to suggest that you get really clear on what, exactly, it is that you don’t like about Reno.
Do you hate the weather? Are your cultural and political leanings out of sync with most of the population? Are you sick of being surrounded by people you’ve known forever? Do you have a hobby you can’t really do there? Maybe you’re just ready for something new!
Again, it’s important to know what’s not working so you can avoid it in the future.
Really, actively research cities you’re interested in
I know it’s tempting to move somewhere that seems cool or somewhere you know a few people – and those are good jumping off points! But before you quit any jobs or give notice on your apartment, do some serious research on your towns of choice. What are the average temperatures in the summer and winter? How much sunshine do they get? What’s the cost of living? How tight is the real estate market? What are the unemployment and crime rates?
We all have subconscious biases against cities and regions that are perfectly lovely and biases for cities that are spectacularly expensive and crowded (I’m looking at you, NYC and San Francisco.)
Findyourspot.com and Bestplaces.net are great research sites; you could also reach out to friends and friends-of-friends for insight on a given city. And you can always use the Network of Nice!
Once you’ve got it narrowed down, go visit those cities
I mean, obviously, right? Do a bit of research about the neighborhoods where you’d want to live and, if possible, rent Airbnbs there. How convenient is it? How’s the parking? Can you easily access public transport?
I’d actually suggest visiting during a non-peak time of year and staying for as long as you can afford. We all want to live in DC when the cherry trees are blooming – but what about November? Or August?
Set a realistic moving date and budget and work backward from there
So you’ve nailed down your destination! Choose a date and stick to it. Write it on the calendar, give notice, and start telling people that you’re moving. (It’s a lot harder to back out of things when everyone’s asking about it.)
Just about everything in life takes twice as long and costs twice as much as we expect, so budget more money and time than you’d expect. If you’re moving in six months, what needs to be ready at the five month point? The three month point? Give yourself (and your boyfriend) teeny, tiny doable steps and start chipping away at them.

Sell your stuff
A few years ago, my friend Winona moved from Portland to Nashville. “We considered packing everything into a Uhaul to make the trip, but ended up scrapping that plan for financial reasons (Uhauls are expensive!!). And I AM SO GLAD WE DID.

Selling much of what we owned was one of the most gratifying, empowering things I’ve ever done. It made me realize how few possessions I actually need, gave us more money to fund the move itself, and it was so much fun to start fresh — truly — when we arrived in our new place, rather than lugging a bunch of old furniture and knick knacks along. I wrote more about it here.”

Be nice to yourself

Moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone is awesome, but it’s also really hard. Give yourself time to adjust and don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong (which they will). Embrace the ridiculous adventure of starting a new life, including the sad, scary, comically messy parts.

Take the chance to reassess everything

More from Winona: “When I moved I felt like I had shed this heavy, outdated definition of myself and could suddenly be whoever I wanted to be. I took the chance to treat all my previous patterns and habits like politicians up for reelection. Were they still serving me? Or was it time for some new representation?

I would ask myself things, “Does my Nashville self use mint floss?” and “My Portland self was late all the time. What if I wasn’t late all the time?” A fresh start is a powerful opportunity. Use it.”

Be aggressive about pursuing new friendships

Don’t be shy or subtle about connecting with people. When you’re the new person in town, you have to swallow your pride and be willing to say, “Hey, I think you’re awesome and I want to hang out” when you feel any kind of friendship spark, and then follow up. Say yes to every invite, at least for awhile.

In the meantime

Changing careers and moving cities is no small undertaking and you’ll have several months (or years!) of transition before you get where you want to go. But that doesn’t mean your life needs to be an endless drudgery till then.
Start a gratitude journal and work to find the positives in your job + city
Yes, this is trite advice. Yes, it works. Some days, your entry might just consist of “I’m grateful for the staff room cupcakes today” or “I’m grateful that I can have dinner with my parents whenever I want.” Make an active decision to see the best in your job and city; pretty soon they’ll be a memory and you might even miss them!
Do all the touristy, interesting stuff that you’ve never done
I don’t know about you, but there are huge swathes of my city and state that I’ve never seen. I just keep going to the same noodle house in Frogtown and ordering the same bun chay with fried tofu over and over and over. Take a look through your city and state tourism websites or Roadtrippers or TripAdvisor, make a Nevada bucket list and check them off while you’re setting your sites elsewhere.
Find ways to make your job more enjoyable
Let’s say you’ve realized that what you hate most about your job is the commute. Could you work from home once a week? Work 7-4 instead of 8-5? If you need more creative challenges, could you offer to do the graphic design for the marketing material? Look for ways to make your job fit your preferences.
Finally, when you do make the leap to a new city and career, know that it might be hard at first

Generally speaking, most new things suck for the first few months – if not longer. You don’t know anyone in your new city, all the liquor stores are closed on Sundays, your boss is clueless.

This doesn’t mean you made a mistake, it just means you were brave enough to leave the harbor and you’re getting your sea legs.Whew! Well, that was a small novel. If you’ve changed careers or cities, what did you do? What advice would you give our friend?

P.S. If you know someone who might need to read this, send them a link!

P.P.S. How to get what you want in 2 step. Seriously.

photo credit: Anubhav Saxena // cc

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  1. Rachel B

    Sarah, your advice is dead on. I HATED where I lived (Boston) and my job(s) in my mid-20s. It took years, but my sweetie and I managed to relocate to Maine with grown-up jobs. Three pieces of work related advice that I’d pass on to a friend:

    – Read HR blogs/career blogs. I like Evil HR Lady and Ask a Manager. Reading career advice regularly helped me to become more appropriately assertive at my not-so-great jobs, which overtime, increased my job satisfaction. I also learned overtime to better identify “unacceptable behavior” from bosses and coworkers, versus “the annoying stuff that we all have to deal with.”

    – Even if you are frustrated and know you’re in the wrong job/profession, do your best. You need favorable references to change jobs, and you won’t get them if you’re not engaged or acting hostile to your coworkers.

    – Try to learn something new every day at your job. I’d watch Excel and web design videos for 5 to 20 minutes. Overtime, my skills improved and I was able to make a better case for myself for getting better projects at work. It also feels so much better to be doing “something” towards advancing yourself and your goals, than waiting for opportunities to come to you.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Such good suggestions, Rachel! And I’m so glad to hear that you guys made the move!

  2. Katie

    God Bless You and Your Words Sarah! I’ll somehow be making a post with links from around the web, and this will be the highlight, definitely something I needed to read this week.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      So glad you liked it, Katie!

  3. Calluna

    Hmmm. Very well done, Sarah.

    I think that for some of us, there is not going to be a “right job,” but just things that are right at that moment. It took me about 40 different jobs to learn that and settle for just-ok. I plan to some day move to a different job (still), but I now expect the new job to be just right for a period of time, and then just ok once the shiny wears off, and then to eventually trade it out, as well.

    For me, it’s important to differentiate what I *need* in a job from what I *want.* It’s easy to be attracted to what I want. It’s harder to remember to look for what I need first, and then pick what I want the most from what is left. Extra hard when some of the most important things (salary, benefits, etc) are almost never listed in job postings. For example: I want a job that lets me get outside and do a wide variety of things, but I NEED a job that provides a dependable income stream above a certain threshold and provides a reasonable work-life balance.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Good point, Calluna!

  4. Jessica W.

    This is so great, I know so many people who are struggling with this and I’ve been there, too!

    I just moved to Denver, CO this fall. I think it’s a great fit if you like a mix of urban + outdoor life, if you’re liberal (of course) and if you like the food + fitness culture. Young people are moving here in droves! The jobs are plenty, but the housing market is intense. I paid an ungodly amount for a home that, in other parts of the country, would probably cost $90k. It’s always important to consider the trade offs!

    Most importantly about Denver is the work/life balance and work culture. I work in a high rise downtown and wear jeans to work, and I’m getting paid a full salary to only be in the office 3 days a week. People take pleasure very seriously here and being happy at work and home is a top priority for most companies.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Great insights into Denver, Jessica! I have lots of friends who live there and they looooove it!

  5. Callan

    This post is SO SO great! I have had similar feelings lately so this post really speaks to me. It was also very nice to read that its okay to have a job that you don’t love but affords you the luxury of having time/money to pursue your hobbies/passions on the side. I have had a job for the past few years that I really don’t love. A few months ago I took another job that I ended up absolutely hating. I was lucky enough to have my other job take me back. I realized that while I am not super passionate about my other job, the amazing schedule I have at it really leaves me with a lot of time to pursue my passions and spend time with the people I love. I have learned work/life balance is definitely one of the most important things to me in a job. I have definitely felt like a sell-out and that I should be in a job I truly love, so it was so so great to read your advice/thoughts on it.

    I read your blog every day and love all your posts, but this is definitely one of my favorites! It is so refreshing to not just read “yay its so easy to work for yourself, just quit your job and it’ll happen!” but to actually get real life advice and thoughts on how to make it happen/how it can be a real struggle.


    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I’m so glad you liked it, Callan. Working for yourself is awesome – for some people. But it’s also soooo much work and can totally take over your life. I’m glad to hear you were able to get your old job back!

  6. VK

    Thank you so, so much for this post. I’m quietly tearing up at my desk as we speak because the relevancy of this post to my life today and for the past few weeks could not be more on point. In the past year, I moved from some place I hated living in where I had zero friends to some place that I mostly like where I have only a few friends, so I’m already considering another move to the one place I know I love where I have lots of friends and family… except it feels like maybe I’m not trying hard enough or that leaving this job and city already wouldn’t be giving it all a fair chance and would end up feeling like I was “quitting.” And, as you often do, you put so much of this in perspective for me: thank you!! I really can’t say enough about how much I look forward to reading your posts, especially since you always seem to have some kind of ESP about what I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      <3 Your comment made my day, VK!

  7. Krista

    I love the section where you talk about having a job that’s fine and using it to fund the best parts of your life. Also the part where you don’t have to do the same thing forever. So important.

    If I may plug a book that I have not read yet (my to be read pile is embarrassing) but I know is great because EVERYONE is talking about it- Do Over by Jon Acuff. A dude who moved to Nashville for his dream job, had crazy success at said job, but realized “meh, not for me” and quit and then spent a year studying how people are tackling their dreams and declaring “DO OVER” to change careers, change their lives, accomplish goals that have been on the back burner. This seems like a great read for anyone but especially the Reno-hating woman 🙂 who wrote you the letter.

    one last thing I want to add. Most people have so many choices and are trying for the perfect one. Just pick. Just decide. Is it that easy? Nope, and I am simplifying things, and you should research, but at some point it’s just about deciding where you’re headed and then putting your energy in that direction. I was in a situation where I felt I had so many choices, I was sending out resumes to everything and few of the jobs had anything in common. As soon as I just decided “you know what, I want to be a dance teacher and I want to work in a high school, preferably an arts high school” my path was so much clearer. And I ended up getting hired EXACTLY where I wanted to be (now we’ll see if it’s half as good as I hope). It took a while to get there, and I don’t regret the year of job searching and odd jobs and part-time work, but I had so much anxiety over “am I going to pick the wrong thing” that was unnecessary, because as soon as I just picked SOMETHING (even if it had been some of the other choices I was toying with) I built momentum and moved forward really quickly.

    • Calluna

      Yes! I agree. It’s ok to just pick *something.* It’s not a life sentence. You’ll never know whether or not it’s the right thing until you try it. And if you give it an honest, serious trial and it doesn’t work out, then you have learned something and it’s time to move on.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oooohhh! That book sounds amazing! I’ve been on the hunt for True Story interview subjects who are on their ‘second act’ – that stuff is so inspiring!

  8. Morag

    Thank you so much Sarah! You have got no idea how much I needed to read this advice right now. I’m currently in a young person’s job where it’s split in the middle between two roles. One part is pretty cool and makes me sound like an interesting person at dinner parties. The other part doesn’t make me sound cool at dinner parties, but I’m extremely good at it and could go far if I found a job which focused on it exclusively. I’ve not decided what I’m doing yet but thank you for reminding me that I’m not a ‘sell-out’ for doing a job that is perceived as boring. And whatever I do decide I’ll try and remember these words.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      If anyone makes you feel like your job is boring, they’re a jerk 😉

  9. Sharon

    Such a timely post for me! I’m adding some of this great advice to my to do list. I’ve been feeling ‘meh’ about my job for a long time but lately it has become very frustrating and I’ve been casting about for ideas. It was convenient at the time but now I’ve been renting in my hometown for seven years and I have to admit I’ve been lazy and unintentional, and now I feel trapped!

    If I leave my job, I become financially insecure. If I move somewhere better in my area, it will be much more expensive and a longer commute. I can’t move the other end of the country and start afresh without leaving my partner behind. I feel like I’m running into a lot of catch 22s.

    I wonder if anyone has any ‘survive work’ tips for someone not in a desk job? I work in a hospital and my working hours and conditions are set in stone. There is no flexibility or opportunity to volunteer for something new. I’m trying to be open to advice but I’ve genuinely found it hard to apply stuff I’m reading to my career.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Hi Sharon,

      Is your partner interested in moving? Do they work in a field that would make it easy for them to find another job?

      • Sharon

        Hi Sarah,

        He would definitely move if I asked him to, but he has invested a lot of time and effort with his studio (making cartoons for a living is harder than you’d think, apparently 🙂 ) so it’s more of a last resort. Our original plan was to move to our nearest city (we live in a sort of commuter belt area) which would be a similar commuting distance for him and then I would work in the city but so far, no luck! The rental market in Ireland is pretty terrible so we were considering buying but we can’t get a mortgage without my secure job. And our backup plan is to move to the UK but that has some pitfalls as well.

        So we do have options but I think it’s a matter of finding the right compromise. And for me to stop stressing about ‘wasting’ all our money – cos what’s the point in having it if you don’t use it to make your life better, right? And while we’re waiting for the right opportunity I’m going to try some of your tips. Like checking out the tourist stuff in our area, that’s one thing I’ve been talking about for ages, time to give it a go!

  10. Jess

    I just completed the move cities part and I am now attempting the career change part. Being patient with myself in the instant gratification world we live in is the hardest part.

    The best thing that’s helped me so far is to join ClassPass. I’ve started working out regularly and exploring new areas of the city with the different yoga and barre classes. Plus, those endorphins Elle Woods uses as her defense in Legally Blonde are real and they help balance out some [definitely not all!] of my anxieties that are popping up during the move + career soul searching.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oh, such a good idea! I looooooved my hip hop dance class!

  11. Katie D.

    Excellent career advice! I’m a career counselor and would echo everything you said! Don’t forget to contact your undergrad and graduate schools’ career services. They have tons of helpful information and often times will meet with alumni for free (vs. a career coach which might be pricey).

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      So glad we got it right – and great suggestions about using career services!

  12. Kelly

    So timely! I’m a couple years from finishing my PhD in a field I dreamed about as a kid and still really love, but as I get closer to graduating, I’m realizing that I don’t think academia is the right fit for me. Unfortunately there are no positions in the private sector in my field, so leaving academia would mean giving up on a childhood dream. But the working conditions (long periods by myself in my office, working on a problem very few other people care about) are a bad enough fit that I’m about ready to jump ship to something else entirely once I finish. It’s so hard to give up on a long-held dream, but I really appreciate the reminder that it’s ok to do just that.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Hi Kelly,

      My partner was actually in the exact same situation five years ago (there’s not much work in corporate America for climatologists). He took a corporate job but kept adjuncting and taking weather-related contract work and now he was his dream job at the senior climatologist for the state of Minnesota. Which is not to say that you SHOULDN’T give up on the dream if that’s really what you want to do …. but finding your dream job is still possible!

  13. Tiffany Brown

    Ahh, this post really hit a nerve for me because I live in Reno and I LOVE Reno. But then again, it wasn’t too long ago that I was 22 and living in Los Angeles and HATING it there. I felt there had to be more to life. So I lived in multiple other cities, including Baton Rouge, LA, College Park, LA and in Northern CA before settling in Reno. I think not liking Reno is really more about the fact that the writer needs to get out and explore life and see the world vs. hating on Reno as a city itself. I can honestly say after having lived in all these different places, each city has something unique and special to offer., Finding it is part of the adventure. When you get to hating on a city though, I think it’s really just your psyche’s way of telling you it’s time for a change, you really need to try something different in order to grow and flourish as a person. For me, Reno has become the place I don’t want to leave! Great advice, and do this while you’re younger FORSURE!! 🙂

  14. erinsuzanne

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I happen to LOVE my city, but my job was causing so much stress and frustration and bitterness that it was hard to appreciate (or find energy or enthusiasm) for the life I’ve created here. Later this week, I’m moving about 1,000 miles from the upper Midwest to the Deep South, and after 7 years of high school teaching I’m leaving the classroom to do outreach/education for an environmental nonprofit. My partner also took a job down in the Gulf Coast, so I had opportunities to explore with him this winter.
    This post hit on so many important things- I would say that the most useful thing I did when I realized I was burning out on classroom teaching was start searching for interesting positions online and looking at the experience/qualifications that were listed. It helped me get my dream job because I’d spent a year taking a few classes on computer programs (Adobe suite stuff) that many education coordinator/manager positions wanted. I also took on some hours volunteering for an environmental nonprofit doing communications work, and it let me know that I DEFINITELY wanted to move into the outreach field and gave me some experience as well. It made my job search process and interview process incredibly easy, because I’d gotten to plan for some of the gaps in both skill and experience that I would have had otherwise. It also made my teaching job more bearable- because I was taking active steps to change my sense of being ‘stuck’.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      So smart, Suzanne – I love to hear when things like this work out! (And I love the Gulf Coast – jealous!)

  15. Cassie

    This is so awesome. I lived in Pittsburgh (my hometown) for three years after college… and everyday for at least the last 18 months wanted to jump off one of the 400+ bridges. Now I live in San Francisco and I am so happy!!!

  16. Heather

    This was fantastic. Thank you for writing this – it’s really what I need in my life at the moment. I’m in a city that I don’t like, a job that is not really for me, and a degree that I really want to use but have been unable to find positions locally. After two years of job hunting in my city and the surrounding region, I feel stuck. The thing that’s keeping me here? I have the greatest friends I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve lived in a couple of different cities, but have never had a circle of friends that I’ve adored this much – all very wonderful, positive, supportive people. Mentally I know that we can still keep in touch due to the joys of the Internet and that I can always come visit/they can visit me, but I’m still struggling at the idea of moving away for that one reason. Any advice or words of wisdom?

  17. Aliona

    A year ago I moved to work to the North of Sweden and in several months I realized that I hated the place. Not Sweden as a state, but its Nordic climate and its ‘forever indoors’ life style. In winter the temperature can drop to as low as minus 25 C’ and there is barely any sunlight. What is more, the place where I moved is a small town (75.000 people) which is depressing for me who is used to living in a big city. Luckily, my work is flexible (I’m doing PhD and my main job is writing articles and reviews), so I spend most of my time in my home town. But during teaching periods I have to be here in the North and somehow cope with this ‘exotic’ environment. My advice is before moving anywhere, it is better to go there and stay at least for one month, preferably not a summer month when everything seems bright and lovely in the sun. If I am not mistaken, Sarah, you are originally from somewhere in Scandinavia, aren’t you? How did you cope with the (always bad) weather? I really need some philosophy to tolerate another three years before I move at least to the South of Sweden.

  18. Haleigh

    I so needed to read this today. Thanks for the advice!!

  19. Martin

    Just to remind you that a lot of famous people have made their first million at their 30s, 40s and so on years so don’t judge yourself too harshly! Keep moving forward and sooner or later you’ll succeed! Wish you all the best, Man With Van Collier Row Ltd.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Excellent reminder, Martin!

  20. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown

    Wow, I have struggled for many years to write this – I decided life in a cubicle wasn’t for me in 2012 and moved to the Caribbean and became a scuba diving instructor… so as you can imagine, I get a lot of similar emails to the one you’ve received here! However, I think I’ll just link to this article from now on, because this is much better than what I could write 🙂

    I know the feeling of itching to get out of your job and your town, and I know the feeling of arriving in the place you’ve been dreaming about into the job you’ve dreamed about. I’ve lived it for three years now and it’s been crazy and wonderful and challenging. You’ve hit some great points in this post, especially about even a different job having things that aren’t so fantastic about it. And also that if you make a change, you don’t have to do it forever. I have loved my time here and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I’m looking into other adventures for 2016 in a different job and different place!

  21. nk

    I am just astonished how I came across your blog post while binge reading my favorite blog(unbrave girl) ! The timing could not be more perfect- I am in an anywhere but here phase of my life- my city has been voted 2nd worst cities of the world. All the friends I have made over last 25 years of my life have left this city so I have to make new friends anyway. And I started to have doubt about my dream career after giving birth to my little boy. I just want to spend a considerable amount of time with him. Your blog post has answered all of my dilemmas one by one. The pressure of choosing dream career and doing best in it is now off my shoulder. Having a balanced life is much more necessary. It is a wonder how we and our priority change over time. Thank you for this post Sarah!

  22. Emily Parduhn

    Yes and Yes-
    You’ve done it again! Straight communication to my heart and my brain. Thanks for the article. Lots of useful websites as well.
    Thanks- Emily P.

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