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Retraining at a (slightly) older age.

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NickDReed

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My 2 pence as someone who did it the other way round. I worked in a creative job (chef) for 15 years. Love cooking, love the creativity of it. Worked my way up and bought my own pub. Made a "living" working for myself for 5 years. Worked for far less than minimum wage in that time and eventually fell out of love with my profession. I am now employed in the public sector. Have a great pension, secure income, I don't work evenings or weekends. I love cooking again. I also have time to pursue other passions like woodworking and DIY.

What I will say is there is something to be said for accepting the thing that earns you money, and the thing you're passionate about don't have to be the same thing.
 

Trainee neophyte

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One of the billionaires (possibly George Soros, but I forget which, precisely) said words to the effect of working for a living is a mug's game - you need to own income producing assets to be wealthy. Being self employed and working an hourly rate is probably the most extreme example of a mug's game. Too difficult and scarey for me to contemplate.

I was employed for about 10 years until I finally asked "What's in it for me?" The answer being "Not much", I then sold everything I owned and spent three years bumming around Europe in a camper van. By far the best decision I ever made. I now own an income producing asset (well, in former times it was, anyway), and only really work full time for one month of the year, through choice more than necessity. The rest of the year I work 4 or 5 hours a day, or less. Sometimes a lot less.

Opportunities abound, and the hardest, scariest decision is the one to chuck it all in and give it up for a new life. Everything else is easy, because you are then forced to make decisions, but taking the first step is the hardest one you will ever make. My only advice would be that, if you are going to remake your life, go whole hog and really remake it. Life is for living, not frittering away while waiting for your pension. You could do anything, live anywhere, be anyone you want to be. Blue sky thinking outside the box, etc. Carpe jugular.
 

Terry - Somerset

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There have been many studies into the work/leisure balance. The broad conclusion is that stone age man (and modern hunter gatherers) work far less than their industrialised counterparts.

This may be due to an inability to store "wealth" - food decays without refrigeration, banks don't exist. Small communities are internally reliant and "external" trade/barter plays only a small part in day to day activities

A decision to "duck out" in favour of more leisure or discretionary time, and less material reward is entirely reasonable. Providing basic needs are met - water, food, shelter etc - then every thing else is optional.

Being conventionally raised I personally find it difficult to detach myself from conventional aspirations for material and physical possession.

But good luck to those who can break the mould and are prepared to be flexible to react to external circumstances.

It clearly works for many - why work 5 days a week when 3 days provides sufficient for modest needs. Get used to the idea that your::
  • car will forever be 3rd or 4th hand - but as long it goes ....
  • house may never have a new kitchen ... unless you make it
  • holidays may be a luxury 2 weeks, more likely in the UK and tent
  • meat will be a special treat if you don't become vegetarian
  • clothes will be Primark, not John Lewis
  • etc etc
Slightly negative generalities (you could be outstandingly happy and wealthy) but they are all somewhat inconsequential barriers in the grand scheme of things.
 

TRITON

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Im a t/s Butcher, and i retrained as a furniture-maker in about 2000, completing the diploma and other qualifications 4 years later.
In all honesty for a set income i miss the meat trade, and you get to take your work home with you :D but for peace of mind and happiness I'm glad i went for it.

I've always felt I should have made it to the Art school or into Architecture, but circumstances are the time dictated the route into work, so the dream fell by the wayside.
Interesting to note I was 3rd top of my class in a course with a 4 out of 5 failure rate. Possibly a sign of what I should have been doing all those years dismembering animals.
 

Trainee neophyte

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It clearly works for many - why work 5 days a week when 3 days provides sufficient for modest needs. Get used to the idea that your::
  • car will forever be 3rd or 4th hand - but as long it goes ....
  • house may never have a new kitchen ... unless you make it
  • holidays may be a luxury 2 weeks, more likely in the UK and tent
  • meat will be a special treat if you don't become vegetarian
  • clothes will be Primark, not John Lewis
  • etc etc
I'm not sure it is quite as bleak as you make out: whilst you may be poor in income, you are rich in time, and opportunity. Trying to live the standard, consumerist lifestyle without abundant cash is tricky, but if you need that sort of lifestyle to feel enriched then you would never want to live a different way in any case. Regarding your list, it is interesting how my take on what is important doesn't quite gell with yours - we have completely different ideas on what are priorities. Luckily, we are all different.
 

DrPhill

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I retrained into programming/software engineer etc in my early 30's. Best move I made. But I was a keen enthusiast before that so it was a lot easier decision.
 

BearTricks

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Thanks for all the measured replies guys.

I've had a bit of a think about it. I'm incredibly unfulfilled in my work but like some of you said, I work from home due to the pandemic, I can be flexible with when I start and finish and I get a bit more time during the day to potter while I'm not spending time travelling about and making small talk at the coffee machine. Funnily enough I've been doing some work on the economy for the past week or so and my conclusion has been that you'd be stupid to leave a job with your feet under the table for the foreseeable.

I've had a look in to it. I think what I'm going to do is build a proper workshop when we move (space to put up a good quality building or convert a garage is non-negotiable during the house hunt) and see what I can get done in the evenings and weekends with a view to selling bits and pieces and maybe helping friends and family with work.

There's a few evening courses about.
I might be tempted to do something like Level 2 joinery and carpentry. It looks to be about £1500 for a couple of nights a week for a few months I'll obviously have to do a bit more research in to what exactly you can do with that, but it seems to me like I'd save that in labour costs if it allows me to do some of my own work over the years.
 

Jacob

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Strewth - 'early 30s" is only just out of teenage! My kids are all much older, my grandchildren aren't far behind! You are young enough to follow any career choice you make! You could even take another degree or two and still be in your 30s.
There's a lot in the 10000 hours idea - this equates to 5 years full time which seems to be about the time it takes for most people to get good at anything.
I wouldn't get carried away with notions of fine woodworking, bespoke furniture; not many of them about making a living. Instead approach it sideways - maybe do a design course, art college or similar.
Or just start doing it part time with whatever kit and work space you can muster. i.e."diverge" before you converge on a specific future plan. City and Guilds used to be the classic route to practical craft trades, not sure it it's still with us though.
 

NikNak

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Been there done that... except in my case in reverse.

I WANTED an office job..!!

Start at 9 instead of 7...luxury...

Inside desk job all year, nice and cosy...

But the bitching, the back stabbing, your face doesn't fit, incompetent managers along with those perfectly fitted the Dilbert Principle and the Peter Principles (google it)...

Watching graduates with a piece of paper saying they were qualified to do a job making a total fist of it...

I lasted 2 1/2 yrs and chucked it in...

Went back to my tools, but this time more 'forceful' shall we say, and managed to climb the ladder and became joint project leader on some of the biggest wind turbine blade building tooling contracts at the time...

Go back to the bit where i said i wanted an office job... at the time i was single. Do you have the complete backing of your wife/partner.? if not don't even think about it. Because when it goes wrong or there's times when money's short trust me... you'll be the one who gets the blame.

I started doing woodturning maybe 14yrs ago just as a hobby. I like to think i got fairly proficient at it and was able to regularly sell my wares at work or word-of-mouth. People said "these are really good, you should do this for a living..." i laughed inside and just carried on with my job. I've now got bored with my hobby and am selling all the equipment. You may also find you get bored 10-15yrs down the line and start looking for something else..... just saying...
 

--Tom--

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Find out if you can take a sabbatical. If you can that’s a risk reduced way to give it a go. Otherwise I’d spend the evenings, weekends, holidays building skills, finding what you like making and then trying to build a market for them. When you know you can make x in y hours and sell for z (actually sell, not just try to sell) you’ll have a picture of whether it’s viable.

I got fed up with a job and so quit, went to another job that was somehow worse, so left that and then spent 6 months working out what next. I had built up 12 months of savings so didn’t cause any financial hardship, but did massively stress my relationship as she was still going to work everyday and I wasn’t.
She hated the hours I was doing in the job, but hated the hours I wasn’t doing more!

The workshop time is a hobby and everything I make is either for me, friends or charity. I reckon if I tried to make enough to survive just by making things, i would soon lose the love. Now if it takes 2 hours or 20 it doesn’t really matter.
 

Padster

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If I had my work life over I may choose a different path BUT the truth is that my job affords us the lifestyle we are accustomed to AND despite my complaints about work we like (lifestyle).
It allows us the luxuries and the ability to indulge our hobbies, covid has in a weird way helped I'm unable to travel as much so it allows me more time with to make sawdust and chippings!

I guess what I'm saying is ultimately we each need to decide where our priorities lie and if our hobby would be our hobby if it were our living ;)

Just my tuppence worth!

Padster
 

Stanleymonkey

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With a house move coming. I would stay in your job! No matter how carefully you have budgeted - fences will blow down, pipes will leak, you'll find problems and you will go over budget.

Your house will become a big project for you and you will spend a lot of time fitting out your new workshop (hopefully). Massive changes for you.

I have been through big work / life balance changes over the last five years but not in similar professions. It is very important to your mental health and your happiness and well being - but new home (and starting a family soon?) will completely change your world.

Try and bear it a little while longer, look forward to your evenings in the workshop after office time and maybe reserve one or two nights a week for workshop time. Friends will start asking you to repair and make things for them. Get used to working in someone's home building a cupboard or fitting some weird shaped shelves. It can be a strange experience.

If you have time - find a local charity / city farm / church / school etc. an see if you can volunteer. Do some painting, repair some doors. City farms are great places for needing hutches built, fences repaired, hand rails step and ramps but somewhere with kids might want raised planters, ramps and all that made. You can make stuff in a low pressure environment and get a feel for that kind of work.

Best of luck - hope the house move goes through smoothly.
 

billw

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It's been really interesting to read the different views, experiences, and perspectives on this thread with some recurring themes such as materialism and blurring hobby with work, and how they can constrain "ideal" choices.
 

Spectric

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The dream for many is to combine your interest with work so work becomes an extension to what you love doing but this is not the case for the majority, the dream becomes a nightmare for so many. Taking money out of the equation you are left with a valuable commodity that eventually expires, time and is often sacrificed in chasing dreams. Working for yourself is great but time is nolonger yours as it belongs to the customer and you end up working all hours just in case there is a quite time on the horizon. If you really want to go for it then make sure you are financially stable, paid of most of the mortage and really hate your current job to the point you just don't want to go anymore and it is starting to effect your health.
 

Stanleymonkey

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Just a thought - have you considered somewhere like this? They train volunteers and can probably point you in the right direction for local contacts and colleges. Might even help you get on a college course if you have some experience and places are tight. At the worst - good supplier of wood and I bet they make a good cuppa! I wish I had one closer to me.



 

Mark Hancock

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I've been following this with interest as I did something similar over 30 years ago; gave up a proper job (paid every month :) ), retrained and became self employed doing something I love. It was a big decision to take with a lot of the considerations mentioned already around finances, material desires and needs but definitely the best decision I've ever made. So I believe I've also achieved ikigai :)
 

Terry - Somerset

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Perhaps the decision is more about risk. However analytical you are, and however rational the decision for radical change, subsequent events may render the decision flawed.
  • finances - swapping a well paid job for a lesser erratic income may seem a worthwhile sacrifice. But when you find that holidays or meals out have to take a back seat to fixing a depleted bank balance you may feel differently
  • work vs hobby - hobby is about developing and using skills, creativity, satisfaction in the finished product etc. Woodwork as a job will be a business. Efficiency, admin, cost control etc will be a concern. When you find your "niche" it may just seem repetitive.
  • you may enjoy your hobby - but you may or may not be very good at it. Difficult to be objective.
  • you may misjudge your market in your enthusiasm to make a change. A high quality, higher price market often relies on several years development through personal recommendation. Otherwise normal business rules apply.
I wonder if I should have made the change from financial management to something else - but I know that I am fairly risk averse. I have been content to accept the outcome - sometimes frustrating and tedious was the price paid for a secure job and decent pension.

These days it tends to be easier to get employers to flex employment terms - part time working, sabbaticals, job share etc.

Go down to 3 days a week if you can, understand what it is like living on a much lower income, use the other two days to try and develop your skills and business. It will either work (great) or give you a route back if it doesn't.
 
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