I Killed My Career

Well after being in my Manager job for the last few months I came to an important realization: I really dislike being a manager.  It’s not to say I hate everything about the job, because in fact I don’t mind some parts of it, but overall the entire thing is more trouble than it is worth in my mind.  So the other day I killed my career in management.

How?  Very easily in fact.  First when a few positions came open that I would be perfect for, I didn’t apply.   I honestly told everyone who asked they couldn’t pay me enough to do either job and I wasn’t interested.  Then the final nail in the coffin was a brief sit down discussion with my Director (aka my boss’s boss) and explaining I’m looking forward to reverting back to my old job.  That while I’m thankful for the ability to try out a manager job that after some self consideration I really just don’t like being a manager.

While the reasons why were a rather long list I summarized the problem in short form.  I’m an introvert trying to function in a job that forces me to be way more extroverted than I like to be.  I went home exhausted every day for the first six weeks from all the meetings, hand holding, discussing and assigning and following up on work.  It has gotten slightly better since then as I got better at managing it, but it still sucked.

So I’m getting off this corporate ladder and refusing to climb anymore.  I killed my career advancement and I’m happy about it.  It feels good to know for sure that I would be a circle peg being forced into a square hole.  I could do it but it would significantly uncomfortable.

Ironically too, when I had a brief performance discussion I was praised for my work in my manager role, when I personally felt I had done was keep the bus from going off the cliff.  It’s not like I actually sucked at doing the work, I was fairly good.  Yet the reality is I’m used to being bloody great at my previous job (no really my performance reviews even support that for the last few years), so for me it felt like a step down in performance.

I’m fairly certain my choice has pissed off a few people and more than likely a confused others around me. After all, I could make more money (ya like that really matters to me *insert eye roll here*). Yet in the end it is the right choice for me for sure and even likely for the company (like they really need another unhappy and ok performing manager).   So have you ever killed your career advancement?  What fallout happened to you?

9 thoughts on “I Killed My Career”

  1. I killed my career “dreams” of being a manager the day I realized it would mean more money .. maybe $30K more but my workload would double.

    Essentially I’d be losing money by working over 100+ hours a week, and only being compensated a third of what I deserved for the extra workload.

    Sounded like a bad deal to me.

    Plus, I enjoy my job as a consultant more than as a manager. Being a manager is a glorified babysitting job in my profession and it’s a headache I’d like to avoid.

    The challenges of being a manager are not to lose your cool and to try and corral people into working up to your standards. As a consultant, you just have to get the job done.

  2. I had aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder in the hotel industry but once I got my opportunity to fill-in as interim general manager for three months I quickly realized that I was not cut out to be the top dog.

    It’s not just the longer hours and always being on call, but dealing with the petty BS from employees. I just didn’t have the stomach to hold people accountable for lack of performance and lack of desire to change and grow.

    I went back to my old position in sales and then left the industry entirely a few months later. Now I’m in the public sector, home by 4:45pm every day, and fuel my ambition through blogging and writing about personal finance.

  3. So you, like me and a lot of others, hit the Peter Principle wall too, eh? We were great in our jobs – as lower level workers – but higher ups figured that we could rise higher. Problem is that management involves being comfortable with stress, long hours, getting things done through others, and more politics. So, like you, I too (after 3 years of working 14 hr days and not seeing much of my young family at the time) decided to face reality. The way I handled it though was to look for another job at another company. If one stays put at the same company, one faces some extra problems – (1) career is often stalled – even moving laterally, (2) the peeps who put you in mgt feel ticked for having guessed wrong about your potential, (3) others whom you may have previously managed now may be out to put you down, and so it goes. I found it best to make a clean break once I found another job into something I was much more comfortable (as well as qualified) doing. Remember too, one must have balance between work and home life. You owe it to yourself as well as to those around you in your life.

  4. I was promoted into a management position about 5 years ago – yes, the accompanying salary increase has helped me get to ER faster, but at the cost of being mostly miserable at work for the past few years. Most of the time I felt like a 30 something year old babysitting 50 and 60 year olds. I still think it was probably worth doing – I will have a better idea a few years into my early retirement once my sanity has been regained.

  5. Back in my working days, I got promoted to supervisor (a low end management position), a position I wanted. But I knew I would go no higher and I did not want to go any higher. At that supervisor position, I could still do lots of computer program writing, my little kingdom. A promotion would strip me of most of that stuff.

    When I sought to work part-time, that killed my chances of getting promoted which just perfectly fine with me. It also killed my chances of any above-average raises but by then I did not care about that, either. I already had ER on my radar and that was far more important than anything on the job end. I must have seemed like a big outlier, asking to work less and less (I would ask for and get a second reduction in my weekly hours worked before I would ER).

  6. The last time that I stepped down as a manager to report to my replacement was freedom for me too. It is exhausting mentally and physically and I’m an extremely outgoing introvert – but an introvert nevertheless. Too many plates to be kept spinning in bureaucratic organizations (I’m more of an intense focuser type/ignore irrelevancies – which often includes the manage-y stuff) and it took me away from doing the parts of work I enjoy – improving processes and solving puzzles. The friend that replaced me truly likes doing all the manager stuff and has no process awareness, so it does work for me to be the “leader behind the throne”. Sometimes it’s hard on the ego though. I think it’s tolerable at smaller organizations however where there’s not so much management activity required. Or managing projects and not teams or departments that do regular monthly work.
    Was having a conversation with a friend recently about this and came to a realization that it is very hard for me to work with having to manage other people doing anything that I’m very good at. If I delegate a piece of the project that I’m not good at or interested in however, it works out well. Maybe in that sense, a person can actually delegate out the management tasks while getting to keep the parts you like.
    There’s also a personal shift that occurs with co-workers when you become “the boss”. They stop being honest and real with you and you can feel an element of fear / sucking up sometimes. This happens no matter how clear you try to make it that you want to hear what they really think. I think that honest communication has been trained out of people who have encountered too many bosses who don’t want it expressed. Quite sad actually.

  7. I refused to get responsibility in careers. Instead i sell my analyticals as high as possible to retire as as fast as possible. One year as a freelancer means 2 years as an employee what is the point of money. No question i did right. I know a lot of people thinking the same way. Career and heart attack or burn out , not thanks !

  8. Thanks everyone. It’s good to hear other people’s stories and what worked out for them.


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