Toasted, And Not in A Good Way

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am sick of my job. I have worked here for almost 25 years and every
day I drag myself in and look around, sigh, get coffee, come back, sigh
again, and try to be productive. The work I do is very intellectually
taxing, and the hours are sometimes brutal. Clients change their mind
about what they’ve asked us to do or add extra chores at a whim.
Every time the phone rings I cringe. I know I am burned out. I
haven’t had a real vacation for two years, but I am cash-poor because
of an evolving divorce. The people I work with are in two different
cities, each an hour away. I feel like I would be most productive at
home, but everyone feels like they need to see my face. When I look
at it in the mirror I see a guy who’s aging too quickly and not very
happy. But at 55 I don’t want to have to start over and prove myself
to a new set of bosses and colleagues. Any good ideas?

Toasted, And Not in A Good Way

Dear Toasted:

There are some companies that mandate use of vacation days, even if
their staff takes the time to lounge in a hammock at home. Clearly you
are in desperate need of downtime. That’s the biggest short-run
priority, and one you need to implement before you tackle any longer-
run decisions. In fact, that’s a direct order: Don’t decide anything that
feels more important than where you’re going to sleep or eat for five-
seven days away from home. I’d recommend somewhere near water,
the ocean or a lake, some good books, and lots of staring and deep
breathing. Do this as soon as your deadlines allow, even if you need to
use emergency mental health as the reason, though I’m for saving
that phrase.

When you return, talk to the folks you work with. Say all the important
and true things, which I call “the loyalty oath.” I love working here. I
love what I do. I want to keep doing this until I retire. Even if it’s not
true, say it sincerely and with convincing conviction. But I need to
rearrange my schedule. From now on I’m going to work at home every
Friday, and will spend two days in each city, based on meetings with
clients. For internal meetings, we’re going to practice Skype if the
schedules need me to be in tow places on the same day. Once they
get used to your digital face, you can up the ante on days at home.
Mid-50’s is a hard time to start over. See if you can make this work