Author Topic: Help me, I have boreout  (Read 10690 times)

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Offline NANDBlog

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Help me, I have boreout
« on: June 28, 2017, 09:25:12 am »
For those, who dont know, boreout is:
"lack of work, boredom, and consequent lack of satisfaction are a common malaise affecting individuals working in modern organizations, especially in office-based white collar jobs."
I had boreout before. I was working at my previous employer. We finished a project, it was semi-challenging. I did most of the busywork in a week or two, and then I did the PCB design.. That was the last challenging task I did in my life. It was in beginning of 2015. For the rest of the year, I sit at my workplace doing nothing.
Well, I wasn’t doing anything. I redesigned the main product of the company. It was supposed to be about 15% cheaper with the same specifications, and easier to manufacture and assemble. Never went into production. I also had potential a big project coming up, very challenging, I was very excited. Last month I've met someone from the company, they still did not do it.
For about 8 or 9 months, I did nothing. I got a mail or call or meeting, worked on it for an hour or so, sent a reply. I was really really bored.
When someone offered me a new job, I quit. When I look back, I would have been bored until now, and the salary is better. But I've hit rock bottom again. There is nothing meaningful to do at this company. All we have is a small linux computer, running the 100 lines of code, which we might sell.
I'm not even kidding. I'm the engineering at the company, with a boss, who is interested in 3D printing, open source and I guess fairy tales. They need me, because if they need a new value resistor on the board, I have to do that. Otherwise, nothing. And it's not like the board is selling like crazy, we are looking at installing 3 demo units this month. Woo-hoo. Other incomes for the company keeps me afloat, until the MBA changes his mind and sacks me. Probably. But maybe not, because he needs my boss, because he is the only one keeping the main income source working. End of story. I have a job, where they will not fire me, but I have nothing meaningful to do. I became Wally (from Dilbert).
Literally, I do nothing at work for days. I go to work, sit at my PC, open web browser, start looking at daily news, look at it 20x the day, write for the eevblog forum and other 2 forums. In the meantime, I keep the appearance, like I'm working. I hate that. Alt tabbing and leaving one of my screens for continuously scrolling linux bullshit, having two or three SSH window open...
Sometimes I desing a PCB just for the fun. I have a folder with 11 PCB projects, that are completely useless, like 12V DC input hat for raspberry PI zero. Nobody needs that. I designed it, because I don’t want my abilities to completely go to waste.
And then there are the dreams. I am talking about the time, just after going to bed, when you think. Brain free roaming. I have ideas. They tend to go in the "Lets kickstarter this PCB". I've tried engineering consulting. I had one job. That was fun. Since I have infinite time at work, I did the bulk of it, doing two jobs at the same time! This is probably unethical, feel free to judge me. When I see a new EEVBlog video uploaded at home, I don’t watch it. I can do that at work.

The situation is bad. Effecting my health. I cough every morning after waking up. It's philological. And I'm tired in the evening. After doing 8 hours of nothing. I have low self-esteem, and I feel depressed. My fuse is shorter. I drive above the speed limit for the commute, because going 50-70 is just boring, the car feels like not moving at all. And it is just meaningless.
Should I quit again? Should I move? I moved to Belgium 5 years ago, it was exciting and everything. I am learning French, its the 4th language for me. The 3.5 hours I'm spending at the language school (replacing 2.5 hours of work) is my top moments of the week. Should I just go to my boss, and tell him that: “hey, I need to work on something, otherwise I will move on and work somewhere else.” And it has to be something I choose, because the last ‘huge issue’ we had that a 5m long USB cable had too much resistance, and the marvelous engineering solution was to order another type.
 
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Offline Halcyon

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2017, 09:34:59 am »
You're in the wrong job, plain and simple. There is only so much Youtube-ing and boredom at work you can take before you just can't be bothered going in at all. It seems like you're at that stage.

Perhaps take a short break, even if it's just a few weeks with time to yourself. Work on some projects at home you've been putting off and if after that time your opinion hasn't changed, look for another department within the company or a new job entirely... something that will challenge you. An idle brain, especially one which is clever and capable helps nobody.
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2017, 09:41:29 am »
The company is less than 20 people. I am doing hardware and firmware. I was hoping it can keep my mind occupied, as  I was only doing hardware in my previous, and only firmware before.
I am in fact in that stage. Last week, none of my bosses were in the office (thats like 50% of the time). It was 34 degrees in the office (very unlikely weather, so we are not prepared with AC), so I just wrote them a mail, that I finish work from home. I went shopping instead, logged in to my PC from home, made an SVN commit, and watched TV.
When I do teleworking, I dont even bother doing anything at all anymore.
 

Offline julianhigginson

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2017, 09:44:39 am »
I've had that feeling working for a small company as the only engineer before.. I can tell you what worked for me.

Start looking at your company's product from a product manager or inventor point of view.

Who uses it and how do they use it? where do they use it and when do they use it?

What would make them switch to another product from a competitor?

Is there any solution that's totally different that would meet their fundamental needs in a different way?

Then you can think about how can you make the product better... or make a new product that is better...
what extra feature can it have? what would the users say if they saw this?

Then make up a plan, get your company excited about it and run a project to make something cool.

....or leave the company, develop your idea yourself, and become their competitor.. :-)



Otherwise have you considered physical hobbies? gym, running, swimming? sounds like you really need to move.
 
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Offline hans

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2017, 09:58:48 am »
Nandblog, I read your posts on the forum and I think you're a source of consciousness and knowledge to engineering.

To me it sounds like you're severely under-challenged. I think this is potentially as worse as being over-challenged and leading to a burn out. To me it sounds you're not in "your zone". You may feel others complementing your value in the company, but maybe that's because they don't have a clue like you said.

Maybe the company does not know what you can do. In my previous experience, I worked at a small place where they parted with a HW engineer making many mistakes, leading to failures and face-loss at customers. The managers and director got very scared and anxious of any hardware developed themselves and only wanted dumb and simple solutions, or just buy OEM products, because they don't believe in their own expertise. Their own company processes and personnel. They tied up themselves, and who can untie them? I don't know.. I am not a business process engineering guy. What I do know is that I don't work there now anymore.


On the other hand.. having some "easy time" also meant I had the freedom to research my own product idea's. Maybe for the company, maybe not. Are they interested in you doing more R than D from "R&D"? Maybe that can give a boost to your work load/capacity ratio.

Also would you ever expect to find the perfect company? Good intellectual work load, little adhoc, no pressure/hard deadlines, good colleagues, nice office environment, short travel, no calls/mails to be answered from home, good pay/holidays..
In my experience there is always things to be wished for. And maybe some stuff bothers you more than others. If so, then change it.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 10:01:48 am by hans »
 

Offline CJay

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2017, 10:25:00 am »
You've answered your own questions really, the most ethical one would be to approach your boss and ask for some blue sky work, maybe get a budget for tinkering with an open ended aim to create a product that interests you and could be sold by the company, maybe negotiate some sort of royalty or commission deal perhaps, at worst you get to learn new skills or play with new technology?

Less ethical but possibly more rewarding would be to build your own consultancy business but you need to be aware of the legalities, most contracts will claim title to any work created on business hours by employees so you could, if caught, be causing yourself a deep pit of troubles.

I think the least satisfying solution would be to move unless you're willing to accept that you'll be in the same situation or worse in another couple of years and take the short term satisfaction.



M0UAW
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2017, 10:29:43 am »
Since I have infinite time at work, I did the bulk of it, doing two jobs at the same time! This is probably unethical, feel free to judge me.

From what you've described, I don't blame you for a moment, but it may be contractually ill-advised.

Employment contracts often (though not always) state that any IP which you create during your period of employment becomes the property of your employer. The last thing you want is for there to be any doubt, or dispute, over the ownership of the work you do. That could have serious consequences for both you and for the other people you're working for.

It sounds to me as though you just need to quit and find a new job - not necessarily in that order. I quit my job and started working as a consulting engineer a few years ago, and I've never looked back. It *is* hard, though, just not in the same way. On the plus side, I have no 'boss' as such, and nobody trying to tell me how to do my job. On the minus side, I have to worry about contracts, insurance, money, and providing customer service.

Don't stay put where you are, though. Skills go stale over time, and interview questions about your past employment will get harder and harder to answer satisfactorily the longer you sit around doing nothing interesting or worthwhile.

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2017, 10:52:52 am »
Electronics engineers should either be passionate, or get the heck out and stop wasting everyone's time. Only the true believers should prosper, the faithful to our esteemed profession. Those who leave should be outcast as untouchables, unworthy to be called engineers. (OK, OK, I am not being serious!)

But seriously, I knew a top engineer who was on a great salary as Director of R & D. He threw in the towel to be retrained as a social worker. He is a lot happier despite the much lower pay. Another decent engineer I knew quit to work in administration at Australia's Country fire Authority and loves it. Another two I know became viticulturists. Another one a home handyman.

Variety is the spice of life. My previous job was developing hardware and firmware. My new job is managing and guiding a team of engineers, and hardware development. Money is good. But I miss firmware development a little. In any case, I am happy.

We need to ask ourselves, do we work to live, or live to work? The French generally are the former. Aussies often the latter. A neighbour retired and has nothing to do because his whole life was work. No hobbies, no community involvement, nothing. He just goes for lonely walks each day. I never want to be like that.
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2017, 11:47:23 am »
Afraid I don't have any solutions.  I had a job like that before; I tried to keep myself entertained with busy work -- your "useless" PCBs are a fine example -- as well as breadboarding circuits, playing in the lab on notionally work-related stuff, that sort of thing.

I've been on contract since, which feels just -- I get paid for work I've actually done -- and I get to use that free time between jobs on my own projects, which are, necessarily, also my own business expenses, and professional development.  (Ya know, I should punch a clock when I'm writing on the forum, because I could probably write off that as donated labor...  :-/O )

If 'keeping interested' means changing your job regularly, that's your prerogative.  Most engineering jobs are in the 2-5 year duration, and a lot of those are probably drawn out long after they've been productive (cases like these!).  Consider doing shorter and more numerous contract jobs -- this is easy and common in the US, I don't know if it's necessarily practical in the EU though.

Don't be afraid to get another job.  If your contract allows you to have multiple jobs at once (plus relevant IP and ownership related clauses), you might as well, eh?  Who cares if they're paying you for full time; if you don't have to physically be there (telecommuting!), that's their problem.*

*Okay, this kind of reasoning may lead to legal trouble, so I'm leaving it up to you to decide how far to bend any obligations you might have / take on. :)

Don't be afraid to negotiate the nitty-gritty of an employment contract, either.  Read that contract.  Write notes on it.  Scratch out or modify the parts about working hours and IP and ownership and non-compete that you don't like.  More often than not, the interviewer or manager you're negotiating with won't realize that you can do this -- they may not have ever had someone sit down and read the contract before!  They might have to "clear it with upper management" first.  Just gently remind them that, you're here for them -- if they want to take the time to consider your employment, that's fine; but it's their time that's ticking, not yours. ;)

(Again, unsure about contract law in the EU, but I don't think it's so grossly different that the above isn't close enough.)

Good luck!

Tim
« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 11:49:28 am by T3sl4co1l »
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2017, 11:53:10 am »
Maybe you can reassign your time. You can, instead of doing repeat[job->boredom], you can do them at the same time.

That's how I work and how I keep myself entertained. That's how I keep myself sane working 12 hrs a day.

 

Offline Gribo

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2017, 12:03:37 pm »
One of my prior jobs was like this. The designs I made went into production, and suddenly I had nothing to do. So I learned new, related skills, tried to find parts of the process which I can improve, automated other parts of my job (More free time :D ). In the end, I quit, cause I realized that besides a paycheck and nice history, I didn't have anything there. In the next job, I didn't have time to breath.
I am available for freelance work.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2017, 12:27:59 pm »
Finally it explains why so many keyboard warriors with multi thousand post count on this forum, posting about always anything with no substance.
Facebook-free life and Rigol-free shack.
 
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Offline CJay

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2017, 12:34:40 pm »
Finally it explains why so many keyboard warriors with multi thousand post count on this forum, posting about always anything with no substance.

How's the plywood in your bathroom and did you cat recover from having the shiiite scared out of it?
M0UAW
 
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Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2017, 12:35:32 pm »
Nandblog, I read your posts on the forum and I think you're a source of consciousness and knowledge to engineering.
Thank you. Yes, I'm under challenged. Burnout and boreout have the exact same symptoms, only with a different cause.
Also would you ever expect to find the perfect company? Good intellectual work load, little adhoc, no pressure/hard deadlines, good colleagues, nice office environment, short travel, no calls/mails to be answered from home, good pay/holidays..
No, not really. I dont think that would exist. It's just, different people tolerate the balance differently.

Less ethical but possibly more rewarding would be to build your own consultancy business but you need to be aware of the legalities, most contracts will claim title to any work created on business hours by employees so you could, if caught, be causing yourself a deep pit of troubles.
I am really not sure how to work as a consultant. I understand the concept, and I've seen people with other professions working as a consultant. I am also relatively young. I dont want to work at a consultancy firm. Every time they find me with a job offer, it feels like they want me for a one time job. Like I should quit my dayjob, sign with them, they place me at a company for 6 months, when the project is done, goodbye, earn your money elsewhere. And money does not seem good enough to chance a longer unemployment. What I could do, reduce my current job to part time, and work on something else.

Don't be afraid to negotiate the nitty-gritty of an employment contract, either.  Read that contract.  Write notes on it.  Scratch out or modify the parts about working hours and IP and ownership and non-compete that you don't like.  More often than not, the interviewer or manager you're negotiating with won't realize that you can do this -- they may not have ever had someone sit down and read the contract before!  They might have to "clear it with upper management" first.  Just gently remind them that, you're here for them -- if they want to take the time to consider your employment, that's fine; but it's their time that's ticking, not yours. ;)
I negotiated a better job title, chance of teleworking and flexible hours at this company. And somewhat better salary. So I can negotiate. Though, they had trouble filling my position for months, because everyone was lacking the skills that I have. The skills which are needed, but not being used enough.
I could probably negotiate down my current job to a part time.

I've been on contract since, which feels just -- I get paid for work I've actually done -- and I get to use that free time between jobs on my own projects, which are, necessarily, also my own business expenses, and professional development.
As I said above, I dont know how to be a consultant. I dont know how much to charge, how to build my social net (or whatever its called). Probably I could use some career coaching.
Electronics engineers should either be passionate, or get the heck out and stop wasting everyone's time.
I have passion. I wanted to be an EE, that is how I identify myself, and I'm proud to be one.
The issue is, I don't have enough EE challenge. That is one of the reasons I spend sometimes hours on this forum, answering questions.
We need to ask ourselves, do we work to live, or live to work? The French generally are the former.
I was born and raised in Hungary. Post communist country. Part of the so-called 'lost generation'. Things are going so well, that according to recent statistics, half of the young population wants to leave.

Finally it explains why so many keyboard warriors with multi thousand post count on this forum, posting about always anything with no substance.
Yeah, I tend to answer engineering questions, helping others in the process.
 

Offline brabus

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2017, 01:50:31 pm »
Just cal me if you consider coming to work to Italy.
You WILL have a lot of fun. >:D
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2017, 02:23:24 pm »
As I said above, I dont know how to be a consultant. I dont know how much to charge, how to build my social net (or whatever its called). Probably I could use some career coaching.

I'm not sure there's a good 'general' answer to this one.

Do you have contacts at contract manufacturers you've used? They sometimes get customers approaching them wanting both design and manufacturing services, and the design element is often outsourced.

Have you worked with people who have subsequently left, whom you might be able to approach for work?

I found, fairly soon after I started doing consultancy work, that word got around. The phone started to ring, even though I'd never advertised. Almost every job I've had for the last few years has been via word of mouth.

Are you interested in any particular subject besides electronics? Could some electronic device benefit that other area at all? Build a prototype and take it to a show. Demonstrate it to anyone who will listen. Even if they don't want your prototype as-is, it may give them ideas for things which can be done, which they'd never thought of before.

Knowing what to charge is always difficult. I made a conscious decision on day one not to try and win every possible contract by quoting a low price. Bear in mind that if you charge X, and some potential customers complain that it's a lot, those same people will probably complain too even at 3/4X or 2/3X. Also bear in mind that there will always be someone cheaper than you overseas somewhere, but a race to the bottom in terms of both price and quality doesn't help anyone.

You do need a certain level of experience - not to mention confidence - to be a consultant. I'm very much of the opinion that there are two types of people who take this route:

- the experienced, capable engineers who are sick of working for someone else's benefit, and who can do better on their own. Clues are that they're always busy, somewhat more expensive than you might expect, and generally quite free and open with knowledge and advice, even if they can't take on your project any time soon.

- people who can't get a good job working for someone else, and who strike out on their own as an alternative. I wouldn't advise working with one of these, even if they're cheaper than you might expect, and can start tomorrow.

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2017, 03:19:18 pm »
Ok so you have time, do you also have a budget say thousand euros to buy hardware?
Unless you know everything already I would suggest to look at the latest developments. EE can be a very broad topic from analog to digital , microcontrollers, fpgas , socs do you know it all? Different manufacturers? Can you improve your current system? Make it cheaper or better ? Can you add to the quality?
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2017, 03:42:16 pm »
Both my managers are not interested in any improvement for the current system. It doesn't sell. It doesnt sell, because it is a small linux computer, forced to be a smart meter. It is very expensive to produce, I have no idea why would anyone buy it. So I draft a lower cost version. Nope. I made a version, which is approximately the same price, but better functionality. Nope. That is about as much as my proposals go. Nope. The MBA boss is not from technology field, he doesnt understand or cares about what I say. The other boss, as I said, is a dreamer, coming from the software world.
"I want software defined hardware. Something which is not limited by the design." You smell that? I smell something... Its not built down to a price, its not built to specification. Its built for his dreams.

I'm not sure there's a good 'general' answer to this one.
Thank you, these all sound like a good advice. My issue is with the decision. Let's say, that from tomorrow, I am a consultant. The only thing I would achieve is that I would be unemployed.
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2017, 03:55:04 pm »
Unemployed with a purpose, though  :-+

I was very lucky in that I was able to transition into it very gradually, from working 5 days a week at a regular employer, to 3 days a week + 1 day consulting, to 3+2, then 3+3, then 3+4, then very soon afterwards, 0+5.

It's a very big step, no doubt about that. You do need confidence and skills, a reasonably well equipped lab, and a network of contacts (or at least, a good plan on how you're going to get one). (Note, not necessarily in that order).

Offline JacobPilsen

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2017, 04:01:03 pm »
The other boss, as I said, is a dreamer, coming from the software world.
"I want software defined hardware. Something which is not limited by the design." You smell that? I smell something... Its not built down to a price, its not built to specification. Its built for his dreams.
(I smell FPGA.)
What is your dream technology???
 

Offline vodka

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2017, 04:12:29 pm »
Both my managers are not interested in any improvement for the current system. It doesn't sell. It doesnt sell, because it is a small linux computer, forced to be a smart meter. It is very expensive to produce, I have no idea why would anyone buy it. So I draft a lower cost version. Nope. I made a version, which is approximately the same price, but better functionality. Nope. That is about as much as my proposals go. Nope. The MBA boss is not from technology field, he doesnt understand or cares about what I say. The other boss, as I said, is a dreamer, coming from the software world.
"I want software defined hardware. Something which is not limited by the design." You smell that? I smell something... Its not built down to a price, its not built to specification. Its built for his dreams.

I'm not sure there's a good 'general' answer to this one.
Thank you, these all sound like a good advice. My issue is with the decision. Let's say, that from tomorrow, I am a consultant. The only thing I would achieve is that I would be unemployed.
.

Mount a little corporation and you sell the improvements that you think that may have

 

Offline Cyberdragon

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2017, 04:29:24 pm »
Make a potted tree thing that extends taller everytime someone lies and when it reaches the top a flag pops out that says "You all suck, I hate my job!" >:D
*BZZZZZZAAAAAP*
Voltamort strikes again!
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Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2017, 05:10:05 pm »
This is a common malaise in modern corporations. Not limited to engineering jobs.

I have a nephew, very smart kid, went into accounting and marketing.
Landed a job on one of Wall Street's "investment" firms. Excellent pay, bonuses and benefits, way above what any engineer would make.

He was put to work selling near-junk bonds. He had to be creative to bundle up what was essentially dog s**t with some mid-performing stocks and make an "attractive" portfolio. Cleverly employ financial indicators to make them palatable to investors.

He could only do it for year and a half.
He traded his huge paycheck and the glamour of living in New York City, for a job as an investing consultant in a small Texas city.

Was a little difficult at first, but the last time I spoke with him, he did not regret the decision.
 

Offline HighVoltage

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2017, 05:17:17 pm »
There are some horrible jobs for engineers around.

A software engineer friend of mine was offered a job for making porn software and the pay was amazing. He thought it was a dream come through. He did not even last a year and needed deep cycle counseling for several years, to get out of that kind of mindset.

It is so important to have a job that fulfills your abilities and challenges you.
If your current job does not do that, get a new one quickly.
Or start your own business.

 
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Offline vodka

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Re: Help me, I have boreout
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2017, 05:37:12 pm »
There are some horrible jobs for engineers around.

A software engineer friend of mine was offered a job for making porn software and the pay was amazing. He thought it was a dream come through. He did not even last a year and needed deep cycle counseling for several years, to get out of that kind of mindset.

It is so important to have a job that fulfills your abilities and challenges you.
If your current job does not do that, get a new one quickly.
Or start your own business.

What did you happen to his friend for terminating with the mind fused? 24h/7days working? Contract by zero hours?
 


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