My wife is blocking my career change dream


My wife is pressurizing me to earn a higher salary by finding another job but I want to do just the opposite. After 15 years in middle management I'm constantly tired and have long lost the zest I used to have for work. Can you offer any support/advice?

James, Toronto

Rob Yeung's Answer:

If your wife wants a bigger salary, suggest that she goes and finds a higher paying job!

Joking aside though, it sounds as if you need to consider what you want from your work. Many managers discover that being successful (i.e. being financially well off and having the status that may go with it) is no longer enough for them. I would suggest you take some time out to reflect on your future. Could you imagine yourself doing the same job until you retire? If not, you might wish to consider what gives you most enjoyment in your life – both within your work and outside of it.

What skills do you most enjoy putting into practice? Because there is a critical difference between being good at something (i.e. merely possessing a skill) and enjoying putting a skill to good use (i.e. having a strength).

For example, while you may be able to put together complex spreadsheets, Is it something that you can "cope with"? Or is it something that makes you lose track of time?

Once you have identified your strengths, start to research possible alternative career paths that may allow you to use more of your strengths. Talk to trusted individuals within your network about your strengths and interests and ask for suggestions.

But perhaps the most important part of crafting a new career for yourself is to experiment and explore possibilities. Don't just think about those other potential career paths. Take a chance on them. If you think you may want to work in the not-for-profit sector, take a week off and go shadow someone who works in that sector. If you think you want to set up a snowboarding shop in a ski resort, find someone who does it and ask them what's it really like.

Don't just dream; do something about it, and hopefully you will find something that helps you to recover that zest you used to have for your work.


About our Expert

Rob Yeung
Rob Yeung

Dr Rob Yeung is a Director and executive coach at leadership consulting firm Talentspace. He is the author of over a dozen career and management books including How to Win and I is for Influence.

Older Comments

My husband was doing the same thing to me. He really enjoys our joint earning power. But I want to down-shift and start a family. Perhaps you can highlight the things that you enjoy doing together that don't cost much and focus on the areas of your relationship that are above and beyond what we all do for a living. That's what I'm doing and he's at least starting to listen now.

Sarah London

Hey Rob, Great advice for the job seeker to persue his dreams. I think what still needs to be addressed is the concerns of the spouse. Feel free to read my post commenting on this, but basically I feel strongly that the spouse needs to be supportive of any move. The spouse may have fears that need to be addressed, or may have a very different value system -- which still needs to be acknowledged and factored into any changes.

I especially like what someone said when commenting on my post, which I summarize as follows:

You have to convince a lot of people when making a career move - but people should start with their spouse. If you can make a good case to him/her you win their valuable support during the painful process and potential let down. Nothing is more valuable than that.

I agree - because a spouse is a partner. And it's extremely tough to have success in any venture without the involvment of all the partners.

Dan Bobinski

The first relationship is with the self. If you are losing passion and purpose it is bound to be evident in all of your close relationships including the one with your partner. Making major transitions is tough without the support of the key partner in your life so it helps to find out what fears, values, hopes, underpin what appears to be a contrary direction. In that conversation you will find and share the platform for change that is beneficial to each of you and strengthens the relationships. The trick of course, is openness and receptivity to having the conversation in the first place as a place to explore what you both want and need from either work or the money. I come across this a lot when 'coaching' individuals in relationship and I totally admire and respect how couples elevate their intimacy by working through this kind of situation together.

Dawna Jones Vancouver, Canada