at the job crossroads

wake. work. eat. sleep. repeat....

I'm not sure if I am the only midlifer stuck in a fairly monotonous job. I have been working in reception at an orthodontist's office for eight years. I've hung in there through thick and thin but I'm starting to feel like the time to move on is looming.

I seem to have a work-life expectancy of 6-8 years before I start getting itchy feet and wanting a change, so this isn't really a surprise. I have hung in there for the last few years for a number of reasons:

1. My husband took a redundancy and decided to go back to full time study - three years of no real income from him and a lot of tutoring costs (still a few more months until he finishes, but hopefully there will be light at the end of that tunnel by July). I'm hoping that he will have time for more than casual work once he doesn't have a study load.

2. I am a "play it safe" kinda gal. I figure a job in the hand is worth none in the bush and I am not a great risk taker. I worry about what will happen if I leave and my husband doesn't find much work to keep the wolf from the door. I'm not sure how I would go if I leave and nothing else presents itself for me to move on to (there's not a huge demand for 50+ women out there). What if I never find another job? What if we start pushing it uphill financially (been there, done that a million times before and not in a rush to go back to that kind of living). What if? What if? What if?

3. I like to be gainfully employed - not full-time but certainly a few days a week. I love the interaction with people and being efficient and friendly and keeping all the little day to day work ducks in a row. Would I miss having a regular income (not masses of money in my job but it still pays the bills) and a 'job title' (not that 'receptionist' is exactly a life changing job title)? Is my job an integral part of who I am? Who would I be if I left it all behind?

4. To stick it out this far, I have chosen to keep focusing on the good parts of the job and not on the office politics, the boss's 'god complex' - he once shouted at me and sulked and was so awful that I ended up on stress leave for a week to recover (never happened before or since - oh joy), my co-worker's narcissistic personality where everything is all about her and how wonderful she is, the fact that I've only had two minimal pay rises in eight years etc etc.

So, I am working up the courage to pull the pin and start afresh. I am making a list of all the things I'd like to do if I was working less (buying one of those retro bikes with a carry basket and riding to the shops and library is topping the list).

I am scrutinizing the job columns in the hope of finding a new job with my name on it. I'm pep-talking myself into being brave enough to let everything go and see what happens. If I end up without a job for a few months or a year would that be such a bad thing?

I've been thinking that I'd make July my watershed month to do or die if I haven't had a better offer in the meantime, but now that the idea is fermenting away inside me it may happen much sooner - stay tuned!