OK I'm lucky to have a job, right? My question is, has anyone else experienced burnout and considered transitioning out of planning, and what are some successful transitions.
I began my planning career in my late 20s at a smaller city where I worked several years in long-range planning and became a program manager as well as learning a good bit about zoning, land use, historic preservation, and redevelopment. This town was fairly anti-planning in a state with little planning enabling legislation, and my skills are more of the generalist variety, but I feel like I had decent experience and accomplishments.
I recently transitioned to a department (not planning but related) in a more "progressive" town where I found I will be mainly handling paperwork, where the political process is so cumbersome that new initiatives are frowned upon, and where the politicians/activists frankly are more than a little loony (and I say this as someone who generally enjoys living in a progressive environment), and where I'll have few opportunities for real project management. It doesn't help that there ahs been high employee turnover. I am mainly in a development review fuction despite expecting the department would be pursuing special projects. After an MA degree and 5 years of experience, I didn't believe I'd be a paper-pusher in a govt. office, and am feeling burnt out. I have an MA and would be reluctant to go into more debt to get another.
While I used to take things in stride and get interested in new ideas such as form-based codes, urban agriculture, walkable/bikable communities, etc., I find myself tired of the same old arguments and am now am thinking perhaps another line of work would be better, or at least getting out of municipal government. If it's just to earn a salary, there must be other ways, right?
My options as I see them:
- Wait for the recovery and try to transition into consulting - what skills will I need?
- Try to find a non-profit group that works on issues I am interested in - what's the best way to get into this field? I'd rather work on project implementation or consensus building, not activism.
- Bide my time and try to get a job in a more progressive town / larger city. It seems I stand a good chance getting interviews in college towns, but have had much less success in larger cities.
- Join the Peace Corps, do a one-year organic farm internship (I am interested in food policy, as well as self-sufficiency ...) or otherwise take some serious time out before regrouping in a hopefully better economy.
- Look for a new career.
Besides the standard ideas (informational interviews), has anyone had experience with job burn-out and/or successful transitions that might be enlightening? Also, has anyone had experience with career coaching, etc.?