Mid career and I hate my job.

el Guapo

Professor Emeritus of Cyburbian Studies
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#1
I love the problem solving and working with the vast majority of people I encounter, but I have come to the conclusion that the cards are stacked against us, no one has our back, no one really gives a shit if we do the job correctly or not. The planning professional crap-to-reward ratio is just too high the higher you climb the ladder of crap.

Maybe I'll fell better in the morning, but this has been building for years. Have you ever been in a room full of developers, engineers, applicants, your fellow planners and elected officials and asked yourself, "Is there anyone in this room that wouldn't screw me over professionally for a nickle?"
 
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PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
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#3
Im with you EG I was a happy planner in NC but here in Va the laws and mind set...eh why do I even bother. As you say its a loosing deal no matter what you do. Not real interested in selling out to the dark side, heck Id be back dealing with the same BS I deal with now as a planner and Id KNOW the local communities are full of BS.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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#4
I've considered career switches periodically, but some of that is a temptation to turn one of my hobbies into a profession and that little entrepreneurial spirit in me that would love to run my own small business.

As far as compatible careers go, perhaps you might want to switch to location analysis--which gets you away from some of the politics.



If you want to hurt politicians, perhaps you should consider running an escort service... ;)
 
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#5
I hear you!

El Guapo and Planner Girl,

I feel your pain, because I am experiencing it myself. I like the people I work with. My employers are cool. Most of the public we deal with are good folks who want to do the right thing. The process is wearing me down. The same problems are addressed with the same remedies that haven't worked in the past, so why do we expect them to work now? We get lambasted for trying to do good things and I am not sure the general public sees through the subterfuge of those with ulterior motives. Sometimes it seems like your supposed allies are just moments away from jumping to the other side. Public sector planners serve so many masters (the applicants, the public, the governing body, public agencies, etc.) and each expects something different from us.

But I continue to journey on, because it is my job and I have a family that counts on me.
 

zman

Cyburbian
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#7
Good thing I am not alone. I thought that I was the only one.

I am only 4 years in my career (this week, actually) and I want out of the government. I spent yesterday designing downtown street sections for the town (by hand) and I LOVE drawing.

I hope to get into that. For now? My house probably won't sell and I make good money and I don't drive into work, so I will stay, it isn't so bad, but it isn't for me.
 

Queen B

Cyburbian
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#8
You are not alone...
I think that is why we are here.

I think Land Use Law might give you the opportunity to screw everyone over...
 

The One

Cyburbian
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#9
Yup....

Not alone....:-| I've had more knives put in my back by elected officials, developers and realtors than I can count:-| Blah.......

You should consider being a lobbyist....that could be fun, regardless of what you're pushing.....:D Like RJ said...isn't Rove a lobbyist now? How about resort and recreation management? Find a place with a beach that needs a manager and go for it;)
 
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#10
How about resort and recreation management? Find a place with a beach that needs a manager and go for it;)
Or, for that matter, any kind of tourism planning. Then at least you know your clients will most likely be happy elected people and happy people on vacation (which reinforces the happy elected people).
 

luckless pedestrian

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#12
Or, for that matter, any kind of tourism planning. Then at least you know your clients will most likely be happy elected people and happy people on vacation (which reinforces the happy elected people).
Oh really? let me send you a linky to my weekly...:p

Let me pop this bubble right now :6:

People are crazy, self-serving, non-listeners, dishonest, and back-stabbers [insert music] no matter what town/county/state you serve - and, what's even more harsh is those people are in every profession, every office, every neighborhood - so escaping planning will not allow you to escape humanity, especially if you go to law school

so you have to separate the people from what you are doing to accurately assess if it's the profession or the people that are wearing you out - this is not an easy exercise and a spa may have to be involved ;)

the one piece of advice and my cyber-friends can scroll now becasue I think I have posted this story before: when I first left private to go public after 7 years in private, I was assigned to work on a possible rezoning of what was really a business area that was zoned residential as a way to control growth (yeah, I know :r:) - so I did all the textbook planning things - stakeholder meetings, map analysis (hand-drawn days), public workshops, charrettes and all - I came up with the obvious solution of a village zone that would control the size of businesses because that's what they were so worried about - sent it onward to Town Meeting and not only did it fail on Town Meeting floor but it went up in flames and I was flamed violently as "that girl who wrote this piece of crap" - all of 28 yo, I was rightfully traumatized, thought wth am I doing here and then one of my Planning Board members who kinda mothered me a little came up and patted my hand and said "LP, sometimes, people just don't want good planning" - those words have echoed in me for the last 15 years -

I had to learn to let go - to say my peace and then sit back and accept what happens because it's not my decision, it's theirs - yes, I have to live with their mistakes but it's still their doing

so good luck with your introspection and keep us posted - :)
 

Fat Cat

Cyburbian
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#13
Fat Cat

I doubt if any one will disagree with you;)
but it doesnt matter what your profession is, this goes on:r:
If you really like what you are doing stay with it, dont leave because of the roves of the world,
Get some comedy CDs and laugh:-D:D:D
And then think about the situations that you are in and think about the people that you have described and think about how humorous it really is:-D
 
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#14
That's the thing about being involved with so many citizens/community groups/agencies. Even if you do your job perfectly and follow the rules, you'll still get on someone's bad side just because of the fact that we have to make compromises. Also, sometimes people aren't going to like you because of the agency you work for, the plan you're pushing, or some obscure thing that happened with your boss 10 years ago. I used to take that stuff so personally. Now, I'm over it.

When I started my career in planning (a whole 2 years ago), I assumed everyone was on my side and wanted the best for the project. Now when I walk into meetings, I'm more on guard and try to figure out people's motives. Like luckless pedestrian said, you gotta be zen about it.

I will say recognizing the selfishness in others makes me appreciate genuine, forthright people even more.
 

btrage

Cyburbian
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#15
To be honest, I sort of find the political side of planning somewhat entertaining. As LP said, some people just don't want our advice.

For me, I thoroughly enjoy the "process" of planning just as much as the end result. If planners focus too much on the end result, then I belive you will eventually tire of the profession.

For those that are tiring of everything, I say sit back, relax and wait. I have a feeling that we may be entering an exciting time for the profession, what with gas prices, climate change, etc. The more and more I talk to regular people and politicians, I get the sense that these people are starting to see the bigger picture. Or maybe I just hope so.
 
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#16
If I had not left government for the private sector I would probably be feeling the same right now. Working in government is the most unrewarding environment I can imagine. Everyone thinks that they are your boss and you need to do their bidding. The politicians use you to take the heat from their bad decisions. The public thinks you are the one responsible for the fact that they did not get the project they wanted. The administration gives you no support. You can win a half dozen awards from your peers and be treated like the village idiot in the town in which you work.

There is no way I could tolerate that anymore. I find that most of the communities I work for actually want a plan. They listen to my ideas. When they don't I know that in a couple months I will finish the project, send them a bill, and not worry about it. The political pressures are pretty much history.

(People who provide current planning, whether working for cities or a consultant, probably have it the worst. Become a long-range planner and never have to worry about a site plan review or rezoning request.)
 
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#17
For those that are tiring of everything, I say sit back, relax and wait. I have a feeling that we may be entering an exciting time for the profession, what with gas prices, climate change, etc. The more and more I talk to regular people and politicians, I get the sense that these people are starting to see the bigger picture. Or maybe I just hope so.
This is what keeps me coming to work... otherwise I'd probably be looking for a way to get back into nonprofits (and still may eventually). The work is far more political than I ever thought possible and I find I have to detach myself from any potential outcomes of the stuff we are working on, good or bad, to stay sane. I've never been in such an environment where I have to measure literally everything I say - the work forces you to learn the language of doublespeak and word-twisting as a survival mechanism. I'm realizing that urban planning as a profession would work like clockwork IF people were fully rational. However, because people in reality tend to be anything but rational, the process breaks down, and the realities described in this thread are what we are left with.
 

gicarto

Cyburbian
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#18
I am upset with working for government after starting my career 2 and a half years ago. I am starting to look for a private firm that could utilize my services. I'm a visionary thinker and it just seems to me that government work gets to involved in the permitting side of the job.
 
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#19
For those that are tiring of everything, I say sit back, relax and wait. I have a feeling that we may be entering an exciting time for the profession, what with gas prices, climate change, etc. The more and more I talk to regular people and politicians, I get the sense that these people are starting to see the bigger picture. Or maybe I just hope so.
I have to agree with btrage. The comprehensive planning years have been described as the golden years for planners. Having lived through that for too long and seen mediocre results, I now believe that these were not golden years. For me personally, these were my training years. There is a lot of opportunity for planners to really make changes and the single issue of high energy prices (beyond just gas) will likely cause a shift in the way we all live. That is, if energy costs stay high. Eventually this will impact how our communities can sustain themselves environmently, economically and socially. We’ve all heard it before and hear it daily.

Where as comprehensive planning was a planner thing in a planner world, sustainability is a lifestyle thing in everyone’s world and the planning profession IS the group prepared to bring it all together and make things happen.

It may take awhile for people to see the bigger picture, however it is happening and it is happening within the communities. Overtime it will be difficult for politicians to ignore this force and since planners are a link between community and politicians, we are in a unique position to foster this change. Planners are visionaries and local governments are usually not. However planners can change that.

Cardinal stated that working for the government is unrewarding, however working for the government also enables you to work closely with a particular community on a day to day basis to affect change. On the other hand, there are some local governments where change and vision are not embraced. For those planners working for these types of public employers, I’d say bail and find an employer where you can make a difference—either public or private—but don’t bail on the profession.
 
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#20
It seems to me that often times we have to remember that people who don't want help, or who don't see the need for something, are going to be inherently negative and combative towards new ideas. If you're not in planning for the credit, perhaps a good idea is to take a note fromthe books of many very successfull city managers that I've known. Find ways to let those polititians and citizens take ownership of your ideas. For example, if you see a need for more open spaces and recreation facilities in your town, or have been assigned the task of planning for these things, find the council member or public activist who most desires more recreation or find two council members that tend to disagree with each other on principal, and if you can rub elbows with them in a private or casual atmosphere, find a way to let them take an ownership position with the idea. Let them feel like what you want to do was their idea in the first place. Sadly, when you're involved in politics as a paid employee, it is often neccessary to let go of the idea of credit where credit is due, and look at the big picture of being happy that what needed to get done got done. You'll not get away from playing politics as long as you work in government, so it's best to find a way to let the politics work for you.
At least, that's been my experience with 10 years of government service as a paid employee.
 
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