The things that work for me are to: find ways to be independently happy and take small steps towards that goal.
Find ways to be independently happy. I know it sounds fluffy in a industry of highly motivated and technical folks but detaching your happiness from a single job/company will make you happier in the long term. Work towards improving yourself (exercise, read, meet people who you don't normally interact with - best way is to travel). Do things that humble you, that you're an absolute beginner at.
Sam Altman has "compound self" on his list of how to be successful. I think that's very true. I often overestimate what I can do in the short term and underestimate what I can do in the long term. So take small steps to get to where you want to go and keep at it. Not only will you reach your destination before you know it, you will realize that the destination is just a by product of your journey.
I don't know if this is what you were looking for in your question, but this has worked for me so I thought I'd share.
Also, it's recommmended just about every hour on here but So Good They Can't Ignore You covers this topic quite a bit.
Here is Derek Sivers' book notes on it: https://sivers.org/book/SoGood
Fallback option was to help my best friend from school to build a tech startup. We lived on opposite sides of the Atlantic but we’d talked about this during my last few months at the biotech and we figured it’d work. It was being built with Ruby on Rails which I hadn’t touched - last time I did any web development was 6 years ago with LAMP - but I was excited to get back into tech and learn.
When I started working on this new startup, it went wrong very quickly. I was working from home and quickly felt isolated and sad. I noticed that my anxiety levels were shooting through the roof. I felt I wasn’t learning RoR anywhere near quickly enough to get to grips with our core business problem (which was to build a new search engine for technical staff). And since I was working with my friend, who had literally busted his arse for a year to raise funding for us, I felt utterly trapped. My head was telling me to get the hell out and take a long long break to destress. But that would totally wreck his business opportunity - his funding was contingent on having a tech team (me) ready to go immediately.
Eventually I did quit. I found myself utterly helpless and reliant on my wife’s income for the first time. I was now relegated to stay at home dad status, which I’d done everything to avoid as my career had always been important to me. That was rock bottom. In real terms it could have been much worse, but mentally that’s about as low and trapped as I’ve ever been, and I honestly didn’t think I’d ever find a way back into any meaningful career.
Long story short - I took a year out to spend with my kid. Wife got a one year transfer to London, which was an amazing blessing in disguise because it was a tonne of fun to explore the city with my kid. Finally inched back into tech, did two boot camps, rediscovered my love of coding, got a job, and gradually got back on track. It’s taken 5 years and is in many ways an ongoing process, but I did manage to get out of that trapped situation.
Edit: I still haven't found my next thing, but it's still better than that feeling of being trapped.
When evaluating a major lifestyle change for financial benefit with a job shift, I asked a coworker who'd been doing the job awhile. He gave me the best advice I've ever received when moving into a high-stress / high-paying job.
"It's good money. But make sure you set up your finances so that when you decide to stop, you can. Even when they say 'What if we paid you twice as much to keep doing the job?' Otherwise, you'll still be doing the job when you're 60."
The corollary is probably: don't take a job you don't want to do, unless the pay's good enough that you can reach the above point in a reasonable amount of time.
I listened, and it gave me the opportunity to quit a well paying consulting job to be with my mother while she was going through cancer surgery. (Thankfully, it and her recovery went well)
And ultimately, led me to finding a job that was a much happier fit.
A third time (joining an early stage startup as a late founder) 6 months would have been a decent contingency if it went under fast, 12 if it withered away slowly. (Also caught a lucky break on that one and had a soft landing.)
Once (walking away from a bad job and looking for one that was a stretch), 6 months would have been plenty because if the gamble didn’t work out I knew I could reset my sights lower after a few months of looking and be employed somewhere within 6 weeks.
So the answer is very much “it depends on the circumstances”.
But life is not a math problem, and the things that seem inflexible often turn out to be very much so. Good luck out there, and ignore most of this advice. :) Everyone has to find their own way.
I ended up leaving a chunk of money on the table for something more fulfilling. Things worked out. I'm poorer than I would be, but not poor by any stretch of the definition (except for maybe house poor. Yay bay area real estate). But I don't feel trapped. I've got engaging work and feel I've grown a lot since I left. And I'm more fun at home with my kids.
I wouldn't say my job is my primary source of fulfillment, but it is an important part of my personal fulfillment. And part of this was the timing. I felt I was too young in my career to settle with beomg bored. That may change the next time this happens.
Reach out to me directly (contact in profile) if you want to talk more specifics. I have great sympathy for anyone in this situation, largely because it feels so foolish to be complaining and that just compounds the issue.
It would be better to be a new writer excited to write a crap book than to be a Stephen King without the energy or will to write a word.
(As far as I know, King still has more energy and enthusiasm than most writers. The example was a counterfactual.)
The poster should have told their spouse before doing any interviewing that they were considering positions out of town. It's absolutely reasonable to say no when someone comes out of the blue with a request to move out of town. Understand all your constraints and have an open dialog with your spouse before you go interviewing.
The unfortunate fact is the possibility that some part of the cognition takes years to return. He appreciates how he has changed now. It’s been years. I think some of his changes are also due to aging and the hardship. In hindsight, alienating the company might seem like a very terrible idea for him. Fact is, if neither of you were injured, there’d be no such conversations. The core of the problem is the concussion and that is tough to deal with. His was very severe and led to a long pause in his career. As for the doctor, and reiterating that I am not a doctor, my understanding is that there’s little a new doctor can do beyond recommending practice sessions. Unless the science has changed very recently or medical practice is different where you are. Best of luck. Feel free to leave a way so I can contact in case there’s more I can share.
I'm alone, depressed and the gloomy weather isn't helping either (SAD is very real). I keep wondering if I will never be able to fit in a regular job again. Yes, I feel trapped.
We have a open relationship and sleep with other people and occasionally have threesomes. I don't want to be with anybody really. I optimize my life for minimal commitment. I don't want anybody depending on me in any way. I was open about this from the start.
I think that she sometimes is helpless and generally not the smartest person, and i suspect that this is the reason why there is no symmetrical attraction. I don't know what and how to tell here, how to leave and do minimal damage -- the truth, seems to be no option.
Your reply is quite powerful and understandable. Do you practice "Non-Offensive Language"?
The most miserable guy I ever knew had a PhD and was for sure a "genius" at 160+.
Sure it's just anecdata, but sometimes "try not to think so much" seems like good advice.
There are worse traps than not wanting a bad look on your resumé, but that feeling was definitely there.
It calls out mood and anxiety disorders, which might be a disadvantage in this situation.
On the other hand, the few sub-100 IQ people that I know well enough to have a sense of seem to be more content with their lot in life, having long ago learned that they do not have much agency to change it, and thus are more accepting of whatever situation they find themselves in.