I mean, you're probably not that much older than me if you grew up watching 80's movies. I'm not exactly some undergrad considering dropping out to start the next facebook. I've finished graduate school, a postdoc, and am on year two of two startups. Arguably, I grew up more on Star Trek: TNG, but you sound like you can't be more than 10 years older than me.
If it helps inspire you at all, my dad started a non-profit at 30 (when I was 7), another one at 35, switched careers at 40, switched again at 45, and switched again at 50. And has every intention of continuing to switch regularly as soon as his job gets uninteresting. Life doesn't stop at 40 unless you decide to let it.
I do get what you're saying about having a boss. I find it frustrating too. I find my 2-day a week part time job much more stressful than starting two companies most of the time. Not because it's quantitatively more work, but because it's work that's not something I'm doing of my own volition.
That said, the more independent you present yourself in looking for an actual job, I suspect the more independent you'll end up being in a final position. I suspect that if you end up as a director of research and development, or a vice president of systems development, or whatever you will find that in practice you are extremely independent.
Sorry if that de-motivates you ;-) It's just how I would approach the problem you describe. Unless you were watching cartoons in the 60s, you're not too old to keep getting more awesome.
Life doesn't stop at 40 unless you decide to let it.
Yeah, I mean, intellectually I understand that (I'll be 40 this year BTW) and I don't mean to suggest that it literally does. I'm just saying that, at this age, the pressure starts to mount (at least given my particular world-view) for various reasons. Just to elaborate, and without boring all of HN with too much detail about my own personal drama... I was just diagnosed with diabetes late last year. I literally spent a night (3, actually) in the hospital for the first time in my adult life. So now I'm a lot more aware of my age and the inevitability of declining health and vitality due to age. Something like that kinda amplifies that "clock ticking" sound, ya know?
I suspect that if you end up as a director of research and development, or a vice president of systems development, or whatever you will find that in practice you are extremely independent.
True, and I'm not quite convinced that failing at this startup means heading for the Golden Gate bridge (or the liquor store, then Vegas), but there is definitely an under-current of "this has to happen, and happen now, or else" in my mind.
Sorry if that de-motivates you ;-)
Damn you, neltnerb, I was SO close to achieving my dreams, and you came along and destroyed everything!!! Aaargghh!! I will now spend my final years hunting you to the ends of the earth to seek my retribution!
Now that I can relate to. I was recently diagnosed (July) with a degenerative neurological disease, and expect to be unable to walk by 45, and be in pain most of the time.
So from that perspective, yes, definitely, I have been having a hard time figuring out what to do. The whole optimization problem of what to do has changed.
It's always been that my current happiness is a function of my current workload, and that my future happiness is a function of my current work and current happiness and future health, and that my future work is a function of my current happiness and current work, but let's just say... the prefactors for each shift rather dramatically when you can't help but think "if I don't do this now, I will probably never have the chance".
But it's worth considering, at least for me, that my current health will in large part effect my future health. So anxiety in the present will have a concrete quantifiable effect on my future health and therefore my future work.
That problem, I definitely have no answer to. But I do think that you shouldn't overvalue current work relative to current health. Not to trivialize anything (diabetes sucks), but focusing on your health now may well give you a lot more time in which you are able to succeed. The optimization function is not at all clear to me, at least.
For me, stress explicitly will increase the rate at which I lose neurological function. But I doubt it's linear; I mean, much more likely that there is some threshold at which I can operate and not degenerate much faster. So I should be operating at that magic optimization point. But unfortunately, my condition has such large patient-to-patient variability that it's unclear what that optimization point is. Ugh.
So yeah, I can feel the clock ticking too. Heck, I don't even have a decent boyfriend yet. And I want to have kids someday!
I dunno, it's tricky. And I definitely haven't figured it out yet other than to know that I need to make changes to reduce my stress level from that of some undergrad. That's just not healthy. Exercise, sleeping well, maintaining personal relationships, these are not irrelevant in determining your future outlook.
Again, I apologize for probably completely misunderstanding your worries. I'm misunderstanding my own frankly. This is a weird time of my life as well; perhaps we can just be confused together.
Yeah, I'm doing the low-carb diet thing, and my diabetes is fairly well controlled at the moment. I'm not in eminent danger of collapsing and dying as far as I know, but it's just that going through the experience I did (I developed something called DKA or "Diabetic Ketoacidosis" which is a life threatening condition, hence the hospital stay) has made me much more aware of the inevitable decline in health and fitness as I age. Yes, I know that proper exercise and diet and what-not can slow the process down, but I can no longer pretend that it isn't going to happen to some degree. Having that shoved in my face very unceremoniously has given me a new perspective on certain things. :-)