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mid life crisis

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
There's an awful lot I could go on about, but to cut to the chase, I'm going through a phase. At least I bloody well hope its a phase.

I just turned 51 (Today). I have a successful catering business ( see web site below)(Just me and bank staff and an Indian cook part time)

I've recently stopped doing lunches, 'cos I really have had enough of the pressure after 3 years.
I have plenty of function work to keep me busy while i figure out what i really want to be doing

I'm lucky enough, that we're not relying on my income to support the family and my kitchen is an out building in our house grounds, so there are no rent/ rates/utility bills to worry about.

So what i really want to know, is, when food has been such a huge thing in my life for all my life, why am i now thinking i dont want to do it any more... This has to be a phase, cos it feels very wrong.

I'm hoping theres folk out there that can empathise.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #2 of 9
First of all: Happy Birthday! :bounce: If you have you family, and your health, that's most important.

It sounds to me like you're burned out. Oh how easily that can happen in this industry, even when we love what we are doing. Not at all unusual. In fact, in a way it happened to me about six years ago, when I realized that I could not continue working in professional kitchens on a daily basis, as much as I enjoyed the work overall. It took me a while to look around and find something that would keep me connected to the world of food, but without the frantic pace (or so I thought at the time. :p Little did I know what different craziness I was getting into!).

First, think hard about why you might want to stop, and why you might want to stay. Be completely honest with yourself when you list both sets of reasons. Then think about what you can do to fix the things that seem wrong, and what you can "let go." Again, honesty! If on balance you think you can make the situation work again, go for it. But if you just don't see how you can keep going, take another look at your lists of reasons: those will help guide you toward other work. (Throughout all of this, talk with your family and friends, even though they may give you advice you don't want.)

Look around you for what else is out there that fulfills the stuff you want without too much of the stuff you don't. In my case, I went from cooking and kitchen management to working on cookbooks -- other people's, that is. That way I still use all I've learned about food and cooking, but don't have the other circumstances I found so frustrating. There's probably something for you, too.

Finally, don't hesitate to come back and "talk" with us here. When I was going through my dark days of not knowing what I wanted to do, just being able to chat about food and cooking here was a big boost. :D
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 9
Life is about learning. Sometimes we get into something we enjoy and learn about that thing for a long, long time... until we're very good at it. Then we hit diminishing marginal returns.

Think of it this way: A slice of chocolate cake is yummy. A second slice of chocolate cake at the same sitting isn't as yummy as the first. The third slice of chocolate cake at that same sitting would probably not be yummy at all but a chore to choke down. That's diminishing marginal returns.

One thing that can help the diminishing marginal returns problem is taking a break. Three slices of chocolate cake over several weeks would result in the slices of cake being equally yummy to each other.

Your career is like that chocolate cake. Perhaps you need a break between slices.
post #4 of 9
And maybe I need a slice of that chocolate cake. :lips:
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
You've hit the nail right on the head Suzanne and thank you so much for your sound advice.
Firstly, It's beneficial to realise I'm not alone. I needed to hear that.- I've been feeling like such a woos lately,
I've already made my pro and con lists in my head and the conclusion so far is that i put too much pressure on myself and take the business way too personally. I'll put it all down on paper. That way i can see it clearer.

Teaching is something i've always loved and i do think i could make a go of it...Watch this space.

In the meantime i'll take on board what you say on burnout and Freeriders diminishing marginal returns analagy and enjoy my chocolate cake a little less often. I've decided to only honour pre-booked orders for the whole of September, which will give me some me time to think and plan.

Do you mean you write cook books for other people?
Glad you've found something that makes you happy.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #6 of 9
Bug,

Suzanne edits other people's cookbooks.

When I hit my mid life crisis, I thought about teaching, but went to law school instead.

Choose carefully,
BDL
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info re. Suzanne BDL,

I'm going to take my time. As much as it takes to get it right. The only pressure is that which i put on myself. Husband, family and friends are in wait and see mode

Law v catering is a bit random what was the deciding factor ?

Why not teaching?
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #8 of 9
I find teaching very difficult (college level). It's not the students. I've been lucky to have wonderful, engaged students. It's not the material. I love the material. It's not standing in front of a group of people and giving them information.

It's the grading. It's having to be "on" even when you don't feel like it. It's having to develop the curriculum. It's dealing with the paperwork.

Then there's the scary part. I've been in lockdown because of a gunman on campus. I was in charge of the class and so was responsible for keeping them calm and safe.

Very difficult, teaching is. Rewarding but difficult.
post #9 of 9
I'm not sure if I'd call my catering a "career." It was something I did while doing other things because I knew I could make money at it. Anyway, catering ended when the demands of another, more remunerative "lame" job made it impossible. I was a "dolly grip." So what? Let's not make a big deal out of it.

Then I invented some stuff (good stuff, successful stuff); and started a company and tried selling it (unsuccessful company, lousy salesman, lousy businessman, good products), and ... well, if I was going to stay in the inventing game I needed to (a) trust someone else enough to do the business, and (b) go back to school and get some more math -- not that I didn't have more than any seven people needed but it was old and besides I didn't want to go back to being an undergrad with a bunch of math geeks (and boy are they geeky!). And the one person who I offered me a decent price plus a partnership in HIS more successful company was all the way on the other coast; and by the time I finally got around to accepting his offer -- and talking my way into a decent grad program in Connecticut, he got very sick and died.

So, since I really love history, I thought well, I'll get a teaching degree and teach American history. Then I thought -- you, know if I'm going to stand in front of a bunch of people and blather on about the U.S. Constitution, I might as well be a lawyer and get paid for it. Besides I needed another doctorate. Get one and there's no going back. Everybody's got to have a bunch, right? In my family we call the two adults who only have Masters degrees, "the dropouts."

BDL
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