I'm as senior as it's possible to be before directorship in a quite new and fast-growing manufacturing company. I've been there two years and in that time I've been able to take advantage of that growth, getting promoted to my position and increasing my salary by about 40% of the starting (over that time the production turnover has more than quadrupled).
My professional background:
I have a first-class music production degree from 2004 which at this point is all but worthless. I have no other formal qualifications. I fell into what I'm doing through a coincidental predisposition to the field. Before my current job I spent seven years in a sort-of similar environment with lots of responsibility but shit money. My current employers took a punt on me because of this experience. Before my last position I had a series of lever-pulling IT/customer/service/debt recovery jobs, all awful call-centre stuff.
I'm good at my job 90% of the time but I'm happy with it maybe 20% of the time. Some of my character traits, e.g. my attention to detail and how personally I take everything I do, are ideal for the position, but some of them, e.g. my social anxiety, my hypersensitivity and my tendency to procrastination, make it a lot more difficult. The environment is very masculine, aggressive and confrontational, as well as extremely profit-oriented, which is a mask I can wear but I don't like myself when I do it. Additionally I'm hypertensive as a result of an aortic dissection a few years ago, I have IBS from leukemia twenty years ago, I have generalised PTSD, and I have a history of substance abuse (I'm currently dry). This year I will turn 40. My cardiologist has told me that if I would like to see 50 I should take it easy.
My current routine is barely tolerable. I basically work from Sunday evening (reviewing Monday's urgent tasks) through to late Friday night, and during that time if I'm not actively working (which is from before eight a.m. until well after six p.m., no breaks, no lunch hour) I'm worried about work: things I know have gone or will go wrong, things I need to do to prevent others from going wrong. I've lately started to lose sleep over it. I did not stop working during lockdown. I worked from home for maybe three weeks. During Covid our output went up 30%
Just recently one of the directors, who let's say doesn't have much time for diplomacy, gave me such a hard chewing-out for a situation I hadn't caused and was powerless to improve that I seriously considered walking out, and I ultimately contacted the MD to explain what had happened and to point out that I wouldn't put up with being treated like that. The MD did address it and the director has since been noticeably nicer to me, but it will almost certainly happen again before long, and next time I'm honestly not sure I won't just quit on the spot.
It's not a bad company to work for. There are many upsides, and not just their willingness to take a risk on promoting me and reward me for it. They are largely decent people and I'm not being exploited. I haven't been bullied into the situation I'm in; I've taken every opportunity I was offered without knowing if I'd be able to handle it, and it seems objectively that I've bitten off more than I can chew. For long, anyway.
I've never liked working. I never aimed to have anything like a career (dreams of being a rock star notwithstanding). However I'm not in a financial situation where I can just not work. My wife makes good money and we don't have kids but the commensurate reduction in our quality of life would in any case be completely unfair on her, and I'm not even sure if it's actually manageable. We've discussed it and if I were to stop working now I could afford to be unemployed for about six months, absolute tops. This would, however, be a waste of our savings.
I've considered asking for a three-day week, as that's a pay-cut I can take and still be on more money than I was making when I left my previous full-time job. However I don't know if that's even a possibility, given the hours my current role requires me to work. To be fair I'm sure the request would be considered seriously, especially if I were to put it on health grounds (which I think is fair), but I'm also concerned that the pressure this would put on the company would cost me a lot of good will (it would also harm my future career prospects but to be completely honest I think I'm about as senior in this field as I ever want to be).
I'm also going to explore my other professional options. The problem is I don't have any qualifications, and whereas two years in my currently role is not to be sniffed at (I was headhunted a year ago by another business who threw money at me, which I ended up not going for) my concern is that a similar role on equivalent pay would be every bit as stressful, with the added stress of changing jobs, and any role on less pay is is no way guaranteed to come with less stress. I've had jobs on 1/3 of my current wage and they were horrible.
I've also considered retraining, but firstly I don't have the time to do that on top of my currently job, and secondly I'm not even sure what I'd retrain as. My only vocations are creative.
I'm sure a few of your guys have been in similar situations and I hope you might have some good advice for me.
To others I'm sure this must look like first world problems, especially at the moment when so many have been laid off or have jobs at risk. I'm really sorry if that's the case. I'm just trying to find the best outcome.
TL;DR: My senior, well-paid job is really stressful and it's making me sicker than I already am, what should I do?