I am 33 years old, married, no children yet, but probably soon. My wife works as a school teacher and I work a low level office job. I am considering switching careers to go after a dream of being a professional chef.
I am struggling with the potential financial ramifications, feeling I am being “irresponsible,” and feeling money will always be a problem if I go down this path. My wife is very supportive and wants me to go after this dream instead of staying in a job I dislike. We already live on her income alone so money will be tight, but we will not starve.
Am I being selfish if I make this change and putting my family under unnecessary stress? I am so conflicted! I appreciate your advice. Thanks.
Please accept our compliments for facing reality and asking the tough questions. While we don’t want to sound harsh, it sounds to us like you are being irresponsible by remaining in a low level office job at your stage of life. You mention that you and your wife hope to have children soon, but that you are dependent on her salary as a teacher for your basic expenses. That sounds like trouble is simmering on the horizon.
We want to praise your wife for supporting your dream while also carrying a heavy load. It is clear to us, and obviously also to you, that a change is needed. We are pretty sure that your wife’s support for your idea of becoming a chef is partially her profound hope that you will do something to accept responsibility for improving your financial situation.
Knowing what question to ask is often the first step on the pathway to wisdom. We suggest you rephrase your question. The issue is not whether to stay in a job you dislike or to step on the uncertain path of becoming a chef.
No, David, the question is what change you are now going to make in order to increase your income.
Unless you urgently become proactive, we fear that these are the years the locusts will have eaten. We strongly encourage you to probe with brutal honesty and searing self-knowledge to analyze why you are currently in a low level job. Unless there is an obvious reason (illness, recent immigration…) these are years that should see you actively pursuing advancement.
In our view, you should immediately and aggressively look for ways to increase your income either by advancement in your current place of employment, taking a second job, or by looking elsewhere for a new job.
Meanwhile, do all you can in your free time to get a realistic understanding of becoming a chef. Maybe you should be moonlighting on weekends and evenings in the restaurant field or taking courses. You should only think of moving full time into the chef track once you have a well-grounded, educated understanding of your chances in that field as well as a realistic assessment of your ability to support your family should that not work out. A financial savings cushion would be a great idea as well.
You are getting somewhat of a late start. It is time to grasp your future with both hands. Now!
May you be blessed both at home and at work,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin