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pickleknuckle's avatar

Can a 40-y/o who's never made more than $12K turn it around? (pls see inside)

Asked by pickleknuckle (141points) July 27th, 2011

I’m scared for him. He doesn’t have drug issues (barely even drinks) and is hardworking. I think what’s working against him is his lack of ambition—smart but not educated, absolutely HATES “playing the game”, and doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. On the one hand, it’s really not my business… but the idea of this guy spending his life being just another sweet, quiet non-entity is painful. I think he wants to do something about it, but doesn’t know what, and I want to help him where I can. Jellies, what are your thoughts?

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11 Answers

Pandora's avatar

You can’t give ambition to someone who has none. Some people just want to coast through life because they fear the possibilty of failure if they really try for something they want.
Some really don’t know what they want.
Some don’t feel worthy.
The best you can do if you are still game is find out what his interest are and see if it can lead to some sort of profession that he can maybe work on by getting some classes.
Lets say he likes and understand computers. Maybe he can take some classes to get certified in computer repairs.
If he likes carpentry, he can get a job at home depot or something and get some training their. I can’t remember if it was home depot or some other hardware store, but I remember meeting a worker who said they were able to get some of their college courses for carpentry paid by the store and when they graduated they would become manager of the department.

augustlan's avatar

Maybe suggest a vocational school program of some kind, where he can get certified in a solid career area that will earn him a decent living. That’s what my ex-husband did (became a computer network engineer), and has made solid money ever since. It’s not a job he ever aspired to, but that money allows him to pursue his other passions and he lives a very full life because of it.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m wondering what your relationship is to this 40-year-old because that is a factor in what you may be able to say to him and how he may hear it. Are you supporting him? Is he supposed to be supporting you? How are you involved?

On the whole I doubt that you can really suggest anything he’s never thought of by the age of 40. So the question seems to be whether you can motivate him and whether you should try. It’s one thing if you have some sort of claim on him and he is failing to provide for you in a way that you have a right to expect. But if it is really not your business, as you say above, I think you should let him alone.

He seems willing to trade off being somebody by your standards for the sake of a relatively stress-free life. Getting by at better than subsistence level doesn’t mean to him what it means to you. Obviously he is surviving somehow, and—I don’t mean to be harsh, but he may not have any reason to give up the pluses of being a sweet, quiet nonentity just in order to spare you pain. Apparently it isn’t painful to him. He doesn’t have to be what you think he should be.

If he is living on something other than his own earnings, such as on welfare or by sponging off someone else, that’s another story. If it’s you who’s providing support, you do have the option to withdraw it and see if that feels like motivation to him.

marinelife's avatar

Leave the man alone. Not everyone is cut out for the working world.

Offer help only if he asks for it.

robmandu's avatar

Wondering what “game” it is he thinks he has to “play” in order to bring in more than $6/hour (equivalent based on 40 hours of work per week, 50 weeks a year).

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Kick him out… if you’re supporting him.

My dad taught me how to swim by tossing me into the deep end and walking away. I hated him for it. But I learned how to swim real good.


OK that’s harsh. At this point, I would highly suggest making a plan. Just like a business plan. Start at the end game. Isolate what his current interests are. Then research professions that are related to those interests. Then put the ten year plan in place, step by step to achieve the end goal. Good luck!

beancrisp's avatar

A 40 – y/o that doesn’t know what he wants when he grows up?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

I’m afraid he can’t turn it around, not because he can’t but simply because he doesn’t want to!
I am sorry to say that you are simply wasting your time. If he has no idea where he wants to go by now, I doubt he ever will. I’ve seen cases like that turn 50 and still plod on like that claiming to be lost confused or hard done by. You may also notice that it’s always someone else’s fault the ended up that way, NEVER theirs!!!!!!!!

Good luck in trying anyway.

pickleknuckle's avatar

Thanks for the helpful answers above. Definitely food for thought 8^)

Maybe I am wasting my time (and he his!), but I figure as long as there’s life, there’s hope. You can always turn things around, if you know how and want to. Otherwise we’d all just lay down and die the second life got the least bit adverse, wouldn’t we? I am thankful I’m not supporting him!

@marinelife—I posted this question in the event I get a clearer signal from him that he wants perspective. How he goes about being happy in life is his choice. I’m being a friend, not getting up in his face. Thank you.

@robmandu— “Games” such as sucking up to the right people or pretending he doesn’t see things happening in the workplace that aren’t right. He wouldn’t have lasted a year at any place Rupert Murdoch owns, and more power to him for that! People talk a big game about morals and ethics, but how many little things do we notice and let go by on a regular basis? It happens whether you’re making $6/hour or $100K a year. Game-playing is a basic survival skill, but some people don’t stomach it so easily.

robmandu's avatar

@pickleknuckle, I don’t know what kinds of places you or he has had to work at before, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some incredible folks of great integrity at many different companies.

My point is, making more than $12k/year doesn’t mean selling your soul to the devil… unless you’re going into politics.

What’s his education and background in? What does he have experience doing?

pickleknuckle's avatar

@robmandu I’m glad for you; such places do of course exist. I also agree that making good money doesn’t necessarily mean you kick all ethics to the curb, although from the perspective of someone who can’t seem to get there (apparently due to being too honest in the workplace), it sure could seem that way.

He’s got an Associates degree (may or may not have graduated with honors, don’t know). His experience ranges from restaurant to per diem remodeling jobs, all over the place. Have you ever read Nickel and Dimed?

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