Your story feels familiar to me. I’ve come on board jobs that promised me one thing but, even after several years, weren’t able to deliver it. Sometimes the people making the promise know they won’t be able to deliver on it, and are offering a nonexistent carrot merely to get you to say yes. Those are no-win situations, and if step in one, your only recourse is to find a better job elsewhere.
But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here. Based on your attitude toward them, and your desire not to seek work outside your current position, it sounds like the folks who hired you sincerely believed they’d be able to offer you growth and opportunity. And you’re responding to their decency and honesty with loyalty and extremely hard work. That’s commendable. You sound like a terrific employee.
Unfortunately, though, the growth opportunities you were promised aren’t happening for you. And it sounds like, even if your employers meant well initially, they are now taking advantage of you.
Outsourcing additional design work overseas, although it is being offered as a way to relieve you of some tasks, won’t bring you the professional growth you’d experience if your employers brought in another designer to work at your side. It may also be a sign that your employer doesn’t totally value design, since they believe design can be outsourced effectively to someone with whom none of you has much or even any real contact.
I may be reading too much into this, but it’s easy to envision this offer to outsource design work as a subtle threat to your security, to which you respond by doing lots of extra work without complaint. Even if I’m wrong, and your employers are wonderful people who value you and understand the value of design, it doesn’t sound like they have the budget, or the willingness, to create the environment you need to take your career to the next level.
If you were two years away from retirement, it may be worth putting up with on-the-job stagnancy. But that’s not you. Your career matters, and even if your employers are the nicest folks on earth, it sounds like you owe it to yourself to start looking around.
Thanks for sharing and hope this helps!