Life Goes On: Thoughts on Entering My Mid 30s

On one hand, moments of my youth feel like just yesterday. On the other, I do feel a very real sense of the time that has passed over the course of my life. I don’t feel old quite yet, but I definitely don’t feel young either. My friends all are having or already have children, fashions are reverting to what was popular when I was in elementary school (the revival of the choker brings on all the feels), and I’m somehow – despite my mental illness – ready to have children. I know it’s going to be very hard, but I feel surprisingly ready. Maybe I’m not logistically ready, but I feel ready from a maturity level, which is an odd thing for me to say, but as I acknowledge that many parents are not actually that mature, I have found confidence in my own future parenting skills.

If all goes to plan, I’ll be pregnant and possibly already with child at this time next year. I have a not-so-secret hope for twins, which is probably the worst thing to wish for, but I have always wanted twins since I was a child and with infertility treatments to help induce fertility (which I need anyway) the odds of having twins are much higher. We don’t have any history of twins in our families so it would be extremely unlikely in the event of a completely unaided conception. but giving what the infertility doc said about my ovaries, natural pregnancy without the help of at least medicine is extremely unlikely. And I’m not getting any younger.

I’m still torn on the embryo freezing option. I definitely should get a second and even third opinion but who has the time? The $2k one cycle clomid style option seems like a great one if it gets me pregnant and if I happen to get pregnant with twins then that’s two for the price of one. I think if we have twins we’d both feel like we could wait and make a decision later on if we want another child – and having two at once would sure be plenty to handle for a long time.

I also am feeling oddly at ease with my career situation. Compared to a year ago, I actually feel like I know how what needs to be done to be successful in a role like this. I also know what to look for when interviewing to avoid taking on roles that aren’t a fit. Basically, the most important part of success in my type of role is having a plan going in and making sure that anyone who will be managing me agrees with the plan, general budget, and hiring requirements to be successful, and, most importantly, how we measure success. I know that now in interviews I can be very confident about these conversations. Unfortunately, for my current job, there’s little I can do to save myself at this point. I’m going to try to just knock it out of the park in my last 1-2 quarters at the company. I really can’t stay with the way my boss is treating me. I’m perfectly ok with a boss who dislikes my work and lets me go, but I just think he regrets hiring me and doesn’t know what to do about it now. My goal is to make sure when I do leave I do my very best to show him how much I’ve added to the business, even if we both know I wasn’t perfect and I missed deadlines and such.

The reality is I know I have added a lot, but I’m not sure if he sees any of it. His mindset is basically that “most” would have happened without me there. Other managers I’ve had in the past will give benefit of the doubt with certain successes to provide credit for those successes that may have been the result of programs or products I’ve managed, but I can read him very well and I know he’s thinking that barely anything I’ve done has generated business value. Worse, I’m worried he thinks that my work is a net loss for the company. I will do whatever it takes in the next few months to show him that couldn’t be further from the truth. But I have to leave. He will be bringing in a senior leader who will set the strategy and hopefully he will trust that person and, I have no doubt in my mind that the senior leader will be better at hitting project deadlines and being trusted to increase company revenue. What happens is the senior-level person comes in after I’ve built a lot of the foundation from nothing and really invested probably too much time in building the foundation and then they’ll be able to come in and knock it out of the park. Or not. But it’s definitely a luxury to join a company where the basic setup is already in place. I sometimes prefer going to places I can build processes from scratch, because I’m big on building the right processes, but maybe it’s time I go and become VP somewhere after someone has spent a lot of time and energy getting systems in place.

What I need to do is figure out how to create a plan and hit my deliverables. I seem to be ok if I have a team to execute where I run into trouble is when I get myself too involved in the nitty gritty of the projects. I like to dig in once or twice to understand the process and then make a repeatable process that I don’t need to be so deeply involved in going forward. There are some parts of my job though, specifically parts that I was hired for, which are much harder to manage and build repeatable processes for. Many involve writing which I’ve found challenging to hire for, especially writers who understand a specific style of writing for business. I’m not even that great at it, but I find it hard to explain to someone else what I’m looking for or to edit their work. When it comes to other repeatable processes it’s much easier to make suggestions and optimize them.

Maybe I’m absolutely crazy (ok I am) but I want to go to another small-ish company. I know, I know, you all are saying that I do this time and again and end up back where I started. True and untrue. I’m SO MUCH BETTER at my job today than I was less than a year ago. What I know today will save me tons of trial and error time waste during my first 30-60-90 days on the job, which is that vital time to gain trust. I also want to make sure that I go into a role without my hiring manager seeing me as being some sort of superhuman, only to be completely disappointed by my work. I want to set expectations and if those expectations aren’t good enough then I’ll find another opportunity. But, still, I have confidence that with what I know now, I can go and kick ass at another org as long as the product is solid and there is product-market fit. It won’t be easy, but I’m excited about going in and creating a plan and executing on it. If I stay now, even if I do get to stay, I’ll be executing on someone else’s plan. I’m fine with that if that person is a great leader and really has top-notch ideas and is someone I can learn from… but I also would rather be able to select who that person is in my own interview process. In any case, whether it’s 2 months from now or 1 year from now, it’s going to soon be time to leave.

I still don’t understand how childbirth and working actually occur nearly in tandem. I’m sure I’d go out of my mind staying at home with babies but at the same time I know the six weeks of time off I would have, if that, will go by in a heartbeat. And I don’t know how I’ll be able to focus at work thinking about how my children are growing up without me there to experience their first steps or first words. I know plenty of women go back to work and that’s just the nature of the modern world and there’s a lot good about that (I’m glad I have the choice to NOT be a stay at home mom) but I’m just concerned about the timing of everything. I’m very open to taking a role that pays less at this point and moving to a new city as long as I can still do the work I’m doing in a positive environment where I can be successful. It’s really hard to find my type of job outside of the bay area. There are some roles in NY and a handful in Seattle, Boston and LA. Other than that, I probably need to change my career. I might decide to do that eventually, but not right now.

As far as my networth goals, I’ve been spending way too much because I’ve been stressed and depressed and my way to fight depression is to binge eat and binge shop. I know, it’s a really bad set of habits. At least I’m making a solid income now so I’m still even with my crazy spending able to save about $5000 a month. I know that won’t last forever. I’m now thinking of my path to $1.5M and how fast I can get there if I maintain or increase my current salary:

(assumes saving $50k per year and 5% YoY growth on average)

2017: $400k (@ 33)
2018: $420k + 50k = $470k
2019: $493.5k + 50k = $543.5k (@35)
2020: $570k + 50k = $620k
2021: $651k + 50k = 701k
2022: $736k + 50k = $786k
2023: $773k + 50k = $823k
2024: $864k + 50k = $914k (@40)
2025: $960k + $1.01M (“one” millionaire @41)
2026: $1.06M + $50k = $1.1M
2027: $1.16M + $50k = $1.26M
2028: $1.27M +$50k = $1.3M
2029: $1.39M + $50k = $1.4M
2030: $1.5M @ 46

If I can save this much over the next 13 years, I can potentially retire early / have the ability to start my own business or do what I want later in life. If I have my first child at 34, then they will be 12 when I’m 46, and that will be a time period when I really want to spend more time with my children. This plan also does not include my husband’s income which will be less but still adding to our networth and retirement fund. If I can actually stick to this program of adding “just” $50k a year not including interest over the next 13 years, I will have over $1.5M by the time I’m 46. Of course, the stock market could crash, the world could end, et al, but at least this plan seems achievable. Ideally as some point in my early 40s my income increases so I can put more away or at least it balances out what I’m spending on costs for my children’s life. My goal isn’t really to quit working, it’s just the freedom to do so should I want to. Heck, maybe I’ll return to school for art or fashion design and earn a living that way when my kids grow up. I think the smart thing to do now is to try to get better at what I’m doing, keep my head down, and build my networth through my mid 40s. It is CRAZY to be thinking about planning for my “mid 40s” as it’s not that far away anymore. But if I’m anywhere near the $1.5M goal at 45, I’ll be in a really solid place for the rest of my life. $1.5M, if I don’t touch it and it earns just 5% a year, will be worth $3M in 15 years. That means that when I’m 60-ish, I’ll have somewhere between $2M and $3M, and I’ll have true freedom. Granted, I’ll be 60 (holy hell) but at least I’ll have done what I set out to do in this life – create financial freedom and have some years ahead of me (hopefully) which no longer are about earning money but really about living life and seeing the world and creating art or just spending time with family.

I won’t be able to do that in my current job, but perhaps 13 years of continuing to put away $50k a year in savings isn’t that unreasonable. If the market returns are higher than 5% then I can get to go even sooner. So, even though life is so unstable right now, I’m feeling really confident in how things are working out in terms of the bigger picture.

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