What’s Next? 12 Month Count Down

The good news — if you can count this as good news — the weeks are flying. While I’m still struggling with coming back from maternity leave to the first year of no raise at all (I didn’t expect a performance-based raise, but it seemed the company gives out COL raises typically so I was still a bit surprised to get nothing.) While yes this is a year that many companies didn’t give any raises, my company performed strongly last year and I assume (though don’t know for sure) that others got bumps in pay. I was placed in a different role so maybe they feel I’m overcompensated for my new position. In any case, it’s clear the writing is on the wall. Maybe they’re willing to keep me as long as I do my work at my current pay rate, but I do know they throw money (at least in stock) at people they want to keep. And I’m not one of them.

And that’s fine. I don’t want a reason to stay. So maybe they are doing me a favor by giving me more reason to leave. I don’t have to run out the door right now. Even though the value of my stock is down a bit, it’s still worth sticking it out at least until the beginning of 2022. Part of me wants to stick around in 2022 long enough to max my after-tax account and get my match, which means I’d have to stay enough months to put $34.5k into an after-tax Roth. Theoretically, with bonus, I could do that in about 6 months. My thought is I don’t put anything into a 401k as I would more likely have access to a 401k than a after tax/Roth at a new job, plus any match at my new future job will be on 401k contributions in the future. And if shit hits the fan next year and I do not get a new job then my taxes will be lower anyway. So I stay until I get 34.5k into my account, which is about 6 months with bonus and my contributions. That means I stay until June, but I could also consider bumping up my contributions after March if I’m sure I’m leaving in June because there’s no point in putting funds into an ESPP if I’m leaving before the next purchase date.

That seems like a long way away. I really am focused now on getting to Oct 1, then April 1, then I’ll see what happens. With the stock market flatlining, I know I keep buying stock on sale but it’s still feels like I’ll never hit my goals. But at least the weeks keep happening.

And I’m really grateful for being able to work from home right now. If I was working in an office I’d be rushing to get out the door at the moment, or already on the road sitting in traffic. Instead, I’m enjoying the last few minutes before work hours with my 4 month old breastfeeding and blogging. I do miss the office a little bit (I never thought I’d say it) as living in a house with two young kids, my father-in-law and my husband I don’t really get any “me” time outside of going to sit in the parking lot of coffee shops occasionally… and then rushing back to feed my baby. With my first son by this time I was back at work and pumping. I could pump at home but I also love the bonding experience of feeding my baby all the time and it’s not really that hard when I’m home all the time (though sometimes he cries through a meeting if he’s hungry and I can’t stop to feed him, but usually I can book meetings around his feeding times.) Pumping at work wasn’t really that great outside of being able to hide in the mom’s room and make it my own occasional secret office for a year. There were times when I was engorged in meetings running over and that was no fun. I love that I’m not engorged at all these days. I make just the right amount for my son who is growing perfectly. And right now it looks like the earliest I’d have to go back to the office is in the fall, but hopefully not until 2022. I don’t know what will happen now that the CDC is saying people who are vaccinated can be inside with others without a mask. It feels like the end of this pandemic is near — which is a good thing, of course, but it does mean at some point they will want us back in the office. I just hope it’s not that soon and I can start looking for a new job at a company that is more flexible or at least closer to my new home.

What is rough right now is trying to figure out what’s next. Can I get a job doing what I do now (or did before I was moved out of the role?) Probably. It probably won’t pay as well, as I was recruited by the head of my department this time and I while I don’t think I’m overcompensated, I do think that most companies under compensate this specific type of role. So I can get paid less to do the same role, or I can try to change positions, back into more of a leadership role, and maybe make the same, but probably have to manage people and such, which I don’t really want to do right now.

I COULD stay in my current company and just accept that I will be losing compensation each year without stock refreshes and raises. The biggest issue with that is I don’t trust I’ll get my bonus each year. This past year was the first year I didn’t get my full bonus. I still made over $200k with the bonus I received, but had I not gotten it at all my compensation (without stock) would not be enough to cover my bills. I think I need to find a job with a higher base even if that means giving up on some of the variable compensation. Though I’m not sure that’s really possible. Next year, IF I get my full bonus my current role is worth $280k. That includes full bonus, stock, 401k match, ESPP discount. That’s a great income! Without bonus, I’m at around $250k for the year. It will still be hard to find another job that gets me to $250k without bonus. But most of that compensation is front weighted in the year. By April 1 I will have 144k of that income. Plus ESPP growth, which I’m not including, which will be another $15k-$20k probably. So if I hit April 1, I’ll already have made $160k or so for the year. The only reason to stay until June is to max out my after tax 401k.

The following year, my total compensation goes down quite a bit if I stay at this job. I’m looking at $220k total comp with bonus, about $190k without bonus. And it goes down even further the following year. It just doesn’t make sense to stay. And my bosses know that. They know how to play the game. If they wanted to keep me long term, they would be giving me stock refreshes and such. So it’s just a question of when I should leave, not if.

My goal is to do all of my work to the best of my ability this year so I leave with great references and maybe people can forget how I struggled a bit in the previous role. That’s not to say my current position is easy… it’s one fire drill after another. But that’s not just me. There is just a certain adrenaline-driven management style that is not for everyone. Some of the respected members of the department will be leaving in the coming months, by choice, and not all have announced yet so I wonder if there are others I don’t know about yet. It makes me feel a bit more sane to see the respected folks heading out, knowing that they also cannot function in this environment, even though they probably have raises and stock thrown at them. If they can walk from their platinum handcuffs, I can surely walk from my golden ones.

But… I really don’t know what’s next. I read job postings daily and I haven’t seen any that jump out as the perfect fit. I don’t have the energy at the moment to start a new job. I’m hoping when my baby is a year-and-a-half I will feel more myself again. I do know that 18 months after my first son I actually felt healthy… and got pregnant. But there were a few months in there when my brain was functioning properly.

I still want a third child (because I’m insane) and that still means that I want to start trying when my son is 2. I’ll be 39 and will likely do IVF. I can’t believe I’ll be 39 (and then 40.) What happened to my life? I’m plenty adult now, but I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I don’t feel like an adult. I don’t even have a real kitchen table yet.

I’m hoping my next job can be one of two things — one where I can run the show and hire great people and lead strategy, or one where I can focus on one particular thing and do it really well. I’m leaning towards the second option as I’d like to go somewhere that respects my skills and also invests in helping me grow, vs walking into another mess. Though at this point in my career I wonder if any company is not a mess.

I’ve said my current job is my “$2.5M” job… I want to have $2.5M in net worth before leaving this company. It’s still possible by June next year, depending on how the stock market performs. I think it’s worth holding out until at least April 1, or July 1, or $2.5M, or something close to that. It’s hard to focus on doing the best I can in this role and also really investing in figuring out what’s next. I still feel so unemployable. I do get recruiters reaching out but then it’s clear I’m not a fit for the roles. I don’t have the management experience required, usually. But I haven’t done any outbound applying in forever. So maybe I’d get a few hits. Who knows. I feel like “applying season” is just around the corner. But I also feel like it’s such a long time to survive in my current role, and I just need to focus on that.

And I need to be a good mom to my kids… I’m trying to find 1×1 time with my toddler (daily walks to the park, some activity on Saturday morning, another activity on Sunday afternoon) while being around as much as possible to feed my baby. The house is a mess. Some of that is my fault but my husband isn’t on top of cleaning up either. If I really wanted a clean house I would have to lead that, and I suck at cleaning, and I’m tired and it just piles up so quickly. I can’t imagine how I’d be having to go into an office right now. So I need to constantly remind myself how lucky I am. To be able to afford the house (even though it is costing me $86.5k a year for the next 29.5 years, or 66k a year if you don’t count principle since I keep that.) If we didn’t live in a HCOL area it would probably be better but we’re not moving for many reasons so I have to make this work. And I need to find a job where I can stay, hopefully, for the next 4 years, make enough to pay my mortgage, and have maternity leave for my third kid that is long enough where even if I work in an office I can stay home with my baby until they’re 5 or 6 months, ideally.

I know it will all happen… somehow. Maybe not the third baby part. But life. It just happens. It keeps happening.

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