The Path to Not Feeling Like a Mess is Not Necessarily a Lower-Earning Job

If I could be handed a job that makes $100k less than my current role where I knew I would be mentally well in the position, I would take in a heartbeat. But the reality is that no matter the pay of the job I struggle. In fact, roles that tend to pay more where I can focus more on strategy and less on execution are ones that I tend to feel overall better in (though I still have work on interpersonal skills and comms to get to a point where I can be successful in these roles.) And the reality is I can’t just get a job that pays less — those jobs are hyper competitive as well and will likely go to someone from a top school with less experience.

Early this morning I ran the numbers again regarding my potential earnings and when I can / should leave my current job. This as the head of my department sent out a shoutout to everyone who worked on a project that I oversaw as part of the pool of work that I theoretically own and while everyone including my boss (who hasn’t touched the project) was given a shout out, guess who was left off?

I’m just tired of having a job that doesn’t make sense. I want to have real ownership over something so it’s clear what success is. The only success metrics that exist for my role right now is if everyone else likes me or not. Apparently no one else likes me. Which I’d like to fix. But I would like some other metrics to be included in whether or not I deserve a “below expectations” or “meeting expectations” on my performance review.

What I do know is that I failed to come in to the org when I had the chance to build a scalable function properly. But I also was given a role that was multiple roles with no clear job description. I can’t believe that was FOUR YEARS AGO but somehow it looks like I’m making it to my final vest date. Even getting to the end of this month is a huge win as I get the third of four ESPP periods bought and the second to last RSU vest. There was a long time when getting through this September was my victory. The next final big income moments are icing on the cake — December for RSU, Feb for bonus (if I get a bonus), and March for final big ESPP and a much smaller RSU vest. December is maybe not “icing” as it’s an extra $139k (pre tax) give or take… which is more than my husband makes in a year… but after this month is over I’m looking at ~$300k income for 12 months that drops significantly the following year, which means finding a role that pays $250k more consistently might be an ok move. Or I interview for a long time and really wait until I find the right thing, but if the right thing happens to pop up sooner than expected I can leave and feel good about it.

For me what’s important is feeling like I’m appreciated. I know if one is appreciated financially then who cares about the rest. But to me appreciation means being given opportunities that make sense on a resume with clear ROI and objectives. Being trusted with the things that matter. Of course my projects are high visibility in many cases, but they aren’t seen as core to the business success. And I’m also being pushed further and further into a project management role where my creative and strategic insights aren’t needed anymore. And trust me, I’m the last person who should be project managing anything as a full time job.

I really can’t figure out if I should leave or stay. Staying means feeling like shit all the time because there is no room to grow and I’m in a role that is ill defined. Leaving means starting over and needing the energy to show extremely well for at least 6 months while still not getting enough sleep as a relatively new mom. I also struggle with wanting a job that’s remote for the flexibility (which has been wonderful) and knowing that I really am feeling disconnected from my peers and the inspiration that helps me do my best work by never seeing them in person. Not that most jobs are back in person yet anyway but I go back and forth between looking for a job that is always going to be remote vs one that when covid ends will be back in the office a few days a week.

And I really don’t even see how I can get another job so there’s that issue too. Who really wants to hire me anyway?

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