Tag Archives: golden handcuffs

2021. How Can I Make This Year Good?

Two weeks. Two weeks until I go back to work from my maternity leave. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Sure, I had a baby and he has DOUBLED in size since he flew out of me all of 3 minutes and 3 pushes, but what else happened? Wasn’t I going to unpack all of the stuff from when we moved into this new house at the end of last year? Finish my wedding album I’ve been postponing due to PTSD from my wedding day? Make a portfolio? Learn a lot of things to change careers? Spend quality time with my kids?

At least for the time being I can work from home. It sounds like companies overall are leaning towards having employees come back to the office sooner than later now that people can get vaccines. I actually started my vaccine regiment last week (legally) due to a health condition (ok I gain too much in pregnancy and haven’t lost enough yet) and I have my second vaccine date scheduled in two weeks. My arm is busted and I’m concerned it won’t get better again but I think that’s probably due to poor administration of the vaccine than the vaccine itself. Anyway. I’ll be vaccinated so if my work says everyone vaccinated needs to go back I’ll need to go back. Fuck. Suddenly moving an hour-and-a-half from the office, permanently, doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

Although. The whole moving an hour-and-a-half from the office WAS a good idea because it means I won’t stay in this job that makes me miserable even if I don’t get fired. I’m still wallowing in self pity as my work-friend-who-told-me-he-was-quitting-a-few-zillion-times-prior-to-getting-my-job seems to be thriving. I know he’s not the malicious type and he managed to win the position by being, you know, reliable and strategic and stuff, so I can’t be mad at him. But it still hurts. And the worst of all of it is how I wrote a note to my former boss who is now my boss’s boss about how I fail all the time at everything etc etc when I was manic and cried a lot in front of her and, well, that was nail in my coffin that’s been long built waiting for me to be buried six feet under.

I’m TRYING to focus on being positive in this grande return to the office. I know it’s not a forever return, just a return until I get my stock and can move on to whatever is next. And I want to do a good job. It’s 12 months. That’s forever but also not a lot of time at all. If I break it down into 4 quarters, I just have to figure out what I need to do in each quarter to add value and not make anyone’s life harder than it is. That means 1. getting all my shit done on time and 2. keeping my mouth shut. No great ideas. No creativity. No wanting to improve things from the way they are. None of that. If I have any chance of surviving the next 12 months, it’s being forgotten as much as possible and being reliable/dependable when people do notice me. That’s it. I’m not chasing a promotion. There will never be a promotion. I’m at a dead end and the walls are closing in. So what? That’s ok. I can play the game as long as the game is still allowing me to play.

Job postings continue to depress me. I’m trying not to worry about that too much, but odds are I’m going to have to take a step back no matter what next is, even in the same field. That’s ok, though. I just have to get lucky to get into a company that wants to help employees move up over time. One with bosses who mentor their employees. Maybe I can find a better fit. I don’t know. I’ll certainly try. In 12 months. Or less. I made this this long, what’s another 12 months really? The longer I can work remote in those 12 months the better. Head down. Get work done. Hide. Hope they forget me. But not enough to get rid of me. Please. I hope. I hope I don’t come back form maternity leave and immediately get fired. For those projects I didn’t finish. But I went out earlier than I planned due to health reasons.  I’m hoping that won’t be enough to kick me out. Not yet anyway. Maybe I’ll have 3-6 months to prove myself. And I can hang on. I can do my work. Whatever is thrown at me. I won’t be a rockstar. I’ll be the opposite of that. Hiding in plain sight.

I’m feeling lukewarm about my prospects of survival this year. I’m trying to accept if I don’t make it then it’s not the end of the world. It will be very sad to miss out on the remaining stock. That’s about $683,000 in 12 months. Even on the high end at another job the most I’ll see is about $250k-$350k for 12 months. And likely it will be less than that. I make it to June, and I’m looking at $585k lost in 12 months. By Jan that slides down to $285k for 12 months and by April “just” $250k. This year is worth it. Next year starts opening up the possibility of finding a job that puts me in the running to make a similar amount, or at least find a public company with stock that’s growing so my income goes up again vs goes down.

I am NOT looking forward to my belated performance review that will be all sorts of icky. I know I got a chunk of my bonus so hoping that means I’m not getting fired immediately. It’s the first year I didn’t get all of my bonus so that’s not a good sign, but I still go most of it. Would be kind of strange to give me most of my bonus then fire me — but stranger things have happened, right?

The funny thing is I’m kind of looking forward to going back to work. I feel incredibly unproductive right now. I need some sort of structure to my days. I just wish it didn’t take up my ENTIRE day. If I can find a job that offers flexible schedules, that would be ideal. Until then, I’m gonna hold my breath and push through the rest of this year. Even nine months before I’m ousted would be a huge victory. I have to do this. I hope I can.

When To Move On From This Job — If By Choice, It’s a Numbers Game

Due to stock vesting, the income for this job goes from high to something I could replace fairly easily within a year. I am still unclear if I received a reduction in pay this year (or any sort of cost of living raise) as such changes were supposed to take effect this pay period and I didn’t see a change in my base pay. Since I’m on maternity leave, it’s possible the change doesn’t go into effect until after I return either way (no one has told me if there will be any changes to my pay yet, so it would be strange for them to change it either way without notifying me — however, last year even when I was placed on a PIP I got a small cost of living raise — so not even getting that is pretty telling… I need to start packing my bags.)

While I’m tempted to pack my bags today and never look back (I’ve had a few recruiter calls that are promising, but I’ve opted to not take them any further.) I’m either going to stay in my field and be really strategic and picky in my job search OR I’m going to change careers (same industry, different department.) The career change, based on some preliminary research, will be a major income cut, no matter how you slice it. I’m torn on this because on one hand, my heart is in that field and I think I might actually be excited to go to work when I wake up in the morning.) But this field — it sounds like — will pay entry-level around 70k-125k. While 70k is a non starter, if I could make 125k… I don’t know… it might be worth it for a year or two as I build up my experience in the field. The bigger issue is the ceiling of income in that field seems lower than where I am now. But I’m not exactly thriving where I am now. So there’s the value of perhaps being in a job where I’m not worried about getting fired all the time (and then getting fired all the time.) Trade offs.

In order to determine when I should leave my current job (and for how much $ I should consider leaving for if I’m staying in my current field) I’ve calculated my estimated income for the next 12 month period at 5 different times throughout the year.  This showcases both how ridiculously strong my earning power is at the moment and how quickly it goes down to still-good but “recoupable” l levels if I were to move to a new company. The challenge are retaining employment through the high income earning periods and then find a job to replace it that provides high income earning potential (a new sizable stock grant) or make the leap to the new field and take the massive paycut and trust it will work out (if anyone will even hire me for that field… I’m starting an online certificate program in it and will see how that goes.)

Income potential 12 month period starting following dates:

At current stock value:

  • April 1: $702k
  • July 1: $599k
  • Oct 1: $425k
  • Jan 1: $299k
  • April 1: $251k

At optimistic (highest analyst estimate) stock value:

  • April 1: $937k
  • July 1: $759k
  • Oct 1: $511k
  • Jan 1: $345k
  • April 1: $287k

At pessimistic (lowest analyst estimate) stock value:

  • April 1: $428k
  • July 1: $411k
  • Oct 1: $325k
  • Jan 1: $246k
  • April 1: $208k

The above tells me I would be a fool to leave prior to Jan 1 in all but the absolute worst company performance scenarios (and even then it’s unlikely I’ll replace my potential 12 month income prior to that date.) I think the actual income will be closer to the current stock value as it’s unlikely it will go up fast enough to hit the analyst target within my actual earning period, but I also think it won’t drop all the way down to the lowest analyst estimates.

But the absolute best my 12-month income will be worth as of April 1, 2022 (assuming I am not getting any stock refreshes or raises, which I assume to be true) is ~$287,000. Which is still a very good income(!) but it is definitely in a range where at least looking for a new role makes sense. It’s an extremely high 12 month income for the role I’m in now at work (after my demotion) so I’m not complaining about it by any means, it’s just completely unrealistic to think I will ever be able to replace my previous income in this very limited role that is unfortunately not respected in my industry. I’m lucky in that my company likely won’t go out of their way right now to reduce my pay after I just had a baby — but they also won’t ever go out of their way to increase my pay. My days are numbered at worst and my income potential has a sharp ceiling at best. The absolute most I can earn in 2023 would be $248k (no raises or refreshes) and in 2024, it would be $213k — whereas if I go into a new role in a public company I’ll get a new larger grant that can possibly increase in value. My company is doing a favor by not giving me any raises or refreshes at this point… it helps the math tell me what to do.

That said, this year has a lot of good 12-month earning periods. My expected quarterly income is as follows for the next 5 quarters:

  • Q2 – $191k ( 103k-265k)
  • Q3 – $219k ( 131k-293k)
  • Q4 – $191k ( 103k-265k)
  • Q1 – $101k ( 88k-113k)
  • Q2 – $51.4k ( 38k-62k)

This also helps me figure out if I can potentially obtain a signing bonus to make up for any lost income, where it would make sense to move to a new role.

The above also shows that if I can move into a new field, it may not look like such a horrible comparison if I base this off next year’s Q2 income (as it will take me another year to have the potential to earn a bonus anyway and my stock is not increasing.)

The big question is — how do I stay employed for the rest of the year? I’m going to try to focus on taking it one quarter at a time, and celebrating earning the quarterly income. I have to remind myself that my husband earns $100k a year and I very well may earn $200k in 3 months if I can manage to retain employment for those 3 months. Even if I were to get fired at that point, I will have made over  $450k this year, give or take, as of July 1. This alone should support my leaving my company and taking 6 months to gain experience in a. new field and figure out my life. But then the tradeoff would be losing out on another $300k or so, which also seems like a really dumb thing to do. At what point in the future of time will I ever have the opportunity to earn this much in such as short period of time?

I just assume my new boss is earning less than I am overall, and that’s not going to set anyone up for success here. He may be earning more but it’s unlikely given he came in at a later date. He may have gotten substantial stock refreshes since he’s a company star but even then I bet we’re around a similar income this year. Maybe he will realize my income will be dropping substantially soon and won’t hold that against me, but he may just look at everything I do in the lens of what I’m earning now (due to stock appreciation) and in that case I would agree I’m not worth what I’m earning.

…I don’t know how the company looks at that because it’s not my fault the stock has appreciated so much… but on my annual performance review they note my expected annual compensation and that’s based on the stock value at the end of last year. That’s a big number (even bigger than what it actually is now because all tech stocks dropped a lot since then.) In any case, I just want to get myself out of all of this and get a job where I can add value. Which means I should probably change fields. It’s tough when recruiters are calling me left and right for senior-level roles in my field, all that pay in the $250k range (and maybe I could negotiate more.) Do I really set myself back years and take a job that pays $100k-$125k to try something new at 38? And why does my husband get to earn $100k yet I can’t do this… even if it will make me happy? I guess he doesn’t believe anything can make me happy… and that might be true. But I have high hopes for this new field. I think it will at least work the right part of my brain vs the one that makes me constantly frustrated and unsure how to do good work. Hmph.

A Bruised Ego and Preparing to Move On

I wasn’t a good fit for the role. Not in an environment where my boss wants someone who leads by being aggressive and confident to the point no one else’s ideas matter. I don’t want that job anyway. My idea of leadership is meeting with different team members, understanding their needs, solving their problems. Maybe I didn’t do that well either, but I will never be the kind of leader she wants so it makes perfect sense she has replaced me with my coworker.

Is my ego bruised? Of course. It’s painful to fail. It’s painful to look back and think — “If only I…” which in this case is pretty much if only I focused on not fixing things in the weeds and building an engine but instead just focused on producing high impact stuff that got noticed then maybe I would still have my job/title. I’d still be struggling, though. My best bet is to take my learnings here and apply them elsewhere. The timing is bad to do that though, and for all of the bruised ego and feeling like despite doing some good work this year no one has noticed or cared, I have to say I am ridiculously fortunate to be in a place where I am about to be able to step away from work for a few months, have a kid, reset, and come back to a new role that clearly isn’t my “forever role” but one that I can likely hold onto for the rest of the year — if I can manage being shot in the gut daily with reminders of both my failure and how my overly confident work friend is basically going to leverage the engine I built (and got no credit for) to be hugely successful. If he maybe would make an effort to recognize this publicly it would feel a bit better but he won’t. And I have to bite my tongue and smile and pretend I’m ok with how everything has been handled, which I’m clearly not, but what does it matter?

I wish I was in a position to succeed with the new role, but it’s already a mess. I realized I need to basically—at all times—focus on “the next 30 days.” That is, in a marathon, or war zone for that matter, you can’t think that far out. So I have 30 days to survive and then another 30. I can plan a bit for the future but primarily I need to be heads down for these mini sprint battles. I need to give them no reason whatsoever to say I didn’t achieve my commitments. I need to deliver quality work but more importantly I need to deliver work on time. As I watch my friend build his empire and try to not be too jealous. Because at the end of the day he deserves the opportunity to grow in his career and even if I held onto the role for dear life it was never going to be a fit for me. Neither is “this” job, but I think from a pure survival mindset “this” job allows me to get through the next year, put out some decent work, and prepare to move on. It’s really a blessing in disguise. I need to focus on gratitude and not all of the other shit. So my coworker is basically taking the woman I hired and the system I built to make his plans successful without giving me any credit (though he has told me as much.) Why do I care? Should I care?

What hurts most is going from being a strategic leader on my team to being kept out of all planning. I don’t understand why I can’t be involved at all. I mean, I do — my boss clearly doesn’t like my ideas and thinks I would overcomplicate things — but this whole transition is so horribly unprofessional and petty I can’t help but be hurt a little. I’m sure in her mind she’s thinking I’m damn lucky to still have a job (true) but things like how I still don’t have a new job title (hasn’t even been mentioned) while my coworker is clearly getting promoted into my current title doesn’t sit well. I’m planning to not ask and just keep my title on public channels for as long as possible. It will help immensely when looking for a new job.

Now, I know my long-time readers think that it’s probably all me… and a lot of it is… but I often end up with bosses who don’t jive with how I work. I respect my boss for her ability to function like a machine and get lots of power and not care about people or what makes sense much so she can focus on the business stuff that matters and will help her survive and continue to move up. She is a beast. And I say that in a good way. Really. But I don’t like working for people like her. I like working for people who are inspiring and collaborative and who want to work together to achieve common goals. I hope to find that in my next role. Whatever that is. Whenever that is.

There is a slightly but growing possibility that I may make pre tax 700-900k next year. Which is absolutely insane. Now, I know you are thinking holy hell shut up and do you work whatever they ask of you even if that means standing on your head in a vat of horse shit for hours at a time. And, hey, I’m with you. Before this job the most I made was 190. Which is nothing to shake a stick at salary wise, but I never dreamed I would make 700k+, let alone in one year. Even after tax it’s an impressive number.

Knowing I am making that, possibly, I understand the not-so-nice behavior of my colleagues, esp those in more senior roles who are likely looking at 2M+ in one year. We are all in the boat of tight golden handcuffs. The difference between everyone else and me is that I want out, so while part of me is sad I’m not looking at $700k+ total comp in perpetuity, another part of me is ridiculously grateful that after bonus season in 2022 I won’t have a strong compelling reason to stay. I figured at that point I need to find a job that has at least 250-300 total comp to be equal (and less the following year as I vest the last of my early grants) — still a lot, but at that point, if I’ve really saved 300k+ after tax and after expenses this year, I feel like it’s a good time to take a step back, make a little less, and find a job that isn’t destroying my sanity for once. If such a job exists. This company and (past) role on my resume will likely open a fuck ton of doors that weren’t available to me years ago. I’m lucky. I’m in a good spot. I need to be happy for my friend who is moving up in his career, happy that it worked out (as planned) that I am somewhat protected for a few months through maternity leave towards my final vest date (even though I could get caught up in a mass layoff and that may happen and would be sad), happy that my boss sees value in this one area I’ve done well in, where I can “live out my dying days” making stuff people will probably like enough to not immediately fire me.

So. Yeay. Woohoo. I did it. Or I’m close to doing it. I’m 60 days (or less) and counting to maternity leave. I’m remodeling a bathroom. I’m hoping I don’t get COVID in the hospital. I’m staring at our nation’s leadership in bewildered terror that our president is trying to kill democracy, and he has his followers convinced the election  was a sham while presenting absolutely no proof of fraud. There are a lot of big problems going on in the world right now. People out of work. People going hungry. All my little petty shit above is nothing compared to what’s going on right now. I’m in a little stressful bubble but boy does that bubble pay well—and I keep reminding myself even if I make it through just half of next year, my earnings will be substantial, and I can take some time off and figure out what’s next. As long as I make it to mat leave I’m in a really good place. If I make it to end of next year, a really, really good place.

As my blog title notes — money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy freedom. It’s so true. Life is short. I don’t want to spend life constantly worried about paying for the basics. I like working. I want to work. But I want to do work that is meaningful. That I am proud of. That I wake up in the morning excited about. I hope I can find that. I know all jobs and careers  have these issues. But this one, after 15 years in it, is clearly not the right fit, despite how shockingly lucrative it has become.

Needless to say, if I make it to the end of the next year, I owe you all a drink.

 

Hold On for this Very Bumpy Ride

22 months. I hate to wish them to go by fast–because who the hell knows how long I have left on this crazy earth–but if I can survive at my current job for 22 months a world of life possibilities will open up. I won’t exactly have achieved financial independence (FIRE), but I’ll be close enough that I can take more risks in my career, take a step back as needed, and really focus on what types of companies I want to work for (and what I want to DO in life) and not so much on the money.

Yes, in two years, it is possible my husband and I will be approaching $2M in net worth. This seems ridiculous given just 15 years ago we had next to nothing. I am so grateful that this is possible, yet it has put me in the worst state of terror everyday fearing I will lose this job. 22 months might as well be 22 years right now. It feels that way. I don’t see how I can take my current tasks and succeed in them enough to achieve my targeted tenure. But maybe I can pull it off. I’ve lasted this long — haven’t I?

I’m trying. I’m REALLY trying. I know my boss sees that. But is it enough? And how can it be enough when I’m handed projects that are impossible at worst and next-to-impossible at best? My role is so all over the place, I have no idea what I do, which makes it hard to figure out how to get good at it. Well, it seems what I do is try to keep my job and to do that I need to make people like me by delivering quality work that effectively reflects what everyone else wants. My opinion doesn’t matter. I am nobody. I am the executor of everyone else’s ideas, great, or not so great. And I better not question them or complain or try to recommend something better. Nope. Just, shut up, heads down, GSD, pray I make it to my next vesting date.

That’s 8 more vesting periods, if you’re counting (who’s counting?) 8 isn’t a huge number. It feels more achievable than 22 months. It will soon be 7. Seven is close to six which is close to five which, if you ask my toddler, is somewhere near two. These are just weeks. Weeks that provide me a lifetime of security if I don’t go crazy and spend my earnings like a nouveau riche lotto winner. I can do this. I know it will feel so incredibly good at the end of this rainbow where I get to my fully vested pot of gold.

You know, it’s sad in a different way than my past career flubs. I actually like my boss. I want to help her succeed. I want to be a good employee (I mean I’ve always wanted to, but I haven’t always fully respected the people I work for.) I respect her a lot. She works her ass off. She deserves her success. She tries to be a good boss. Unfortunately, I’m not able to help her win. So instead of flat-out firing me, she’s bringing in someone to basically have my job title… and I’ll report into them. This is going to go splendidly, right?

With a new boss coming in next month, a handful of impossible projects, and a performance plan that will be passed on to him or her to introduce my work ethic and talent in the absolute best light ever, I’m kind of fucked–but I’m going to try to make it work. As I do. As my former colleague and I used to joke–I’m Katniss. I’ll survive. Somehow. At least until the sequel.