Tag Archives: job

So I did a probably very stupid thing and asked for my performance review to be changed.

I don’t know why I do things that will cause more harm than good, but at this point I know I’m mere days or maybe months away from getting fired and if I can’t remind those in charge about my positive contributions to the organization I really ought to have more than just one foot out the door at the moment.

I fee like absolute shit. Because even though my role has changed, I face the same challenges that had me failing in the last one. Only this time I interact with slightly less people so maybe that’s the point. Keep me in a bubble where I can do what I do best and try to limit any opportunity for growth or engaging with others in the org. It just feels like I’m being pushed out slowly. Maybe that’s the natural method in big companies. I’m used to small ones. They can’t take away my comp outside of firing me, and they can’t fire me without risking legal issues at the moment given I’m fresh off maternity leave, so they just send me ALL the signals and wait… either I take the hint or I wait until a major fuck up or next performance review season (whichever comes first) then I’m out.

I know I ought to just stay quiet and try to be invisible. That’s the smart thing to do. What I did has no real positive outcome, other than letting the big boss know about what I’ve done that’s actually good, since I’m guessing all he saw was that I got a low score and that I’m causing problems on the team and that I probably should be fired ASAP. So my message was more — hey, I agree I’m not a leader, I agree I suck at communication, I agree I’m pretty shitty in a lot of ways, but also here’s a quick list of all the good stuff I’ve done nonetheless. I don’t know. It was probably remarkably dumb like everything dumb I do so maybe not so remarkable for me. Just, typical. I’m sure my former boss is pissed and annoyed, and her side of the story would be she’s not changing the score and she’s going to fire me as soon HR will let her. I’m hoping that’s not until the end of the year if I just get shit done on time and try to communicate to the best of my ability which is never good enough.

Yea this was a dumb move. Maybe. It’s my second bad review in a row so it’s not like I have anything to stand on. She’s probably wishing she fired me last year. I get it. She probably should have. I’m grateful that she didn’t.

I don’t really feel so motivated by this review, though. More hopeless. What do I do to improve? I don’t know. A lobotomy? Perhaps. My general strategy is to stay silent but I seem to be horrible at that. The lobotomy sounds like a good idea. Perhaps complete excising of the brain. What a useless pile of mush.

I don’t yet regret sending this email, but I do regret what led up to getting the bad review. I regret that I’m incapable of consistency even though I’m capable of occasional spurts of fucking awesome work. Which doesn’t matter. People want reliability not sometimes exceptionally awesome. So. Here we go again. Down the drain spinning spinning spinning.

Did I just accelerate this flush? I guess I’ll find out soon.

What a horrible performance review…

Not that I was surprised by a word of it… given my demotion was already announced… but seeing that I scored “below expectations” hurt. I wish my work was ALL below expectations because then it would feel better deserved… like, if they though all of my work was a solid 2 of 5, how could I feel bad about getting that score? I’d feel bad that I suck at my job, but not saddened by the score itself.

What made the review hurt so much is the callouts of the good work I did in the year. Yes, the same year I worked from home in a pandemic while pregnant with a 2 year old screaming because we couldn’t have my father-in-law come over for childcare and we couldn’t risk putting my son in daycare since both my husband and I would probably die if we got COVID. Yes, that year.

Had I been a perfect employee before this year then I guess I’d have some sort of case — but let’s get real. I was on a PIP last year that I managed to work my way out of, but then things went downhill fast. And my boss reminded me that I’m not a leader and will never be a leader. While she’s not my direct boss now (I’m layered into her at this point) she is clearly not interested in interacting with me and will do so only when absolutely necessary for a project. I don’t blame her for it. I’m a frustrating person to work with. I know she really wants to fire me, but my guess is that between having just come back from leave that HR convinced her to give me a few more months and a role with less responsibility (sort of) so it would be easier to let me go next year should I get another horrible review.

It doesn’t really matter at this point — I know I can’t stay. They don’t want me to stay. My compensation is fine, it’s more that they know what they’re doing in providing raises and stock refreshes $0 of anything is all I need to know. And they are doing me a huge favor keeping me employed this year (as long as I do my work) so I can transition out without getting fired, as long as I don’t wait too long to do so. Though I really don’t have any references I can put down for a new job… which means… I can’t get a new job. Like, ever? Maybe someone will just be impressed by my background and not want to talk to my former bosses? I’m pretty screwed. I can’t leave. I can’t stay.

All I can do is try to do good work this year. I don’t know how I get a new job. I honestly don’t think I can.

My new boss and I have a weird relationship. He’s really great at functioning in this corporate environment. I’m learning from him how to do that better. But I’ll never be him. I don’t fit here. I don’t know where I fit or what I should do next. My new role supposedly has me focused on some of the things I do best but it’s pretty clear my management skills and communication skills are not going to cut it. Every meeting I’m in and running I just feel like an idiot. I’m trying really hard to not talk much and help make sure everyone else gets to talk, but then I am not running the meeting effectively by moving things along and ensuring that we aren’t wasting the whole meeting listening to a few people share their ideas.

I’m just frustrated. Because I don’t know how to be better. I’m trying and maybe they’ll see slight improvements and that’s enough to get me to the end of the year and another 2 on my next performance review… 3 if I make absolutely no mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I already have. I need a fresh start. New job. People I’ve never worked with before. And then I need to figure out how to fake another personality. Which is never sustainable. But I need to throw out my typical joking self and just come across as serious and as a dependable worker. Somehow. I don’t want to leave this role and move to my next one until I’m ready for that.

It’s pretty bad now, though. I am fighting tears in every one-on-one. I asked my boss for feedback on my meeting today and told him I know I’m not good at meetings but I’m trying to get better. Thank god I’m working remote because I can kind of hide the tears. I don’t really want another job because I don’t want anyone else to take a chance on me and then be disappointed. At least now they know what they’re getting and they can kick me out at any moment. In a way that makes me feel better, because if I still have a job at least I know they feel my work is worth what I’m being paid based on that “below expectations” performer that I am with occasional good work. I mean, I’m not aiming for that. I’m TRYING to do good work. But I’m not a good employee. And that’s on me. But I’ve been demoted to a role requiring leadership again when I’m a horrible leader and will never be a leader, though I guess my boss now is the buffer between me and the leadership team, which means I’m not quite a leader, or – I don’t know. I’m an overpaid project manager? Anyway, 7 more months and then I guess I need to figure out what’s next.

All I know is I’m really fucking sad. I’m trying to stop caring and just do the work and do everything my boss is asking me to do. I’m hoping that’s enough. I’ll take another 2. But at this rate next year I’ll get a 1.

I’m Not Sure I Can Last 7 Months Here

On one hand, my situation is quite good. I can work from home for now. I have a handful of high-visibility projects, but the amount of time I spent on them is limited since I manage outside consultants who do the work and then I manage review cycles and such, but I’m not actually doing a lot of hands-on work anymore. I theoretically have time to eat healthy and exercise, but I can’t motivate myself to do much of anything because I’m constantly stressed about all the things that aren’t moving forward fast enough, that are running into walls, that I see are going to crash and burn and I can’t do anything about it.

I came back from maternity leave and was thrown a project that I did not have enough time to complete. It should have been started before I got back, but that’s not how my team rolls. So I got back and had to quickly navigate a bunch of issues before I could even get started on the work. Just a week of getting my head on straight and I was already far behind. Now I’m up against the wire, lacking budget, and I don’t see how to get from where we are now to where we need to be. This is the first time I felt like there is a low probability this project will be done on time. And because it’s for a time-sensitive thing, I can’t NOT get it done on time.

I’m incredibly depressed right now. I’m still struggling with some weird health issues. My headache has largely subsided but my heart feels like it’s struggling to beat. While it certainly sounds like anxiety, I don’t it’s all that. My chest is spasming and has a motor sensation that comes and goes. I’m being run through a bunch of tests at the doctor but who has time for all the tests and I’m not sure my doctors really believe me. Last night I felt so weak and heavy, and my face started to tingle and it was just not good. But I don’t have time to focus on my health, I have to make work work.

I go back and forth between considering leaving this job. I’d want to find a new job before I leave, if possible. I do have time to be doing virtual interviews. But any new job will be stressful even if it’s a good job. I don’t think I’m in the best space right now to start something new. At least my company knows me and for better or worse they’re keeping me for now. I just want to get to the end of the year and then I can seriously start considering leaving. It’s a huge amount of money on the line. It would be absolutely ridiculous to leave.

But I’m feeling more and more like, beyond this company, I can’t sustain being the breadwinner here with our $7k a month mortgage and needing more money to fix this old house. I dream of moving somewhere else, where we can afford a nice house with a nice private yard in a good neighborhood with good schools, where I don’t have to be so stressed all the time. I mean, even a lower-paid job could be stressful so who knows. But I don’t think I can do this for 29 more years. I’m really just struggling with my health. And that’s with me working from home and not having a whole lot of work to do. But the stress is bad for my heart that seems to be having issues. The EKG found something possibly irregular so we’re doing another test to find out more. Of course I have a 4 month old and I’m not sleeping enough. But even when I get a pretty good night of sleep, I still feel like shit.

If the headaches and heart palpitations and heavy numb tingling feeling and throat swelling sensation are ALL caused by stress then that’s reason enough to leave this job. Isn’t it. Or do I just hold my breath still and wait. It’s just 7 months. That’s nothing. But at this point I don’t know if I’ll be alive at the end of it. And that’s wouldn’t be a death by choice.

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.

I Need a Career Change.

There are a handful of things I like about my career:

  1. It pays well.
  2. It pays well.
  3. It pays well.
  4. Oh, and sometimes I get to learn new things and talk to people who are interesting who are not in my field.

I really need a career change. I have no idea if other careers would be better, but I’m done with his soul sucking, mind numbing, logic-lacking field. I am overwhelmingly sad about failing to have any sort of direction in my life, ever. What if? What if? What if?

The question now is — is is too late? People say it’s never too late. Well, surely it isn’t, if money isn’t any issue. And if you have the type of brain that absorbs information vs gets distracted every second. Like mine.

I’m trying to learn math now. It’s very hard for me. I’m taking the classes on Brilliant.org. I don’t know where it will lead me, but it seems any job where logic is respected requires advanced math knowledge. I don’t see getting a formal education in anything making sense. That requires references. Hah. Asking people to recommend me. No. Not going to happen. But I have a dream to take the GRE and get a perfect score in math. I just want to be good at math. I don’t know if I can be. I find it fascinating. Compound interest is sexy, you know? So. Maybe there’s something to that. Or not.

I have no patience. So I’m not a good employee. I’m a visionary sort of, but a lazy one. Maybe I could figure out math which would lead to something else analytics related. If my mind could calm down for one damn second long enough to grasp concepts and build on them (ok that would take longer than one damn second but you know.)

SHUT UP BRAIN.

I am tired. I am really depressed. I’m over everything. I don’t want to go back to work. I dread it. I am excited to hold my breath and try to earn the remainder of my stock. But I need a plan. A direction. Something. I like to solve problems. That I know. Am I good at solving problems? Well, no. But I enjoy it when I do. So. Now what?

Scared and Stuck.

I’m not in a particularly good life situation right now.  My job isn’t safe at all. I’m basically starting over and any wrong move will have we walked out the virtual door. They know I’m overpaid in my new role–which means they have even less reason to keep me. Or to ever increase my pay again. Only to possibly decrease it. Or leave it flat and let inflation do the dirty work.

Even if I manage to stay –do good enough work I’m a solid 3 out of 5 year after year–is my life just this? Because the longer I stay the longer I lose relevance in the job market. My role, in any other company, would both require more technical skills and pay about half of my base salary. I can’t actually survive on that. Nor do I have the right profile to land a job that pays the same or more.

I’m not being overly dramatic. This is the truth. And why I wake up every morning dreading my life. Wondering what is the point? Why am I such a failure? And, more importantly, how the fuck do I provide for my family?

Here’s where we are net worth wise as of April 1:

Cash $80,633
Taxable $829,501
Pre Tax $456,057
Post Tax (Roth) $238,265
529 Fund (2-3 kids) $232,879
Home Equity $207,288
TOTAL $2,044,623

Lost a bit with market dropping. Still, with $2M net worth I thought I’d feel better about life. I don’t. I feel like I’m suffocating. Will we starve? No. At least not for a while. But it can get ugly fast.

I want to make sure we can afford the next 5 years. Maybe after 5 years my job situation will make sense. And pay better. Right now I have 5 years to figure out.

We obviously could save less and spend a bit less, but if we can keep to this plan for next 5 years we’ll be ok.

Income Tax (40%) Expenses Saving Remaining
2021 $313,350 -$125,340 -$126,000 -$25,000 $62,010
2022 $273,000 -$109,200 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$4,200
2023 $276,090 -$110,436 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$2,346
2024 $279,273 -$111,709 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$436
2025 $282,551 -$113,020 -$168,000 -$57,500 $1,531

The above assumes the following:

  • Our total tax rate on taxable income is 40%
  • I earn a minimum of $170,000 a year for the next 5 years
  • My husband earns a minimum of $100k plus 3% raises for next 5 years
  • We both max out retirement accounts every year as pre-tax money (to keep our tax rate down)

We won’t be saving nearly as much as we have been — but at least we can get through the year without dipping into savings too much (and probably not at all if we’re careful — the remainder this year can cover any overage in next few years.

BUT that’s assuming also that…

  1. can get a job that pays $170k for next 5 years (especially if I lose this one)
  2. that my husband keeps his job and can get a 3% raise each year

Maybe I can find another job that pays $170k but there’s no guarantee. Especially not if I want to start over in a new career. Or try to find something a bit more junior that gives me time to figure out what I’m good at and move up in a normal sort of way.

It would be helpful if my husband could earn $150k and then I would earn $150k and we’d be ok — or at least in a much better situation. However that isn’t going to happen. So I just need to figure this out.

Yet again it feels remarkably hopeless.

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.

The Least Qualified Candidate of All

You want to know why the thought of downing one too many pills crosses my mind every time I read job postings? They are just another jarring reminder that I have absolutely no employable skills and I’m pretty much fucked at this point. It feels incredibly lonely to be in this, well, alone. My husband doesn’t seem to get it— he knows I lose my job over and over again but he also sees me somehow pick up with another role and better pay somewhere else. But it won’t happen this time. No, this time I am actually screwed.

If I knew how to gain relevant experience I would leap at the opportunity but I have no idea how to learn things that would actually get me a job. You want to know where I fail?

1. Great communication skills – nah, I suck at communication—both spoken and written. Next.

2. Ability to influence others and work well with many different types of people. No. Everyone pretty much hates me or thinks I’m a joke.

3. Management experience. Being real here — I am overwhelmed managing people because hello – I can’t even manage myself.

4. Data skills – ok so I could learn some data skills, but which ones? And I can’t actually apply them at my job since no one seems to care about my work’s ROI so how do I have an actual story to tell on KPIs and all that?

I just feel so defeated. People think I’m exaggerating but it is that bad. My new role makes no sense. Any other role like this one at another company would require technical skills and pay a lot less. But I can’t get hired in my old role because I was never qualified for it in the first place. I’ve never been qualified for any of the jobs I’ve had since I graduated from college 15 years ago. I don’t know anything useful. I make it all up. I guess sometimes making it up works but not over time and certainly not at companies that have their shit together.

I look at my kids and feel like a complete and utter failure. How can I sustain this? I am crying all the time because I’m scared. Not yet that we will lose the house — I have savings to cover that for a while. But I may lose the tiny bit of sanity that I have left.

I just want to be good at my job. Is that so much to ask? But If my job involves interacting with other humans it doesn’t seem to go all that well.

There are roles out there I think I would enjoy — but I messed up by not being an engineering major 20 years ago, and by not paying attention in math class in second grade. Maybe it’s possible to change careers, but it absolutely feels too late for most of my dreams.

The career I’m interested in that may be possible has starting salaries of about 85k if my lucky. Here that isn’t much. Maybe it would be a path to liking my job eventually? It’s hard to give up on jobs that pay $200k-$300k for one that pays $85k or less but — I need a change. I need a path where maybe in a few years I can feel halfway decent. I need a job where I can work and be promoted, not demoted. But can we make it work on less salary? And even then I’ll be compared to other who are far more talented than I am. Younger and more talented. Who would hire me anyway? The job postings say “clearly nobody.”

So what do I do? Yes I ride this job out a while longer. I go back and save as much as possible. I set aside a large emergency fund. Then what? I want to provide for my family. I also want to sell this $7k a month house and move to the middle of nowhere—but my husband won’t have that conversation until I’ve exhausted all options and likely have ended up in a mental hospital. If he could earn more it would help but then he wouldn’t be able to watch the kids and he would be stressed which would make it all harder too. In many ways I like being the breadwinner and having a husband who can watch the kids and go on vacation whenever makes sense (not that we ever do.) I know I can’t have it all and i do want to work I just want to feel like I’m suited for my career and I’m not constantly falling on my face — but also that I can save for retirement and my kid’s futures with my income. So where does that leave me? Do I just keep pretending… 2 years here, 3 years there… until my working life is over? How long can I really do this for? One more year. If that.

How to Make it All Work…

Stuck. Glued to 37 and a half years ago when it was ok that I didn’t know anything as that was a given. But now? What worth do I have? Oh, somehow I’ve tricked many into thinking I have value to add. Until they figure out I don’t. Then. I’m out. Out onto the street. Well, it’s not that bad. Out onto unemployment. Unsure what’s next. Trying to convince myself I’m worth hiring so I can convince someone else of the very same thing. And repeat.

I really don’t know what I’m good at. Going back to work in a month now from maternity leave I’m just incredibly beaten down. I’m walking back into a toxic situation 75% or so of my own making. I don’t think there is any actual recovery at this point. Only trying to just get work done and make it to my next performance review. I’ll try hard to do a good job but that never really works anyway. I’m just not good at this whatever this is. I don’t know how other people do it. Maybe some of them have degrees in their respective fields but even then so much is learned on the job. They figure it out. Why can’t I?

I’ve accepted this field is not the right field for me. At all. But still, it is quite lucrative. It has been. I get recruiter calls for similar roles. It wouldn’t be easy to get hired elsewhere, but someone will take a look at my work history and think I’m a good hire. And I’ll try my best as I always do. Until I’m tired and burnt out. Which happens too soon. Beating myself down. Then they’ll notice. And then they’ll realize that I wasn’t that shining star of a hire they thought I was. And repeat. Rinse and fucking repeat.

I can’t take it anymore. I’m depressed. Why can’t I just have a job that feels more natural? Where I feel like I know what I’m doing. Sure, every job has struggles. But where do I really fit?

My concern, suspicion, fear, is that I don’t fit anywhere. Change my career, ok, maybe I should, but where can I go? I have ideas. A few. Starting over. Ok. Would anyone hire me? And then what?

How do I pay the mortgage?

How do I do a good job?

Do I end up back in the same spot, in another career?

What if I’m still miserable and I took a giant pay cut and am back here with less in my bank account?

I’m scared going back. I guess I ought to not be as the worst that happens is I get fired and I know that drill. I go somewhere and cry ,y brains out for a day then pull myself together. But I didn’t have 2 kids and a mortgage then. Or then. Or any of the times it has happened. What now?

Is it better to quit while I’m ahead? While I’m still employed? Can I make it until the end of this year with my new role and fractured ego and then figure out what”s next?

If all I want is a job I’m good at where my boss is pleased with my work then does it matter how much I make? Maybe I need to make a lot less. Like a lot lot less. But the mortgage,

Adulting Hardcore is Challenging for this ADHD Adult

I’m TRYING to get my life together before I am paying someone to help me wipe my butt because I can no longer do it myself. I have no idea how to manage everything required of being an adult while also saving for (early) retirement while also trying to enjoy life. I get little glimmers of joy out of seeing my kids smile or learn something new every now and again, but for the most part I just feel like I’m stuck in this never-ending horror story at worst or a very bad book that’s too long with no actual plot line or conclusion at best.

What I want… is to feel like I can afford a fairly basic life (which I guess is a fairly fancy life–but to afford taking care of a house and a family and still have money left over to save) while I also am not locked into a career that has me on the verge of a mental breakdown pretty much every second of the day (though that may be the case in any career.)

I’ve put together a new family budget that’s still on the lower-end of what I’d like to be able to spend, and it’s not pretty. I’m tracking it in YNAB to try to actually start budgeting vs just hoping that I get my bonus and stock to pay my bills and save adequately. I feel sad that there seems to be no “winning” this game–the best I can do is try really hard to maintain a job that pays better than I expect to be paid for the next 30 years. Once the house is paid off then… I guess, at 67, we’ll be in better shape?

But as I see many get sick or pass away in their late 60s, I feel sick thinking of trying to make it until then to enjoy life. Even if I live to 100, this doesn’t mean my loved ones will. I keep thinking about how men die younger… how my husband turns 40 next year… (I’m not far behind)… how maybe he has 25 years left to live. I mean, my dad died at 67. It’s difficult to process how short life really is. These are the good years. As long as everyone in our family remains healthy. My kids are young, we’re in our prime, I guess — but it doesn’t feel good at all. It feels terrifying. It feels like I’m watching life slip away and the best I can do is try to plan for what job I’ll get next after whatever one I’m in currently falls apart.

This budget seems impossible, both in that it requires way too much spending AND does not really allow me to spend what I want to spend. Boo hoo, I know, I’m a spoiled brat. But I want to be able to take family photos and go on vacation and dine out and send my kids to summer camp. All “wants” for sure, but why does the next person deserve these things more (or less) than I do? Yea, maybe I should have married someone who cared about earning more income, but given that he doesn’t care he’s actually earning a lot and still able to take care of our kids part time. But I don’t see him earning more… ever… which means I’m just – stuck. And I think the weight of that has really hit me lately. That I have 30 years left of working and that’s a short time and a long time. 30 years of life is short and will go by fast, especially if all the living I’m doing is on exhausted weekends. I really want a job that is fulfilling–one where I don’t dread waking up every day. But can I get a job that is fulfilling and also pay the bills? In a HCOL area? I really feel pessimistic about this. I also feel like I have to make a change soon. I can’t keep doing this.

The budget: $15k

  • Home: $9000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, renovation/maintenance)
  • Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
  • Car: $800 (*includes saving for a new car every 10 years)
  • Food: $1500
  • Life: $2500 (kids activities/preschool – with only one kid in preschool at a time, shopping, travel, tech, gifts, etc)

$180,000 / year of spending

Saving Goals $11.6k

  • 401k/Roth – $8.5k
  • 529 – $1k
  • ESPP – $2.1k

$139.2k / year of saving (57.5k pre tax)

Total:

  • $261.7k post tax
  • $57.5k pre tax

Income needed – $493.5k

That makes sense… in that, as I’ve always said, in order to live a middle class lifestyle (this doesn’t include what I’d consider upper middle class lifestyle such as home cleaner, personal trainer, a larger shopping budget, etc) you need a $500k income here. Granted, this is a high savings rate, so if we were to cut back not the savings we could splurge a bit more… but the reason I’m focused on saving so much is that most years we probably won’t be able to! Right now any high earning year must be a high savings year too.

The reality is that we’re not going to be a $500k a year income family. My husband, if he keeps his job, is going to contribute $100k to that. I cannot see how I can find a job that pays $400k a year. It seems much more realistic to imagine both of us earning $250k, give or take, than for me to have a job that actually pays $400k every year for the next 30 years.

My reality is in my current career path I can likely earn $150k with bonus in some sort of stable way. Sure, this year I’m on track to make $750k+, if I keep my job, but that’s just because my stock grant is worth a lot. I’ll never earn that again. I have to live and plan based on an $150k income. So $250k total. I tried to put together a plan based on $250k income and I run out of places to cut.

$250k income… should spend ~ $12.5k / month

The budget: $12.5k

  • Home: $8000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, minimum fixes)
  • Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
  • Car: $500 (*we buy cheapest cars possible)
  • Food: $1000 (not really realistic but some people do it)
  • Life: $1500 (all spending goes to kids activities, no travel, no shopping or hair cuts or anything)
  • $1.5k/mo left for saving — plus anything else pre-tax, so maybe max 2 401k and that’s it

Doable? I guess so. But again that’s assuming my husband keeps his $100k/yr job AND I manage to maintain $150k a year employment for the next 30 years. Maybe in 20 years $150k won’t seem like a large salary due to inflation, but then all of our costs — except mortgage — will have increased as well.

I just don’t know how to do it. And we’re “high earners.”

I’m trying to get us closer to that $12.5k budget now, which allows us to save more in our higher earning year and maybe will free us up for more flexibility later. But when is later?

I want to change careers entirely. I have some ideas. I’m scared to start over. I feel like I won’t be able to compete with 20-somethings. I have these ideas but then I’ve been on maternity leave for 2 months now and I haven’t taken a class or anything, which I could have done. My mind is scrambled eggs at the moment. But I don’t have the drive or focus or something to work for anything. Which is my problem. I admit it. Am I lazy? Perhaps. But also something is wrong with my mind. I can’t focus. It’s the bad anxiety. The ADHD. The ruminating on everything I say and do that’s so wrong. I feel lonely alone and anxious with others. I don’t know. It’s all too much.

My dream is to be able to live a life that doesn’t feel like I HAVE to make so much money to do the things I want to do. But I don’t even know what I want to do anymore. I don’t really need more “things.” I’d like to buy some new photography equipment and that’s expensive. I’d like to travel when travel is possible again, and pay for experiences with a family of four plus probably pay for my in-laws to come so that adds up really fast. I always think what is it that I’d ever want to buy and then my spending just adds up. And the I freeze, like I can’t even enjoy what I spend on because I feel guilty for spending anything. I should just be saving.

But at 38, I don’t even own a kitchen table. I melted my cheap-o food processor years ago (oops I left it on the oven that was on somehow) — and I need a new one. We don’t have matching sheets or much for furniture. We don’t have kitchen dishes (we’re still using my remaining target single plates I got when I graduated college.) We need a new garage door and should get a water filter for the kitchen sink. None of my clothes fit… because I just gave birth to a baby… which doesn’t  matter now but when I have to reenter the world shouldn’t I buy some new things so I feel acceptable? Clothes seem like such a waste though. I hate buying cheap stuff but then I hate buying expensive stuff. So why buy anything? My car has a lot of dings on it. And I need new brakes. That’s a safety issue. So it should be a priority. But I just spent a ton on a checkup. We should get a van anyway. Should I sell the car for parts? Should I get a van? I like the idea of getting a new electric mini van but I wish my husband would take on some more clients to help pay for it. He wants the fanciest model with the leather seats and while I’d like that too maybe we should buy something a little cheaper?

My biggest challenge is not really understanding what we can afford. Because I don’t know what I’ll earn in the future. I’m so fortunate to be earning a lot right now, but I’ve already been demoted in title and I can’t maintain this income at my current company. So I need to find a new job to just maintain. And I’m so tired of jumping from job to job and never feeling like it’s right. Never knowing what the hell I’m doing. Always feeling like I’m on the verge of getting fired.

So it’s safer to cut our spending down. $11.5k a month plus anything on top of that saved would be really good. The more we can save, the more cushion we have for the future. And $11.5k should be a comfortable monthly budget. But… after $8k on the house, that leaves us with $3.5k for everything else. I don’t know how to get everything in that. It seems like I should be able to but then things just add up. It’s a fun challenge, sort of, but I’m not any good at it.