Tag Archives: job

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?

Stay or Go or Stay Then Go? Deconstructing the last 4 years.

It’s hard to look back at the last four years and feel good about much of it, other than managing to remain employed through some serious close calls to being fired (not to mention two pregnancies.) My ego gets the best of me time and again so it’s hard to fight through these last months to get the remaining shares of my main vesting period. But outside of the good compensation, there’s a whole lot of maybe not-so-ok experiences that happened to me in the last 4 years and I just want to hash it out because I’m hurting a lot and I want to make sense of it.

2017 I join the company with an offer from a senior exec who knew me from working together years ago. The role wasn’t defined clearly but he was also very excited to have me join the team. It was a much smaller company at the time. I didn’t negotiate my compensation, but felt it was fair. I was also coming off a pretty bad situation at another startup where I was running a department and didn’t know what I was doing so I lost my job and was having trouble finding another one. I was grateful for the opportunity.

I joined the team and there wasn’t clear direction. I was given a headcount but not enough budget to hire someone with experience. I didn’t want to hire anyone so I was waiting until the right person applied and I lost the headcount because it took too long to hire. I was able to hire a freelancer to help out but still because of the comp level that person was junior. She was good for being junior but still I was figuring out the role and then trying to manage a person who was junior and that wasn’t going well. Soon after joining I was leveled and reported to a new boss. I actually got along with her at first. She didn’t want to give me any guidance on what to do, so I continued to try to figure it out on my own. But I really didn’t know what to prioritize because there were no clear goals on the team. When I asked for goals to help determine what to do I was told that I should figure out what they are with people who then would not want to collaborate with me on this, they were very territorial over setting the goals and all the things that went with achieving them. Hard to explain without revealing too much about who I am but the main point was no one was willing to be collaborative and it made me look like the bad guy who wasn’t collaborative but I couldn’t get the information needed to do the work. Maybe I wasn’t leading enough or influencing enough but because my role wasn’t clearly defined it was really fucking hard to convince anyone to work with me properly.

Meanwhile, I was pregnant with my first child all through the first year of the job. I was given a whole bunch of random projects that didn’t make sense for one role and yet I delivered on them. Then when I came back after having my first child (and my father passing away and a long bout of depression) I really struggled. What was possible to fake it through before became like walking up a hill covered in sludge. While they gave me an acceptable performance review the year I was on maternity leave, the next year I fell on my face time and again. It was a mix of not sleeping, anxiety, depression, and imposter syndrome, and still not understanding my role. Meanwhile as the company grew others were hired around me and they seemed to just fit the corporate culture better. They weren’t necessarily more talented or able, but they knew how to play the game. It was that year that I was put on a performance plan. I was devastated because I felt horrible about letting my boss down. But I was given six months to shape up or get out.

In those six months I managed to pull it together. Those six months were actually the early days of covid. And when I got pregnant with my second child. I didn’t tell my boss I was pregnant for a long time. I wanted to show her I could be a good employee without her feeling like she had to judge me lightly since I was pregnant. And I actually succeeded. Despite being exhausted in my first trimester, I managed to earn recognition for my work done in those first six months. Things were starting to look up.

But then I took on a project that seemed like a good idea. I created the plan, pitched it, and everyone seemed on board. It was going to require collaboration from the larger team. Well, once we set the plan and we were moving forward an important person was put on another project and said never mind we aren’t doing the full project, just a piece of it. I felt strongly about why we had decided to do the full project to add value to the business so I pushed on and took on more than I should have on my own. I wasn’t able to do it as good as it would have been with the support of others, but I still got something similar to the original concept done. The problem was I got it done a month late. Well, it wasn’t even month late, the date that I had given to finish my part of the project was a bit arbitrary. The whole project still launched at the deadline that was committed to the leadership team. Nonetheless, I was in major trouble over missing the deadline. I was told I’m not a leader, not a team player, etc, etc. My boss was so frustrated with me and I felt horrible.

But then we launched the project and everyone saw it as a success. Even now they refer to this project as an example of something we should do more of.

That wasn’t enough, clearly. At that point my boss had already decided to demote me and move me to a role that has a smaller scope.  While that sucked, it didn’t come with a pay decrease, and I thought the scope was more clear (that I own a certain function) so I was happy about that. My new boss, despite being a white man who thinks he knows everything, at least cared a bit about the actual tasks I would be doing and wanted to be more involved than my former boss who had given up on me. This was all during the end of this pregnancy as well, which ended up being high risk. I was a mess and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it but it really sucked.

When I came back to work this year my new role was clearly not as well defined as I thought it was. Others were doing what I thought was supposed to be my job and no one cared. I wasn’t actually owning the function at all. I was just going to work on one-off projects, pretty much only the one-off projects that no one else wanted and that would make no sense on a resume in applying for future roles. The actual good projects (in the area I supposedly owned) were being managed by other people on the team. And that hurt a lot. But I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t worth complaining at that point. Clearly they wanted me to leave.

In fact, when I went on maternity leave my former boss said she would join my performance review (with my new boss) since she was my manager the year before. But then she bailed on that meeting where I was given a 2/5 and no stock refresh or raise. While I wasn’t surprised about the low score due to missing the deadline, I also was hurt that she didn’t join this meeting. I finally got up the guts to ask her to meet to discuss the review and consider changing my score to a 3. She met with me and in so many words told me that she wasn’t kicking me out immediately but to look for another job soon. So that was that.

Meanwhile, the (single male) guy who took my former role (who happens to be a friend) is doing a good job but I’m not certain he’s doing a better job than I was doing. He tells me that he misses deadlines too. He was handed a lot of better organization already so he was able to move forward and make progress in a way I never was. Not to sell his talent short, he’s really good at his job. But so much of his success is tied to how well he speaks and how he just has this confidence that I’ll never have. And really I should have managed this guy (we hired him as my fill in when I went on maternity leave the first time) but I was never allowed to manage him so instead he now has my role. And as he’s my friend I’m happy for him but really I wonder did I suck so much at the job and is he that much better?

The reality is that I know how to manage budgets (he is self-admittedly horrible at that.) I took on some of his projects before he was promoted into the role because they should have been mine to lead in the first place and he was ignoring them and I thought they were important for the business. He didn’t care so I took over and I took on too much so that’s on me. But if I was actually set up for success in my role (where I was supposed to be leading the broader function) he would have been my employee and I would have had another employee to manage this area that was important and being ignored. That was a big mistake. But I just wanted to fix the things that mattered. Do meaningful work and add value.

I also hired a bunch of freelancers towards the end that he’s using now… if he didn’t have them I don’t think he would be able to successfully find freelancers to do the work. But I managed to get everything set up well for him to take over. So nice of me. Good thing he’s my friend. I’m rooting for him. But still, man, I feel like a sucker. And that sucks. Sucks to be a sucker.

And the kicker is that even though he was given my former role, he’s actually doing work that should be part of my new role. I’ve never had a clear job or clear objectives so there’s no real way to measure my success outside of if people like me or not (spoiler alert – they don’t.) It’s all sorts of a shit situation and I want to get out. But I also want to get out to somewhere I can start over and really go in and be a new person from the start.

I’m scared I won’t be able to find another job and I’ve started applying but I’m not getting any calls. It’s going to be a long and painful climb to get to my next position. It will probably pay less and who knows if it will be any better. I’d like to believe that a job with an actual job description and clear success criteria will be a little better.

I know I should stay until April. It’s not that far off. I hate the projects I’m working on now and part of me wants to leave before I get too into them and see how the team manages these assignments that no one else wants to do because they suck. I can’t complain really because they pay me a lot so of course I’ll do them. But I’m so over being assigned the work that no one else wants. And I hate it even more when the head of the team tells me I’m doing good work when it doesn’t matter, when I know my boss wants me out. And when I get invited to other meetings that aren’t related to my main role because now it feels like she’s just trying to motivate me enough so I might stay to finish the projects that no one else wants to do.

I know why she doesn’t like me as I’ve been the worst version of myself in this company. In meeting I get frustrated and interrupt people. Because the people who get ahead in this company are the ones who can sound like they know what they’re talking about and be “leaders” but often they are just better at talking and sounding confident. They don’t look at what makes our company different and our unique problems to solve but instead rattle off what other companies do things and seem to be caught up in being just like everyone else and that makes them so smart. Well maybe sometimes it makes sense to copy others but I love to look at problems and figure out how to fix them in a way that makes sense not just how everyone else is solving them in a generic way.

Every time I feel a tinge of frustration now I apply to another company. It doesn’t actually help since no one is calling me, but it feels good to send my resume out to the world. Unfortunately the last four years have done nothing to help me build a resume or make me a desirable candidate. This is why I’m stuck. I mean, maybe someone will hire me eventually. It seems to always happen when it feels like it won’t. When I’ve sent out thousands of resumes. Someone gets confused and thinks I’m a good person to hire. I’ve never gone more than 4 months without a job in the last 15 years. So I guess tenacity gets me hired. But each job seems to be more of a mess than the last one. Yes they may pay more, but I’m more and more suffocated.

I just want to do go good work. To solve problems. To do things in a logical way. To not have to put all of my energy into trying to be anyone but myself.

And at the end of the day I don’t have anyone to talk to about this, other than anonymous people on the internet. Because… my husband doesn’t get it. He knows I’m a hot mess and so it’s clearly my fault. Well, maybe it is. But what do I do about it? It’s my fault but it’s not getting any better. And then I feel depressed, like this deep, horrible depression that’s like a wire ripping through my gut every day because I feel guilty and like a total fuck up at the same time. But what total fuck up has managed to save $1.6M in 15 years? This one. This one right here.

So I can’t breathe again. I sometimes question at what point I call it quits for good. But I have kids now so I can’t make that choice. It just sucks to feel so alone in all of this. I try to tell myself I need to suck it up and just be better. Maybe I can be better. I don’t know. I don’t think I can be. I seem to have proven the hypothesis that I always end up sucking plenty of times over.

I Should Update My Blog: What Day Is It Again?

August 14. Also known, in my head, as 170 days before I can leave my current job and move onto the next one without making a major financial mistake. Or 24 weeks, give or take. That’s achievable. I think. I’m doing work, albeit overwhelmed by the work I’m doing. Nothing I’m doing is revolutionary or will get me a good performance review or pay raise this year, but that doesn’t matter since I’m leaving.

But where to? I’m just tired of being in the same situation again and again. Beyond exhausted. I have no experience. Have been working for over 15 years and yet no relevant experience to apply to other roles. I feel really sick about it. I know that I can take classes and such but that’s not really going to get me prepared for an actual position that requires 5+ years of specific experience. So while it’s nice to think I’m finally getting to the time when I can leave, it’s very not so nice to think about having nowhere to go.

Net worth wise I guess things are going ok. The stock market and particular stocks I’m invested in came down, so family-wise we’re hovering around 2.1M when I was hoping to be closer to 3M this year. It’s still possible we’ll get to 2.5M, for what that’s worth. I’d like to be at 2.5M before leaving this job. If stocks rebound it’s possible. Or I can be under 2M again. Oh well.

Just went on a family trip and spent too much money on hotels that were average or less than average and eating out too much. Now I’m focusing on eating healthy food and trying not to waste anything. Basic stuff, but things I’m bad at so if I can actually use all the food I buy that will be a major win (and good for the environment too.) I’m not that hungry today though…

I’m not sure when I should start applying for the new role. I was thinking I would go all in starting December. Bonus payout and 401k match happen the end of January, and if I start applying in December that means that it’s unlikely I’ll get a job offer and start my new role before Feb 1. I’m working on a few projects through April but by Feb 1 things should be in a decent place so I can leave. It’s not the best time to leave but also they clearly don’t want me to stay so why should I care about what is best for the company right now?

I’m trying to figure out how little I can make and still be able to afford life. Since I’ve earned at least $165k since 2016, it would be hard to earn less than that now (esp since lately I’ve been earning $300k+ with bonus and stock.) But I’m looking at the next few years as a transition period. Can I find a job that pays $150k that is lower level where I can get some experience and have a boss who can help me get relevant experience in a specific field, so I can move up appropriately? If I make $150k and have good benefits then I think that would be acceptable. I just don’t want to be underpaid for my work and experience level either. I don’t know. One company may see $150k as a lot of money and another may see it as the compensation for a relatively junior position. I do think $120k is probably more standard for the roles w/ 2-3 years of experience, which maybe is what I should be aiming for… though I don’t even really have relevant experience for those roles. And most won’t even interview me because they’ll think I want more money (I do) or that I won’t stay long if I can get a position that pays more (maybe true.)

So the big question is do I focus on getting a job that pays $150k (which is already $25k lower than my current base not even including bonus and stock) OR do I use my current experience to try to get a leadership role with comp closer to $250k. Will the $150k role actually be a better fit than the $250k role? Will the company see me as a junior/mid-level employee with potential vs a senior employee who sucks at leading? Maybe one day I can work up to leading but I don’t want to go there now. I think. I can’t focus on being a good mom and household manager and a leader right now. I’m bad enough at leadership as it is. So. $150k seems to be the number. I’d love to make $150k at a large company with good benefits and some kind of stock grant to make up for the difference a little bit. I don’t know if I can go under the $150k though, which limits my options a bit. I wonder if I should just delete half of my LinkedIn so people don’t know how old I am and make it look like I’m younger. People say I look young. But then can I really remove the year I graduated on my resume?

Eh.

I’m doing what I wanted to do. Surviving. But then what?

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.