m741's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
Posts: 1301
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl »

m741 wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:19 am
Establishing better bounds between work and life is my primary goal for the next month.
Sounds like a pretty decent goal to me, although also very hard to reach sometimes :-) .

m741
Posts: 1175
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:31 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 »

December, 2020

I could have sworn I'd updated this journal after August, but now it's December and here we are! Another year, almost in the books.

Work
Quite a tumultuous few months at work. About two months ago I was hit by some pretty serious burnout. The manager position is stressful to me, I had been working long hours, and I'd been unable to complete some small projects. I've been working through that since - mostly by feeling guilty about not completing things, while working shorter hours.

That said - I got good performance reviews and per reviews, all my reports seem to enjoy reporting to me. Unless I'm completely misreading things, my manager really likes me... and she was just promoted. So there's a real possibility I could be moving up the management chain - and whether I want to do so is a decision I'll probably need to make sometime next year. Because of how the corporate job ladder works, I'd probably also need to get promoted first, which is an extensive ordeal at my company that I'll suffer through in the spring... hopefully successfully (it would be a title promotion, rather than any change in responsibilities).

I do think this has been a terrible year to be a manager. We switched to remote work shortly after I moved into the position. My team size was doubled in the summer - so I've not met half the team in person while I was managing them. And at the same time we pivoted to work on high visibility stuff, roughly doubling team responsibilities... so a lot more to keep track of. Meanwhile, my 10 person team has had two people with serious performance issues... and they *also* had medical problems necessitating leave. So if higher-level management is more of the same, I'd probably say "no."

But I think things will be getting better. My most ambitious report is someone who I think I can teach quite a bit, and they've accepted my offer to move into a position with more responsibilities, where I can offload stuff that's top-of-mind. And I have an equal mix of barely-competent co-workers and excellent co-workers. So I can learn a lot without feeling like I'm weighing everyone down...

I don't mean to complain so much. I've learned so much over the past year, and I'm learning more each day - stuff that overall hasn't come easily to me but that will prove useful as long as I'm working with/for other people.

Finances
I saw a dip in net worth with the market pullback in the middle of October, but recovered strong and my net worth is currently higher than ever. Even with my "inflated" lifestyle (ie, being a home-owner, not counting every expense, and not eating lentils), I'm at a 2.1% SWR, and expect to see continued gains through 2021. Although anything could happen, right now I don't anticipate a major market pullback. And if there is one, I don't think I'd lose my job - so it just represents more investment opportunities.

I've been procrastinating on some financial hygiene stuff. Nothing major, but I think I could trim some expenses totalling ~$200/month. A job for this weekend.

So financially I remain in good shape.

Life
Well, I'm in quarantine, so nothing is really happening. Over the past few months I've made just one trip, camping near Mt St Helens, which was really pretty.

I have an enormous backlog of chores and tasks around the home. I'm experiencing some low-grade anxiety with fall and winter, as I'm not sure which plants in my garden will bounce back, and which might have died at the end of summer (they're all perennials, but I don't know what most of the plants look like in the winter). It's not the end of the world if some die... although I bought a *lot* of plants, most were in the $1 or $3 bin at Lowes.

I also experience some anxiety at the house. It's over a hundred years old, which both makes me nervous (there are a lot of cracks in the ceiling/walls from settling over the years), but it's also reassuring. What are the odds things go downhill now? Right? We're working through the two big renovations that we contracted out (a total rewire is now done, and replacing ~11 windows should happen in the next 2 months), and then will be patching walls and repainting.

I will say that in the 6 months since moving in, I've patched 8 holes that were drilled for rewiring (including repainting), mounted a vanity, fixed a loose p-trap, replaced a rotted drainpipe, pulled up two rooms of carpeting, put in a room's worth of quarter-round moulding, dug a french drain, built and backfilled a retaining wall, trimmed four trees, and relaid a walk... in addition to planting perhaps 40 shrubs and flowers around the yard. None of those was a major project, but I've learned a lot already.

Besides that, I really haven't had the energy to play guitar or study Spanish, which were my two main projects for a while. I'd love to return to them, and maybe the extensive time off around Christmas will be an opportunity to do so. My major hobby right now is playing deckbuilding roguelikes. I've sunk hundreds of hours into Monster Train over the past few months...

DutchGirl
Posts: 1301
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl »

As for perennial plants in winter: last year I also thought that some plants had died, because all that was left of them was one sad brown stick above ground. But these plants came back stronger than ever this year, apparently their energy was stored in their roots. So keep up hope. I'd replace plants by May or so... if they haven't recovered after 1-2 months of warmer weather, then they're really dead. And you'll just get to pick some new fun plants.

Hats off for all the work on your house you've done over this year. And apparently you've learned a lot at work, plus people have appreciated your work and efforts.

Enjoy your Christmas holiday!

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I'll sevond what was said about the perennials. Maybe your location is different but where I'm at almost every plant "dies" in the winter. The leaves turn brown and fall off and nothing is left. Then the above ground plant grows completely anew in the spring. Hostas are a very common example.

I also wouldn't worry about the cracks. Old houses almost always have cracks in the plaster, especially in the corners of windows and doors. Since you are having contractors around anyway maybe one could give you a second opinion. You could also get a specialist to check the foundation.
Last edited by Gilberto de Piento on Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

m741
Posts: 1175
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:31 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 »

January - March 2021

I was meaning to post over the past few months, and I think I had a draft that got lost in February. But here we are, well into 2021 and I ahven't posted yet!

Gilberto and DutchGirl were right - all the plants started returning to life in February, and things are green again. Pretty much everythiing I stuck in the ground seemed to survive the winter, even some plants that looked pretty sad in September/October.

Work
It's been rough. We have a very bureaucratic planning cycle, and then immediately afterwards, an extensive performance review cycle. I'm just emerging from that and don't relish seeing them return in a few months.

That said - even though work/life balance is terrible right now, I still feel like I'm learning a lot and there are likely to be opportunities headed my way this year if I can stay the course. I'm also up for promotion in this performance review cycle and I'm optimistic that it will go through. If it does, this will be a promotion to a level that I never expected to reach when I joined my current company (still pretty modest, I was just awed by the company when I joined). It also feels unlikely that I would be promoted further - and not because I think it would be particularly hard, but because I really want to set an exit date before then!

At this point I'm starting to think about how long I want to maintain my current work/life balance and stresses. If I'm promoted, the compensation will go from "great" to "incredible", so I'm firmly in "golden handcuffs"/"one more year" territory, but right now I'm thinking of working for about two more years. I'm at a point where each additional year worked opens up a lot of possibilities for the entire rest of my life - but also where I suspect I'll start having a negative impact on my health. I've also climbed past "FIRE" territory and I'm in "FatFIRE" territory - assuming the market doesn't crash.

I'll have more to say about work in a month or so. Right now basically: money is good, career options are good, but I've had to put aside a lot of personal goals.

Finances
The short summary is "up and to the right." In my February accounting I crossed a net worth level that I really never expected to cross, and each month it continues to grow. There's not much to say here: good take-home pay, the market performs well, I invest regularly and fill up any tax-advantaged accounts I can.

My biggest concern is that I'm in a mode where I'd like to start transitioning to safer assets, because I'm naturally risk averse and I'm at a point where I don't really need to accumulate that much more. However, so many assets seem correlated. Maybe I'll start dipping into gold again.

Life
As I mentioned earlier, I'm spending an awful lot of time thinking about work. So I've set aside a lot of personal hobbies. I do intend to get back to studying Spanish and playing guitar, I just haven't had the energy over the past few months. Right now I'm working on two things primarily:

* Gardening: I've got a few projects underway- completing a flagstone pathway, installing an arbor, and sowing a raised bed that I just built. I have a 55 gallon rain barrel and I'm looking for another - then I want to build a gravel bed to support them. I also just got 5 yards of compost delivered and I've been spreading that around my plant beds, and I've picked up a bunch of native plants and will see how those do over the summer.
* Camping: I waited waaay too long to make reservations. Around Seattle nearly every weekend in the summer is booked in all the state campgrounds or national forests. That said, I've got one trip booked each month of the summer, already went camping once, and I'm planning on camping again in two weeks. I've also been accumulating supplies, doing some woodworking to build a comfortable bed in the back of my minivan (I'm not a big fan of tent camping - many campgrounds can be pretty noisy). I've learned my lesson now and in the future I will be making reservations as soon as they become available.

I'll probably be doing some more non-camping related woodworking this summer (making a coffee table, for example). I think my biggest obstacle is figuring out where to buy wood. I have all the basic supplies and am interested in learning more.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Thanks for the update, I'm happy things are going well for you other than the work stress.
m741 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:33 am
I've also been accumulating supplies, doing some woodworking to build a comfortable bed in the back of my minivan (I'm not a big fan of tent camping - many campgrounds can be pretty noisy).
It seems like avoiding a tent would also be nice when camping in places that are constantly wet like Olympic National Park. When I visited there my gear got wet and stayed wet. When I left I had to pack up a wet tent, wet sleeping bag, and wet clothes and travel with them for the rest of the trip.

I agree with the noise issue too, I swear half the time I go to a campground there is one loud group that either keeps me up late or wakes me up early. Talking, partying, music, idling vehicles, generators, heaters, air conditioners. In my youth I was sometimes part of the loud group so I can't complain too much though.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1301
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Glad to hear that you're doing okay.

I'm a bit worried about your work stress levels, but hopefully you always keep in mind that if things get too much, you have all the freedom to quit (or to take a few days off work, no matter the consequences). And I hope even more that you'll manage to make this work for you over the next two years or so.

Also glad to hear that your plants came back to life. I have one stubborn tree in my yard that still looks dead. I hope so much that it's just a late-bloomer (quite literally), I'll have to report back in May or so.

I planted some tulips and daffodils in autumn. It took me a couple of bucks and like 15 minutes, but now I really enjoy them blooming. It was a nice surprise to see the first sprouts a month or so ago.

mooretrees
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by mooretrees »

There are so many areas in the national forests in the West that have great camping spots that free, away from people and not too hard to find. Just got to drive down some forest service roads and explore a bit. Bring water and a good map and you will be set.

Post Reply