Career Advice For Fish

Hacking employment, improving work, professional development
Fish
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Career Advice For Fish

Post by Fish » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:06 pm

I am seeking advice on how to change out of a very good job situation for something even better. This "something else" doesn't exist yet, and is assumed to be a job because I don't have enough capital (financial or otherwise) to indefinitely support my family's current level of consumption without working. Feel free to question any assumptions, stated and unstated, to open up the solution space.

Pros about current job:
1. The work continues to be enjoyable and technically interesting. Even after 10+ years.
2. My colleagues are talented, competent, and a pleasure to work with. Same goes for management.
3. Very low BS factor. Few meetings, no office politics at my level. No business travel.
4. Flexible. Within reasonable limits, can occasionally work from home, show up late, leave early, do whatever as long as I get my hours in.
5. Not demanding or stressful. Almost never need to work beyond 40 hours/week, no pressure to perform, no fear of being fired or laid off.
6. Excellent compensation including healthcare and retirement.

Cons:
1. Requires physical presence.
2. Office is about 15mi from where I live, in a less desirable part of town.
3. No option for part-time work. It exists on paper, but no one is ever approved.

Barriers to change:
1. Not confident that I would be changing to something better, or even enjoying the change.
2. I haven't looked seriously, but I expect that any career change will either involve an increase in hours, increased stress(*), and/or a 25-50% reduction in wages.
3. The exit appears to be a one-way door due to supply of labor in this field vastly exceeding employer demand. When we hire, we get hundreds of qualified applicants for a handful of positions. Furthermore, my industry is mature and employment levels have been decreasing slowly for some time now, with productivity gains balancing natural attrition.
4. Loss of certain "early" retirement benefits that I'd be eligible for in ~20 years.

(*)Due to working outside area of extreme specialization. Though I'm sure the stress will pass as I settle into the new job.

Reasons for change:
1. It's a lot of effort to maintain full-time job, be a good parent to my two young children, share housework with full-time working spouse... just feel like I'm running the cycle unnecessarily fast and maximizing the rate of extraction to my detriment. Not to mention the things that don't get done, such as taking care of my health and maintaining healthy relationships with DW, my parents, friends and family. I do what I can but don't feel like I'm handling this balancing act well.
2. I like everything that I spend time on, but I'm not currently doing everything that I want to be doing. Think "bucket list" and other interests.
3. Opportunity cost. I like to think I have enough talent to do at least one other thing well, and I'd like to realize this potential instead of leaving it unused.


Does the "optimal stopping problem" also apply to employment? Every time I have thought of this, the solution that appears is to keep my job, while taking on side projects and see if I can get anything to stick. Then change to that something else if it ever becomes a net improvement over the current situation. Or disregard side projects entirely and designate that time/energy as leisure to improve quality of life.

Some other possible solutions:
1. Take a leave of absence (unlike part-time work, these are allowed). However, it seems like a one-shot attempt at solving an ongoing problem. Not sustainable.
2. Move and save commute time. Honestly, if I look at it objectively, the area close to work is not terrible. But it hasn't been considered seriously due to the crime and visible social problems. My children are approaching school age and the schools in my more affluent neighborhood are much better. In short, I view moving as sacrifice.
3. Take a non-specialist job closer to home and live hand-to-mouth with that income.
4. Retrain for new career (also presumably closer to home).
5. Semi-retirement. Find a part-time job and use investment income to supplement consumption.
6. Stick it out for another ~10 years and finish accumulating for FIRE.
7. Decrease consumption to open up more opportunities.

I'm considering a timeframe of up to 5 years to complete this hypothetical transition, so seeking gradual change. Deep inside, I'm a bit risk-averse and I don't like it when my Plan A fails. Maybe this needs to change too.

Did I miss anything? Is more information needed? Thanks in advance for any insight or advice you can provide.

BRUTE
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Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by BRUTE » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:15 am

most important factor, what level of FI has Fish achieved?

Fish
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by Fish » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:42 am

About 10 years of expenses, or 30% to FI. Stated another way, financial capital theoretically covers 30% of current expenses at 3% SWR. However, a lot of that 10x is in retirement accounts and I'd get hit with penalties and taxes if I started drawing an income from it. Of that total, 2x is in taxable and it could cover 6% of expenses... not enough to change the situation. It's only good as FU money.

Our spending could be cut in half if we tried. I won't go into details but the only limitations are psychological and they're not my limitations. ;) If I get my way with expenses, that doubles financial capital to 20x. Then we sell the house to pursue The Springfield Strategy, becoming solidly FI as a result. ... This is the stuff that I used to daydream about during that period where I was aware of mainstream FIRE but had not yet discovered ERE. But now I understand that I'm not wired for such radical change and my environment would become hostile were I to attempt it.

Going back to the ERE book, we have this quote:
A very common and very good piece of career advice is not to work to earn money but work to learn new skills, gain new connections, and create new opportunities.

I've put myself in a position where I'm mainly working for money and entertainment. Instead of leaving the job for skills, connections and opportunities... maybe the answer is to start with my existing job, set some career development goals in a different area of expertise, and gradually reinvent my career from within, leveraging my industry knowledge and connections? It's not a perfect solution, but perhaps that could be the change I am seeking?

GandK
Posts: 1975
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by GandK » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:58 am

Questions that occurred to me while reading your posts:

1. What led you to believe that job change was the best solution to what appears to be an emotional problem?

2. To what degree are you open to alternative, potentially riskier but with theoretically higher returns, investment strategies? Does your answer change if you're working vs not working? Why or why not?

3. Does DW work, or intend to keep working, if you pull the plug? And how does she feel about HER life, career and work balance?

4. When I came home full time, we found that the expenses we saved by my NOT working (a second vehicle + insurance, commuting and parking costs, work clothing costs, work lunch costs, child care plus taxes) almost equalled what I'd been making. A few months later we were actually in the black from the change because I was using the time I'd gained to evaluate and improve on inefficiencies in everything from shopping to insurance to electricity use. Are you certain that you'll be financially worse off as a family if you stay in paid employment?

5. If money were no object, how do you think you'd spend your time?

Fish
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by Fish » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:18 am

> 1. What led you to believe that job change was the best solution to what appears to be an emotional problem?

The job and the time I spend on it are nonessential to my life and my happiness (though I still depend on the income stream). I don't identify with my job title. The other activities are considered essential (though I might reconsider or do some more introspection?). The job seems to be the only degree of freedom.


> 2. To what degree are you open to alternative, potentially riskier but with theoretically higher returns, investment strategies? Does your answer change if you're working vs not working? Why or why not?

I'd be open to it if I were actually knowledgeable and competent enough to operate the investment strategy. Being honest with myself, this is going to be a project in and of itself. Supposing this were the solution, one difficulty is that the bulk of the retirement funds are locked in our employers' 401(k) plans, so we only have access to very basic asset types while we are working. Unless the riskier strategy only requires the 2x in taxable, or can be pulled off within the 401(k), a big disadvantage is not being able to implement it in the near term, or while working.

It seems that the standard plan is to invest for growth during accumulation, and then after retirement either shift to a less risky allocation or change strategies entirely and invest for income. With ERE, ability to retire early is less dependent on investment returns during the accumulation stage, so I take this to mean that I could start with the post-FI investment strategy while employed. So the answer to your second question is that the strategy doesn't need to depend on whether I'm working vs. not working.


> 3. Does DW work, or intend to keep working, if you pull the plug? And how does she feel about HER life, career and work balance?

We're somewhat traditional. Our finances are combined and if there is ER for anyone, DW goes first. She is free to leave anytime, and I don't get to pull the plug while she's working. That's our deal. She also feels somewhat overwhelmed with life/work, but even though her career is unfulfilling, she never really considers quitting as a potential solution. Outsourcing housework is at the top of her list. As un-ERE as it is, we may try it. I'm supportive.


> 4. Are you certain that you'll be financially worse off as a family if you stay in paid employment?

We were both "winners" in the career lottery of life, so due to high salaries it would be very hard to come out ahead by quitting, even after considering taxes and childcare costs. Furthermore, the costs of employment are not large, for example transportation where DW works from home, and I use public transit to get to work. That being said, I do get your point and one of us losing a job would not be a financial disaster. Home production would increase and expenses would be reduced. Suppose after-tax income and expenses both drop 30-40%, but since income > expenses it's a net negative in absolute dollars. However, having lower expenses would increase the value of accumulated capital since it's a larger multiple of annual spending.


> 5. If money were no object, how do you think you'd spend your time?

In the short term, I would spend my time doing what I do now. Most likely I'd even continue going to work. I don't view it as a sacrifice. Just a missed opportunity.

In the long run, I'd like to reallocate the effort I spend on my job and work on some projects at a depth that I'm unable to pursue with my current level of time and energy. Get really interested and passionate about something different and try to make a positive impact on the world like Jacob has done with ERE.

BRUTE
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by BRUTE » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:15 am

regarding the money locked in 401(k)s, it seems many humans are utilizing an IRA ladder to get the money out tax free over 5 years. brute isn't sure these are also penalty free, but they might.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by classical_Liberal » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:37 pm

Once an employee leaves the job 401K can be rolled into an IRA in which almost any investment strategy can be utilized without tax consequences. @Brute is referring to a Roth conversion ladder and this only works once taxable income drops very low, otherwise income taxes must be paid on the converts amount(s).

@fish
Honestly I feel a bit jealous that you are apathetic towards your job. I have become more and more hateful with mine and would never have the lasting power of a full decade. Apathy would be a huge improvement.

If I may tread on a potentially thin ice topic... It seems to me the largest problem you have is a spouse with different life goals than you. Outflows could easily be be improved if {spouse approved}, lifestyle changes could be attempted if, I can't quit my job until, ect. It sounds as if she wants a traditional suburban life, whereas you want to focus on an ERE life. I think many opportunities would open if the two of you had a frank discussion or a least slowly try to show her the way you would like to live if she is currently oblivious, then have that discussion. Can ground rules be applied and compromises made that would let both of you live the life you want?

Fish
Posts: 522
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by Fish » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:36 am

It wasn't signaled well, but I'm familiar with 72(t) and Roth conversions as this stuff is now FIRE 101. Assuming I don't want to deplete the capital in the retirement accounts, it's still only 30% of expenses at 3% SWR. But, it opens up an avenue to semi-retirement if expenses can be reduced.

@CL - I actually still like my job, but I don't know if this will still be the case in another 5 or 10 years. If not, I want to have some good alternatives prepared when I confront my mid-life crisis. :)
classical_Liberal wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:37 pm
It seems to me the largest problem you have is a spouse with different life goals than you.
I would say this is a source of friction, but I don't see it as a problem. DW and I agree on nearly everything else. Here is another favorite quote from the ERE book from the section on spouses and significant others. This had a lot of personal impact since it got me out of destructive thinking patterns wrt FIRE and my marriage.
Fortunately, it's possible to reach a degree of compromise that allows one person to live this lifestyle and the other person to live a regular consumer lifestyle. To live together, a couple has to agree on certain things, like not signing up for debt, and how much to spend on common items like housing. A compromise must be reached. For other things, whereas it would be nice to agree on them, like where to squeeze a tube of toothpaste, whether to have a TV or a car, it's not a crucial issue.
DW deserves a lot of credit for compromising as she agreed to my ground rule of living debt-free and to paying off the low-interest mortgage even though she would have preferred to invest differently. Over time, we have also reached agreement on other lifestyle choices such as not upgrading our house and sending our children to public schools.

Her frame of reference is somewhat distorted by association with a certain close-knit group of friends. We all started out at similar levels of education/income/wealth, but they were ambitious and risk-taking while DW and I are quite the opposite. Now fast forward a decade and we're at the bottom of the pack as these differences in strategy and personality have had time to compound. Ergodicity and destiny. If I had to guess, as a % of income we spend about the same, but they make more so they spend more. High consumption role models for DW. :) Several years ago, their consumption was +1 Wheaton level relative to us and DW's reaction was, we're all the same, why can't we also have the same things? This was the backdrop when we had "the talk" about FIRE so I think DW is to be commended for agreeing to what is tantamount to a freeze on our standard of living. In retrospect, this was the right move, and it has actually become easier to deal with the peer pressure as our friends have continued to pull away further in terms of job title/income/NW/consumption. Now that they're +2-3 Wheaton it's more obvious that they're different/better at this game and we'll go broke if we try to keep up.

I've talked to DW about the FIRE goal and she agrees with FI but not RE. She needs security and doesn't feel comfortable being dependent on income from paper assets. This is reasonable and I can work with this. DW has been assured that if she leaves her job, it won't be immediately followed with a "me too," and we can jointly decide the timing of my exit. Nor will our spending be subject to austerity measures. I'm not sure if she believes me, but it's true. :shock:

Another reason for seeking a career change (as opposed to ER) is out of respect for my parents-in-law. From their traditional, guardian-ish perspective, I am responsible for their daughter's well-being. They would not sleep well at night if their daughter and grandchildren relied on the stock market for all material needs. It's weird, but people like to depend on other people, because accountability can only be transferred to humans. If you rely on the 4% rule "because internet" and your portfolio blows up, you only have yourself to blame. If you do the same thing, but on the informal advice of a friend who's really into personal finance, it's obviously the friend's fault. :lol:

I have a daughter, and I've conducted a thought experiment where she gets married, has children, and is living the good life. Then out of nowhere, the son-in-law abruptly announces that he's tired of working and he's moving the family to some distressed part of the country where real estate is cheap and they're going to make ends meet on some combination of 4% rule and using grow-lamps to hydroponically grow organic lettuce in their basement. That scenario makes me seething mad. So, I pay it forward and perhaps future son-in-law, when he's contemplating his too-early exit from paid employment, will read these words in this forum and pay me back.

To finish answering your question, ground rules have been applied and compromises made on both sides. We're still a few Wheaton levels apart in PF mindset and in spending efficiency. Right now she is somewhere between "smart consumer" and "aspiring frugalista," while the half-life of cash in my wallet is measured in months. DW's starting to get it, but I don't even suggest that she be frugal. That needs to come from within. She can have anything she wants. Eat out? Anytime. New clothes? Don't even ask. $$$$ haircuts and eyebrow treatments? Whatever. I fully trust DW and her "spending conscience" to keep discretionary spending at reasonable levels. She knows what she wants and always gets good value for the money spent.

In short, I think we have a healthy relationship and have reasonable attitudes. Interdependence is messy but the rewards are immense. DW is the best ally I could have on this FIRE journey. :mrgreen:

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by SustainableHappiness » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:45 am

That was really nice fish. Good work.

I've had success leveraging work experience to have a more flexible career teaching at a college. Would this interest you or be possible?

- very rarely under the microscope, scalable hours, very little politics so far as a sessional instructor, new skill set

BRUTE
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by BRUTE » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:18 pm

regarding the "no trust in paper assets", there are other ways. this probably doesn't solve Fish's career problem, but maybe his wife would trust/enjoy owning a few rentals for rental income, or other forms of non-paper-assets? sometimes humans need tangible things. real estate is very tangible.

the "not wanting the provider to quit" thing could be phrased differently, too. it doesn't have to be "Fish quits he hates work and will never return". it could be "Fish quits his boring office job because he would prefer to start a pasta business in his garage", or "start selling widgets on Instagram", or whatever the cool kids do nowadays. if Fish manages to do this new thing while still at the old job, he could swing from "job to job" only when the new one has sufficient traction, so there doesn't even have to be a quiet/risky period between jobs.

with regards to the original career question, Fish basically has a great job but is bored in it, wants to explore some side quests, "only" has FU money (good but not enough to remove all risk from a career move), and thinks it'll be hard to get back into the job.

that last item might not be as difficult as Fish imagines. humans love humans they know already. after working for this company for years successfully, they probably love Fish. he is not going to be competing with 1000 unknown humans when he returns, because he's a known and trusted figure. of course, there is no guarantee that they'll take him back, but brute has done the same thing and the response was "when does brute want to start again?".

it sounds like there is another skill that Fish wants to explore in his life, probably through a job. how far is this skill developed, does Fish have marketable experience in it, can it be done as a hobby?

in general, brute has good experiences with exploring side quests before focusing on career/FI, as he is the type to constantly experience FOMA until he tries things and quickly finds they won't work for him.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by classical_Liberal » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:22 pm

@fish
Very good! Happy you have reached agreement on the financial side of things. I may have projected some things I see in my current SO onto the reading of your statements, if so, my bad.
Fish wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:36 am
Her frame of reference is somewhat distorted by association with a certain close-knit group of friends.
This story of "keeping up with the Jones's" particularly resonates with me. Even though I don't care what my neighbors or coworkers think, those who are close to me can have a huge impact in how I view life. Not a competition or approaval per se, rather a difference in kind in how we view the world over time. This has, without a doubt, been the most difficult challenge in moving up the PF Wheaton levels.
BRUTE wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:18 pm
in general, brute has good experiences with exploring side quests before focusing on career/FI, as he is the type to constantly experience FOMA until he tries things and quickly finds they won't work for him.
I've had this experience as well and would second a "side quest" to keep @fish interested in life. The major issue I often have is that any attempted "side quest" does not get my best time and this makes it difficult for accurate appraisals of whether or not something works well. IOW, primary employment, plus interpersonal relationships take 99% of my best time. This means any side quests I have attempted have been done half heatedly and partially exhausted. While this does allow me to see blatant "no go's"; anything marginal can not be properly assessed because it really hasn't gotten my best effort. If @fish isnt exhausted by his primary employment this may not be an issue for you.

suomalainen
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by suomalainen » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:33 pm

@fish, I have no advice, but can relay my experience for what it's worth. I am pretty much in the same boat as you. To absolutely everything you have written above I nodded my head in agreement, EXCEPT I couldn't give two shits about what my in-laws think. Granted, my wife finally doesn't give a shit what her parents think anymore either, but that wasn't always the case. (Full disclosure, my parents' opinions also mean nothing to either of us.)

In any event, my "solution" has been to take the "easy" way out. I remain in my safe/unchallenging/ok/well-paying job. I could try to move up the corporate ladder, but in order of importance: I don't want to; I'm not interested in learning/doing new things because I KNOW from prior experience that other positions in my area will require loads more BS than I currently have to deal with; and I'm "scared" of leaving this current sweet gig for a new adventure at the risk of landing somewhere shittier. So, I've stayed. To @GandK's point, I ultimately came (am coming?) to the understanding that this was an "emotional" problem, which I am trying to solve by being more "mindful" of my choice to stay and appreciating/focusing on the benefits, etc. In all honesty, so far my solution isn't very satisfying, but frankly I think that's because I suck at it. But I'm not giving up. I keep trying new things (took a bowhunting certification course today), but they're just outside of work. This doesn't change how I feel at/about work, but that's probably a personal failing rather than a failure of situation, if that makes sense.

I of course have the ability to change anything I want about my life, but when push comes to shove, I haven't changed a damn thing. My actions speak far louder than my already loud complaining/wishing/dreaming. Maybe all this makes me a pussy or lazy or stupid, I dunno. I'm trying tho. If you come to a great answer, please post it. Would be great to get the follow up.

BRUTE
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by BRUTE » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:45 pm

classical_Liberal wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:22 pm
The major issue I often have is that any attempted "side quest" does not get my best time and this makes it difficult for accurate appraisals of whether or not something works well. IOW, primary employment, plus interpersonal relationships take 99% of my best time. This means any side quests I have attempted have been done half heatedly and partially exhausted.
brute didn't mean that side quests have to be done on the side while staying at the full time job. brute has quit his job to fulfill side quests full time. getting the job back was trivial. (possibly not true in every industry).

classical_Liberal
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by classical_Liberal » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:01 pm

@brute
Very good point! I also believe your previous statement was correct in that barriers to reentry into careers/fields of work are often exaggerated in our minds. There are obvious exceptions to this rule and I think the period of time away from a profession can be one of those. However, six months to a year break to try something different with full energy and enthusiasm... A good suggestion.

Fish
Posts: 522
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by Fish » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:17 am

@SH - The (part-time) college instructor suggestion is intriguing. However, with children at home, do I also want to deal with children at work? I don't have any experience, but I expect the romantic notion of inspiring young minds dies rather quickly. I imagine it's like giving a bunch of presentations, but to an audience that's largely uninterested and much less knowledgable than yourself. Can you help me see this from your perspective? What aspects of teaching do you enjoy? Or is it just a source of income to you?

I'm also expecting that not having a PhD is going to make it that much harder to get the first teaching gig, especially being in a technical field. I have a MS for what it's worth. In a serious pinch, that plus industry experience might convince them to scrape me from the bottom of the barrel rather than cancel the class outright. Do you prepare your lecture material? Or use whatever the textbook publishers provide?


@BRUTE - Real estate would be respectable as an income source if we had enough of it. DW and her parents get it. We even have landlord experience. In this case, the limitations are again psychological but this time they are mine.

One of my weaknesses is that I have no greed. I don't care to accumulate money for its own sake. I need motivation. Therefore, I'll not give chase if there's no FIRE at the end of the rainbow. DW wanted to invest in RE earlier this year but I vetoed it on the grounds that our lives were already oversubscribed and we didn't need that distraction, property manager or not. I just saw our potential investment as a source of extra work for us. Not as a path to freedom. Maybe an agreement with DW could be reached such that I'm free to work on whatever I want, paid or not, as long as rental income + earned income exceeds expenses. We've never talked about it in that way, surprisingly enough. Also, those are some great points about returning to a former career not being as difficult as it's often made out to be. I think you're right.


@CL - No offense taken. Given the limited information, my relationship with DW was eventually going to get brought into the discussion since we're freedom seekers and tend to antagonize perceived obstacles.


@Finn - I'm in total agreement with your "solution" and the justifications presented. The disadvantage I perceive is that it's not stable in the long run. Today, I'm considered a top performer and if I leave, brute assures me that my job is waiting for me if I ever want to come back. If I stay and I'm still doing the same work in 10 years, with no meaningful career growth or experiences in the interim, that exit is most certainly a one-way door because I've become a dog relative to my younger, more ambitious colleagues who are now doing the same work. But hey, that's why we save so aggressively right?

How do you manage all this time for hobbies with three kids? I note your youngest is 8; mine is 2. If I could get an afternoon or two off each week the bulk of my "emotional problem" might go away.


@CL/@BRUTE - Regarding "side quests": My job is a time sink, but it doesn't really drain my energy much. The only thing about solving technical problems with computers all day is that I don't really want to do more of the same when I get home, even if the problems are in a different domain. If I get wrapped up in a really interesting project, I might happily spend all my free time on the computer for days or weeks on end, but my goal is less computer usage at home.

Last time I seriously attempted a side quest while working full-time, I nearly burned myself out and that's not happening again. I'll carry a project far enough to validate that it's worth taking 6-12 months off of work, but I don't have the time/energy/motivation to take on a third job indefinitely. (Did I mention that I have a family?) On the other hand, if I already had an hour each day of the week set aside for side projects, I would probably start by working out because my physical health is more deficient than emotional health at present. Maybe this is where my short-term focus needs to be, but having a long-term vision is also important to me. I don't have any shovel-ready projects at the moment. All I know is that I'm a fast learner and want to try something new. Because I'm not FI, it would be nice if the side project at least had the potential of covering most or all of my expenses. I'm torn on whether to make this a requirement. If I don't, I'll need to go back to my job. If I do, the new thing will be a job.

suomalainen
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by suomalainen » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:58 am

How do you manage all this time for hobbies with three kids? I note your youngest is 8; mine is 2. If I could get an afternoon or two off each week the bulk of my "emotional problem" might go away.
I had my first child at the age of 26 during law school. Those two years with him were amazing. One child (and a fairly easy one at that) is easy! Best dad ever! Then, during my first year of law firm work, we had child #2 at 23 weeks gestation, so 5 months in the hospital (NICU). We had child #3 two years later, with a couple of hospital scares/stays and 5 months of bedrest for the wife. So, things were stressful, to say the least, on the home front. No longer best dad ever. Then law firm life was not pleasant either. I had zero time for anything other than work and kids. Fast forward a few years and I am absolutely miserable. I change jobs. Twice. Wife doesn't work well with stressful situations so that adds to my stress of just trying to figure out something so I don't kill myself or otherwise go postal. Anyway, finally land at my current position and I start to breathe. Early morning bike rides, no problem, everyone's asleep anyway. Weekend bike rides...the guilt was crippling. But, as the kids got older and were able to be more independent, you start to realize that hovering over them all the time isn't necessary. Playing with them every. single. time. they ask isn't necessary. It's like those commercials "first kid"..."third kid"...you just finally figure out what kids need and the answer is "not 100% of you." So, take time for yourself. If your wife puts up resistance, look her straight in the eye and firmly but kindly say "I need this time to myself to [recharge, to feel alive, whatever] and it doesn't take away anything from you or from the kids, and I'll come back better able to spend quality time with everyone. On the flip side, whatever you need for yourself to be happy is something that I will also do my best to facilitate." Anyway, that was a bit of a fight too, but it's worth fighting for. Thirteen years later, my wife takes the time she needs and if necessary I make that time by taking the kids with me to a park or to swim or to play racquetball or whatever. I take time for myself and she deals with the kiddos. And sometimes we both take time to ourselves by making the kids entertain themselves. It's good for them. They'll be fine.

Riggerjack
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:53 am

Ok, how about changing the picture slightly?

You have savings, but not enough to retire on. You have a great job, but not the flexibility you want.

First, paid employment is usually the least effective trade of time for money. by that, I mean that a plumber working for a plumbing shop generally makes about 40/hr, and bills around 100/hr. The 60 /hr difference covers sales, dispatch, taxes, and profits. So for that plumber to set out on his own, he needs to cover sales and taxes and dispatch on his own, but he gets paid better for the work when he gets it lined up.

So, I'm not suggesting that you become a plumber. I am suggesting that you look at the options to consult, contract, or independently work in the same field you are currently in. This will result in higher pay/time worked, some variation on the regular schedule, and can be cut back to meet your needs/free your time. As an added bonus, it keeps you current in your field, with your company, so a rehire should be easier(and pay better), should you want it.

SustainableHappiness
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:39 pm

Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by SustainableHappiness » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:55 pm

Fish wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:17 am
@SH - The (part-time) college instructor suggestion is intriguing. However, with children at home, do I also want to deal with children at work? I don't have any experience, but I expect the romantic notion of inspiring young minds dies rather quickly. I imagine it's like giving a bunch of presentations, but to an audience that's largely uninterested and much less knowledgable than yourself. Can you help me see this from your perspective? What aspects of teaching do you enjoy? Or is it just a source of income to you?

I'm also expecting that not having a PhD is going to make it that much harder to get the first teaching gig, especially being in a technical field. I have a MS for what it's worth. In a serious pinch, that plus industry experience might convince them to scrape me from the bottom of the barrel rather than cancel the class outright. Do you prepare your lecture material? Or use whatever the textbook publishers provide?
Caveat: I'm from the great northern Canadia where college would be the equivalent to community college (I believe) in the States. Still attempting to break in to the University sessional professor setting where a PHD is desirable (I also do not have one of these, I have an MBA), however at least for Canada a University pays ~2-3x more than college and you might get a TA to help you mark.

I do not do it for "just a source of income", it is like a hobby I enjoy. However, I enjoy presenting/bantering with people (one advantage to extroversion). The 10% of students who are actually engaged are the 10% I teach to. Since it is a hobby, I generally do not give a fuck if students show up for class. I also understand that Sales and/or Marketing (what I teach) might not be someone's passion and all they want is a passing grade and I design my courses to be VERY easy to get a passing grade thereby minimizing conflict as the students who don't care just view it as a bird course, give me positive reviews and we all move on with our lives. Some might have an issue with this, however to deny that many students (including me at some points) just view it as a necessary game to move on to the next step sounds like a good way to grow bitter and angry about today's youth and school system.

This stance has made it a very pleasurable experience over all, since not worrying about marks frees me to spend a lot of time in class working on skills and ripping students apart via role-playing (since sales is so presentation skills heavy). This also has the added benefit of highly engaging students in the class and I give everyone at least a passing grade (even if I tear their work apart) so everyone's happy.

If you prepare materials you get paid extra for "Curriculum Development" which is a lump sum at the end of the semester or prior to the course starts with the hourly rate varying on how much work you put in clearly. I've done this once so far, it was o.k. but much less fun than lectures. I'd do it more though, since it offers optimal flexibility of hours.

All other prep is just copying and dumping old course shells into new ones (provided by old profs) and tweaking to your style or fixing their weaknesses which you discover as you teach the course. Total average prep time for my classes = about 2-3 hours at the beginning and ~1 hour per week per course (including marking).

That being said, other PT instructors I have spoken with have had a lot more trouble with the workload on top of a FT job and from what the tell me about spend a lot more time on all of the above and designing full lesson plans, yada yada yada. I've also fairly handily beaten the school average on the Teaching Appraisals each semester since I began with my method which translates to them wanting to offer me more courses.

Hope that helps!

Fish
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by Fish » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:30 pm

@Finn - Thanks for sharing your story. These perspectives are valuable because there's only a small segment of the population that's 1) ERE-aware, 2) has children, 3) views the experience as sacrifice, 4) is willing to admit to it, 5) has already completed the hardest stage AND doesn't mentally revise history such that it was all a cakewalk. Maybe only the first aspect is truly uncommon but it's always nice to get reassurance that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I've tried so hard to make work+kids sustainable, and feel like I'm so close. I just want to enjoy the kids while they are at this special age. But it's taking a toll on both of us, and while we don't want this stage of our lives to end, we will feel relieved when it does. I have no intention of replacing "diapers and constant vigilance" with "endless activities and travel sports." It will get better, and because this is temporary, I don't need to feel defeated in that my human capital is being depleted somewhat faster than the target SWR.

And yet, despite all this, DW and I haven't completely ruled out having a third child. The attitude over the last 2 years has gone from "absolutely not" to "preferably not." Like, we'd be happy if it happened and even happier if it didn't. My view is that having a third would be an "investment" such that in 20+ years from now when everyone's moved out of the house, we'd have more family life with 3 adult children than we would with 2. It's a really marginal case (and possibly even a poor justification) for bringing another life into the world. Maybe you or someone else here with more life experience can help provide more perspective.


@RJ - It's not an option at my current company, but I could work somewhere else. Before, I'd see job postings and dismiss them completely due to bad salary or terrible location. Now I'll look at them as consulting and contracting opportunities. This fixes the issue of low wages as a full-time employee. And poor location may be less problematic if working from home can be negotiated, or if I only need to go to the office a couple days each week. I'll have to give this idea more consideration.


@SH - Nice post! I really like your approach to teaching and course design. Made me daydream briefly about being a part-time lecturer. It would be a fun post-FI hobby, but I'm not sure whether it's practical at present. The extra income from teaching (2-3k/course at the community college level?) hardly moves the needle with current spending. Yet another reminder of how low expenses really opens up a lot of options as far as income is concerned. A specialist earning and spending 100k is generally confined to working within a single industry. At 50k spending, all sorts of median careers requiring any college degree become viable. Spending only 25k, many unskilled jobs also fit the bill. At 12.5k, can also work minimum wage or part-time. And at Jacob's level of spending, occasional or even accidental income may suffice.

I'm not really looking for new hobbies, as the goal is to either exchange or subtract activities from an already busy life. Others likely share a similar goal. Maybe one has to add before they get to subtract.

suomalainen
Posts: 733
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Re: Career Advice For Fish

Post by suomalainen » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:57 pm

Nothing but anonymous internet man-love and support from me to you. Specifically:
Fish wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:30 pm
I just want to enjoy the kids while they are at this special age.
Fish wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:30 pm
It will get better, and because this is temporary, I don't need to feel defeated in that my human capital is being depleted somewhat faster than the target SWR.
+1 It goes fast. It is maybe the hardest time (don't have high-schoolers yet!), but also the best in my opinion. I love(d my) little children (other people's little children are fucking monsters. Except yours. I'm sure they're wonderful.) Enjoy as much as you can, but accept the things you can't control. I'll tell you what my therapist tells me: you care and you're trying your best. That already makes you a great dad. Don't beat yourself up about that one time you fucked up or that one week where you wanted nothing to do with them and just NEEDED time to yourself or that one period of 6 months you realized you did not like your child because he was a total (developmentally appropriate, but still) asshole. Forgive yourself and move on.
Fish wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:30 pm
I have no intention of replacing "diapers and constant vigilance" with "endless activities and travel sports."
+1 Although my boss does this and I look at him and think "Best dad ever!" I would hate it, which is why we don't do it! Know thyself.
Fish wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:30 pm
And yet, despite all this, DW and I haven't completely ruled out having a third child. The attitude over the last 2 years has gone from "absolutely not" to "preferably not." Like, we'd be happy if it happened and even happier if it didn't. My view is that having a third would be an "investment" such that in 20+ years from now when everyone's moved out of the house, we'd have more family life with 3 adult children than we would with 2. It's a really marginal case (and possibly even a poor justification) for bringing another life into the world. Maybe you or someone else here with more life experience can help provide more perspective.
Know thyself. My $.02: going from 2-3 is harder than going from 1-2. My experience: she wanted #3 (and 4 and 5) and I was ambivalent. We had #3. I was adamant afterwards about not adding #4 and #5. I finally was sure that I absolutely did not want another one. She got an IUD and eventually acquiesced to my getting a vasectomy (best $2000 I've ever spent!!! :lol: 8-) ). Anyway, where was I? Right - I don't view kids as an "investment", but I have a friend that does. The way he put it is that he wouldn't get a vasectomy because what if his whole family dies (he has a wife and 4 kids)? He wouldn't want to be alone; he'd want another wife and more kids. I don't get it; they all die, I'm off to the woods! But it's 100% personal choice.

So, my only advice is know thyself. Looking back, I did not know myself and I made life-changing (and creating!) decisions without really wanting them. I just ambivalently fell into them because wife really wanted them. I absolutely regret those decisions (e.g., the process or lack of it). But I don't remotely regret what came out of those decisions.
...But when I look into my nephew’s eyes, Man you wouldn’t believe, the most amazing things, that can come from, Some terrible nights...

Some Nights, Fun
Sorry for all the quotes.

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