Year 7 at FinancialCompany was the most difficult of my professional life. The rest of my Job Experience is so much better than this particular 12-month interval that (nearly) everything else has felt like a cakewalk by comparison.
So what are my big takeaways from these three years?
Let’s ask our friend Mr. Bulleted List for the answers.
- Jobs change people. Over time, most of us become a little like the folks we hang around with, whether we want to, or not.
- Your manager has, by far, the greatest impact on your day to day levels of happiness. If you have a good working relationship, chances are good that your job is okay. If, on the other hand, you have a Cthulhu of your own, every day will feel like you’re a Private in a warzone with a Commander that is intentionally sending you on suicide missions in the bush.
- On that subject, your manager can change at any time. You’re always just one reorganization away from reporting to someone new. So even if you like your current boss, make sure you have your FU money ready just in case things go bad.
- Holding on to a job you despise seven out of seven days a week — even when you’re not working — may not be worth it, even if the salary and benefits are terrific. There’s a distinct line between a) putting up with a tolerable position for the sake of eventually reaching FI, and b) resigning yourself to live in continual misery in a job you come to despise. Put another way, if I could do it over again, I would have quit after Year 2, when I realized that the job was changing me and things were simply not working out between me and my new manager. I could have avoided all of the ugliness with Bert, as well as several hundred incomprehensibly awful confrontations with Cthulhu.
- If your bonus money is tied to a specific goal, try to figure out your hourly wage for the achievement. Is it still worth it?
- The pulse of your team and organization can have a lot to do with your overall fit and happiness. FinancialCompany tended to hire people with drive and ambition, i.e. Climbers. Since I wasn’t a climber myself, I never achieved a level of comfort with the way business was conducted.
- If you hate work, it will spill out into the rest of your life. I’m not saying it’ll happen exactly the way it went down for me (drinking, breakup with SO), but it’s rare for people to be able to fully compartmentalize their jobs, especially when they’re working a large number of high-stress hours
- Exercise can be a valuable tool to help manage your mood
- Obsessing on work all of the time is not healthy and can lead people to make bad decisions and act a little crazy.
Right, all of these things are extremely obvious, I know. I seem to be one of those people that needs to make mistakes for himself in order to learn anything of significance.
I feel obligated to add that I could have stayed at FinancialCompany virtually forever. Lots of people do stay at their respective employers for much, much longer than I stayed at that particular gig. They use phrases like “I just put on my big boy pants and go to work,” and “If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen!” to justify their decisions and help them feel better about hating their job all day, every day.
But if I did that, I think that eventually there would have been no return to my core personality — FinancialCompany’s culture and programming would have permanently taken up residence in my head; the new normal and default settings for livingafi.
Then I’d be permanently and forever climbing ladders to nowhere, fighting for rungs with other evil muppets.
I happen to think that’s no way to live.