As I have eluded to in previous posts, work has been crazy busy recently.
I just finished helping my company put together a large proposal on work ranging in the $100+ million range. Unfortunately, this has caused me to work more hours than usual and spend less time doing things that I enjoy. The stress and long hours put a strain on my physical and mental state. I was tired all the time and the only thing I wanted to do was ESCAPE!
When working in government contracting, you are at the mercy of their stretched timelines, laziness, slowness, etc. Whenever they say "the final bid will come out on July 1st" you can bet that it wont be out until Aug 1st. When they say "we will pick the winner on Sept 1st" you can bet that they wont find a winner until Oct 1st. The flexible timelines and lack of rigidity in the schedule have an inverse correlation to happiness. I would get a sense of joy when guidance would come out saying, "the data you need will be out in a week" and "quotes are due in 2 weeks" but when those time frames slip to 2 weeks and 3 weeks respectively, the happiness is gone.
You end up busting your ass for a week, government gives you another week and upper management now has more time to tweak all of the numbers based on updated input from other individuals. Now its Monday morning again and you are essentially starting all over again. It's a vicious cycle from hell.
Here's the crazy thing.... at one point I wanted to be Upper Management!! These individuals work proposals day in and day out year over year. They put in upwards of 60 to 70 hours a week during a proposal, complete it and then the next one comes along. Granted, they all make well over $100k possibly $200k, but this brings me to the point of the post...
What is more valuable to you, crazy hours & crazy money, or normal hours (FREE TIME) and less money??
One of the main reasons I have been on this retire early kick is to have the flexibility to do what I want. And although the extra money would possibly get me to that point earlier in life, is the time and effort work it?
This proposal was a wake up call for myself. I look around at the corporate life and it is something that I want to get out of as quick as possible! For the most part, upper management looks miserable and walk around like zombies trying to make the COMPANY more money. This usually pads their pockets as well, but that is only if my company WINS the contract. Imagine missing your children's sporting events, birthday parties, etc on a proposal to hopefully get a bonus but then we LOSE the bid!!! --- They get a "you did a great job, better luck next time" --- Screw That!
It was because of this proposal that I have decided not to try and move up the corporate ladder. Fortunately for my wife and I, we have been saving a large portion of our salaries already so this is no issue. Had we stretched ourselves thin with a large mortgage payment, or car payments, or unnecessary spending, this would not have been possible.
One caveat to this non-management work approach is the issue that if we win the contract, I am penciled in as a task manager -- the exact job that I no longer want --- UH OH!
So, should we win, I will have to have this discussion with my manager. I will have to tell him “I value my time of my work” — I will decline the new role and stay where I’m at. It might cost me two years or so towards retirement, but will save me more years than that due to stress.
And who knows, this decision could have the added bonus of waking up my manager to this lifestyle. Baby steps at first of course, but maybe it will open up a line of communication into the future... you never know!
One bonus to living a stress free life I forgot to mention — currently, I am at the point where I will lose my comprehensive leave hours if I do not use 6 HOURS every two weeks! So essentially, I can leave early from work by 1 hour for 6 our of 10 working days, or, work 2 extra hours during the first 9 and take off every other Friday!!
This lifestyle of saving/investing/living below our means has allowed me to make the decision that I WANT. Not what I need to do to make ends meet. I continue to count my blessings every day and not take a single one for granted.
And you better believe that every day after I decided not to climb the corporate ladder, I woke up relaxed and stress free! It's been great!
I hope you all find the happiness I have found the past couple weeks. Keep saving, Keep investing, Keep living!