Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

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T4REngineer
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Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:38 pm

Moderators I am not sure if this is the correct sub –forum for my question so please feel free to move.

Bogleheads, for those that took a less active role in pursuing or flat out turned down career growth to spend more time outside of work – How did you come to terms with that mentality?

I am a 30 year old male, happily married to a lovely wife and we just had our first child. We both work and live in a small Midwest town with current combined salaries of around 180k (~double from when we graduated but if further job responsibilities are not sought will likely career level at 200k combined then hopefully inflation adjust from there). We have almost always maxed our 401ks, IRAs and HSA (only recently came available). Retirement portfolio worth ~550k, 2 newer cars, 1 paid off one with ~21k at 1.8%, 146k mortgage at ~3.5% (it’s debatable so the actual rate is 5%) home worth conservatively 225k ,paid 200k (elbow grease) paying off at a rate of 8.6 years. As our salaries have increased life style creep has (intentionally) happened and we both feel we have more than enough and could even cut back consumer spending if desired/needed. We are not frugal by standards some set here, yet not wasteful and tend to buy quality items to enjoy for years vs. “consumer junk”. We go out to eat 2-3meals a week, enjoy any activity that we want to do, vacations are not world traveling (maybe someday) but geared more towards outdoor activities which tend to be cheaper than air fare and 5star hotel/ship suite.

I am reaching a point in my career (8yrs) that its becoming clear the choices I make now may limit my future options and I am mentally struggling to accept keeping what I have which is an amazing work life balance vs. trying to climb to corporate ladder and spend ~50% more working hours for the chance of getting a “cushy” job later in my career that both pays well and is outside of the day to day middle management allowing for a better work like balance. At best my compensation end of career would ~ double from career level engineer (I have no desire and likely no ability to move into the C-suite). For what it’s worth this is coming up because my leader is starting to discuss the next job role and sees me in the entry level management position – not closed any doors yet but have been very open about my thoughts on what I see in that role requiring vs. what I want to give. I enjoy what I do now.

There is always the option to try it, if it doesn’t work out move back out of the role (there have been 3 folks who have stepped down from leadership roles in the past 12m – all still employed at the company) regardless I am clearly questioning the value of any potential extra income and the risk that it does not pay off (i.e. if I am stuck at middle management for 12+ years which is a very real possibility) I would have given up a huge portion of the prime of my life (no offense to you old folks ;) for money that brings me little additional utility – yet the thought of “peeking” at 30 seems wrong/off to me.

Plan to be FI between 50-55 and for what its worth I think many on this forum are far to conservative and underestimate the chance of life changing events later in life. I do no believe that working till 70 hoping for an eight figure portfolio makes any since for me, if modern medicine comes along ways, if I have wonderful genes and an awesome job its a possibility - I don't pretend to know anything about the future, I am already in a job I didn't even know existed 8 years ago and could never have guessed this is where I would be in life so trying to estimate 30 years out is a fools errand that is far to easy to waste time worrying about.

Not sure this post is actionable and if violates forum rules feel free to delete - just typing it out was helpful for me and I encourage every forum member to pass along the LBYM mentality to other and especially your children (Thanks Mom & Dad) it makes life so much simpler not worrying about where money will come from.

nymeria.stark
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by nymeria.stark » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:49 pm

(there have been 3 folks who have stepped down from leadership roles in the past 12m – all still employed at the company)
First, congratulations on both your new baby and your financial state! You're in a super solid place, it sounds like, and this is more an emotional than a financial question. A luxury. :D

Second, the quote above worries me. Why did these people step down from leadership roles? What's going on with your company? Our leadership is pretty darn stable at the consulting engineering firm I work for, unless someone is retiring or leaving for a better job elsewhere. Something to consider.

Third, I've watched so many engineers-turned-project managers give up tons of time with their families. Some of them make it work--some of them end up divorced. As someone who's not an engineer but works with them, I envy their salaries, but not their lives or the amount of travel they do. For a lot of them, it's worth it, because they're truly passionate about their work above most other things. But my hunch is, if you have to question whether or not it's worth it...it's not.

(And you're not going to peak at 30. We have engineers here who have chosen not to become managers despite being here for 35 years. They get to work on the most interesting projects because they know what they're good at and they're respected. Climbing the ladder doesn't always equal career success or growth, it's just a more visible form of those things.)

Best of luck with your decision!
Just a girl, standing in front of her finances, asking them to make more sense.

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:07 pm

Thank you for the congratulations - its been a very exciting ride so far and I can not wait to teach her everything I know and learn new things with her - then back up and watch her make her own way in the world.

"it's just a more visible form of those things"

maybe this is more what has me concerned because it really rung true when I read it - If I don't climb the ladder from the outside in people may not know I was "successful". Which is a horrible mindsets by the way and one should not care what people outside of their social circle think. Some say what anyone thinks but I highly value the opinions of my wife, family, and close friends. There is something to that, I am having an emotion choice because I am struggling to remove what others think/would do with what I know I feel

To your comment about the folks that stepped down, lets just say its a MegaCorp with a long history of issues in middle management going through a major restricting that is not helping things. There is hope for change in the future once the dust settles but assuming it will change is not something I would bet on.

HornedToad
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by HornedToad » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:30 pm

I think decide what's important to you from work and life and help that dictate your decision.

I try to simplify these kinda decisions into will it make my life better now, or my life better in 5+ years and try to decide from that.

BTW, I doubt your mortgage drops from 5% to 3.5% with the increased in standard deduction and the amount of money you are borrowing.

PatrickA5
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by PatrickA5 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:30 pm

My guess is the people that did what it takes to move up the ladder will say that it's worth it. To me, it wasn't.

I'm now 60 and retired at 55. I was the guy that would (normally) leave work on time, pick up my kids and spend quality family time. I almost never worked on a weekend, took every minute of vacation time, and tried not to work late (if possible). I decided early on that "playing the game" in megacorp was just not worth it to me. Still, I had a productive career, always did a good job, never got laid off, and for the most part played by my own rules. I don't believe I missed a single "event" in my 3 kids lives while growing up. If something important was going on during the day at school, I'd do what it took to be there. I know a LOT of people that missed almost everything in their kids lives. Some thought the business world would collapse at the thought of them taking off. Of course, those same people moved up the ranks and ended up making more money than I did, but I wouldn't trade places with them. I suppose some people are really proud of their climbing the ladder. Good for them. I'm proud that I was "there" for my family. It's really hard to do both unless you find a great company.


Do what you think is best.

GoofyOne
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by GoofyOne » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:36 pm

You have not mentioned whether you enjoy being an engineer or being a manager. At least at my megacorp, a manager rarely does engineering anymore. Managers days are spent people management, political maneuvering, meetings upon meetings.

TexasCPA
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by TexasCPA » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:41 pm

30 years from now, do you want to look back and say you were there for the wife and kids while they were growing up or do you want to look back with admiration of all the career milestones you achieved? Choose whichever one will bring you more satisfaction.

The way that I see it, you can either be available for your family now and leave your children and grandchildren a smaller inheritance when you die or be unavailable now and leave them a larger inheritance later!

il0kin
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by il0kin » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:44 pm

OP, you and me are in very similar situations as far as age and family income and location. I am not an engineer but work in a technical field of IT that has specialized and in-demand skills. Great work life balance, I work hard for my 40-42 per week and am home by 5. The way I see it is that the bills are paid, we have money in the bank, saving away for retirement. Life's good. I have made a conscious decision not to pursue management at this time in my career, and it is due in large part to something I heard once that has never left me:

Kids spell love "T-I-M-E."

I would never trade the big hugs and hanging out with my toddler son and soon to be daughter for more money. Some things you just can't put a price on.

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:53 pm

Thank you for all the replies, not sure how to quote multiple people in one post but to answer some questions

*Mortgage deduction, I meant to type rebatable - the lending bank gives a % of interest back based on performance of the bank, I asked for the past 20 years of data and it worked out to be a 1.8x deduction in cost of the loan so i conservatively figured 3.5 was my equivalent rate. I assume due to my typo you thought I meant I was taking the mortgage interest deduction and counting that a reduced interest rate - Sorry for the confusion

*I did toss the one liner but it may have been glossed over, I do very much enjoy what I do now

*Its seems clearer in my head that what I want is to keep the balance I have as I would trade all our financial assets and future assets if someone told me I got to spend another day with my family.

Texanbybirth
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:00 pm

I came "to terms with that mentality" when I looked at my tiny children and realized I wanted to be there as much as possible for them at every moment of their lives until they were gone. I figure the loss of sleep at the early stages of their life was my first "downpayment" on skipping a lot of other "fun" or "meaningful" things for me throughout life because we chose to have kids. Nothing has made me even consider wanting to change that mentality since then, ~3.5 years ago.

(I have a way smaller salary and portfolio than you, and my mortgage is bigger and will last till I'm 59. I still have no regrets. :D You're in a great place!)
il0kin wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:44 pm
Kids spell love "T-I-M-E."
What a great quote!

BogleBike
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by BogleBike » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:01 pm

Glad you posted this. Sounds like you're figuring out exactly what you want at exactly the right time. When the topic comes up again, you know your position. Good for you! (and for the kids...)

If it helps, some people find it helpful to say things like "I want to develop my expertise in my role, rather than move into management". Up to you whether you want to make a definitive statement for simplicity's sake, or leave things more open. You have options.

Glockenspiel
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by Glockenspiel » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:08 pm

What type of engineer are you? I'm sort of in a similar place (not quite as much saved) just a couple years older than you. The principals/managers around my office all work 45-50 hours a week, and I'm a sr. engineer with good work-life balance (~40 hours a week usually). My oldest child is 3 years old and nothing gives me more joy than spending time with him. If my employer offered me a 15-20% paycut to only work 4 days a week, I would take it in a heartbeat. You'll never be laying on your death bed wishing you had worked more, but you will wish you had spent more quality time with your children. Good luck to you.

Hulu
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by Hulu » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:22 pm

Unless it was the deal of the century you already have the deal of the century in a happy, healthy family. I'd scale back until your youngest is at least in school. It goes by super fast if you let it.

Good luck and congrats!

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:28 pm

Glockenspiel wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:08 pm
What type of engineer are you? I'm sort of in a similar place (not quite as much saved) just a couple years older than you. The principals/managers around my office all work 45-50 hours a week, and I'm a sr. engineer with good work-life balance (~40 hours a week usually). My oldest child is 3 years old and nothing gives me more joy than spending time with him. If my employer offered me a 15-20% paycut to only work 4 days a week, I would take it in a heartbeat. You'll never be laying on your death bed wishing you had worked more, but you will wish you had spent more quality time with your children. Good luck to you.
I am a mechanical engineer working in a chemical world doing a job that is border line internal consulting based on my maintenance/operations background..I work 40hrs a week, not on call, never dealing with emergencies or tight deadlines (if there ever was a tight deadline it would be my own fault.)

Entry/middle level leadership at my location has to deal will all of that and is easily in the office 50-60hrs a week and checking e-mails afterwork just to stay on top of things (I saw one inbox that had 400+unread messages and asked about it and they said thats the normal rotation - how can you be effective if you are answering or even reading and digesting that many e-mails!)

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:32 pm

Hulu wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:22 pm
you already have the deal of the century in a happy, healthy family.
I "knew" this before I posted but posting help solidify that and like I mentioned before the future is full of unknowns just because I do not pursue a leadership job in the next couple years does not handcuff/lock in my future - and even if it did its a BRIGHT future.

Its an odd time in ones career - I am old enough to not be new yet not old enough to be senior - I will say staying at the same company has been great and I am not sure the companies (depends on the role of course) get as much value as they think by hiring people that are constantly job hopping every 2-3 years.

Thanks

KlangFool
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by KlangFool » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:55 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:38 pm

Plan to be FI between 50-55
T4REngineer,

What are your annual expense and annual savings? My gut feeling says that it is probably between 45 to 50 on your current trajectory. Then, what is the point of trying to climb the corporate ladder?

KlangFool

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:10 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:55 pm
T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:38 pm

Plan to be FI between 50-55
T4REngineer,

What are your annual expense and annual savings? My gut feeling says that it is probably between 45 to 50 on your current trajectory. Then, what is the point of trying to climb the corporate ladder?

KlangFool
You are correct, we are in that range (closer to 45%) not counting anything from SS but would like to think there will be something there for the years we paid into it. Likely a bit less this year as bank rolling the costs of our daughters birth and associated other costs. You are also correct that there is no reason to pursue more money, if we wanted to spend more on things we could do that today and divert some savings and still have little to worry about in retirement. Obviously that would mean less likely hood of doing so at 50 but really those are just a "would be nice - think its doable" not a forced goal that will be achieved at great cost. I am only guessing but I would think most folks think we spend more to support our lifestyle then we do as we have lots of nice "stuff" but almost everything is bought used and all of our home improvements have been DIY (kitchen, bath, floors etc)

Clearly I am a new poster but have been reading the forum on and off for some time and have appreciated your input on other threads - and of course mine. Thank you for giving your time.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:31 pm

I'm in a similar situation, but a few years older and closer to FI. I've switched to part-time work and basically given up on my career because I know I'm not going to be on my death bed wishing I spent more time in meetings or spending more time with work emails. The closer we get to FI, the better our jobs get because our managers have given us tremendous flexibility.

I have no regrets, but I'll admit I haven't fully adjusted to the feeling of not having to work. I've always been driven to work hard ever since a young kid and the work has paid off. I have a lot of hobbies but in a way it feels like I'm cruising a bit too much. I may try to start a non-profit or something once my kids are in school full-time and I have more time to "work".

KlangFool
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by KlangFool » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:37 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:10 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:55 pm
T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:38 pm

Plan to be FI between 50-55
T4REngineer,

What are your annual expense and annual savings? My gut feeling says that it is probably between 45 to 50 on your current trajectory. Then, what is the point of trying to climb the corporate ladder?

KlangFool
You are correct, we are in that range (closer to 45%) not counting anything from SS but would like to think there will be something there for the years we paid into it. Likely a bit less this year as bank rolling the costs of our daughters birth and associated other costs. You are also correct that there is no reason to pursue more money, if we wanted to spend more on things we could do that today and divert some savings and still have little to worry about in retirement. Obviously that would mean less likely hood of doing so at 50 but really those are just a "would be nice - think its doable" not a forced goal that will be achieved at great cost. I am only guessing but I would think most folks think we spend more to support our lifestyle then we do as we have lots of nice "stuff" but almost everything is bought used and all of our home improvements have been DIY (kitchen, bath, floors etc)

Clearly I am a new poster but have been reading the forum on and off for some time and have appreciated your input on other threads - and of course mine. Thank you for giving your time.
T4REngineer,

You have a new baby. There is a limited time window between now and they are 18 years old to spend time with them. And, depending on the kid, the time window might even be smaller since they may spend more time with their friends than the family between 12 and 18.

In summary, I would worry less about things and money. It is more about time with your kids.

KlangFool

thx1138
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by thx1138 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:50 pm

Really all you need to do is come up with a career goal that you can articulate to yourself and your management that is good for you and the company that gets you away from the middle management track but let’s you grow in your technical role. Something like “technical lead” or “subject matter expert” or such. Just make sure you don’t keep turning the crank on work someone cheaper can do eventually. This typically means moving into the more system engineering aspects of the job or else developing deep intimate knowledge of a niche system. The former is more portable than the latter. Folks in these kinds of positions can work for as many years as they want and more importantly can scale back rather than retire entirely.

No one wants a manager that works 20 hrs a week. The whole point to a manager is for one brain to integrate interrelated decisions. Two 20 hour managers do not equal one 40 hour manager. This is why they tend to be forced into working 50 or 60 hours. You can’t split the job very effectively without also splitting the organization at the same time. It is far cheaper to make one manager work more than split the job.

Technical work can divide much more easily. My company has many senior folks at 1/2 or 3/4 time. They are highly valued and well compensated. Sure we’d love more of their time but we value them enough we are just glad we get the time we do get from them.

I’m not so senior but have gone 3/4 time for reasons similar to yours. I can’t recommend it enough. It isn’t just more time for your kids. It is also more time for *you* so that when you do spend time with your kids you are more present in the moment for them.

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:03 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:31 pm
I'm in a similar situation, but a few years older and closer to FI. I've switched to part-time work and basically given up on my career because I know I'm not going to be on my death bed wishing I spent more time in meetings or spending more time with work emails. The closer we get to FI, the better our jobs get because our managers have given us tremendous flexibility.

I have no regrets, but I'll admit I haven't fully adjusted to the feeling of not having to work. I've always been driven to work hard ever since a young kid and the work has paid off. I have a lot of hobbies but in a way it feels like I'm cruising a bit too much. I may try to start a non-profit or something once my kids are in school full-time and I have more time to "work".
Congrats on your success and hard work, sounds like you are at yet another "level" then us but glad to hear the same feelings occurred - its hard to go from a continuous improvement mindset around career/money/title to continuous improvement in other areas such as raising a family, running a non profit etc because while it may not be permanent the choices made do have lasting effects. I am not slamming any doors shut but I can see them starting to slowly close and thats hard to process/accept even though I know there are other doors with brighter futures to walk through(family) and there are still options in the future just maybe not the "clear cut path" that is front of me today. To be clear no job has been offered to me, this is not a take it or leave it situation this is a I see the writing on the wall and I see myself holding back at work and moving from a growth mindset in order to be able to keep the life style we have.

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:20 pm

thx1138 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:50 pm

No one wants a manager that works 20 hrs a week. The whole point to a manager is for one brain to integrate interrelated decisions. Two 20 hour managers do not equal one 40 hour manager. This is why they tend to be forced into working 50 or 60 hours. You can’t split the job very effectively without also splitting the organization at the same time. It is far cheaper to make one manager work more than split the job.
This makes me chuckle, I agree with what you are saying and while I have had the pleasure of wonderful leaders the vast majority that I have seen/heard of in my short career have been about as opposite from that as possible - closer to the idea that their brain is the one brain (thats why they are managers right - because they are better then the rest of the team) If they are not spending time micromanaging the team being involved in every detail so they can make sure its done right what else would they spend time on? More holistic goals? People development? Organizational support?

Its honestly a little bit disheartening because I know it shouldn't be that way but it truly is my view of the manufacturing culture at Megacorp

ThankYouJack
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:43 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:03 pm
ThankYouJack wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:31 pm
I'm in a similar situation, but a few years older and closer to FI. I've switched to part-time work and basically given up on my career because I know I'm not going to be on my death bed wishing I spent more time in meetings or spending more time with work emails. The closer we get to FI, the better our jobs get because our managers have given us tremendous flexibility.

I have no regrets, but I'll admit I haven't fully adjusted to the feeling of not having to work. I've always been driven to work hard ever since a young kid and the work has paid off. I have a lot of hobbies but in a way it feels like I'm cruising a bit too much. I may try to start a non-profit or something once my kids are in school full-time and I have more time to "work".
Congrats on your success and hard work, sounds like you are at yet another "level" then us but glad to hear the same feelings occurred - its hard to go from a continuous improvement mindset around career/money/title to continuous improvement in other areas such as raising a family, running a non profit etc because while it may not be permanent the choices made do have lasting effects. I am not slamming any doors shut but I can see them starting to slowly close and thats hard to process/accept even though I know there are other doors with brighter futures to walk through(family) and there are still options in the future just maybe not the "clear cut path" that is front of me today. To be clear no job has been offered to me, this is not a take it or leave it situation this is a I see the writing on the wall and I see myself holding back at work and moving from a growth mindset in order to be able to keep the life style we have.
Seems like you have a good grasp on things and are in great shape.

I should also point out one thing that helped our job situation quite a bit was surprisingly becoming debt free. It was never a goal and I'm not debt adverse but now that we are debt free we can cut way back on expenses if we ever need to. It's a freeing feeling not needing a job. This has made us care less about our job, yet have become more efficient at them (80/20 rule) and our salaries have stayed about the same but our hourly rates have gone way up.

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blaugranamd
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by blaugranamd » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:43 pm

I faced a similar decision when graduating medical school. Went into school with dreams of being in an intense, demanding, prestigious, and lucrative field. Had a CV and test scores that could have put me into just about any career path I wanted. In the end I saw how little people in that field saw their family, how unhappy they were, and how many of them were divorced. So I chose a low prestige, lower earning specialty that made me happy and affords me more time with my family. My wife chose a field of medicine she loves but demands substantially more time. I would never trade her places. You are making more than enough money to support your family, choose the path that will make you the happiest.
Last edited by blaugranamd on Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:48 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:20 pm
thx1138 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:50 pm

No one wants a manager that works 20 hrs a week. The whole point to a manager is for one brain to integrate interrelated decisions. Two 20 hour managers do not equal one 40 hour manager. This is why they tend to be forced into working 50 or 60 hours. You can’t split the job very effectively without also splitting the organization at the same time. It is far cheaper to make one manager work more than split the job.
This makes me chuckle, I agree with what you are saying and while I have had the pleasure of wonderful leaders the vast majority that I have seen/heard of in my short career have been about as opposite from that as possible - closer to the idea that their brain is the one brain (thats why they are managers right - because they are better then the rest of the team) If they are not spending time micromanaging the team being involved in every detail so they can make sure its done right what else would they spend time on? More holistic goals? People development? Organizational support?

Its honestly a little bit disheartening because I know it shouldn't be that way but it truly is my view of the manufacturing culture at Megacorp
Instead of going down the management path, could you pursue a consulting path? Become an expert in something where your experience and knowledge is widely desired. Much easier to do consulting part-time or especially being self-employed.

worthit
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by worthit » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:01 pm

Congratulations on thinking through this and trying to come up with the best possible solution for you and your family.

I was in a similar conundrum couple of years ago but in a different industry. Upon presenting, I wasn't sure whether to go up the ladder and give up quality family time for the sake of a fancier title and all the perks that comes along or happily continue to be where I am (in management with no reports and associated responsibilities).

The first year after I made my decision to stay put was very interesting as I had some mixed emotions. But as I entered the 2nd year, all my doubting along with those emotions started dissipating. I can now say for certain that I made the right choice as I wouldn't want to miss my time with my family for extra dollars and a title. It is just me. Of course, I can still attempt to move up ladder later in life if I wanted to, so professionally I am not entirely giving up the opportunity to move up the ladder. Granted, it could be more competitive later. But at least I have that opportunity. However, the loss of time with family and kids is something I can never gain. It will be a lost opportunity as some folks here have already mentioned. That is how I rationalized my decision as well. At the end, we just have to make decisions based on what makes us truly happy and we can live with.

All the best.

BradJ
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by BradJ » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:07 pm

After reading your post, my advise to you is. ...breath. I can tell you are one of those people who is going to succeed at whatever you do. I think any decision you make will work out, and I feel as if you’ll be asked to be in management throughout your career. My advice to the anyone who wants to lead or is a workaholic (I am one), give your children and spouse INTENTIONAL time, it makes up for the times you miss.

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vitaflo
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by vitaflo » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:38 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:48 pm
T4REngineer wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:20 pm
thx1138 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:50 pm

No one wants a manager that works 20 hrs a week. The whole point to a manager is for one brain to integrate interrelated decisions. Two 20 hour managers do not equal one 40 hour manager. This is why they tend to be forced into working 50 or 60 hours. You can’t split the job very effectively without also splitting the organization at the same time. It is far cheaper to make one manager work more than split the job.
This makes me chuckle, I agree with what you are saying and while I have had the pleasure of wonderful leaders the vast majority that I have seen/heard of in my short career have been about as opposite from that as possible - closer to the idea that their brain is the one brain (thats why they are managers right - because they are better then the rest of the team) If they are not spending time micromanaging the team being involved in every detail so they can make sure its done right what else would they spend time on? More holistic goals? People development? Organizational support?

Its honestly a little bit disheartening because I know it shouldn't be that way but it truly is my view of the manufacturing culture at Megacorp
Instead of going down the management path, could you pursue a consulting path? Become an expert in something where your experience and knowledge is widely desired. Much easier to do consulting part-time or especially being self-employed.
Agree with this. If you want to make real money, this is where it is. Being an employee only takes you so far, especially when you try to play the megacorp ladder game. I left my job and became a consultant 8 years ago and it's been life changing. Income quadrupled over night, and have never worked more than 40 hours in a week and a good chunk of my hours I work from home. Currently working 20 hours per week and still easily maxing out the retirement accounts and then some.

It's not always easy but there's nothing better than being your own boss. The last place I'd ever want to work is at a megacorp, especially in management. Talk about soul crushing.

il0kin
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by il0kin » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:09 pm

I already replied but wanted to come back to the thread and second the Technical Lead position. Aiming for this will give you the goal to pursue (and show initiative) and you can still easily say that you really enjoy the technical part of the job and want to stay focused and keep learning from your senior peers for a few more years before considering management. You will get to do some mentoring and help younger employees grow their skills without having to do the dirty work of a manager, which gives you some exposure to that part of managing. There are about 3 of those people on my team of about 15 and they are the bedrock of our team and our management knows it (for example, the manager and the leads do interviews together, so their opinions are taken seriously). In my part of the company generally things ending in Architect, Developer or Senior XYZ indicate these positions and the lower tier folks like me end in Analyst or Specialist.

This is my aspiration, personally.

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market timer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by market timer » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:00 am

vitaflo wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:38 pm
Agree with this. If you want to make real money, this is where it is. Being an employee only takes you so far, especially when you try to play the megacorp ladder game. I left my job and became a consultant 8 years ago and it's been life changing. Income quadrupled over night, and have never worked more than 40 hours in a week and a good chunk of my hours I work from home. Currently working 20 hours per week and still easily maxing out the retirement accounts and then some.

It's not always easy but there's nothing better than being your own boss. The last place I'd ever want to work is at a megacorp, especially in management. Talk about soul crushing.
Recently, I've been thinking of going into consulting. It seems like it would require quite a bit of advertising and sales, though. How did you find clients? I'm often contacted by headhunters on LinkedIn for roles. One idea I had was to offer to do these roles as a consultant. Currently, I'm in management, enjoy it, and have good hours. What interests me about consulting is the chance to do much of the same, but with more upside potential--hiring a team, having many clients, keeping a share of profits.

carolinaman
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by carolinaman » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:22 am

Congratulations on your success so far and your first child.

I started in IT in 1966 and was a software analyst/engineer for the first 12 years of my career. I finally got an opportunity in IT management and took it. No regrets but I did work a lot of hours for the rest of my career. in retrospect, I think I could have been as successful working somewhat fewer hours if I had worked smarter, but it would still have been longer hours and more intense than a staff position. The pressure of senior management jobs can be intense and the politics can be brutal. That bothered me a lot more than the longer hours. One of the benefits, at least to me, was that I set the agenda and made decisions for my organization. All of my senior/executive managers gave me a lot of autonomy. I really enjoyed the leadership role, including strategic planning, oversight of operations and projects and fiscal management. You need strong support from your management and staff to be successful.

I have also seen people who chose a non management role. Some became consultants and specialists who were highly valued and compensated. However, I do not think I would have been satisfied with that type of role, but there is certainly nothing wrong with it. However, they did not work the hours I did nor did they have the pressures I had. One thing to think about for a senior staff position is that these positions are highly compensated for a staff position, and as you get older, you may become more vulnerable to budget cuts. I have seen this happen to several friends in mega corps in our area.

This is a challenging decision and it is good that you are evaluating it carefully. You are correct to consider time with family. Hopefully, you will find the right balance for you.

KlangFool
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by KlangFool » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:48 am

market timer wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:00 am
vitaflo wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:38 pm
Agree with this. If you want to make real money, this is where it is. Being an employee only takes you so far, especially when you try to play the megacorp ladder game. I left my job and became a consultant 8 years ago and it's been life changing. Income quadrupled over night, and have never worked more than 40 hours in a week and a good chunk of my hours I work from home. Currently working 20 hours per week and still easily maxing out the retirement accounts and then some.

It's not always easy but there's nothing better than being your own boss. The last place I'd ever want to work is at a megacorp, especially in management. Talk about soul crushing.
Recently, I've been thinking of going into consulting. It seems like it would require quite a bit of advertising and sales, though. How did you find clients?
market timer,

It is the same as finding a job. More so in term of consulting. It is words of mouth aka referral. Who do you know and who know you.

KlangFool

T4REngineer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by T4REngineer » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:09 am

Thanks again for everyone's continued input, I see its generated some good side discussion (great!)

I hear what folks are saying about making "real" money by not being an employee and the upside to consulting I am sure is limitless and maybe one day I will choose to pursue that. I am doing something right now that is very unique due to what my company is going through and if this trend continues in the industry there would certainly be opportunities to get a gig with one of the big consulting firms (still not self employed) and maybe try to break into consulting on my own but I see that as both very challenging and demanding which circles us right back to the reason for this thread - I could try, I might succeed , but that reward has costs

Someone said that my original comment about "peeking at 30" was incorrect, and they are right I am not peeking, I am not giving up on future promotions or job growth or learning I am just seeing an inflection point that choices are being made that will have large effect in life - its not a now or never situation just balancing of priorities that are new to me 4weeks ago. I know what my heart wants (and will get) but there was that nagging feeling of "hey something's off" - and something was off, my entire life priorities shifted after 30 years!

My last comment is that sometimes these threads demonize success, and that if you climb the ladder or ran a successful business you by default ignored your family or spent less time then you should have - I am fully aware that is not factual but as a generalization and certainly what options are in front of me now/near future that logic applies.

PS I know it was not meant this way but only on Bogleheads is our salary not "real" money :greedy

JBTX
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by JBTX » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:29 am

thx1138 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:50 pm
Really all you need to do is come up with a career goal that you can articulate to yourself and your management that is good for you and the company that gets you away from the middle management track but let’s you grow in your technical role. Something like “technical lead” or “subject matter expert” or such. Just make sure you don’t keep turning the crank on work someone cheaper can do eventually. This typically means moving into the more system engineering aspects of the job or else developing deep intimate knowledge of a niche system. The former is more portable than the latter. Folks in these kinds of positions can work for as many years as they want and more importantly can scale back rather than retire entirely.

No one wants a manager that works 20 hrs a week. The whole point to a manager is for one brain to integrate interrelated decisions. Two 20 hour managers do not equal one 40 hour manager. This is why they tend to be forced into working 50 or 60 hours. You can’t split the job very effectively without also splitting the organization at the same time. It is far cheaper to make one manager work more than split the job.

Technical work can divide much more easily. My company has many senior folks at 1/2 or 3/4 time. They are highly valued and well compensated. Sure we’d love more of their time but we value them enough we are just glad we get the time we do get from them.

I’m not so senior but have gone 3/4 time for reasons similar to yours. I can’t recommend it enough. It isn’t just more time for your kids. It is also more time for *you* so that when you do spend time with your kids you are more present in the moment for them.
I was a manager for many years, and was able to structure my job to keep a good work life balance. But there is a cost. One, after a while it becomes visible that your aren't burning the candle at both ends, and two by restructuring your job (delegating, training, streamline processes), all things which are value added to the company, you become more dispensable whenever the company is forced to make hard decisions.

OP, it is a difficult and personal decision. Long term it is difficult not to grow in corporate America. The momentum is usually upward or out. To the extent you can continue to grow and reinvent within your current position will help your longevity.

InMyDreams
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by InMyDreams » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:37 am

There's the old book:
Your Money or Your Life
https://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life- ... dpSrc=srch

and the recent update:
https://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life- ... +your+life

I haven't read the update. But the book leads you thru an examination of work-life balance. You choose what you find to be important to you, but it analyzes the real cost of the hours that you work, and asks you if the things that you choose in life are really worth the hours that you work to get them.

Not suggesting their investment strategy tho ;)

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market timer
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by market timer » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:05 am

JBTX wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:29 am
I was a manager for many years, and was able to structure my job to keep a good work life balance. But there is a cost. One, after a while it becomes visible that your aren't burning the candle at both ends, and two by restructuring your job (delegating, training, streamline processes), all things which are value added to the company, you become more dispensable whenever the company is forced to make hard decisions.
This is exactly my experience in management.

JBTX
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by JBTX » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:13 am

market timer wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:05 am
JBTX wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:29 am
I was a manager for many years, and was able to structure my job to keep a good work life balance. But there is a cost. One, after a while it becomes visible that your aren't burning the candle at both ends, and two by restructuring your job (delegating, training, streamline processes), all things which are value added to the company, you become more dispensable whenever the company is forced to make hard decisions.
This is exactly my experience in management.
Another needed skill for success is relationship management. Connecting with you customers, both internal and external. Ultimately you are better off if you can proactively predict what they want, not what you think should be done. Unfortunately they don't always overlap.

staythecourse
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by staythecourse » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:57 am

Being happily married, having a new child, enjoying spending time with family, not wanting to increase your work load, and being on course for your financial goals seems like a no brainer NOT to do more then you need to do. What most folks don't understand is that it isn't like folks are giving you more money just to increase your net worth. They are doing it to make money off of your hard work in exchange. The importance of that is extra income ALWAYS come at the expense of extra work which means less time for personal time. That is just a fact that does not change. So if you don't need the extra income then who cares.

The only concern I see is does this laid back approach affect your future employment stability (5, 10, 20 years later)? If it viewed as you not being a team player or not acquiring new skills that make you outdated in the future or whatever then you have to pause as that may alter your journey to your financial goals.

I cut back at work for several reasons and one of them was to spend more time with family. I work for myself though and can't get fired so it was an easy decision for me.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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vitaflo
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Re: Giving up career growth for more time outside of work

Post by vitaflo » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:10 am

market timer wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:00 am
vitaflo wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:38 pm
Agree with this. If you want to make real money, this is where it is. Being an employee only takes you so far, especially when you try to play the megacorp ladder game. I left my job and became a consultant 8 years ago and it's been life changing. Income quadrupled over night, and have never worked more than 40 hours in a week and a good chunk of my hours I work from home. Currently working 20 hours per week and still easily maxing out the retirement accounts and then some.

It's not always easy but there's nothing better than being your own boss. The last place I'd ever want to work is at a megacorp, especially in management. Talk about soul crushing.
Recently, I've been thinking of going into consulting. It seems like it would require quite a bit of advertising and sales, though. How did you find clients? I'm often contacted by headhunters on LinkedIn for roles. One idea I had was to offer to do these roles as a consultant. Currently, I'm in management, enjoy it, and have good hours. What interests me about consulting is the chance to do much of the same, but with more upside potential--hiring a team, having many clients, keeping a share of profits.
The key for me and others I know who have done this is find the right client to jump ship to. You don't just quit your job and become a consultant and start looking for work. You start looking for contracting opportunities while you're still employed and then take the best opportunity.

The best places I've found to jump ship to are places that will put you on a longer term contract and that have lots of other contractors at them. My first gig on my own was a 6 month contract at at Fortune 500 company in a dept with 12 other contractors in it. That 6 months turned into a year. When the budget ran out all the contractors got let go, but I instantly had a network of 12 other people in the contracting space. 2 weeks later one of them landed a contracting gig at a startup and recommended me. I spent 9 months on that contract. Rinse and repeat for the last 8 years. I turn down more gigs than I take now.

#1 key to consulting...work hard and be pleasant to work with. Many consultants aren't so it's easy to set yourself apart. Consultants like to help out other consultants, so get friendly with other consultants and pay it forward every once and a while and you'll have more gigs than you know what to do with.

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