Author Topic: Coasting is good for you  (Read 2185 times)

WalkaboutStache

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Coasting is good for you
« on: November 13, 2018, 08:18:12 PM »
I found this article on The Guardian today:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2018/nov/13/why-coasting-at-work-is-the-best-thing-for-your-career-health-and-happiness

I haven’t found the study they mention (haven’t looked too hard either), but the BBC link in the article takes you to an interesting series of radio program episodes about the fetichization of busyness.  I figured that y’all would enjoy the article, episodes, and the conversation they spark.

I have a high-responsibility gig that also contains a lot of silly little tasks that are low pressure.  They need to get done, but I have been able to coast while pushing one or another off my plate whenever the spirit strikes me.  Given that the spirit seems to have poor aim, I spend a lot of my days in Simpson-like idleness, occasionally firing off an email to give signs of life.  Sometimes it annoys me, but I am coming to realize that since this is not a passion gig, coasting can be comfortable and The Man is willing to pay me.  Since I still have to work to pad the stache, that ain’t so bad. 

The article says I’m doing it right.  Ok, then!

Spoonsor

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 06:43:00 AM »
I love slacking coasting. The key to successfully coasting is to ask myself: "Does my work really matter?" I push numbers around in a database all day. From this, the company might make an extra buck. It feels trivial, so coasting feels natural. I approach work according to the teachings of Peter:

"The thing is... it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care. It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off... and [my company] ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime; so where's the motivation? ...My only real motivation is not to be hassled; that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know... that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired."

dude

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 07:12:44 AM »
woo-hoo!  been doing it right for at least a decade, it seems!  haha!  seriously though, my job just isn't all that challenging once you've locked down the basics. i've been doing it for 21+ years now, and 90% of my work is cut and paste from past work I've done. if I have 60 days to do it, you can be damn sure I won't get around to it until Day 55 or so. and now that everyone around me knows I'm pulling the plug in less than six months, they frankly don't expect shit out of me. so I'm in super-coasting mode, biding my time as a short-timer until I walk out the door for the last time.

fattest_foot

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 02:52:16 PM »
I love slacking coasting. The key to successfully coasting is to ask myself: "Does my work really matter?" I push numbers around in a database all day. From this, the company might make an extra buck. It feels trivial, so coasting feels natural. I approach work according to the teachings of Peter:

"The thing is... it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care. It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off... and [my company] ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime; so where's the motivation? ...My only real motivation is not to be hassled; that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know... that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired."

This is me. And that Office Space quote really nails it. Feels like I need to watch that one again.

My coworkers stress a lot about getting all kind of weird projects done, but I never actually see anything tangible for their effort. So I mostly just screw around and do the minimal amount to not be hassled. For a while I thought maybe they were just picking up the slack for me, but the reality is that our job is pretty low value added.

If our whole team left for a month work wouldn't stop getting done. It'd probably be slightly less convenient for a few people, but after I while I don't think they'd even notice we were gone. And so I'm milking it for the next few years until I pull the ripcord.

Tass

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 03:07:08 PM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting, though grad school comes with its own host of pressures and hangups. My supervisor makes coasting easy, but if I do so the feeling of boredom and aimlessness it brings me gradually builds up into self-loathing. In contrast I find I am happiest when I feel at least a small sense of accomplishment from my work each day.

Now I'm wondering whether this is a grad school effect or a my brain effect. I am pretty low on self-loathing in general.

WalkaboutStache

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2018, 06:58:43 PM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting, though grad school comes with its own host of pressures and hangups. My supervisor makes coasting easy, but if I do so the feeling of boredom and aimlessness it brings me gradually builds up into self-loathing. In contrast I find I am happiest when I feel at least a small sense of accomplishment from my work each day.

Now I'm wondering whether this is a grad school effect or a my brain effect. I am pretty low on self-loathing in general.

I’ve done the PhD. thing but left to a professional career when all that was left was the dissertation.  Coasting there can be tricky because ultimately academia seems to be driven by a kind of passionate sort of curiosity.  It sounds like your feeling happiness when you accomplish something derives from that passion.

I wonder if your advisor is not slowing you down.  You don’t want them to be an abusive slave driver, but a little push now and again might be helpful.  Would pestering them about your work now and them help on the happiness front?  Is it possible for you to find other collaborators to push your work forward?

Tass

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2018, 09:29:27 PM »
Oh, he's definitely slowing me down. I think at this point I see a path to the end, but it's taken me four years to get to that point.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2018, 02:54:39 AM »
When I started in my current job 4 years ago, I had a lot to learn, as the area of expertise was completely new for me. I really worked as hard as I could and felt extremely effective. I was rewarded by my manager telling me that they really appreciated me and I was almost one of the few lucky individuals who would get an extra high salary increase. Result: I got the average salary increase that year, 2%. Obviously working hard did not gain me any economic advantage.

As this was very demotivating, the year after I coasted. I don't think anyone noticed, as the work pressure was not that high. Result: average salary increase, the same 2%. So obviously it didn't matter at all how hard I worked.

Last year they planned to assign me to 3 different projects at the same time. Turned out that 2 of the projects required me to work 2 full time jobs already, so I got removed from one project, the one that I thought was most interesting for me. That was very demotivating. I was of course not consulted in the decision. Still, those 2 remaining projects required so much of me actual working really hard, that I again worked my ass off. I am a very responsible person and deliver high quality in my work. I chose not to work 80 hours a week, so I prioritized the most important parts of both projects and did them really well, in 40+ hours a week. This time I was rewarded by being ranked as the highest employee in my department. This time I got the extra salary bump: 4%. Yay..... (rolling eyes)
I haven't been looking for a new job, because this job has a very short commute and I don't have good alternatives with such a short commute.

Before the summer, when these projects slowed down a bit, I realized that I had been stressed up to over my ears last year, also because of additional private stress. I decided that an extra 2% salary increase just sucks and is not worth my health. So I'm back to coasting. I have downshifted to work 80% and told my boss I don't have capacity to work on more projects than I currently do. I needed to stress down. We just found out that I currently still have very high blood pressure, probably caused by stress, as I am otherwise very healthy (not smoking, no overweight, I exercise, eat healthy etc). I just feel to very responsible for everything I get assigned to and currently I have many tasks that as just very difficult. I intend to FIRE within a year from now (10,5 months) and I coast as much as I can for my own medical survival.

LPG

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2018, 01:13:15 PM »
This is one I struggle with. I hate coasting. I can't imagine doing something that I'm not passionate about every day, and idly sitting through a day in an office without much work to do is torture for me. In order to be happy I need to be passionately creating something novel and useful for people to enjoy, and sharing it with others.

On the other hand, my story at my current job is very similar to @Linda_Norway 's. I joined this company and found the work was entirely too easy for me. Within the first month I found that I was bored out of my mind. Finishing my work withing 5-10 hours in any given week. No intellectual stimulation. No projects that used my skills. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing cool to share with people. Yet I was performing so well by company standards that I got a perfect performance review the first year. Which resulted in a 3% raise. ...OK?

The second year I couldn't take the boredom any more, and took action to avoid it. I started doing business development. Bringing in new projects was not part of my job description, so this was clearly going above and beyond expectations. I had enough business development success in the first half of the year that I had enough work to keep myself busy the second half of the year, and first half of the third year. Of course, this got no recognition whatsoever from the company (Not so much as a simple "Thank you" or "Congratulations"). As a matter of fact, it got me criticized on my performance review at the end of the year. Since I was too busy to take on other projects, when somebody requested that I take on a new project I said I needed help with my projects to pull it off. They declined to help solve the problem, and said I'm not enough of a team player on my performance review. Oh, and the raise was 3% again. Funny how that happens.

This is a bind I find stunningly demotivating, and leaves me desperate to get out of this job. If I don't take action, I'll be bored out of my mind and get a 3% raise. If I exceed expectations, I'll receive no recognition, get the same 3% raise, and will be expected to bend over backwards for people who won't lift a finger for me. So I need to take action for my own personal happiness, but it results in massive resentment toward the company which damages my personal happiness.

I think I'm destined to be self-employed (And am currently actively building relationships with my first clients).

On another note, @Linda_Norway, I love your profile picture! I grew up in Minnesota, USA where cross country skiing is a very common hobby. Every time I see your picture it takes me back, and brings up tons of nostalgia.

scottish

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2018, 05:29:58 PM »
I remember years like that.   The company had a 'forced ranking' system where 10% of the people were high achievers and got rewarded, 10% were under achievers and were let go and the other 80% were indistinguishable.    I used to hate explaining the salary and bonus story to my team members.

I suspect my current company has the same sort of system.   However I find my work fairly interesting in its own right, so I just don't pay any attention to it anymore.   Also I'm no longer a manager so I don't have to participate in the ranking process.

It's a really good gig in that I can work more or less as I feel like it.    I'm not driven to fight to be in the top 10%, and there are enough real slackers that I never get close to the bottom 10%.    So I agree - coasting is good for you.

Dave1442397

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2018, 06:42:15 PM »
I actually really like at least 80% of what I do. The other 20% is the paperwork, which is just something I force myself to slog through before getting to the good stuff. I hate being bored at work, so when I get a new project I tend to dive in and get it done asap.

However, I'm not into working overtime, and I can get everything done in 40 hours a week with no problem. There are definitely times I coast for an hour or two, especially if I've been concentrating on code for most of the day. I finished a program on Friday at around 1pm, and basically goofed off until 3pm, when I'm done.

My company is terrible with raises...typically 1%. We also just got a new CIO who must have traveled from 1980s' GE in a time machine. Apparently some corporate goal wasn't reached last year, so the CIO decided that 10% of each IT group had to be considered "below expectations'. Our manager said he basically had to pick random names, as, after years of layoffs, we only have a small core group left, each of whom has at least 30 years experience. We have no dead weight. That's really motivational <eye roll>. 

It amazes me how much harm management can do. Instead of letting us get on with the actual work, we have micro-managing morons interfering at every level. Dilbert and Office Space are where we work every day.

scottish

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2018, 02:09:43 PM »
We did that as well.   After years of downsizing, somehow there was still a bottom 10% to be culled.

It's funny how Jack Welch's ideas live on, even when they don't make sense.   Almost as if GE managers didn't understand any of the statistics and just dogmatically carried out the same ritual, year after year, even though the purpose was long forgotten.


GuitarStv

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2018, 11:46:09 AM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting

+1

I've worked at a couple jobs where I was coasting most of the time.  It makes me not engaged . . . which eventually makes me bored.  There is a limit to the amount of internet surfing at work you can do in a day.  Eventually you just get dissatisfied with everything as you quietly stagnate.  It's hard to take pride in mediocrity.

Time really flies when I'm working hard on a problem.  I look up and four hours have gone by, I feel satisfied that what I'm doing makes a difference, and I feel sharper.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2018, 12:52:03 PM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting

+1

I've worked at a couple jobs where I was coasting most of the time.  It makes me not engaged . . . which eventually makes me bored.  There is a limit to the amount of internet surfing at work you can do in a day.  Eventually you just get dissatisfied with everything as you quietly stagnate.  It's hard to take pride in mediocrity.

Time really flies when I'm working hard on a problem.  I look up and four hours have gone by, I feel satisfied that what I'm doing makes a difference, and I feel sharper.

That is called the flow and that is the most satisfying way of working, I think. Also for me.
But being forced to sit in a landscape office, means I get disturbed all of the time, by loud sounds from others or visitors to either me or people in the vicinity. Then there are also the phones, skype for business and email etc. I seldom get the chance to get into any kind of flow before I get disturbed again. Except on occasions when I work late on a day that most people have left early.
But for me unknown reasons my mangement thinks it is better to let us work in a landscape to maximize good communications. My manager also doesn't listen to my advise for acoustic improvements, from my acoustic professional husband. So we have a lot more sound than is necessary. :-(

GuitarStv

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2018, 01:08:11 PM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting

+1

I've worked at a couple jobs where I was coasting most of the time.  It makes me not engaged . . . which eventually makes me bored.  There is a limit to the amount of internet surfing at work you can do in a day.  Eventually you just get dissatisfied with everything as you quietly stagnate.  It's hard to take pride in mediocrity.

Time really flies when I'm working hard on a problem.  I look up and four hours have gone by, I feel satisfied that what I'm doing makes a difference, and I feel sharper.

That is called the flow and that is the most satisfying way of working, I think. Also for me.
But being forced to sit in a landscape office, means I get disturbed all of the time, by loud sounds from others or visitors to either me or people in the vicinity. Then there are also the phones, skype for business and email etc. I seldom get the chance to get into any kind of flow before I get disturbed again. Except on occasions when I work late on a day that most people have left early.
But for me unknown reasons my mangement thinks it is better to let us work in a landscape to maximize good communications. My manager also doesn't listen to my advise for acoustic improvements, from my acoustic professional husband. So we have a lot more sound than is necessary. :-(

Offices are noisy and full of distraction.  I wear headphones or earplugs that block out sound all the time.  If someone comes into my cube I'll see them and take 'em off, so you get the best of both worlds - able to communicate with anyone in the office easily and a dead silent office to work in.

johndoe

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2018, 12:09:08 PM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting

+1

I've worked at a couple jobs where I was coasting most of the time.  It makes me not engaged . . . which eventually makes me bored.  There is a limit to the amount of internet surfing at work you can do in a day.  Eventually you just get dissatisfied with everything as you quietly stagnate.  It's hard to take pride in mediocrity.

Time really flies when I'm working hard on a problem.  I look up and four hours have gone by, I feel satisfied that what I'm doing makes a difference, and I feel sharper.

+1
I still feel like the weird twist of "mustachianism" is that people spend large portions of their time in fields they aren't passionate about in order to make money they don't spend so that they can get their time back.... If you really value your future time why don't you value your current time by working a job that motivates you?

meatgrinder

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2018, 10:28:09 AM »
Yes, the coasting term here is referred to as "resting and vesting" as in having stocks vest.

WalkaboutStache

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2018, 09:14:18 PM »
I find myself very unhappy while coasting

+1

I've worked at a couple jobs where I was coasting most of the time.  It makes me not engaged . . . which eventually makes me bored.  There is a limit to the amount of internet surfing at work you can do in a day.  Eventually you just get dissatisfied with everything as you quietly stagnate.  It's hard to take pride in mediocrity.

Time really flies when I'm working hard on a problem.  I look up and four hours have gone by, I feel satisfied that what I'm doing makes a difference, and I feel sharper.

+1
I still feel like the weird twist of "mustachianism" is that people spend large portions of their time in fields they aren't passionate about in order to make money they don't spend so that they can get their time back.... If you really value your future time why don't you value your current time by working a job that motivates you?

This is a fair comment, and it pops up a lot so I think it deserves a  response because it denotes a bit of a blind spot despite its good intention.  I don't mean this as a criticism; it is just that it has at times made me feel bad (why can't I figure this out?), so I wanted to reflect on it a little bit for my own benefit and perhaps to that of others.  The short answer is circumstances vary.  I’ll go through my “case” as an example.

I was on an intellectually stimulating professional track that barely paid me subsistence wages while I was a foreign student in the US, with a view towards academia (Philosophy, so you can imagine the job prospects there).  In progress to that career, I learned that one could become a philosopher of law, and that going to law school would enhance prospects in the always dismal market for professional philosophers.  Off to law school goes Mr. Smarty-Pants. 

I get to law school and learn that everyone is above average, which makes me less of Mr. Smarty-Pants.  Philosophy of Law was looking unlikely, and then I learned how much lawyers make.  I am beginning to realize that the stuff is dull, but faced with a tight academic market and a prospective legal market where firms were courting me and my colleagues, off to become a lawyer I go.  The dot com bust intervened, but I was still able to salvage a decent job as a competent, but not stellar lawyer.

Other than for the very top of the profession and the people who love the minutia, law is very repetitive.  But for do or die issues that get farmed out to those who bill in the neighborhood of $1000 an hour (often more), the day to day requires a lot of cutting and pasting and looking up mind-numbing bits of information and not making any mistakes (no typos, no ambiguous sentences, no documents overlooked). Why did I do it? Because for the first time in my life I am making decent money and my visa is tied to this gig.  But I’m unhappy.

I tried to escape a couple of years in, and after 2 years trying to be an entrepreneur (less of this) and caring for aging parents (more of this) in my shithole home country, I decided to get back to law and save myself from returning to poverty.  This one burned, but I learned a valuable lesson. My employer takes me back, and ships me to the other side of the world.  Cool with me, I like to see new places, and maybe law won’t be as bad.  Why did I do it?  Because I failed spectacularly at something else and need to regroup.

Having been burned before, I bite the bullet, save a bit, and 4 years later I have 2 houses I rent on AirBnB under my belt.  I decide to take advantage of my experience in the place where they are, and take a leave of absence from work to try my hand at fitness as a potential escape from law.  My due diligence shows me that the plan would not work, and that fitness people work much longer hours than I do for a lot less and still have to schmooze and sell snake oil.  Not for me, but I have a grand old time for the rest of my leave.  Back to the grind.  Why did I do it?  I don’t want to leave a sure thing for speculation given that I am not sure about what alternative would make me happy.  Why not double down on AirBnB?  Because I cannot live in the country where the houses are for longer than 180 days a year, and my own country is unstable so investing there would have been bad.

This made me realize that I don’t really know what I want, so I start saving again to see if I can come up with a different escape.  A year later, I found MMM.  Plowed my savings into one of the mortgages (balloon loan, needed to be paid off or refinanced and the latter would have been hard).  Rationalize my spending (wasn’t bad before, but I also did not think twice about where it all went), and save save save.  One of the houses sold, so I am again sitting on some cash which I will re-invest early next year.  I could go part time now, but I don’t because I want to preserve a work relationship in a good firm (basically work 9 to 5- that is incredibly rare in law).  By mid next year, I could probably FIRE.  Will I do it?  No, but I will take another leave and then come back.  Why keep doing this if I dislike it? Because in a couple more years I will have permanent residency in a place where health care is virtually free and good enough, unlike my own shithole home country.  Mustachian retirement is my alternative for a job that does not fulfill me.

So, here is the list of reasons (mine) why someone may continue in a job they dislike:

•   Financial security
•   Previous failure
•   Uncertain or unknown alternative options/desires
•   Immigration considerations
•   Healthcare
•   Being close enough to the goal to make the grind manageable with some creativity

I want to pursue my own unicorn, but right now it makes sense to buckle down and push through the discomfort.  A good shrink helps.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 09:22:23 PM by WalkaboutStache »

Linda_Norway

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Re: Coasting is good for you
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2018, 12:59:13 AM »

So, here is the list of reasons (mine) why someone may continue in a job they dislike:

•   Financial security
•   Previous failure
•   Uncertain or unknown alternative options/desires
•   Immigration considerations
•   Healthcare
•   Being close enough to the goal to make the grind manageable with some creativity

I can pick my list from yours:
•   Financial security
•   Uncertain or unknown alternative options/desires
•   In the past: Immigration considerations
•   Being close enough to the goal to make the grind manageable with some creativity

I have worked in my current country for long enough that I have gained permanent residency. In the past we had to renew it every 5 years and be in a job at the moment of renewal.

I really don't know what different career in the same income range I could have with my lack of finished education. I think the kind of job that I have, fits reasonably well with my personality of being a structured and organized person. Currently I also have an acceptable commute, which makes life a lot better than working in a similar job at another location. I have also worked at other places before and have learned that the grass is not always greener in other similar jobs. And things that are good at some company can change overnight into a worse situation. Changing career into something very different that wouldn't pay as well would of course delay FIRE.

I plan to FIRE in a year. It is now 2 years since discovering MMM. In the beginning, it didn't feel like being so close, but after calculating my particular case, I found out I was really close. Since last year, my situation at work worsened by moving from a small office to a landscape. And being micro-managed in daily SCRUM-nonsense. But I will hold out for another year. Downsizing to part time has made life easier.