Author Topic: Failed at downshifting...  (Read 1442 times)

Kepler

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Failed at downshifting...
« on: December 01, 2020, 08:00:05 PM »
So it's been ages since I last posted here but, when I did, I had taken up a new job that dropped my pay by a third, in exchange for massively improved workload and working environment.  It also came with much nicer colleagues, and it was making me rethink whether I reeeaaalllyy needed to retire particularly early.  It was relaxing and fun.

So. Only a short time in, someone else quit - and I was invited to apply for their (more senior, higher-paying) position.  I did, got it, and had a short-term bump in workload while I adjusted to the new role, but by January everything was all nice and optimised again and I was looking forward to that work-life-balance thing again.  Then COVID hit... 

For various reasons too boring to get into, I really blew my 'cover' in developing our COVID response.  I don't think it was too hard to see what was heading our way, but in practice many other people didn't see it, and I did some things that made the whole experience much less punishing than it could otherwise have been, and then I did some other things that helped us evaluate the fallout and do some forward planning... and, long story short, in the process I attracted the sort of high profile that I had sort of been trying to get away from when I moved to this job...

Now my boss is retiring, and I've been asked to take on that role on an interim basis for the coming year.  Eventually they'll advertise it, but it's the sort of thing you advertise internationally, and this isn't the best moment for an international search...      So I am now making substantially more than I was in the position I left to "downshift" here, but I am also managing that largest staff I have ever managed, during a period of significant institutional and sectoral upheaval...  The staff are happy I've taken on the role, and I like working with them - it is still in every respect a better working environment than the one I left.  The assumption is that the role will become permanent - and I do plan at least to apply for the permanent role, if only to prevent them hiring someone worse than me to fill it :-)  If they find someone better, I will genuinely gratefully go back to the role I already held...

None of this is /bad/, and I feel a bit guilty posting about all of this when lots of people are losing jobs due to COVID...  But I am still a bit thrown by what feels like a sort of accidental failure of the plans that led us to move here in the first place...  Since they haven't even advertised the permanent role yet, I do still have some time to see whether I really want to keep doing this - I don't think it would cause a crisis for me to just say I don't want it (but I do worry, based on past experience, that it could create a situation where I am in fact still doing the work, while someone else takes the title and the pay...).

I don't know whether I have a question here - I don't /think/ I'm doing a OMY thing, but I guess it feels a little bit in that direction.  We aren't at our target figure yet, although we could emergency FIRE if we had to, and the extra pay is all surplus getting us to the target faster...  But we were sort of enjoying work not being a major 'centre of gravity', even if it meant a longer path to retirement... 

AMandM

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2020, 09:43:01 PM »
Under the pandemic, a lot of people have had to do things they didn't plan to or didn't want to. This is your unplanned thing. It feels funny, because most people's unplanned things have been unpleasant. But for you, having a higher-profile job and earning more money is the position the pandemic has put you to. Congratulations!

I think you're wise to spend this time thinking about whether you'd want to do the big job permanently. Who knows, maybe it will last long enough that you can FIRE as soon as the outside search begins.

Kepler

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2020, 04:00:05 AM »
Under the pandemic, a lot of people have had to do things they didn't plan to or didn't want to. This is your unplanned thing. It feels funny, because most people's unplanned things have been unpleasant. But for you, having a higher-profile job and earning more money is the position the pandemic has put you to.

This is actually really helpful - thank you :-)  I think I've been feeling like I ought to have been able to prevent this somehow - the 'plan' was to lie low, scale back, etc.  But given the circumstances generated by the pandemic, if I hadn't stepped up, a whole bunch of people would have been adversely affected, and there just didn't seem to be another good option...

cool7hand

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2020, 04:11:15 AM »
I'm with @AMandM on this. You can't fail at life as long as you keep trying to do what's best for you. That means giving yourself permission to both get off that road, even if by mistake, and permission to get back on it when it's right for you.

LennStar

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2020, 04:29:31 AM »
I think you are looking at it wrong.

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I think I've been feeling like I ought to have been able to prevent this somehow - the 'plan' was to lie low, scale back, etc.
There is a lot of stuff people a lot smarter than us have said about planning (my favorite is: The more you plan, the harder reality hits you). The point is though that the reality is more important, however that reality shapes up. Agonizing that the plan failed is wasted time and power.
Accept it - as in meditation acceptance. There was a plan, it "failed". Acknoledge it, look curiously on your feelings and once you have seen them all, simply let them go. And go on with your new life.

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But given the circumstances generated by the pandemic, if I hadn't stepped up, a whole bunch of people would have been adversely affected, and there just didn't seem to be another good option...
This is something you should be proud of. Get yourself a big cake and dig in (or whatever you like) to celebrate.

Many people have problems accepting good things that happen to them - so much that they sabotage themselves. Fear of winning. Don't trap yourself into it.
If you like your work, keep it. Worst case is you can do something good by donating all your excesss money ;)

FireLane

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2020, 10:20:06 AM »
I'm with the others. It sounds like your plan "failed" in a profitable and personally fulfilling way. That's a good problem to have!

lutorm

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2020, 03:31:22 PM »
I'd say that as long as you're being deliberate about the decision and isn't just sucked up into a position with more stress and responsibility than you really want, then it sounds perfectly fine.

Like the famous quote says,
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No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy
... but the corollary still is that planning is essential, it just means plans have to adjust as things happen.

Malcat

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2020, 04:09:15 PM »
Under the pandemic, a lot of people have had to do things they didn't plan to or didn't want to. This is your unplanned thing. It feels funny, because most people's unplanned things have been unpleasant. But for you, having a higher-profile job and earning more money is the position the pandemic has put you to.

This is actually really helpful - thank you :-)  I think I've been feeling like I ought to have been able to prevent this somehow - the 'plan' was to lie low, scale back, etc.  But given the circumstances generated by the pandemic, if I hadn't stepped up, a whole bunch of people would have been adversely affected, and there just didn't seem to be another good option...

You could have, you just chose not to.

If you're feeling good about it, then cool. If you aren't feeling good about it, then work towards doing something else as soon as it makes sense to do so.

Kepler

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Re: Failed at downshifting...
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2020, 05:04:08 PM »
You could have, you just chose not to.

If you're feeling good about it, then cool. If you aren't feeling good about it, then work towards doing something else as soon as it makes sense to do so.

No I absolutely realise I didn't have to do anything - I sort of went against "orders", in fact, to do what I did in the early days of the pandemic.  I was originally trying to get a more thoughtful, institution-wide planning response happening, but my immediate management was worried about frightening staff and "customers", so I was sort of ordered to put a sock in it...  But it was just clearly going to be a disaster, so I just quietly enlisted a few other people I didn't have the authority to enlist, and we developed plans and resources for a complex dimension of our transition to total lockdown, so those were available to be rolled out within hours of lockdown being announced. 

So it's entirely on me and no one made me do anything - I just have a lifelong aversion to following idiotic directions, and a history of "disobeying" managers who tell me to do things that are against the interests of the organisation... which is actually a major reason I've been aiming for FIRE: it's a surprising amount of work, protecting managers from themselves...

But in terms of whether I want the new role: honestly I don't know.  My major source of unhappiness in any job, is when my talents are used stupidly - and, while my outgoing manager is genuinely the best manager I've had, they were also a major source of this sort of problem.  The COVID period has actually helped with this, since they just needed to let me go do what needed to be done, but it's popped up again recently as things have calmed down a bit.

Taking on the new role means I can immediately shed some aspects of my current role that I find tedious, and I won't have to deal with the specific irrationalities that characterised the previous management.  I will still have management, and no doubt they will have their own irrationalities (I work with them already in various capacities, so I have some sense of this). And there are some potential powder kegs - it's a very high visibility role, it might end up tasked with defending or implementing ill-judged decisions from higher up, and I'm not clear what sort of currently-invisible workload the position might involve.  There will be no handover - total break from the outgoing manager to me.  So I can't really suss things out until I'm actually in the role.

My general experience has been that many people are wildly inefficient about their workload, and I can usually optimise jobs considerably - but that just means I'll likely end up with a lower workload than the outgoing manager - not necessarily that I'll end up with the workload I want...  So I guess I'm feeling... provisional about it...  I can see some potential for its being a better working environment, and if so the extra money is nice.  I can probably see more potential for its being a worse working environment, and if so the extra money probably won't compensate for that...  So I guess I'm pausing to think about goals and priorities now, so that I don't get sucked into a vortex of "but the money is so much better!"