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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: ysette9 on April 11, 2015, 11:17:03 AM

Title: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: ysette9 on April 11, 2015, 11:17:03 AM
This board seems to be full of high achievers, so I hope others have spent time contemplating this and can help me reason through my conflicting emotions.

Background on me: I am a female engineer in Silicon Valley working for a large aerospace company where I have been for the last 10+ years. I have a bachelor's from a top state school and a master's from a top private school (both in the Bay Area, I am sure you can guess...). I have been through my company's leadership development program, have been blessed with cool assignments, great raises, am flagged a "high potential" employee, am now in management, blah blah blah. A lot is expected of me and I have really enjoyed getting where I am so far.

At the same time, I now have a baby and more than ever have this burning (har har) FIRE dream so I can spending my days wiht my husband and baby. My husband is totally on board as well. I was having a mentoring session last week where the question of where to take my career came up, and my mentor asked me the usual "where do you want to be in 5, 10 years?". Secretly I was thinking "retired" but that doesn't work for career planning now.

Also, before I had the baby, my judgmental self used to think that women (mostly women since it doesn't occur as frequently with men) really throw away so much when they leave great careers to be stay-at-home parents. I was sure I would never do that because of the satisfaction I got from work, my potential, and how much I have invested both career- and education-wise. I still don't think I could quit to be a SAHP because of the blow to my ego, and yet somehow I am excited to quit if it is retiring. On the other hand, I worry a bit about the potential I would be walking away from, what kind of example am I setting for my fellow tech sisters who already have few role models. What about trying to increase the numbers of women in a field that is already so underrepresented, especially as you move up the management chain?

I think I can sum it up in wanting to know how others mentally were able to step back from it all? At every junction in life I have chosen the "work hard" path rather than the "slack off" path and now I am planning on jumping off the "work hard" path for good. What a mental trip! How have you navigated this?
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: SpendyMcSpend on April 11, 2015, 11:24:12 AM
As soon as i hit 30, I started losing interest in work especially the competitive aspects, and became more interested in having a family.  I've heard this is common not sure if it has anything to do with being a woman
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: humblefi on April 11, 2015, 12:11:43 PM
I am not in a position to FIRE yet...so, I will share my experience with changing jobs...it may be of use.

I think that there are three parameters to any job: People, Work, Money. It is rare to get all three right but I have found that if you did not have 2/3 right, then life is hell...and I look at ways of getting out. For example, I have worked in places where {people+work} were good and money was bad. I have worked in places where {work+money} were good and people were bad. Any job starts with a set combination of {people, work, money} and had a way of changing when people leave, company focus changes, company has money issues, etc etc. I have changed jobs to maximize money, work and people and in my experience, I have found that getting great people factor is the hardest to get right. I now have {people+work} good but money bad.

So, if you are feeling like FIRE, then I would recommend that you do a couple things to vet this feeling out...this prevents regrets later in life.
+ Which of the three factors {people, work, money} are good for you now? Are all three good? If not, then see if you can change the optimization factor. If work is not good, try changing that.
+ You have a good reputation inside the company...so, asking for a role change and getting has the best chance inside your current company. Give it a shot here.

If you still feel like you want to FIRE, then so be it. I found in my own life that from school to college to grad school to first decade of work, things are pretty much planned out for you...it is usually a combination of society, peer group, your past, etc. But, after a while, there is no roadmap...one had to form a new map. I have found that we can find new maps by meeting different people, finding out different work opportunities, taking a break, etc etc. It is a natural cycle of human life...your conscience is telling you something. Just honor is by experimenting with things part time until you find something you like. Then you can take the plunge into the new direction. If you are financially sound, then it is of great help in this exploration.

PS: Two  points about the baby:
+ It seems like the baby is your whole world right? And it also seems like you are the baby's whole world too right? The former will stay more or less the same, but the latter will change when the baby grows up and goes to pre-school, has friends, etc.
+ As a mom, you may be feeling guilty about something w.r.t the baby. So, I would recommend exploring what that is...if it is spending time with the baby, try to allocate more time; if it is sending the kid to day care, try to get the kid out early some days, if it is not feeding home cooked food, try and allocate time for more home cooked food.
+ I.e. vet the feelings more.

Hope that helps. Pardon me if I overstepped the bounds in anyway.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Kaspian on April 11, 2015, 12:23:44 PM
...my judgmental self used to think that women (mostly women since it doesn't occur as frequently with men) really throw away so much when they leave great careers to be stay-at-home parents.

I really hate that attitude.  My mom was a stay-at-home and it was great, really great having her around.  At my office I see toddlers and babies being dropped off at the daycare at 7 AM and then picked up at 4:30 PM.  It makes me very sad for them.  Pretty much stuck in an institution from birth onwards.  Indeed, institution boot camp.  No chance for freedom, to explore the world independently, for quiet time, for bonding.  So many nice lunches as kids at home when mom made us sandwiches and hot soup.  Little kids shouldn't have to look forward to the weekend the way so many adults do.  It's terrible when I hear women say sheepishly (as though they're used to being judged), "I'm a stay-at-home mom."  I tell them it's amazing, the most important job in the world.  'Mother' is the name for God on the lips of children.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Krnten on April 11, 2015, 12:55:52 PM
Oh man Ysette9, I could have written every word of your post and I hope people have insightful advice.

I'm in exactly the same position - fantastic job, a promotion on the horizon, and a toddler and one on the way.  Last weekend  almost on a whim I decided to give notice for July.  The baby's not due til the fall, but I want the summer off and to travel around to see friends and family I never get to visit because right now I just have no time.   

So much of my identity and self worth comes from this job.  I'm terrified of giving notice and leaving but I decided to just DO IT.  Because there will always be a good job for me - that's even more true for you - but we can never get the time back.   And hey, if we hate staying home with a baby (very possible) we can always go back.  This decision is not irreversible.

What's helped me is to envision what my days will be like away from work.  I also called my grad school's career office and had an advising session with someone who has advice about leaving and reentering the workforce.  She helped give me some ideas for planning to reenter when the time comes.  I really can't wait to leave at this point!
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Case on April 11, 2015, 12:56:55 PM
This board seems to be full of high achievers, so I hope others have spent time contemplating this and can help me reason through my conflicting emotions.

Background on me: I am a female engineer in Silicon Valley working for a large aerospace company where I have been for the last 10+ years. I have a bachelor's from a top state school and a master's from a top private school (both in the Bay Area, I am sure you can guess...). I have been through my company's leadership development program, have been blessed with cool assignments, great raises, am flagged a "high potential" employee, am now in management, blah blah blah. A lot is expected of me and I have really enjoyed getting where I am so far.

At the same time, I now have a baby and more than ever have this burning (har har) FIRE dream so I can spending my days wiht my husband and baby. My husband is totally on board as well. I was having a mentoring session last week where the question of where to take my career came up, and my mentor asked me the usual "where do you want to be in 5, 10 years?". Secretly I was thinking "retired" but that doesn't work for career planning now.

Also, before I had the baby, my judgmental self used to think that women (mostly women since it doesn't occur as frequently with men) really throw away so much when they leave great careers to be stay-at-home parents. I was sure I would never do that because of the satisfaction I got from work, my potential, and how much I have invested both career- and education-wise. I still don't think I could quit to be a SAHP because of the blow to my ego, and yet somehow I am excited to quit if it is retiring. On the other hand, I worry a bit about the potential I would be walking away from, what kind of example am I setting for my fellow tech sisters who already have few role models. What about trying to increase the numbers of women in a field that is already so underrepresented, especially as you move up the management chain?

I think I can sum it up in wanting to know how others mentally were able to step back from it all? At every junction in life I have chosen the "work hard" path rather than the "slack off" path and now I am planning on jumping off the "work hard" path for good. What a mental trip! How have you navigated this?

Here's how I navigate this; when you look back at your drive when you are old, what will you think of yourself?

Will you think, "wow, I really had an awesome life, working in Certain Corporation, making cool products, etc..."?
Or will you feel more achievement for having raised a child?  Or do you want to do other things on our lives?

Most people on this forum do not feel that their job can give them significant long term satisfaction.  That is often because traditional jobs, such as things in Silicon Valley, just makes stuff that really doesn't help the world on the whole; rather it is more directly connected to materialism, which is the antithesis of the blog.  People that read the MMM blog often discard materialism in favor of finding what truly make them happy and fulfilled.

If your job does that for you, then more power to you, and you should keep what you're doing.  If not, and you feel that something is missing, or you realize that when you look back at yourself (in the future) that you will realize it wasn't as fulfilling, then you should explore new options.  Perhaps having a child will fill that hole?  Or maybe something else will? that is up to you.

Unfortunately, being a high potential success case in corporate America (or various other jobs), is just the label others are giving to you, presumably to reflect success.  But except for very egotistical people, external reflections of your success will not bring great satisfaction.
More important are the personal feelings of satisfaction that a job can give you.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Argyle on April 11, 2015, 01:06:18 PM
Another thing to think of is what you would spend your days going once your child goes to school, or becomes a teen who doesn't want to hang out with the uncool parents much.  Just to say that it helps to think ahead to all the stages, not just what it would be like to be retired at this stage.  And there are many possibilities staying permanently at home baking is not the only option, of course.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: madamwitty on April 11, 2015, 01:06:47 PM
I am in a similar situation, and I have an awesome job. People, work, money are all great, and they even let me work half time, so I get to be home with the kids a lot too. BUT... I feel like there is so much else out there I could be doing. Who knows what awesome stuff I might do if I didn't have a job to worry about? By the time I'm in a position to FIRE, I will have spent 15 years in this industry (doing two somewhat different jobs at one company.) I feel like that is long enough to spend on one thing.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: fartface on April 11, 2015, 01:07:11 PM
Aaaahhh...the decades old dilemma or working mom or stay at home parent. What mother hasn't struggled with this? I chose to stay home with my three girls for six years; BUT worked in my field consulting about 12 hours per week during my six year hiatus.

This allowed me to stay current with all the changing trends, and still devote my time to what mattered most: my children.

I loved the balance, and will probably return to a similar schedule when I FIRE.  This personal choice delayed my FIRE date by about three years, but was absolutely worth it.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Sibley on April 11, 2015, 01:29:32 PM
I know that emotions get really high when it comes to parents working or not. Kids can do just fine if a parent stays home. They can also do just fine if both parents work. What kids really need are parents that are healthy and happy and give them lots of love.

So, figure out what's going to work for your family. Day care isn't the end of the world. Neither is working part time, full time, or not at all.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Exflyboy on April 11, 2015, 01:32:09 PM
Well I don't have kids but can relate.. Top performing engineer then engineering manager fortune 500 company, PE license (I worked in wafer fab infrastructure). At my last company I lead a team to do something that has never been done before blah blah.

Hard driving, high achieving etc etc.

Then one day I stumbled across MMM and it forced me to ask... WTF am I doing?.. Why do I feel ill with stress when I don't have to?

I retired back in Jan 2014 going from a net saver to a net spender (well almost, I took a part time job that I'm still doing now).

Its a HUGE transition.. HUGE!!.. Its hard to explain to folks just how difficult it is to change your total mindset..

After just over a year I'm now at the point where I see these hard driving folks who are motivated partly by fear and I just laugh.. I mean, what the heck are you doing it for?

Sure if its what you LOVE to do great.. but If you'd rather be doing something else and you can afford to do so... well then do it... "lean out" ...:)
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: waltworks on April 11, 2015, 02:03:38 PM
My wife is pulling the plug on her high-achieving biochemistry career in about 8 months (stupid NIH grant payback agreements...) and is in basically the same position.

Our logic was basically that little kids are never going to be little kids again. They are just super fun as babies and toddlers and you can always go back to work when they hit school age (or not) as you see fit.

A working career can easily be 50 or 60 years if you want it to be. Kids are only little for a few years and then they get more and more independent and don't need you around as much. You do the math.

-W
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Daisy on April 11, 2015, 02:34:54 PM
'Mother' is the name for God on the lips of children.

That is beautiful!

As a woman that can't have children, I am always happy to see people become willing and great parents. It becomes frustrating for me when I see some people not treat or guide their children as the important job that it is.

Well, I finally got over the emotional aspect of not being able to have children, and am totally happy being childfree.

I am also a female engineer. I somehow stumbled into engineering after considering one or two other fields. I was always good at math and science. I didn't get a software degree, but somehow ended up doing software most of my career. I'm 46 now and have been doing it since I graduated from college. I've had summer internships and part-time jobs all through college. I've been working since I was 14.

I like certain aspects of my job (great company...or at least was great at one time - now it's a dwindling old giant megacorp, good people, good pay, etc.). However, even in my 20s and 30s I knew this software thing wasn't what I was really interested in or "great" at. I supposed I'm downplaying my skills since I have survived quite a few layoffs and stuff. But I just feel in my heart of hearts that I am not one of these software "techies". I'm good enough to do my job. I enjoy the important products we work on - not at all contributing to the consumerism part of our culture. But I've always known that I would eventually do "something else" at some point in the future. In my mind it was my 40s or 50s.

This FI thing really resonates with me because now I don't need to find something that I HAVE  to make a living from. I have the freedom to finally unburden myself from being in a field that doesn't totally suit me. Working with techies that live and breath their profession and not being one of them is a low-level stressor that's constantly been in my life.

I could use my talents and experience as a female engineer in other ways, such as working at the science museum mentoring kids. I could help further technical education for girls.

I do think at some point it's good to do something else with your life. I'm not sure if you're there yet, but you could always return to your profession after spending some time with your kids. Or try to work part-time.

I also have two degrees in engineering. At some point I decided I didn't want to get promoted any more and didn't want to get into management. I think I've put in enough time though to have let my educational investment run its full course.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Alabaster on April 11, 2015, 03:00:26 PM
I don't like it when women with great potential walk away from (especially STEM) careers. We have enough problems getting them interested and involved in tech in the first place.

I'm not saying don't quit. If you really think its what you want, go for it.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: madamwitty on April 11, 2015, 03:35:39 PM
I don't like it when women with great potential walk away from (especially STEM) careers. We have enough problems getting them interested and involved in tech in the first place.

I'm not saying don't quit. If you really think its what you want, go for it.

Yeah, but what is is the potential I might be wasting by staying in the STEM career? Who knows what amazing things I might end up doing in my second life after RE?
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: ysette9 on April 11, 2015, 03:46:29 PM
I really appreciate the responses as well as the fact that no one is jumping on me for having these kinds of feelings. A bit more background which may or may not be relevant.
I'm 33 and it was our 3rd pregnancy before we were finally successful (2 losses in the 2nd trimester) and after a very stressful, high-risk pregnancy, our baby came early and underweight. While I knew that my husband and I could live a very happy and fulfilled life just the two of us, I am immensely grateful we have this opportunity to be parents. Pregnancy loss and infertility is intensely difficult and my heart goes out to the poster who was not able to have kids.

That said, this past year since she came has been the hardest year of my life, hands down. I am coming out of the dark now and my baby is a joy to be with during the day, but she only started sleeping decently (i.e. not waking up every 1.5 hours to scream) less than a week ago. I am sure part of my need to FIRE is sheer exhaustion. When I was first out on maternity leave I was scared by the prospect of being alone at home all day with nothing constructive to fill my time. I joined every nursing/new parent support group I could find and made friends like me who were looking to hang out just to get out of the house. I think SAHP would not work well for me; I do think that FIRE would be great because my husband would be home with us. (!!) That said, I have been very surprised with the kid how things I used to feel strongly about I ended doing a 180 on. It has been a real learning experience about my own character so I humbly submit that I do not know myself fully and may feel differently about my career and FIRE in practice once I get there.

That was a bunch of ramblings, but thank you for your input. Again, it is all very helpful to me.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Argyle on April 11, 2015, 10:23:39 PM
One thing that is true but counterintuitive is that the studies find that parents of toddlers work longer hours than non-parents.  It's because work is something you can control.  Parenting a toddler is all about being reactive, not about making anything happen.  I was just talking to someone today who said he used to dread going home to the toddler evening, because it was such a struggle to make anything (feeding, bathing, putting to bed) happen.  Saying so is not about not loving the toddler.  Just that that stage is not an unalloyed joy.  I personally would have been driven crazy being a SAHP during the toddler stage.  I wish we had a set-up where we could all work maybe twenty hours a week; that would be a good balance.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: okits on April 11, 2015, 10:49:21 PM
...my judgmental self used to think that women (mostly women since it doesn't occur as frequently with men) really throw away so much when they leave great careers to be stay-at-home parents.

I really hate that attitude.  My mom was a stay-at-home and it was great, really great having her around.  At my office I see toddlers and babies being dropped off at the daycare at 7 AM and then picked up at 4:30 PM.  It makes me very sad for them.  Pretty much stuck in an institution from birth onwards.  Indeed, institution boot camp.  No chance for freedom, to explore the world independently, for quiet time, for bonding.  So many nice lunches as kids at home when mom made us sandwiches and hot soup.  Little kids shouldn't have to look forward to the weekend the way so many adults do.  It's terrible when I hear women say sheepishly (as though they're used to being judged), "I'm a stay-at-home mom."  I tell them it's amazing, the most important job in the world.  'Mother' is the name for God on the lips of children.

Would that your attitude was more common.

I'm self-aware enough to know that I'm going to struggle with going from being important and admired by hundreds to being important and admired by just my husband and kid (and maybe not even my kid - I think I live in a society where caregiving is not credited as "work" the same way a paid job is.  I'm sure kiddo will become perceptive enough to pick up on that and, perhaps, believe it.)
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Malaysia41 on April 11, 2015, 10:49:39 PM

I retired back in Jan 2014 going from a net saver to a net spender (well almost, I took a part time job that I'm still doing now).

Its a HUGE transition.. HUGE!!.. Its hard to explain to folks just how difficult it is to change your total mindset..


Yes it's been a huge transition for me - full of ups and downs. 

Coincidentally, just this morning I posted some thoughts looking back on my Silicon Valley STEM job (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/fire-in-t-minus-30-days/msg623995/#msg623995) that I just ER'ed from this past summer. 

Sorry Alabaster, I'm one of those women who left Si Valley STEM job :). At first the job was great - people, money and the work.  Then the company changed.  Management changed, some for the better, but mostly just different.  I came to realize I was just working in a corporate machine.  It was then harder to care as much about the work.  IDK if that makes sense, but that's how I felt.  We had re-org after re-org, corporate mantras to 'innovate' and 'do more with less'.  Whatever.   So I set a goal for FIRE.  But now sometimes I look back and I miss that sense of importance and value I had - even if it was as a cog in a machine.  What potential success did I walk away from? Even as I question the value of any corporate success, I still occasionally wonder. 

In the end it was easy to leave.  I was on jobs I really didn't care to do.  And we were FI, so I said, FU.  (in truth it was all quite amicable). 

So ysette9 - I'm just one example of what life might look like on the other side of maternity leave, going back to work PT and then FIRE-ing at 41 y.o from a STEM job in Si Valley.  I was with my boy during his childhood, working PT, and I wouldn't trade that for anything, not even a Sr. Directorship in a fortune 500 company - which is where I might be right now if I'd made the career my top priority.   But to each her own. 
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: okits on April 12, 2015, 04:35:03 AM
I've thought a lot about this subject, and while I don't have a silver bullet, I do have some observations.

You mention always choosing the "work hard" option.  Has that sometimes become a badge of honor and maybe less about the meaningfulness of the work you are doing?  (When I ask myself this question the answer is yes.)

Your pre-parenthood feelings were most likely formed in the context of getting pregnant when you wanted, carrying without complications, and having a perfectly healthy child. You've had some very difficult struggles to become parents.  When reality is different than you expected it is normal to feel differently than expected, and it is okay to adjust your plans and opinions.

When my husband and I talk about FI, we both will still desire some kind of work.  We recognize that we'd be unhappy without productivity, challenge, the use of our professional skills, and some contact with that "normal" world we were necessarily a part of for all our pre-FI lives.  From your description, it wouldn't surprise me if you and your DH would still keep a hand in the workforce, as you seem achievement-oriented and seem to genuinely like your field.  Malaysia41 mentioned feeling important and valued (I assume by colleagues and by society, in a professional capacity).  I think that's a huge thing that needn't be completely given up.

Can you enter a job sharing arrangement, find a part-time role, or even just downgrade to the "mommy track"?  It sounds like you are experienced enough and senior enough to push for some kind of change. You could make one of your priorities the mentorship, recruitment, and support of women in your profession.  You also make it easier to ramp up your career later, should you wish (babies don't stay babies forever!)

Thanks for bringing up a thoughtful and honest subject. Hope you find contentment with whatever you decide!
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Exhale on April 12, 2015, 07:29:57 AM
my mentor asked me the usual "where do you want to be in 5, 10 years?". Secretly I was thinking "retired" but that doesn't work for career planning now.

...women...really throw away so much when they leave great careers to be stay-at-home parents. I was sure I would never do that because of the satisfaction I got from work, my potential, and how much I have invested both career- and education-wise. I still don't think I could quit to be a SAHP because of the blow to my ego, and yet somehow I am excited to quit if it is retiring. On the other hand, I worry a bit about the potential I would be walking away from, what kind of example am I setting for my fellow tech sisters who already have few role models. What about trying to increase the numbers of women in a field that is already so underrepresented, especially as you move up the management chain?


Great question and good luck as you move through this.

- I suggest doing some kind of self inventory (you can use books such as: The Artist's Way or The Artist's Way at Work, and/or the free online program: Live Your Legend). By doing this you'll start to have a sense of your callings, passions, gifts, needs. Then, from that place of self awareness, you can consider child, career, FIRE, etc.

- One other thought, you can stay in active as a woman in the tech field in many different ways - join an advocacy organization, mentor female graduate students to help them survive grad school and navigate their first job search, tutor/mentor girls interested in tech, etc. (I especially recommend the organization SACNAS which has chapters at colleges and universities.) Anyway, lots of exciting and concrete ways to make a real impact and continue to be an important role model in the tech field. Your background will make you a valuable resource in any of the ways listed above.

Good luck!
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: little_owl on April 12, 2015, 09:46:40 AM
Like Exhale, I like the idea of starting with some type of an inventory.  A few of us at work used Strengthsfinder as a team building exercise, and it was very eye-opening.

Also - as a female in a male-dominated profession, I am mindful that I am a role model for others that hope to have a big career - but I do not let that dominate my choices.  Your choosing to stay at home with your little one could be an important signal for a young woman who hopes to have a family someday, and wants to offramp from her career temporarily. 

I have an employee who chose not to return to work after she went on maternity leave - she now does part-time work for us, and pulls down $40k a year doing so on her own time.  It's a fantastic way to keep her engaged in the business while she spends the majority of her time at home raising her little kids.

Good luck with your decision! 
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: mrshudson on April 12, 2015, 12:26:37 PM
On the other hand, I worry a bit about the potential I would be walking away from, what kind of example am I setting for my fellow tech sisters who already have few role models. What about trying to increase the numbers of women in a field that is already so underrepresented, especially as you move up the management chain?

None at all, or none that matters, according to research anyway. Lack of pay-equity, and not having enough number of role-models is one slice of the pie, but the elephant in the room is being able to demonstrate to young girls that math and science are cool, and to parents that young girls can enjoy science and math. Think less than fifth grade, who don't have the complexities of many older women when it comes to corporate structure and gender parity but merely think of something as fun/easy and boring/difficult.

Item # 2 on that list is the perception of difficulty of doing math and science. I have seen many, many institutions that do what's called the outreach program to open up their doors to welcome young girls to try out rocket building and lego, so that's a baby step toward addressing the problem.

To be honest, if I were you and had decided to quit in five to ten years (I have, and am hopeful that I will), I would leverage my career status and throw my weight around senior level managements in corporations and with govt. funding agencies to build programs in areas where parents of young girls don't have the ability or access to a metro area to take their kids to science museums, or expose them to programs that will pique their curiosities.  Like having an astronaut come and talk to them, or working with the local community to have space viewing event (I was surprised to discover amateur astronomers setting up public viewing events from their backyards around where I live). These are harder to do sitting from an armchair, and studies do show that these have a greater impact in increasing STEM enrollments than some nebulous/non-existent impact that having a female role model has.
 
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Daisy on April 12, 2015, 09:55:15 PM
I was just reading through the last few excellent responses.

It made me think that for the OP taking some time off for her family would actually be seen as a POSITIVE was for a female to show how she could balance working in technology and having a family. What kind of a female role model be if others saw that you have to give up your family life to do well in technology?
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: HazelStone on April 13, 2015, 07:00:47 AM
Here's the thing: Layoffs happen. You may be flying high now, but if your company does a merger, or "strategic re-alignment" or some other buzzword, you could be out of a job when you *thought* you were golden. Or your management chain changes and those promotions might not come. I would  plan for FIRE now, review possibilities for re-entry later (IF you want to). Don't put too much faith in advancement.

Bear in mind that I have always seen my career as a means to an end. Mostly because I grew up in an area that saw massive layoffs.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: ysette9 on April 14, 2015, 11:46:18 AM
You know, I am finding these past few days that my attitude towards work is directly correlated with how much (or little, I should say) sleep I have been getting. After a couple of days' decent sleep my motivation improves dramatically. After 10 months of poor sleep I have been getting to the point of feeling like I can't handle everything and that career just isn't worth it.

I don't have a good answer for myself yet but we are definitely sticking to the path of FIRE in 5-10 years. As another poster said, layoffs can happen, my work situation could change dramatically so I am miserable, my career advancement could stall - any of a number of things. I'd love to have that secure feeling that I don't need to work for a living and then make decisions based on what feels right.

Thanks for the suggestions of doing an "inventory". That is really insightful and something I need to do. Reading MMM has already gotten me thinking about the post-FIRE "what am I going to do with myself?" question more than I had ever contemplated before. I find myself thinking things like "if we didn't have to work during the week, we could take advantage of this great RV rental deal, or go check out all of the CA state parks along the coast" or other cool stuff. I imagine that list will only grow as my kid starts being able to express her own preferences.
Title: Re: FIRE vs Lean In: The Mental Struggle
Post by: Blonde Lawyer on April 14, 2015, 02:42:46 PM
I think there is a huge difference between FIRE and being a SAHP.  This may be in part due to the line of work I am in, but I think every able bodied/minded adult needs the ability to support him or herself.  If you have assets saved to FIRE, you check that box.  Do you have enough assets saved that if you and your spouse ever split those assets could support two households? Could either of you break back into the workplace fairly easily? I love and trust my husband and think that our marriage is forever but I would never trust my financial security to our ability to stay married.  That is why I wouldn't be a SAHP, personally.  I would absolutely 100% FIRE with or without my husband though. :) That is a long ways off.  FIRE is a success story.  Living in poverty post divorce is not.