Author Topic: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay  (Read 22413 times)

retired?

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 661
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #50 on: September 23, 2014, 02:24:23 PM »
So, this is clearly not a place one would want to be long-term.  Is there a "cheap" way to relieve the stress?  e.g. hire a junior person to take on the more mundane but necessary tasks. If so, you could pitch that in a way so that it is supposed to make you more productive.

What is the risk in actually taking time off?  I know the pressures, but what will actually happen?

To alleviate some stress you could keep a timeline in mind.  I.e. I will put up with this until xx/xx/xxxx and then exit if payout has not occurred.

I feel for you.  I have had to deal with the stress, but not the hours and "on call" aspect you describe.

Dr. Doom

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Age: 42
  • Location: East Coaster
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #51 on: September 23, 2014, 02:27:06 PM »

FNF

Your current experiences are very similar to a short stint I pulled at an early stage startup.  I know you've read my post about it so I won't bore you by repeating details but I did want to mention a few things.

First, exercise. I know you're mentally exhausted but it really does help, even in short bursts, like 10 minute walking sessions when you have bit of time here and there.  It doesn't have to be a 'go-to-the-gym' thing.  Humans were built to walk, and walking relieves stress -- particularly when you can do it outside.  Go and listen to a song or two on a music device and try to shut the work thoughts off for even a few minutes, several times throughout any given day. 

Second, rereading your own posts, it sounds like your relationship with the "main" CEO is the primary source of discomfort -- perhaps even more than the sheer number of hours you're working.  If that's the case, I unfortunately don't believe that anything is going to change how you feel about the job.  Money is a short term motivator -- you'll quickly adapt to the increase in salary but the days will remain just as difficult to live through.  I know you're confident about the place's future prospects, but 4/5 startups fail to even recoup investments.

When your CEO is calling you at all times for emergency after emergency, especially if he/she is bullying you and you consider it to be harassment, you can actually develop a minor form of PTSD.  This is your body's way of reacting to its environment and telling you that _you are not safe_.  Once you don't feel safe, it's hard to flip the switch back the other way -- you're essentially in perpetual 'fight' mode, waiting for bad things to happen -- the next call or email or emergency.    I'm a little concerned that this is what has happened to you.

I agree with this line @darkadams00, btw:  "Whatever your decision, make it when you're feeling good about your workday/week."  If you still want to leave at the end of a decent week, it's time to start looking for alternatives. 

Also, be warned:  You may be faced with some really strange feelings for a while if you do leave.  I was unexpectedly wracked with guilt and even an odd sense of failure for at least two months before it started to recede. 

Again, I can't tell you what to do, but I just wanted to say I relate.  Really sorry you're going through this, and I'm glad you're at least starting to explore options -- definitely apply for that managerial role you mentioned and see how it goes.  It might help you feel better even if you don't take it -- just to know that you have other choices out there.

One last note:  I personally downsized my career immediately after leaving the underworld and it's been a terrific move. 

Good luck with the search.

Undecided

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #52 on: September 23, 2014, 05:29:46 PM »
Do you have unique, or even rare, skills that merit being paid more than others in nominally similar jobs (and are worth it to the company and the CEO), or are you being paid for dealing with the special stress of this position? If the former, work on creating some boundaries before you decide to quit. If the latter, well, then that's sort of what you're signed on for and I wouldn't fault you for quitting now that you know what the position actually demands.

freelancerNfulltimer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #53 on: September 23, 2014, 05:33:55 PM »



When your CEO is calling you at all times for emergency after emergency, especially if he/she is bullying you and you consider it to be harassment, you can actually develop a minor form of PTSD.  This is your body's way of reacting to its environment and telling you that _you are not safe_.  Once you don't feel safe, it's hard to flip the switch back the other way -- you're essentially in perpetual 'fight' mode, waiting for bad things to happen -- the next call or email or emergency.    I'm a little concerned that this is what has happened to you.

I agree with this line @darkadams00, btw:  "Whatever your decision, make it when you're feeling good about your workday/week."  If you still want to leave at the end of a decent week, it's time to start looking for alternatives. 

Also, be warned:  You may be faced with some really strange feelings for a while if you do leave.  I was unexpectedly wracked with guilt and even an odd sense of failure for at least two months before it started to recede. 

Again, I can't tell you what to do, but I just wanted to say I relate.  Really sorry you're going through this, and I'm glad you're at least starting to explore options -- definitely apply for that managerial role you mentioned and see how it goes.  It might help you feel better even if you don't take it -- just to know that you have other choices out there.

One last note:  I personally downsized my career immediately after leaving the underworld and it's been a terrific move. 

Good luck with the search.

Thank you for your kind post. You are right one with your assessment. Even when he's not calling me, it's always on my mind. I can't relax because I feel like either I have to check in on my email around the clock to stay ahead of it, or if I "let it go" it's always eating away at the back of my mind. My main hobby that I've tried hard to carve out time for once or twice a week, should be keeping me sane but it keeps getting interrupted where I spend a great portion of it either on a conference call during my "off time" or habitually checking my phone to make sure I'm not missing texts or calls.

I pretty much feel like quitting all the time even during the better weeks. Bleh.

desk_jockey

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 242
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #54 on: September 23, 2014, 06:27:37 PM »
Make hay while the sun shines...  but with this company only as long as their promises keep being fulfilled. 

If options and bigger bonuses are in the near future, then until it's time to negotiate that package you could focus on getting support staff to help your workload and carry some of the time consuming tasks.   Besides, department managers often get larger amount of equity than individual performers.

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
  • Age: 29
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #55 on: September 23, 2014, 06:41:05 PM »
This job sounds unhealthy for you - I would definitely be looking for other options. However, a high-paying job with a nice title should make great resume and interview material, and be a walk-in for a much-less stressful job. I would try to leverage everything about your current job and salary towards getting a similar job, but with way less stress. Remember, the more you earn, the sooner you can FIRE and leave the working world behind completely.

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2182
  • Age: 25
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #56 on: September 23, 2014, 07:16:35 PM »
Quote
Boss has no boundaries, so if you want to stay with it and stay sane, you've gotta create and enforce them yourself.

+1 for this.

Are you going to continue answering the phone at 3:00 am? Are you going to work on weekends? At what times will you say "NO" and feel comfortable about it? You need to figure out exactly what it takes to put your foot down.

You're also going to need to figure out ways to deal with stress - whether it be exercise, spending time with family, opening up to others, etc.

pichirino

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #57 on: September 23, 2014, 07:36:03 PM »
My pay is not nearly as high as OP's and my job can get extremely stressful as well but the benefits,bonus' and salary
are currently my golden handcuff,being the fastest way to being able to take the handcuffs off I consider it worth it if you can convince yourself your high savings rate and less time to get FI are worth the alternatives.

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3202
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #58 on: September 23, 2014, 09:11:06 PM »
I agree with the person that said take up exercise to help...specifically the kind you can't be reached at.  I'm in banking and took up running very early in 2009, in the type of job where we worked through our own challenging loans.  I was 27/28 and work was starting to control my life.

We had some nice trails around my house.  It was the one hour to myself that nobody could bother me.  It was a five mile loop, comfortable enough to enjoy and hard enough to where my mind couldn't drift into work.  I learned the phone was there when I left the car and it was still there when I got back.  I went in the mornings sometime, in the evenings other times.   

The career decision and work I put in then has paid off many times over, but the stress was there and it was real.

Good luck, I hope you either get a very nice monetary reward, or the skills you're gaining allow you to transfer your salary somewhere else without as much stress.


Fuzz

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 338
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #59 on: September 23, 2014, 09:31:41 PM »
If you get the stock options in a few months, I'd stick it out. Otherwise, I wouldn't. Good luck!

I think there is tremendous value and satisfaction in doing hard things well. Your responsibilities now help set the floor for your next job. Chin up!

dude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2368
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #60 on: September 24, 2014, 06:34:14 AM »
All I have to say is, whichever way it goes, please be sure to come back here and update us all.  This is pretty fascinating stuff.  In my 20's, I probably would have jumped at the chance to make that fortune.  30's and beyond, no way.  If you do stick with it and it works out best-case scenario, that'd be very cool to hear about.  Meanwhile, take care of yourself -- stress is a no-shit, real-deal killer, and it doesn't discriminate by age.  There are plenty of 30- and 40-somethings who have had heart attacks directly related to stress.  Look into meditation or yoga, or a martial art -- you need to find some semblance of balance in your life.  Good luck!

totoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2099
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #61 on: September 24, 2014, 07:34:43 AM »
In your shoes I would do what it takes to have what I wanted. 

If you want to hang in there for the benefits start with changing your attitude.  If you don't, start working on the exit plan and execute it.  It is the indecision that is your enemy here.

You do realize that many people would envy this opportunity right?  And you are not talking about a lifetime of this.  As someone who has worked this hard before, I have zero sympathy for people who do it and complain.  You do have other options and you are the only one who is keeping you there.

If you do want to stay for the benefits start changing your internal monologue.  First identify what you are saying to yourself.  Are you saying, "I hate this and want to quit" and fantasizing about walking out the door?  Well, if you are not actually going to do this you are just upping your angst for no good reason.  It is not an unchangeable reflection of your misery, it is a reflection of maladaptation to challenging circumstances.  How about you start saying "I'm doing this for the benefits"?   

If this does actually pay off you will be able to retire.  If it doesn't, you will have an admirable skill set and have earned a very good salary in the interim.

If you are going to stay, I would also stop focussing on expectations and start focussing on working smarter.  I understand you are already efficient but maybe you do need a personal trainer to take you out and exercise to keep up this pace. Or some counselling to keep perspective. Oh, I know many MMM folk would say it is a waste of money.  I'm not one of them.  I hired housecleaners in my busiest years.  Looking back, I should have outsourced more during these years given my high earning potential. 

What about an assistant?  If they can give you a $50,000 raise why can't they hire you a personal assistant?  How about you tell them you'll take a $25,000 raise and a personal assistant half-time?  Someone who can execute on your directions.

Also I would consider telling your boss you won't be available to answer calls/emails one weekend morning for whatever reason you feel would make sense.  You are clearly valuable to the company and likely not easily replaced.  Whatever the expectations, they are probably going to adjust to a minor change like this to keep you on board.

And if you really want better quality of life right now, just fricken get out.  Money is not everything and you can earn enough to retire anyway.   

I don't know if I believe in "golden handcuffs" as a rationale for anything. I believe it is often easier to not make decisions and people often have a vested interest in not fully committing to a course of action - even if they are not consciously aware of it.

EA_Mann

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #62 on: September 24, 2014, 12:54:54 PM »
$90k is not enough money for a life where you're afraid to go to a movie.

$90k-and-hopefully-120k-soon is not enough for a life where you're afraid to go to a movie.

These are comfortable salaries in most parts of the country but not worth living an insane, stressful life over. Even with mustachian savings, it won't get you retired on an accelerated schedule
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 01:03:35 PM by EA_Mann »

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4018
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #63 on: September 24, 2014, 03:20:09 PM »
If you need blocks of time to concentrate, take them during the work day. Have your secretary guard your door and hold your phone. If the big boss calls, emails or texts, have your secretary respond with "freelancer is working on the xyz report. She asked to be interrupted only in case of emergency for a higher priority project. She said that in order to get thexyz report completed by the deadline she must work with interruption until 1 pm. If you would like to leave a message with me, I will have her respond promptly at 1 pm".

Then, if CEO wants to interrupt you for some stupid Crap, fine. You told him the consequences, follow through and leave work at 5 or 6 like a normal person. You can't make him stop being crazy but you can carve out actual work time during the work day.

King Ston

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #64 on: September 24, 2014, 07:56:06 PM »
Hi everyone,
Long time lurker but just felt compelled to join and contribute what I can to this thread.

I lived through exactly what you're going through as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. I literally worked repeated 100 hour weeks, not less than 70 EVER and I probably averaged 75-80. I worked some 40 hour "days"  (e.g. 6a.m. Friday to  9 PM Saturday without sleep) and had exactly TWO days off in two years, (two Christmases). I am not exaggerating. My 20 something "boss" had pretty much what you'd expect in terms of reality testing, scheduling, interpersonal relationship skills etc etc. I was the least technically experienced, they dumped on me the most technically demanding and uncertain part of the product and I delivered. At one point, the CEO and CTO had put the company's first VC round at risk by buying new computers the Friday before the Monday demonstration and nothing worked anymore and they didn't know why. They went home Friday and I stayed, effectively saving the company from near certain oblivion- what words are you going to speak to  VCs  to get around the fact your program can't be run?  Worst of all, the CTO and CEO knew each other and were friends and essentially treated me like the son of a lesser god.

At one point I was standing in the empty office yet another Sunday and I picked up a stapler and hurtled it into the wall as hard as I could and screamed at the top of my lungs. I was more or less eating myself live with stress hormones and all for so little money it wasn't even legal to pay me that amount.

I have absolutely lived what you're going through.  What you're in has a name- it's called the golden handcuffs. The motivation is so high that you'll just about gnaw your own leg off before you quit. What you're working for is called "fuck you money", that is, an amount of money sufficient to let you say "fuck you" to anyone or any job for any reason for the rest of your life.  You can do what you want, do your own start up, work, not work, invest in others' work, whatever. No one can hurt you again. I was vesting- never mind options- to 20,000 shares a month.

Here is my advice. First what's at risk is your ability - never mind "willingness" to continue to work at all. Burn out is a very very real thing ; I am *quite* sure it has biological underpinnings that can't just be willed away. You can't permit yourself to go into burn out, whatever you decide to do, because nothing but a long time away from work- not an option for you- can cure it. 

OK, so, first even having the opportunity to have the opportunity to not have to work again is a rare thing. Since you're at the point at which you're considering walking away from this rare thing, why not do something just short of that- stop caring in the way you do. The fact that you're so stressed out means you're  a conscientious personality. You take it all to heart and would not consider slacking or not really caring at anything you're assigned.  This has to stop. It's actually where your stress is coming from. It's the unconscious terror that work is not going to get done, or done right, maybe there's fear it will be your fault, you'll fail, you'll let others down and "it", broadly considered, will all come down - because of you.

Remember, you're willing to walk away, you're thinking about it, so instead of doing that, play a game of sorts, an internal game with your perceptions and attitudes, a game that no one will know you're playing.  Let's call this game "Pfffft".

Another late night phone call bringing in another red hot emergency? Pffft. Whatever. Yeah, I'm on my way. Yawn. Yep, you're right, Mr Co-Worker, sure looks like  this might be the one, the big bad event that ruins everything, gets me fired, makes me look like an imbecile yadda yadda.  It's already a given that the whole thing is going to blow the fuck up, so let's watch this baby blow. Thaaat's right, it IS ALL my fault. And? And? And  therefore what exactly?

 I am telling you to pre-accept failure, pre-processes it in your imagination and let its consequences fully bloom in your imagination in all their horrific implications, accept them as the most likely outcome , even the certain one,  then just get on  and "go through the motions" at work. You're already dead, so what do you care?  It's like the Eagle's song "Already Gone". You're already gone. You're The Walking Dead. You find your metaphor.

Because the reality is, just you "going through the motions" is likely MORE than sufficient to get the job done and done well. For every single problem you have to deal with take the attitude that THIS is the big one, it's all over now. In that "space" there's peace. There's a willingness to keep trying in a  soulless, faithless,  half-hearted, sort of way because, pfffft, it's all going to be toastitos in a few hours here anyway. So whatever. So pfffft to the next crisis level of work they somehow think you're going to deliver. Plod plod plod- in your mind- plod plod plod.

You're thinking about leaving, but before you do, at least let that impulse give you space to try and find a place where you just stop caring so much. Your job doesn't require that you care or react or jump or panic, it requires that you apply the special skills you have. You can do that very effectively while being a zombie, you just THINK that the internal drama is the fire you need to power the engine to keep going  It's not. You can dead walk through this and if that's just to dark for you then develop a internal dark humor about it, expecting at every moment to be blown the fuck up.

Currently I am dealing with A Hard Problem With No Certainty There's A Solution  Maximum FUD built right into it. It's enough to say that finding a solution is mandatory for any kind of success. To make it worse, a part of it involves mastering Other People's Infinitely Crappy Code .  It's really just hopeless. I expect as I encounter every new problem, I mean literally every single time I sit down to the computer,  that this THIS will be the one I can't solve because, in reality,  there is no solution.  Sifting through the undocumented spaghetti code is hours and hours pure, totally  profitless drudgery. But there is no other way.  Other people would quit. Fact.  Yesterday in the middle of this I considered that I am essentially acting as (have been reduced to the role of) some kind of archeologist, sifting pebble by pebble, sand grain by fucking sand grain through some vast ruins (of code) that stretches out farther than the eye can see in all directions.  So I started singing (work from home, wife was only one present) "I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist, mostly stuck , always pissed, I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist wand'ring 'round, lost in mist...Will there be any end to this, don't you wish? Don't you wish ! I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist ,that is all I am !" on and on like that making it up as I go along.

You can't stay motivated, proud, happy, solving right sized problems one after another , feeling good, in the light. You have t have a demotivated , held in check , curb your enthusiasm, removed, maybe bemused and perhaps cynical place you can retreat to.  A self you can be,  you can inhabit, that has the power to relieve you of the stress you bring by trying to be bright ! and good ! and effective! and agreeable !  and just a super achiever!!!!! yet STILL lets you  trudge onwards, even though it's all an absurdist comedy.

I am NOT saying own up to this to people at work or outwardly express it. I am saying , should a bit of it leak out perceptibly and anyone asks if anything is wrong, lie. I am saying move there in stealth mode and remember, the alternative .... is quitting.

You have a rare opportunity. If you can rework your internal perception of the GRAVITY !!!! :) of your situation, then you can still grab this rare chance life handing you.

Everything is due tomorrow? Pffft.

Cynical realism is the intelligent man's best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation- Aldous Huxley.

p.s.

 One more thing about % and probabilities . It drives me crazy when people assign probabilities to one off events like this company is going to succeed . All such utterances are completely without merit. Completely. There is no way to assign a meaningful probability to a one-off historical event - in this case,  the fate of this start up,  which is not one of a largish number of equi-probable events in a known distribution of such events. There is not an 80% chance the company will succeed even if 8 of the last 10 companies this CEO headed up went bananas.

It doesn't matter anyways. The fact is, you're in a situation  where there IS affirmatively a pathway to a huge upside for you- unlike most  jobs- and you should try nearly everything to hang on to it. That's all that matters.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 08:19:51 PM by King Ston »

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3006
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #65 on: September 24, 2014, 08:20:10 PM »
Amen and amen. MMM is basically church for me. If sermons were like this I would go IRL.
Also lie, lie, lie. I hated my job for the last 8 months, but instead of constantly thinking about how much I hated it, I had to numb myself. And I got really good at lying. I'm really good at fake smiles now. My FIRE date is ten years away, but knowing that I don't have to work for the next 37 years is how I can sleep at night.

flyfig

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 56
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #66 on: September 25, 2014, 12:37:42 AM »
Remember, you're willing to walk away, you're thinking about it, so instead of doing that, play a game of sorts, an internal game with your perceptions and attitudes, a game that no one will know you're playing.  Let's call this game "Pfffft".

+1M

I've saved your posting as a touchstone. Another day of "the sky is falling" and chicken littles screaming. FI is 6 months from now (bonus and options) and I was struggling to imagine how I would get there. I just saw your post and I now have a new game. Thank you

RetireAbroadAt35

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 222
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #67 on: September 25, 2014, 07:43:13 AM »
I often approach absurd situations at work using detached bemusement, a slightly more light-hearted version of cynical realism, but with less singing.

"I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist, mostly stuck , always pissed, I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist wand'ring 'round, lost in mist...Will there be any end to this, don't you wish? Don't you wish ! I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist ,that is all I am !"

I was with you right up until here.  Now I'm a little worried about ya man :-)

Dr. Doom

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Age: 42
  • Location: East Coaster
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #68 on: September 25, 2014, 11:19:40 AM »
... content

This ranks as the most incredible first post by any user I've seen, by a fair margin.  Congrats.

@Dude - I'm with you.  In my early/mid twenties I also probably would have done whatever I could to this type of job, no matter how challenging and relentless, to "make it work."

At any rate, a common thread in most of the contributions is that it's crucial for you, OP, to find a better way to deal with the situation if you stay.  Taking the increased salary and making no further changes in lifestyle or mental thought patterns is not going to be good over the term.  I'm really hoping you can piece something together from the Hive mind and cope with this mess in a way that makes it survivable.  We're all pulling for you.


bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3938
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #69 on: September 26, 2014, 11:37:00 AM »
Am I understanding correctly that the OP hasn't even been granted options yet? It's just a verbal promise?!? Oh my.

myDogIsFI

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #70 on: September 26, 2014, 01:28:08 PM »
Here's an interesting take on this from the big law perspective:

http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2014/09/23/a-bucket-of-cockroaches/

The author, a former big law guy, is now doing therapy for lawyers.  He equates working at a big firm (which has a lot of similarities with the OP's predicament) with eating a bucket of cockroaches for a big payoff.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3151
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #71 on: September 27, 2014, 06:20:10 PM »
Remember, you're willing to walk away, you're thinking about it, so instead of doing that, play a game of sorts, an internal game with your perceptions and attitudes, a game that no one will know you're playing.  Let's call this game "Pfffft".

+1M

I've saved your posting as a touchstone. Another day of "the sky is falling" and chicken littles screaming. FI is 6 months from now (bonus and options) and I was struggling to imagine how I would get there. I just saw your post and I now have a new game. Thank you

Agreed. I consider this one of the top posts on this forum.

mikefixac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 313
  • Location: Brea
    • Uncommonly Brilliant
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #72 on: September 27, 2014, 09:59:26 PM »
Remember, you're willing to walk away, you're thinking about it, so instead of doing that, play a game of sorts, an internal game with your perceptions and attitudes, a game that no one will know you're playing.  Let's call this game "Pfffft".

+1M

I've saved your posting as a touchstone. Another day of "the sky is falling" and chicken littles screaming. FI is 6 months from now (bonus and options) and I was struggling to imagine how I would get there. I just saw your post and I now have a new game. Thank you

Agreed. I consider this one of the top posts on this forum.

I've never been in a situation such as OP, but I agree, this comment is brilliant. Basically learning to detach oneself from the moment along with the consequences.

Hell of a first comment. Who are you mystery person?

« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 10:02:51 PM by mikefixac »

LonerMatt

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 799
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #73 on: September 28, 2014, 08:44:26 AM »
MMM is all about how lettong money and work dictate your life is an essentially shallow and needleaalt wasteful way to live.

Sacrificing the joy of everyday living for extra cash is so shallow and self-aware torture I can scarcely think of why anyone who agrees with the premise of the board (there's more to life than work) thinks that your life is an acceptable way to live. Ever.

You've explicitly stated you desire to leave and have other options. Playing the lottery with your well being, social life and health is a childish way to act. Surely the sum of your existence is worth more than 140000 a year and some potential payoffs.

Ultimately, who cares if you take another 3 years to get fi, if you're happy that's what really matters. Money is peripheral.

MikePolo4

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #74 on: September 28, 2014, 09:32:25 AM »
No matter which way you decide to go with, you need to sit down and have a conversation with your boss. If you leave and don't have the conversation, you might burn a very important bridge that may be handy in the future. Otherwise, you might find that he is more supportive than you think. I work with a lot of people like him and believe it or not, he will think that he is doing a poor job as a manager (CEO) if he doesn't completely book you with work because he probably personally enjoys it and assumes that you do too. People like him respect when someone is realistic with them and hates when people beat around the bush or do not say exactly what they are thinking. He might surprise you when you lay it on the table.

Also, I wouldn't ask him for more money. If you get it, he could feel more entitled to continue making your life miserable.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6869
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #75 on: September 28, 2014, 10:09:46 AM »
Hi everyone,
Long time lurker but just felt compelled to join and contribute what I can to this thread.

I lived through exactly what you're going through as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. I literally worked repeated 100 hour weeks, not less than 70 EVER and I probably averaged 75-80. I worked some 40 hour "days"  (e.g. 6a.m. Friday to  9 PM Saturday without sleep) and had exactly TWO days off in two years, (two Christmases). I am not exaggerating. My 20 something "boss" had pretty much what you'd expect in terms of reality testing, scheduling, interpersonal relationship skills etc etc. I was the least technically experienced, they dumped on me the most technically demanding and uncertain part of the product and I delivered. At one point, the CEO and CTO had put the company's first VC round at risk by buying new computers the Friday before the Monday demonstration and nothing worked anymore and they didn't know why. They went home Friday and I stayed, effectively saving the company from near certain oblivion- what words are you going to speak to  VCs  to get around the fact your program can't be run?  Worst of all, the CTO and CEO knew each other and were friends and essentially treated me like the son of a lesser god.

At one point I was standing in the empty office yet another Sunday and I picked up a stapler and hurtled it into the wall as hard as I could and screamed at the top of my lungs. I was more or less eating myself live with stress hormones and all for so little money it wasn't even legal to pay me that amount.

I have absolutely lived what you're going through.  What you're in has a name- it's called the golden handcuffs. The motivation is so high that you'll just about gnaw your own leg off before you quit. What you're working for is called "fuck you money", that is, an amount of money sufficient to let you say "fuck you" to anyone or any job for any reason for the rest of your life.  You can do what you want, do your own start up, work, not work, invest in others' work, whatever. No one can hurt you again. I was vesting- never mind options- to 20,000 shares a month.

Here is my advice. First what's at risk is your ability - never mind "willingness" to continue to work at all. Burn out is a very very real thing ; I am *quite* sure it has biological underpinnings that can't just be willed away. You can't permit yourself to go into burn out, whatever you decide to do, because nothing but a long time away from work- not an option for you- can cure it. 

OK, so, first even having the opportunity to have the opportunity to not have to work again is a rare thing. Since you're at the point at which you're considering walking away from this rare thing, why not do something just short of that- stop caring in the way you do. The fact that you're so stressed out means you're  a conscientious personality. You take it all to heart and would not consider slacking or not really caring at anything you're assigned.  This has to stop. It's actually where your stress is coming from. It's the unconscious terror that work is not going to get done, or done right, maybe there's fear it will be your fault, you'll fail, you'll let others down and "it", broadly considered, will all come down - because of you.

Remember, you're willing to walk away, you're thinking about it, so instead of doing that, play a game of sorts, an internal game with your perceptions and attitudes, a game that no one will know you're playing.  Let's call this game "Pfffft".

Another late night phone call bringing in another red hot emergency? Pffft. Whatever. Yeah, I'm on my way. Yawn. Yep, you're right, Mr Co-Worker, sure looks like  this might be the one, the big bad event that ruins everything, gets me fired, makes me look like an imbecile yadda yadda.  It's already a given that the whole thing is going to blow the fuck up, so let's watch this baby blow. Thaaat's right, it IS ALL my fault. And? And? And  therefore what exactly?

 I am telling you to pre-accept failure, pre-processes it in your imagination and let its consequences fully bloom in your imagination in all their horrific implications, accept them as the most likely outcome , even the certain one,  then just get on  and "go through the motions" at work. You're already dead, so what do you care?  It's like the Eagle's song "Already Gone". You're already gone. You're The Walking Dead. You find your metaphor.

Because the reality is, just you "going through the motions" is likely MORE than sufficient to get the job done and done well. For every single problem you have to deal with take the attitude that THIS is the big one, it's all over now. In that "space" there's peace. There's a willingness to keep trying in a  soulless, faithless,  half-hearted, sort of way because, pfffft, it's all going to be toastitos in a few hours here anyway. So whatever. So pfffft to the next crisis level of work they somehow think you're going to deliver. Plod plod plod- in your mind- plod plod plod.

You're thinking about leaving, but before you do, at least let that impulse give you space to try and find a place where you just stop caring so much. Your job doesn't require that you care or react or jump or panic, it requires that you apply the special skills you have. You can do that very effectively while being a zombie, you just THINK that the internal drama is the fire you need to power the engine to keep going  It's not. You can dead walk through this and if that's just to dark for you then develop a internal dark humor about it, expecting at every moment to be blown the fuck up.

Currently I am dealing with A Hard Problem With No Certainty There's A Solution  Maximum FUD built right into it. It's enough to say that finding a solution is mandatory for any kind of success. To make it worse, a part of it involves mastering Other People's Infinitely Crappy Code .  It's really just hopeless. I expect as I encounter every new problem, I mean literally every single time I sit down to the computer,  that this THIS will be the one I can't solve because, in reality,  there is no solution.  Sifting through the undocumented spaghetti code is hours and hours pure, totally  profitless drudgery. But there is no other way.  Other people would quit. Fact.  Yesterday in the middle of this I considered that I am essentially acting as (have been reduced to the role of) some kind of archeologist, sifting pebble by pebble, sand grain by fucking sand grain through some vast ruins (of code) that stretches out farther than the eye can see in all directions.  So I started singing (work from home, wife was only one present) "I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist, mostly stuck , always pissed, I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist wand'ring 'round, lost in mist...Will there be any end to this, don't you wish? Don't you wish ! I'm an ar-che-ol-o-gist ,that is all I am !" on and on like that making it up as I go along.

You can't stay motivated, proud, happy, solving right sized problems one after another , feeling good, in the light. You have t have a demotivated , held in check , curb your enthusiasm, removed, maybe bemused and perhaps cynical place you can retreat to.  A self you can be,  you can inhabit, that has the power to relieve you of the stress you bring by trying to be bright ! and good ! and effective! and agreeable !  and just a super achiever!!!!! yet STILL lets you  trudge onwards, even though it's all an absurdist comedy.

I am NOT saying own up to this to people at work or outwardly express it. I am saying , should a bit of it leak out perceptibly and anyone asks if anything is wrong, lie. I am saying move there in stealth mode and remember, the alternative .... is quitting.

You have a rare opportunity. If you can rework your internal perception of the GRAVITY !!!! :) of your situation, then you can still grab this rare chance life handing you.

Everything is due tomorrow? Pffft.

Cynical realism is the intelligent man's best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation- Aldous Huxley.

p.s.

 One more thing about % and probabilities . It drives me crazy when people assign probabilities to one off events like this company is going to succeed . All such utterances are completely without merit. Completely. There is no way to assign a meaningful probability to a one-off historical event - in this case,  the fate of this start up,  which is not one of a largish number of equi-probable events in a known distribution of such events. There is not an 80% chance the company will succeed even if 8 of the last 10 companies this CEO headed up went bananas.

It doesn't matter anyways. The fact is, you're in a situation  where there IS affirmatively a pathway to a huge upside for you- unlike most  jobs- and you should try nearly everything to hang on to it. That's all that matters.
Yes, this.

The question becomes - do you get a decent raise, and if so, do you get stock options?  And when?

What has helped me at my startup (and it's not as bad as yours, but worse in some ways), is that I'm fully vested.  So even if I just get FED UP, I can exercise my existing shares and leave, and maybe there's a payoff.  Maybe not.

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
  • Location: Germany
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #76 on: September 28, 2014, 10:32:44 AM »
The fact that you're so stressed out means you're  a conscientious personality. You take it all to heart and would not consider slacking or not really caring at anything you're assigned.  This has to stop. It's actually where your stress is coming from. It's the unconscious terror that work is not going to get done, or done right, maybe there's fear it will be your fault, you'll fail, you'll let others down and "it", broadly considered, will all come down - because of you.

Remember, you're willing to walk away, you're thinking about it, so instead of doing that, play a game of sorts, an internal game with your perceptions and attitudes, a game that no one will know you're playing.  Let's call this game "Pfffft".

This.

So much this.

No stock options in my future but a high demanding and equally high paying occupation in my present.

I'll play "Pffft" regularly and it makes all the difference. I've seen my SO nearly burn out because of him making the company's problems his problems and always believing that tomorrow he would reach that carrot they have been dangling in front of him. Being quite cynical to begin with, this has further cultivated my game of "Pffft".

To give you specific examples:

- If you have two impossible deadlines to meet, ask your boss to prioritze one. That's his job. The other goes "Pffft". If he really is so immature to reply "Both are equally important" reply along the lines of "Since I can't do both at the same time, based on my own judgement I am going to prioritize B. Let me know if you think I should redirect my attention to A."

Do bosses like your CEO like to hear that? No. Mine surely don't. Yet, they have not fired me. I get shit done and I put up with enough BS. I draw the line somewhere. If they don't like it, they can give me the "You should start looking elsewhere..." talk. To which my reply would be....  "Pffft".

- If an obnoxious demand via mail goes to more than one recipient. Resist the impulse to be the first to reply.

- Never ever volunteer weekend work and all-nighters. Do it only upon explicit request. No reading between the lines. Ask for reasons behind a deadline, i.e. if the deadline is purely internal, i.e. flexible, or if there is some serious money automatically and irrevocably being lost when something gets delivered a little late. It is rather astonishing how many of my bosses would let you work 24/7 without barely squeezing out a "thank you" if you just happen to do it, yet are somewhat uncomfortable explicitly asking for it. If it's really urgent they'll get over uncomfortable in no time. If deep down they know it's more the made up kind of urgent: Pffft...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 10:34:25 AM by Lyssa »

pac_NW

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Have the stamina to work on it until it's right
    • Take Next Steps
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #77 on: September 28, 2014, 11:06:35 AM »
Very interesting thread. I have just completed my third startup and have been at this game for 28 years. All three deemed successful for the companies - first one acquired, second one bought by private equity and a third bought by growth equity.  I learned so much along the way. On the first, I did not have any options as the funding was all founder funding; there were no shares and I was not wise enough to ask for a cut. But I learned great startup skills and that helped me leverage a high level position at company 2 where I did get shares and asked for a lot of them. The company sold for just under $2 per share. I made money but only because I was in a very senior position reporting to the CEO and had a lot of shares. It was a good job - I liked it but I got bored over time (about 5 years which was enough to vest and buy a good portion of the options long before the company was bought; I made money years later) so I moved to company 3. Here was the soul-sucking job. I also liked it most of the time and much of the soul-sucking I let happen to me. So be careful. Also, a very senior position reporting to the CEO and loads of shares. This company got bought for less than $1 per share.  None of these were the rocket ships you sometimes read about. They were ok exits for me only because I had lots of shares - at these small per share numbers, you need over 1M shares for them to make any sense for the "work put in to dollars got out" ratio. The warning flags I see in the original post are 1. What are the other employees doing - is everyone getting their soul sucked? And 2. Why don't you have options now? 

On 1, I ask because it may help you decide if you are feeding into the soul-sucking. I think there is a willingness on behalf of ourselves for when this happens. We let it happen to us.

On 2, you mention partners and then a profit-sharing like plan. You have to have ownership for these things to pay out. If you get options, be sure to read Know Your Options by Kaye Thomas. Get very smart about them. They are tricky.

After 3 startups and I am going to do a fourth. I love the energy these companies provide but I am going to watch the soul-sucking monitor this time. It took a long time to learn how to do this. Fortunately, I am in a position where I can RE because the last two companies funded the FI activities over the years. So take care on your next steps - there is no guarantee and right now you have no ownership in the company.

freelancerNfulltimer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #78 on: September 29, 2014, 04:26:56 PM »
To King Ston:

You're feedback about my stress coming from being conscientious is right. I want things to be done right, 1) Because it's in my nature and I can't help but not to do things properly and 2) Because I see the effect my work has on our success. My work directly impacts the money we make and in turn my own salary and cash out.

But you're right. I do need to adjust my internal reaction to these pressures. That's easier said than done. I can do it for a while but after a while I go back to being myself.

I like what you say about the code, I'm currently working a plan where we can throw away the "spaghetti code" and start fresh with something new. I'm actually really enjoying this project right now.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 04:42:51 PM by freelancerNfulltimer »

freelancerNfulltimer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #79 on: September 29, 2014, 04:41:31 PM »
Update:

Okay so a week or so has gone by from the very bad day, and it's been much better since then. More very bad days are unavoidable though, I am aware and prepared for this.

I did get a raise, the largest raise I've ever gotten in my life, but not as much as I had asked for. I should get another adjustment in another few months, and another few months from then another... so on until I'm at market rate. Of course the extra money just goes into savings.

After thinking a lot about what I really wanted. I decided to stay at least until another year has passed. Based on the connections of the CEO and the just very odd-set of circumstances of this job I can not recreate this opportunity elsewhere. A year from now will give a lot more clarity on the true earning potential of the company. If a year from now I'm unhappy then I'll at least had two years at this role for my resume which is so much better than just one. Otherwise it would maybe look like I'm a job hopper. Plus I don't really want to work for anyone else. I know I can create my own business(es) with my skillset. So if I can bank what I make here for as long as I can put up with it, I have a savings buffer and seed money to start up my own company.

I did have a talk with a c-level executive about the fact that my current work-life balance is unsustainable and I will get burned out. They said that they don't expect me to keep it up like this and that once we're fully staffed it should get drastically better. This gives me hope that they understand this is not sustainable and that I'm not getting charged a "competency tax".

Better yet, I am going to be going over budgets with the board on hiring and resources we need in order to realistically get all the work done. So help should be coming. Also, based off the suggestions made here, I'm going to block out more hours during the day to work uninterrupted where/when I can. I did this today with limited success. I do have help, but they aren't fully-trained yet so I just need to make it sink or swim at this point for the staff I do have. Once I hire more people and get them trained, five months from now things should be a lot more self-sufficient.

As far as the CEO goes. There's no changing him. I do have to answer whenever he calls. There's a lot of good that comes with his bad though and I think if I can focus on the good portions, it might help my overall stress level.

Meanwhile, in an effort to keep the stress down...
  • I'm going to try running at least once a week during lunch-time.
  • Find a way to mentally be okay with not checking my email as much during the weekend.
  • Cut back on the caffeine
  • See a doctor to make sure my body is okay, and not showing physical damage from the stress to date.
  • Get twice monthly massages (edited, originally said twice weekly, haha no)
  • Get a cleaning company to start coming the moment my husband finds a job to remove some stress in my life there

I'll post another update whenever something interesting happens.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 07:55:10 PM by freelancerNfulltimer »

totoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2099
Re: How long can I do it - Incredibly Stressful with High Pay
« Reply #80 on: September 29, 2014, 07:43:50 PM »
Good job.