Hi folks! Hope this post finds you well. If you’ve been following TGS for a while, you know I’ve been writing a lot about career lately. As a side note, I’ve noticed that with regard to many topics I talk about here. I’ll get going on investing topics for a while, then budgeting and frugality posts, then career, then talking about the small business, etc.
I write in bunches I guess…:)
But today is another post on career. Something has been gnawing at me for a little while. As I was in the process of information gathering and evaluating my potential job change, I was seeking advice and feedback from trusted and experienced co-workers.
One of those folks was my loan approver. I work as a corporate banker and he is about 25 years my senior. He has lots of banking experience from numerous different perspectives/positions throughout his long career. He has been around the block, so to say. His feedback would be highly valued and I was eager to discuss the opportunity with him.
I also knew going in that being from a different generation he may just not get me. There was also one important fact that I wasn’t comfortable sharing with him either, and that was my plan to only work another 6-7 years. An important consideration when the topic is ultimately about my career and where it is going.
Nonetheless, even if he didn’t have a full picture, his honest thoughts and feedback would be very helpful in framing up my decision to make the job change or not.
So what was gnawing at me so much? A lack of “ambition”.
That’s what I took it as at least. Numerous times throughout the conversation he mentioned ambition would be required if I continue along the same career path I was on previously. I inferred, no surprise, that the job change was less ambitious. I suppose one could view it that way…
While the new job will require a little more travel, a primary selling point of it is the improved work life balance. My former job was known for its peaks and valleys (although it seems like the peaks keep peaking and the valleys are fewer and farther between…) in terms of workload. When it rains, it pours so to speak.
The new gig will be a little more steady-state, more predictable, and therefore an improved work life balance.
Will it be any easier? Not necessarily.
Will it lack further career opportunity/flexibility? No, if anything it may actually offer greater flexibility.
Will it require long nights and weekends? Nope! But does that necessarily correlate to being less ambitious?
So what does he mean by “less ambition”?!? And what was I to say to that…?
A quick search of the Google dictionary provides an interesting definition of ambition…
“a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.”
Or also defined as:
“desire and determination to achieve success.”
Ambition is about priorities, and not just mine but Lucy’s as well. Lucy works outside the home just like myself, and she thoroughly enjoys her job. Not enough to work for the rest of her life, she is certainly intrigued about the prospect of early retirement just like myself. But that is one major difference between me and my loan supervisor and many of the other more “ambitious” colleagues of mine.
He, along with many of the other senior folks in my prior office, has a stay at home spouse which eases his burden on the home front. If he gets pulled away on a deal for the weekend, it is just another day for the spouse (not that it makes it any easier…).
In a sense the stay at home spouse sacrifices the outside the home career for the “ambitious” spouse who continues his/her outside the home career. It is basically a zero sum game.
Alternatively, Lucy and I are both making some sacrifice (to a degree or maybe not much at all) in order to maintain a work life balance and together manage the home front.
Who is Slighting Whom
Perhaps such a move I’m making was taken as a bit of a slight against his career and so he felt like pressing a few of my shame buttons. Or maybe he just truly didn’t understand. There is a generational divide and the modern family has evolved over the last decades. To him, home life was WW, or woman’s work.
Well that doesn’t hold true as much in this day and age. And I’m thankful for that as I’ve always looked forward to being a Dad.
It definitely is a life calling for me and I don’t want to have any sacrifices on the home front for the sake of career. For me, I think that would lead to living a life of regret.
That is where I thank my frugal lifestyle, my journey toward financial independence, and the goal to retire early. If it wasn’t for the flexibility my current financial condition provides me, the decision would have been more difficult.
So who am I going to choose to disappoint, my loan approver or my family? I think you already know :).
I know my loan approver meant well, but I’m pulling the ripcord on my career.
The Real Ambition
What my discussion with my loan approver has shed light on is that this job change may be perceived by others as a lack of ambition. Accepting that has been one of the biggest hurdles for me in accepting the position. Is that my ego getting the best of me? Maybe. A negative perception by others is hard to get over, but I can accept it.
That perception by others is subdued by my hidden reality, my investment accounts. It isn’t that I have a lack of ambition, but an ambition that nobody else is aware of or could see. That ambition is to retire early and spend more time with family.
In that sense, maybe my whole career is defined by being overly ambitious. After all, the plan is to work for roughly 15 years of my life (while maintaining some degree of life outside of work…) and then hanging it up for good. Try to explain that to someone and make it sound un-ambitious.
People don’t need to understand. I’m ok with that negative perception. That comes with the territory of seeking financial independence and early retirement. That comes with the territory of stealth wealth.
I don’t publicize my net worth or my retirement ambitions (besides with you fine internet folks on the veil of a secret identity 🙂 ). So of course my loan approver and co-workers won’t fully understand. Until they start piecing the puzzle together when they find out I’m retired and 100% done with the working world in just a few more years.
“He who laughs last, laughs best.”
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan