last week we wrote about what we’ll lose when we stop working, which in our case includes a lot of perks. and today we’re sharing the flipside of that. we love reading other aspiring early retirees’ blogs, and definitely see a lot of diversity in the careers that folks are working to retire from. (though, as others have noted before, there are a disproportionate number of engineers in fire land — and not many folks who are consultants like us, as far as we’ve found. please raise your hand if you are!) we love making this blog as personal as we possibly can without giving away anything that could out us to our employers, and today we’re giving a glimpse into our work lives. we’d love to get a glimpse into others’ working lives, too — maybe we can make this a blog series? anybody game?
here’s what we most certainly will never ever ever miss about our careers:
conference calls. because we both work remotely for companies on the other side of the country, conferences are the story of our lives. we spend hours each month listening to the hold music that you get before the host has dialed in. and while some calls are useful, the majority are a waste of time, a chance for people to hear themselves speak, and little more. most of all, we won’t miss them because they prevent us from getting our actual work done.
clients. some of our clients we love, but the whole notion of clients is something we will be happy to say goodbye to. they are demanding, they make unreasonable requests, they change their minds and expect to be able to get something new on the same timeline with no additional money spent. which leads to…
the all-nighters. clients have this belief that they are your only client, which is never true, but they often want things delivered on a schedule that suggests you have nothing else to do. this often means having to work through the night just to have the time to get things done. here we are, closer to 40 than to 30, and still working college hours sometimes. our favored phrase when one of us stumbles into bed as the sun is coming up is “i suck at life.” can’t wait to ditch that feeling and sleep like normal people.
the crazy travel hours. though we love travel, it’s definitely another culprit robbing us of sleep. given where we live, we don’t have endless options about flight times, and most often we end up having to take 6 am flights, which means getting to the airport at 5, leaving the house at 4:30 and getting up at 3:30 or 4 to get ready. that would be fine once in a while, but this happens at least once every week. then, the way the flights are scheduled, we often don’t get home until after midnight, either the same day or a day or two later. let’s just say this has gotten old.
feeling removed from the decision-making. we told you last week about our fancy pants titles. ostensibly we are part of the decision-making group for our organizations, but our companies are both a little old school. they are not of the startup everyone-is-remote variety, where it’s in people’s dna to include those off-site in conversations. oftentimes we get left out of decisions just because we’re not there in person. it’s demoralizing.
revenue projections. these keep us up at night. if you’ve never done revenue projections, they’re basically your best guess about how much money the firm will make from your clients this month, next month, and through the end of the year or beyond. the problem is that business decisions get based on these numbers, and so you have to be accurate when in fact you’re just guessing. these stress us out. we can’t wait to leave them behind for good.
the revolving door of junior staff. our companies both have high long-term retention, so we work with a lot of the same folks we’ve worked with for upward of a decade. except for the junior staff, who cycle in every year or more often. so much of our work relies on junior staff doing their part right, getting us good information, double-checking things properly. but because junior staff have a lot less knowledge and experience, they have to be trained, which is a seemingly never-ending process. and worst of all is that some just never quite manage to care. please, if you’re going to do a job, care. we can’t wait to get out of our careers, but so long as we’re doing them, we’re going to keep caring a whole lot about delivering quality work, keeping our clients happy, and supporting our colleagues. those all-nighters we mentioned above? those often happen because junior staff have not done their part.
pretending to care. we do care, but it has a limit. and sometimes our only option is to pretend. pretending to care about a boss’s pet project, pretending to care what a client thinks. worst of all is long-term planning. we do these meetings where we map out the long-term strategic plans for our companies (which we know don’t involve us — though they don’t know it yet), or we map out our own career paths within the company (also irrelevant, but we put on a good show).
billable hours. this one is almost metaphysical for us. our favorite days are the ones where we can’t even tell you exactly how we spent them. one hour runs into the next, we don’t schedule ourselves, we just let things happen. but at work, we are both overscheduled on conference calls and videoconferences at a level that makes it impossible to get actual work done, and then we have to account for every quarter hour of time that we worked. billing the hours isn’t the bad part — it’s the conflict that comes later. we get ranked against colleagues to see how our hours stack up, which gives us an inherent interest in seeing those hours be high. but, on our own projects, we’re judged on whether we stay on budget, and on how many hours we write off, which gives us an interest in keeping our hours low. it’s more complicated than that, of course, but that’s what it boils down to. every day, every hour we work, creates a conflict. and we won’t miss that for a second.
do you deal with any of these in your job? what is the thing you are most eager to get away from when you retire early? or if you’re not on the fire path, what do you dream about escaping? ;-)