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The death of career ego
Old 06-04-2014, 10:36 AM   #1
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The death of career ego

In 2011, I had the unique opportunity to choose between taking the helm of our largest organization in a dense metropolitan area or ask for a demotion and be assigned to a rural area where we owned a farm, but had never lived there. We prayerfully chose the demotion and the farm. It was difficult for a while to accept the loss of status and watch a mentee take the big job. That soon passed and I knew I had made the right decision every time I hit that empty farm road in the morning or pulled back into the gate to see my hay field and the little house sitting under the trees on 72 acres.

I thought the career ego was six foot under, but recent promotions in the company had me doubting my decisions and thinking of getting back in the mix.

Just wanted to let ya'll know that I come here for sanity and to keep my perspective. The pull of money and career status is strong, so I depend on this site to remind me that it gets better. I'd like to hear from others who have turned down promotions to achieve lifestyle goals.

FIRE date is Q1 2017 at 551/2. And BTW, I'm about to ride my Suzuki Vstrom to Alaska and be home by July 4 (using 3 of 5 weeks vacation). It's 10k miles in 22days and tent camping! My arthritis can't wait.
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Old 06-04-2014, 10:44 AM   #2
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My first job out of college was at a retail computer store branch where I rose to be a store manager in a year. Managing people wasn't that fun for me - I enjoyed selling much more.

Most of my career was in software sales and I had a personal slogan that goes "my goal is to never get above the bottom rung of the corporate ladder - and so far I've been successful". Plenty of money in software sales, none of the headaches of managing direct reports and I rarely missed family events.

Worked for me.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:11 AM   #3
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Before I retired from megacorp back in the early 2000s, I was offered an AVP position from my job as a department Director, which I declined. I was already very well compensated and burnt out from the time commitment, nor did I want any part of the politics and outside events/diversity dinners I would need to attend. For me, that was the right decision and I have no regrets. The older I became, my quality of life far outweighed money and prestige.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:12 AM   #4
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I'd like to hear from others who have turned down promotions to achieve lifestyle goals.
I'd never cared about management nor climbing the ladder until I moved back to Silicon Valley (from a failed real estate venture in Colorado) and decided if I was stuck doing IT work, I'd start climbing the ladder.

At my previous company, my boss got promoted and I took his spot managing a team of about 8 people. Hated it. Couldn't stand dealing with our idiot VPs, the politics, and the BS meetings. Also, I quickly learned that when you're a manager, EVERYBODY'S problem is your problem, and I hated that aspect of it, too. The only problems I want to deal with is my own, not everybody on my team.

I left after six months to pursue a non-management role at a startup. During my 3.5 years there, they've inquired on occasion about my moving into management, and I flat out tell them "No!". I don't care about that anymore, because I know it's the right decision for me. They're also floating the idea around me because they know my 4-year vesting is ending early next year and I think they're trying to find a way to secure my staying by piquing my interest in a management job, but I'm not biting.

The only way I'd ever take on a management role is if I'm the boss of my own company, and the buck stops with me. That way, I can overrule anything I don't like, and the day it stops being fun, sell or liquidate. But I know I could never be in a management role again working for others.

In the end, you have to do what feels right. It sounds like you really enjoy coming home to what you have now, so be very cautious about trading that in. The grass is always greener, etc...

Good luck with the decision!
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:48 AM   #5
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FIRE date is Q1 2017 at 551/2. And BTW, I'm about to ride my Suzuki Vstrom to Alaska and be home by July 4 (using 3 of 5 weeks vacation). It's 10k miles in 22days and tent camping! My arthritis can't wait.
I don't know if it's worth it when your FIRE date is so near.

But I understand the "ego" thing. I have stopped trying to climb up the ladder for some time but it still "hurts" to see lesser peers get promoted by me. But, I've chosen my path to remove work stress as much as I can. I.e, I chose happiness over ego. Stress can kill.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:08 PM   #6
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I'd like to hear from others who have turned down promotions to achieve lifestyle goals.
I worked my way up from the bottom and have been in upper management in a small company (70-80 employees) for 30 years. I have enjoyed the rewards and career I've had, but decided to pull back as I felt my passion for it waning. I backed down into a more technical position where I worked with a great team and found I really enjoyed not managing people, and working along side colleagues I had previously managed. For me it was a great prelude to ER, which will be occuring within a few months. No regrets on stepping back, I had separated my "self" from my career some time ago.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:11 PM   #7
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But I understand the "ego" thing. I have stopped trying to climb up the ladder for some time but it still "hurts" to see lesser peers get promoted by me. But, I've chosen my path to remove work stress as much as I can. I.e, I chose happiness over ego. Stress can kill.
Once I made the decision to wind down from some responsibilities, I found it very satisfying. I had proven myself in my career, and had/have no problems stepping aside and lettingothers pursue those career goals. I enjoyed it back in the day and I wish them all the successes I had.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:13 PM   #8
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FIRE date is Q1 2017 at 551/2. And BTW, I'm about to ride my Suzuki Vstrom to Alaska and be home by July 4 (using 3 of 5 weeks vacation). It's 10k miles in 22days and tent camping! My arthritis can't wait.
P.S. Enjoy your trip, and ride safe!
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:42 PM   #9
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That soon passed and I knew I had made the right decision every time I hit that empty farm road in the morning or pulled back into the gate to see my hay field and the little house sitting under the trees on 72 acres. ...

FIRE date is Q1 2017 at 551/2. And BTW, I'm about to ride my Suzuki Vstrom to Alaska and be home by July 4 (using 3 of 5 weeks vacation). It's 10k miles in 22days and tent camping! My arthritis can't wait.
These two quoted paragraphs suggest what is important to you. I also made a similar choice: Move to WV and keep my sanity or take a lucrative 6-figure job in the Washington, DC area and slowly go insane with the traffic, idiots, morons, fools and imbeciles in a corporate job.

Six months after we moved to WV my sister said "I haven't seen you two looking so relaxed in years". We knew then we'd made the right decision. You can't buy that observation.
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:18 PM   #10
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.......my sister said "I haven't seen you two looking so relaxed in years". We knew then we'd made the right decision. You can't buy that observation.
+1,000,000

If you don't thrive 100% on the pressures of the rat race, the rats start to eat you alive.
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:36 PM   #11
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Thank you all for the replies. I did feebly toss my hat this week, but it didn't land in the ring! I'm solid and your stories help me to remember that stepping back is not a bad thing.
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:48 PM   #12
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+1,000,000

If you don't thrive 100% on the pressures of the rat race, the rats start to eat you alive.
Perfect statement. Perfectly describes any work environment today in which one is trying to climb the "ladder".
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:17 PM   #13
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When I was laid off from my first engineering job out of college my ego took a big smack. (Defense downturn in 1990... half of San Diego's defense contractor employees were laid off that year and the next year.)

I vowed never to define myself by my job from then on.

I was offered management opportunities through the years - I turned them all down, staying on the technical track. I'm an engineer so I know how quirky engineers are - and managing them always struck me as herding opintionated anti-social cats. Why would I do that when I could be the opinionated anti-social cat. My career didn't rise as far - but that's ok. I'm still going to retire younger than most of the managers I've had.
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:42 PM   #14
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Thank you all for the replies. I did feebly toss my hat this week, but it didn't land in the ring! I'm solid and your stories help me to remember that stepping back is not a bad thing.
Stay the course

I walked away from a >$200k job two years ago and a fast career track, no regrets and actually I can probably still go back to it.

Sometimes the salmon of doubt swims by ..

and then I remember what it was like
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:47 PM   #15
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Unlike many of the other posters in the thread, I spent most of my 30+ year career in management, which I generally enjoyed (and was pretty good at, or so I was told). At one point, I was offered a promotion into what was close to my dream job (at least in that Megacorp), but the CEO had declared that the position required relocation to HQ (DC burbs). I couldn't even consider it due to DH's health issues (can't function in cold weather), but realized I had turned down probably my only chance to get to VP level. In hindsight, I know I would have been miserable if I'd taken it because of the HQ political crap. So I'm glad I didn't push it for the sake of my ego.
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