Sunday, August 8, 2021

Work Stress

It's 11 PM on a Saturday, and I'm awake because just before bed I started thinking about work. We have a reorganization happening Monday which is going to leave a few holes in the org chart and I can't help but feel like my new place in the organization is a demotion. Overall the reorganization is going to be really beneficial, and I'm not being demoted, but there will now be another layer above me in the org chart. I came to a startup to hopefully grow with the company and develop as a leader and get the opportunity to manage, but more than 80% of the company has started after me and I haven't been promoted at all in almost three years despite also being more experienced than most at the company. What am I doing so wrong?

My current role is exhausting. I fail constantly. I end up making all sort of decisions and so many of them are wrong. I'm inches away from quitting. Before getting out of bed to write this I was strategizing how I might go look for another job or if I should just take the plunge and start a company. I'm okay with a little work stress, but a constant stress to fight the fire of the day and get all of the embers out perfectly without using too much water while not choking on the smoke is a really tough ask. 

For years I've known about the FIRE movement, Financial Independence, Retire Early. I passed the point not too long ago that if my sole goal in life was to retire, I could do it today. However, I would basically be relegating myself to a vow of poverty in the USA or living abroad essentially permanently. So I'm not ready to pull the trigger and retire. But I'm 35 years old, for me to have bought into the idea of early retirement feels like a systemic failure of engineering. This stuff is still cool! I still design little parts like my ice axe for fun in the evenings. I'm reading Work by James Suzman right now to try and help understand why I work, and more specifically why we all work so much. 

Friday we had a company party and honestly it was tough at times, so I took a walk part way through to give a tour to my girlfriend. Two days before we had a product failure in testing. That day we had an existing company announce they were going to enter our market and compete with us. During the party the comments from my peers were humbling, and heartbreaking. Two people said they would follow me anywhere. How am I supposed to respond to that? One guy said to me at one point loud enough that at least five coworkers could hear, "Isaiah, I don't know what your career plans are, but we need you as a manager." I quickly replied that yes I did want to be a manger, but it's something that has to happen at the right time and the right situation. It felt like I was digging my own career's grave at this company by being diplomatic. 

I received an email this week from one of the local running store chains that they too were hiring! And hiring managers! A decent sized part of me wants to jump ship and take any management job I can in a company I believe in at the moment. I haven't applied for any jobs or talked to any recruiters because the work I am doing now is really cool, and I like to think that perhaps it will be recognized, and going back to the FIRE comment, it could set me up for life, but is currently in a fragile state where me leaving might have an impact on that success.

When I was away for three weeks in May to Alaska I was really hoping that everything would go smoothly without me, so that I could focus on other issues, longer term issues. In short it didn't go great. As one coworker (who has only been here six weeks) said at the party Friday as he introduced me to his wife, "Isaiah does everyone else's work so he doesn't get a chance to do his." Again, how am I supposed to respond to that?

Pray for me please. I don't have the answers.

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