And so, it happened. Finally. Got a promotion. Yippee!! I am stoked. It feels good to be appreciated and acknowledged for all the hard work and persistence. Ironically, I fear that getting promoted complicates my early retirement plans.
Sure, this promotion took longer than I’d have liked. I could’ve reached this level back in 2015, but I turned it down twice back then because the roles didn’t appeal to me. And besides, back then, our kiddos were just entering toddlerhood. I didn’t want to be spending too much time away with the added responsibilities these roles required.
Fast forward four years, and finally, I’m given another crack at the plate. Home run. And now I have this twisted idea stuck in my head of wanting to continue to perform well in my job. There’s a fire in my belly to work harder than everyone else. What the hell, Cubert?
Does a Promotion Put Early Retirement on Pause?
The big question is, do I stick with my original plan to exit gracefully later this summer? Well, I can put new odds on that. Give it a 20% chance. Before this promotion, I’d have given it a 50% chance. And that’s mainly because I’d stick around to pad the accounts until some point in 2020.
With a promotion comes a little more pay, a little more prestige, and suddenly, work becomes a little more interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if I stick around for another four or five years, but we’ll see. There are still a few things about this corporate lifestyle that I could do without.
The next level at my job means more pressure to perform. There’s bound to be much more exposure to the upper ranks and lots of sinister politics. Do I have the stomach for that? At the very least, working hard towards early retirement these past five years gives me options.
I’ve written about it before: Create your soft landing by becoming debt-free and footprint small. Then, you can show up at work with a lot more confidence. Bonus: If things start to go sideways (e.g., you wind up with a rotten boss or a string of stressful projects) you can jump out of that plane and retire EARLY.
The Trade-offs of Getting a Promotion
How a Promotion Complicates Retirement Plans:
Right off the bat, there’s TIME. And lo, that lovely commute. I don’t mind the AM drive in so much. You sort of plot and scheme your workday as you inch your way closer to the parking ramp. It’s the commute home that blows. Many can relate. Coming home after work the commute almost doubles in duration. The silver lining is that from late April to late October, I can ride my bike to work and avoid the stressful evening slog. Still, for a good five months plus, it’s all car.
The trade-off of time overshadows all else. With a corporate job, your time to invest in yourself gets squeezed into pockets of opportunity. This entire set of trade-offs is influenced heavily by time-scarcity and time-management.
Got no time? Let’s review the health factor. When you get promoted, you have less time to get to the gym, or even work out at home, go for a run, whatevs. I’ve longed for early retirement as my opportunity to get into better shape and consistently stay ahead of a sometimes achy back and persistent gut expansion. This will be an area to watch closely.
The last thing I want to do is crumble into a pile of Corporate Goo because I put a higher priority on work over health. That is the lamest damn trade-off anyone can make. (When the need for the job goes diminishes, i.e., when you’ve reached financial independence.) At this point, I’m stealing time after dinner to sling a few kettlebells, maybe every other night. Not nearly enough cardio and too much sitting.
Time also affects relationships. I think this one is a toss-up. You could probably do more for your marriage and parenting by being retired early. Time is a helpful thing. Instead of being stuck at home to catch up on chores all weekend, you could be off picking apples at some rich couple’s homestead in rural Vermont. Not us. We try to whistle while we work. Even the kids are folding their clothes.
I and the Mrs. find ourselves pretty exhausted just about every weekday. We’re a couple of hard-working peeps and kids can oftentimes sap a lot of our energy, love them as much as we do. I had a notion that in early retirement, I’d be the one to keep up on all of the household chores, grocery shopping, and so on.
That way, Mrs. Cubert only had to worry about her chiro practice. We’ll see if we can hold up for a few more years. At least with both of us working, we can more easily afford babysitters on date nights.
Finally, there’s the stress. I hate stress. I love vacations so much because you tend to forget your troubles when you’re in a foreign place and all your senses are abuzz.
Stress from work melts away. Want to deflate your excitement level, while sitting on a sunny beach somewhere? Just picture yourself sitting back at your cubicle staring at a computer screen while on a contentious conference call. BOOO!!!
Look. If I’m going to stick with this gig, I’ve got to find better ways to manage the stress. I hear meditation is good, and so is exercise and adequate sleep. At the very least, we’ll have our financial ducks in a row. With a mortgage nearly paid off, there’ll be fewer clouds hanging over our heads when it comes to money.
What Am I Gaining by Continuing to Work?
Good question. Probably the right spot in this post to whip out a list!
- I get a sense of accomplishment for something I’ve invested nearly half of my adult life in. Promotions are special. You remember each and everyone as a definitive rung. They are like graduations in a sense. They rarely happen more frequently than every 5 years. Some wait over ten years, if ever to get a promotion. They are not a given.
- Integrity and gratitude are important. My leaders worked hard to advance me. How much integrity would I show by handing in my notice just five months later? Not much. My leadership understands the value I bring and they expect me to help them deliver on a pretty crammed agenda. Time to strap it on, as the saying goes…
- More cash to stash. A better raise and bonus structure doesn’t suck either. Putting in a few years more to build a strong margin of safety is wise. When you get promoted you can accelerate your early retirement off-ramp too. Before this promo, I figured I might put in two or three more years. Now I can decide to cash out earlier if things get dicey later on.
- Usually, you get a little more influence as you rise the ranks. I’m starting to see where some of the ideas I’ve had for improving our operation are falling on listening ears. That’s a huge factor for job satisfaction. If you feel your voice and ideas are being heard, and you have a good boss, you’re well over halfway to a job that doesn’t suck.
- I can keep writing about all this cubicle work stuff from “the inside“. Give you fine readers more insights and learnings from Cubicle Nation. Otherwise, if early retired, you’d be stuck reading about the apples I harvested yesterday, or the wood I chopped while swatting away flies.
I just have to be careful not to get on a hedonic adaptation hamster wheel, seeking the next big promotion, and the next, etc. There is the next phase of this one life I want to explore, but I think I’ll know when I’m ready to make that leap. At least, I hope so!
Getting a Promotion Means More Work
Not more than a few weeks into this, and I’m already putting in the extra time. I’ve easily gone from about 45 hours a week to a little over 50. Ever the consummate time-manager and honey-badger, I get after it. Still, there’s a LOT of stuff to crank through, especially at this time of year for our operation.
What’s helped the most? Well, if you’ve noticed any degradation in the quality of this blog, you can blame the job! I’ve pulled an Ace out of the deck and started using my 5 AM wake-up call to get ahead on my work inbox. That’s right, Monday through Friday I’m not touching the blog. Instead, I’m playing Tetris with my inbox.
This is a good thing. I avoid having to log-on in the evening and on weekends (most weekends) when I’d rather be engaged with my family. The early AM period from 5:00 to 6:30 is a golden productivity zone. I highly recommend it for those with a little hustle in their game.
Full disclosure, I’ve been trying to keep some materialistic notions at bay as well. With a bigger bonus and some extra dollars each paycheck, it’s hard not to think about some discretionary luxuries. I have given in to the home theater dream. That’s happening. Promotion dilemma all the way. But I hold the line at a new car, a bigger house, or a vacation for the family in Italy. Maybe my next job promotion?