For the first 15 years of my career I focused on constantly driving towards the boundaries of opportunity. I am still pushing forward with doing the best job I can do, but something has changed. A shift in focus is leading me towards a point where the career stability is the better choice. What has changed?
The Career Stability Decision Point
Those that have been readers of my posts as of late probably have noted the change to career stability. It all started with my article about not wanting to move up to being an executive. I purposely chose a path with our last job change that would likely limit further upward mobility because the only path upward from my current position would be an executive level. As I noted in that post such a move would lead me to a lifestyle that just would not be a good fit.
Career Advancement and Pay Growth Opportunities are Not the Same
Don’t cry for me too much, as I did at least choose a path with decent pay growth opportunities. I certainly want to continue to make more each year, I am just not much interested in increasing the scope of my already very wide set of responsibilities. To review, I left the management track 2 jobs ago. Instead, I am now as high as you can be as an individual. At my current company, my role is the functional equivalent of the last non-executive management role. I sit low on the pay scale for my current role so for the foreseeable future the pay raises will continue to flow.
The Desire to Move On Has “Moved On”
Anyway, all that you probably know, but there is more. The other day I was talking with a young man who recently joined our company. I was sitting there talking to this young late 20s to early 30s individual and he was telling me all about his career motivations. As he spoke about being in this role for 3-4 years before moving up I realized the thought of moving on 3-4 years from now for me just doesn’t have the allure it once had.
Internal and External Job Changes, The Direction Is the Same
Now to be clear, I have been at my current employer for 12 years. I am not talking about the shakeup here that happens from changing companies. The effort and impact there just does not seem like anything I could motivate myself to do at this point. No, in this case I am referring to even internal job changes.
No Longer Looking Ahead to The Next Opportunity
I have internally changed jobs about every 2-3 years since my career started. But as of today I don’t even have a thought in my head about a next step. That’s a change as usually when I start a job within the first month I am thinking about the next move. I am a year in and nothing is running through my head about the next opportunity.
So why is this a revelation? Well I already noted I did not intend to move up. But this new situation also means I am not necessarily looking to move laterally either. Typically once I get “bored” with a role by mastering it I start looking for the next challenge. That realization that I don’t really want a new challenge is something I have only very recently experienced. Why? What is different now?
A Shift in Focus and Priorities
For years I have pushed relentlessly forward with my career. I was driven by two things:
A feeling that I was capable of so much more than my current position. That desire to contribute something more to the world, pursue ever-increasing career expansion, and of course to make more money. I still have these feelings from time to time. Though honestly, they tend to be more entrepreneurial-based. Also I am seeing a shift away from that desire being my priority, with spending my time with my family/traveling replacing them. My current position allows incredible flexibility towards those other goals, to a level with my current pay I am unlikely to replicate elsewhere.
A constant fear that if I stopped moving by pursuing career stability I would become pigeonholed. The ever present fear was that sooner or later I would end up let go as a position I was in or company I worked for became less stable over time. This fear was deeply seated due to what I observed in prior recessions and in my own family. But, if I am honest that fear is largely gone these days. We are basic level financially independent now. There are plenty of people retiring with way less then our current asset base. Now I am not at my end goal yet. I am still going to work every day and building the pile ever-larger towards our FAT FIRE number. But honestly, if my wife’s ten-hour a week consultancy job continued I could walk away tomorrow at our highest level of expected expenditures. The reality is we are past the point where this fear is real.
A Larger Title Was Not My Motivation
You’ll note before I proceed that none of those motivations was ever a large title. No one cares what job you do for a living. In the end no one will judge how successful you were by how far your career went. They will judge you only by the lives you touched.
A Change In Motivation Driving Towards Stability
Anyway as you can see my original motivations for constant job changes are largely a thing of the past. In their place is a different motivation. The realization that as I approach 40 I am now at the half-way point of many of my deceased relatives lives. I could be half-way done my life. Add to that my kids are not getting any younger. The fear of mission out, FOMO, is starting to take over.
Now many people have FOMO for what other people have, but I am finding mine is more based on missing out on what I already have. IE. I am not necessarily seeing the latest pictures or blog posts on travel to some exotic locale and dreaming of going. I can and do travel to explore already. Neither am I reading about other bloggers retiring and wishing I was, our date is still 55. I enjoy working, it’s an important part of what I am.
Work Is a Piece of Me, But Not the Whole
But work is still just a part. I am also a father, a car enthusiast, a personal finance blogger, and many other things. Work does not define the whole me, just that part. The reality is I am in a job where the balance between all things can finally be achieve without hurting my current pay or future pay growth. In essence I have achieved my career goal, now it’s time to ride it out as long as I can…
All Options Are Open and I still Continue to Develop
One last important note before I closeout. I am enjoying the ride in my current position. But I am also not a fool. I do continue to develop my skillset and work the best I can to be successful in my tasks. Doing anything else is both not fair to my coworkers and a good way to ensure I don’t make it to 55. My current position or even just my bosses could change wrecking my balance. I have seen it happen all too often. I am diligent to always keep my options open. But until and unless that happens I am here to ride it out…
Anyone else shift from a career expansion to a career stability focus?
we made a similar move to you and your wife but i suspect at lower beginning pay rates. we didn’t quite have enough to quit entirely and live our same modest lifestyle but she was forced out when her office closed and i chose a more comfortable job at the same site that paid less. our income was just about cut in half from its peak and i don’t care. stability is great. we’re not relocating for any employer and she doesn’t need to look for some soul-crushing, life-wrecking job to replace that former income. it was a little inconvenient is all.
with the new role the past 2 years i don’t even mind working. it’s not like i’m curing cancer and jumping for joy with satisfaction but if you don’t mind it i think you win. good for you for the choice..
Earlier on most people solely think about advancing their careers because they don’t have enough.
The great thing about once you reach a comfort level with your portfolio, you have enough and rising up the corporate ladder does not have as big an appeal anymore as your priorities change. You don’t need the promotion financially and the title/power that goes along with it doesn’t have the same allure.
I rose pretty high in the corporate world but I did reach a point where I did no longer want the next job. It just didn’t look as fun as the job I had and they were already over paying me in my opinion. I retired shortly after that so it became moot but I did later turn down a seven figure offer to go to the next level with a competitor after I retired. It was for three times the pay I made in my best year and six times my previous average years pay so it felt like a ridiculously high offer. I turned it down immediately. I had enough money so why take a job I wasn’t going to enjoy to earn money I did not need? That’s crazy thinking. It isn’t exactly the same as choosing stability over expansion but it is choosing happiness over money, so its kind of similar.
Actually it sounds very similar. Actively making the decision to favor other areas of your life over more money.