Change is hard

In the last post, I mentioned that we were planning some big changes in 2018. While I like to think of myself as a rational person who, after careful consideration, is willing to take bold action in the face of (calculated) risks, I’ve discovered that logic is only part of the battle.

The following is a brain dump of how initiating big changes felt for me.

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What do we really want?

This update is long overdue.

Limiting time spent working to create space in your life to pursue dreams and passions seems like one of the best “purchases” you can make in today’s work-obsessed world. This was the motivation behind my original plan to go part-time last fall.

It turns out that there are other events that can prompt deep retrospection into the past and careful planning for the future. One common precipitating event is a health scare. Maybe not fun, but it sure gets the job done.

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The Best Laid Plans…

I had a series of posts in the queue about my timeline for downshifting in my current role, on my current team. As you may be able to infer from the lack of posts here, things did not go according to plan. Seemingly in response to my previous post about how the constant shuffling of resources and goals in large technology companies works against job satisfaction, my current team was broken apart, reassembled, and given a wholly new charter.

Following the laws of physics, this post contains my thoughts on my (equal and opposite) reaction to this force.

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Is Work in Big Tech Incompatible with Job Satisfaction?

Daniel Pink argues in “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” that motivators historically used in the workplace (the promise of monetary rewards and the fear of punishment) are less effective in the information age. His new prescription for a highly motivated and satisfied workforce is based on three ingredients: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

From my personal experience, I’m starting to suspect that, for lower-level employees in big tech firms, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are out of reach, making work for many in Big Tech incompatible with job satisfaction.

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Don’t Take a Gap Year; Set Aside a Gap Fund

A gap year is traditionally a year away from school before going to (or back to) college or university. The idea is to dive into the real world to gain perspective and start taking responsibility before locking yourself into a long-term career or area of study.

More recently, the term has been applied to taking a break from work, either for learning (a sabbatical) or personal reasons (“mini-retirements”).

Rather than working the same job for 30 – 40 years, I feel it’s important (for sanity as well as personal growth) to mix things up every now and then, so gap years and mini-retirements are topics I contemplate often.

Rather than taking a gap year, an alternative approach for a mid-career break is to set aside and live off of a fixed gap fund.

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Downshifting and Early Retirement

At the intersection of personal finance and self-actualization there is a vibrant Internet community focused on the pursuit of “FIRE”–Financial Independence, to Retire Early.

Rather than accepting society’s preconception that life includes 12 – 18 years of schooling, followed by 40 – 50 years of working, wrapped up by a few years of TV and golf, FIRE aspirants optimize their spending to maximize both life satisfaction and savings, invest the proceeds wisely, and retire radically early to pursue personal growth, social connections, giving back, and more–free from the shackles of full-time work.

How does downshifting to part-time work relate to early retirement?

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