“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Intimidating Conversations

10 Comments

Yesterday was interesting.

I work for a medium sized environmental consulting firm.  They have multiple offices up and down the east coast and about 150 employees.  My little corner of their world is only 16 employees of which I am one of the 4 senior staff members. I have told the people that work in the office that I am leaving but none of the corporate folks were aware.  We have been working on a transition plan for when I leave and it was time we told corporate.

For me this couldn’t have been at a better time.  I have really been hitting a good stride work wise lately.  While I don’t like my job and I don’t want to do it anymore, I like to think I am really good at it.  In the last year, one of my biggest clients from my previous company, the largest school district in the state, brought their work to me over my previous company.  I have also been getting new work all over the place from local colleges, architect and contractors.   This is great because the company has been considered more of a petroleum consulting firm that caters to big oil companies and this work I have been getting greatly diversifies the work.  On top of that, I have been able to get this work at better profit margins than many of our other clients.  I also run the construction and emergency response side for one of our major petroleum companies.  This is a fast moving and stressful part of our portfolio but I have had this side of the work running great. Recently the company put out a report on the state of the company and our office had some of the best numbers in the company and we are setup to have one of the best years in the company’s 22 year history.  I like to think I am a big part of why our office is doing so well.

So we requested the owner and CFO of the company come up from the Long Island headquarters so we could discussion senior staffing.  We told them I was leaving and what our thoughts were on how to replace me.  Overall the conversations went well.  But it was very intimidating to sit down with them and say that I am going to leave the company in several months.  There is always the possibility they tell me to go right there and then.  That could be a big blow to the cruising kitty.

It’s also a little like being present at your own funeral.  You sit there and listen to people breakdown your good and not-so-good attributes as they determine how to replace the work you do.  They ask you questions trying to get into your head and understand how I can balance the work I do.

Of course there was that moment where the owner of the company said he wished he could do this.  Biting my tongue and not yelling at him that he has millions of dollars and could do it if he chose to was the toughest part of the whole day.  We hear these types of response often and I find them very frustrating.

We are not independently wealthy.  We don’t have trust funds or large savings accounts or any other type of cushion.

We have an affordable boat that we love.  We have thoughtfully outfitted her.  But, to steal a recent line from another cruiser/blogger, we have made the choice to live A Life Less Ordinary.  This doesn’t happen by magic or accident.  It has taken enormous thought and dedication to get to this point.  It will take even more to get to the point of cutting the lines.

Interestingly as we near the endpoint in this part of our journey, only 163 days until we cut the lines,  there has been a flood of reaffirming articles making their way around the interwebs.  There was the piece from the Tiny House blog from Jody of Where the Coconuts Grow (linked above).  “Out on the ocean everything is simple. Elizabeth noticed how obvious it became to her that we can always do with less.”  A number of people on Facebook have been sharing the Elle article Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move To an Island and Scoop Ice Cream. Yup, doing that times two.  Then my Dad shared an article from Fast Company entitled The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things.  “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

 

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10 thoughts on “Intimidating Conversations

  1. I can only wish you good luck.. I am in the beginning phases of this plan myself. Hopefully to see you out there in a couple of years

  2. Fantastic post! I remember my last days at work quite vividly as they went thru my workload and projects and decided what to do with them, who to give them to etc. Strange transition period. We’ll see you out there in 163 days 🙂

  3. Not that I’m into burning bridges, but I’m pretty much displeased with management not really knowing what a specific employee was all about. And when one wants to leave they start paying attention. Too little too late. They don’t realize that they are the reason why most people don’t like their jobs and leave. It sounds like you’ve been doing an outstanding job. If they really gave a hoot about you they would try to keep you from leaving. Instead they went through your “good and not-so-good attributes”. Screw that noise! If they don’t get it, let them figure it out. Naturally I’m reflecting on my own situation, sorry for my rant. But management without the basic psychological knowledge that a happy employee will do a better job is beyond me.
    What I’m TRYING to say is that I’m really proud of you guys and jealous as hell!! Bravo!

    • Pete,

      Great points but I can’t fault these guys too much. What I would want is so far out of the mainstream that I have just given up expecting it to be possible in my industry. Don’t get me wrong they have some policies that I just don’t agree with (for instance we are expected to carry our phones all the time, even on weekends and vacation, so that we are available to clients) but they do try to keep it fun at work for the most part. They did ask if there was anything they could do to get me to stay but that does fit with your analysis about being reactionary instead of proactive.

      I don’t want to have a 9-5, 5 days a week, 50 hours plus working lifestyle anymore. And I certainly don’t want to do with 4-5 weeks of vacation. I know this sounds selfish but I am also willing to accept less pay for my desired lifestyle. But you just can’t fit that round peg into the square world of corporations. No one knows how to incorporate it into the day-to-day aspects of running a business. Business owners don’t know how to relate to someone who is more motivated by having more time off then higher pay.

      In an ideal world I would be able to continue to work but only do around 40-80 hours a month. Most of those hours would be put in when it’s convenient (i.e. non-travel days, rainy days, etc.) with the exception of time critical stuff like conference calls or planning meetings. I would except half pay for this type of arrangement or an hourly rate for only hours I work. I wouldn’t think this would be so difficult given today’s technology but corporate America just hasn’t caught up to that way of thinking.

      Who knows? The CFO did offer to buy me a sat phone and pay the bill if we could work out some kind of consulting arrangement. So there might still be a chance but I am not holding out hope. I think they would quickly forget the arrangement and I would be getting calls and emails non-stop.

      Thanks for the great comment.

      Fair winds,

      Jesse

      • …and thanks for the great response. You’ve hit the nail on the head! I salute you and agree with all you’ve said. I’ve got the same train of thought,… just too chicken shit to take the plunge with so much uncertaincy in this neck of the woods. Cheers!

  4. Love the image of “being present at your own funeral.” For me, the weirdest feeling was knowing that I had a lot of my identity tied up in that job title. It took me several years to get comfortable with the version of me that didn’t have those business cards to hand out, telling everyone that I was a “Senior Environmental Scientist.” And you’re right, that theme has been going around; I blogged it just last month also: (http://lifeafloatarchives.blogspot.com/2015/04/blogging-from-to-z-happy.html)

    • Haha I caught a lot of your A to Z blogging but must have missed that one. I have been having a problem with my RSS feed for non-wordpress sites.

      This was a great piece and obviously one that hits home with me. Same industry, same title, same thoughts about the business cards. I really like your last line: “I know that I still am an engineer and a scientist even if I no longer work as one; science is still my world view.”

      Thank you for bring this post up!

      Fair winds,

      Jesse

  5. I’m sure you know this is resonating with me. This was a really, really well-written post. I especially appreciated your statement, “This doesn’t happen by magic or accident. It has taken enormous thought and dedication to get to this point. It will take even more to get to the point of cutting the lines.” YES. YES. YES. Congratulations on having the tough conversations with your employer. The intimidation of those alone might cause many to stall on chasing their own dreams. ~Jessie

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