Our lives were in a whirlwind after the birth of our second child. Not only were we learning lessons on health, we were moving what seemed like constantly, trying to fix our situation. We didn’t know what we were trying to fix, but we knew something was not right. Later we discovered we needed to find Simon a job with a company he could believe in (or he needs to work for himself) and the job needed to have work/life balance.
Soon after #2 was born, Simon switched working from his high travel job to a lower travel job. The travel did play a part, but it was also his conscience that made him switch. He didn’t believe in what the company stood for, he couldn’t stand behind the product.
The new company was a company you could feel good about working for. Not only did they have a better product, but also they believed very strongly in giving to the community.
That job did not last long. Simon’s father had asked for some help either taking over his business or getting it ready for sale. So only after working at the new company for eight months, Simon quit to help out his father. After all family is family.
The next fourteen months we ran our own business (and moved twice). Simon saw for the first time one of his children grow up in front of him, after realizing what he missed with his first child, he decided that he needed to be around more. He didn’t want to miss another moment if he could help it.
In April 2001, the family business was in shape for sale, so we returned to our home that we had only lived in for a few months before helping Simon’s father. It was back to the corporate world for Simon, this time with less pay than before. This was a low travel job for Simon’s industry, since he knew he didn’t want to travel a lot at this point. But then the travel increased from 30% to 80% after the Enron scandal changed the way public accounting firms were set up. So Simon found another new job seventeen months later.
This one was in the airline industry with a 9 to 5 workday and barely any travel, but a long commute. With the failing industry due to 9/11 the airlines sold this company to an investment company, which started firing people left and right, even those that worked there for twenty years or more. Needless to say the atmosphere was very stressful and the company was unstable. So this time, nineteen months later Simon found another new job and this one involved a move across state lines. This was in 2004.
This was a move to a place where we could live a few miles from work since commuting had gotten old fast. We focused on work/life (we knew we wanted that), didn’t consider the industry too much. Big mistake. The people in the industry didn’t think twice about lying in the interview process to get Simon to take the job. Once we got there the job was nothing like it was explained, and it was easily his worst job so far. So barely twelve months later Simon moved to another new job.
This one was in a familiar industry, the hours were not too long, and travel was negligible, but once again there was a commute. Then the company was sold to an investment company, things were up in the air again, and travel once again started to increase. So it lasted a year.
In August 2006 another move across state lines and another new job; but now with a company that has a product that we can believe in, and has work/life balance and little travel. Let’s not forget to mention we live only a few miles from work. So far so good, let’s hope it stays that way.
So does what job you have matter? This may seem obvious, as it obviously does matter, but it wasn’t clear to us as fledgling worker bees all the things that contribute to making that determination. The key points so far:
What the company does and how they do it matters a lot. You have to feel good about you are contributing to everyday or you won’t want to get up in the morning and go contribute.
The company (and obviously your boss) has to consider you and treat you respectfully. This means understanding that you have a life and a family. If they expect you to work all the time, and therefore not have a life, what kind of ‘life’ is that? This of course includes the travel component.
Commuting may be commonplace these days, although current gas prices may help reverse this trend, but it makes no sense. It’s expensive, it’s stressful, and it’s a waste of time. Never mind the impact it has on the environment.
If you are miserable at work, you will most likely be miserable most of the time away from work. It drains you and keeps you up at night. In short, it stresses you out.
Changing jobs and moving from house to house wasn’t easy, and sometimes we second-guess ourselves looking back, but then we think about why we made those changes and we realize that we would make the same choices again today. Sure, we might be ‘further ahead’ in the rat race, or have more money had we stuck it out, maybe, but life isn’t about money. It’s about happiness. And that doesn’t mean foregoing financial as well as other personal successes; it just means that there is more than one way to live your life. You can live according to other people’s mantras, or you can live by your own. You just have to keep searching until you figure out what that is or until you find a way to live by it.