Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems
The financial independence mindset has changed the way I see so many situations. Before this year, my goal was always to earn more money and move up on the organization chart. I wanted my job title to signify importance, I was all about climbing the ladder just to feel better about myself and to impress other people. A few weeks ago my boss’s boss called me and asked if I’d be interested in filling a position higher up in management. I immediately felt conflicted.
Instinctually I felt excited, but I also knew that this position would require me to give it my all. I’m giving it my all in so many areas of life right now already I wondered how much more I had to give. I was just getting into somewhat of a groove in my role I’d held for the past 2 years. I’d learned the names of the staff, knew my way around the building without getting lost, and had some strategic initiatives I was excited to lead. Conversely, I was starting to get a little bored and felt like my presence wasn’t maximized. These downsides were good for two reasons: 1.) they kept me just dissatisfied enough to continuously work towards reaching FIRE, and 2.) I still had the mental bandwidth to focus on my personal and educational pursuits in the evenings and weekends. But everything once I got this phone call. The CEO told me that she needed an answer by the end of the day. I called my husband, and we both got excited. I called back, offering an emphatic YES!
For the rest of the day I felt strange. I was on vacation visiting my in-laws to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. I left for this trip not knowing I’d return to my office one more time, to pack my belongings and return my keys. Not only did this call come out of nowhere, but now I had a new job with a brand new set of people I didn’t know. I didn’t see it coming.
This new position, I knew, would be a ton of stress and a set of challenges that comes with being the leader of a community organization. It would be more rewarding and more demanding than my previous job. I don’t believe in dwelling in regret, so I told myself that I made the decision that was right for me, and that this is meant to be. For the next couple of weeks, I oscillated between excitement and sadness. I knew I’d be great in my new position, but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet my standard of excellence and still make it home before my 1 year old’s bedtime. I also worried about the impact this would have on my doctoral program and dissertation focus.
My worries were well founded. Since starting this position 3 weeks ago, life has been more out of balance than usual. I don’t have time to eat uninterrupted, and am bombarded with questions and requests from the moment I enter the building until I leave for the evening. Before I started this position, I worked diligently on my research on a weekly basis. I haven’t touched my dissertation research since the day I said yes to my new role.
Although I am proud of myself for leaving within 30 minutes of my shift ending each day, I enter my home much more exhausted and less present with my family. My head spins as I process the day, and work talk dominates dinner conversation. I feel a little lost. Now that my perspective on work has evolved, I wish that I would’ve calculated the costs and benefits of taking this position. Is an additional $7,000 a year, before taxes, worth doubling my stress? After taxes, that’s about $400 a month. My well-being is worth more than $400 a month. If I don’t have a plan for how this $400 will be used intentionally to move me closer to financial independence, it’ll contribute to lifestyle inflation, and be spent on things I don’t need and won’t increase my life satisfaction. Of course I know that I am very financially privileged to be in a position to pass up money for my work-life balance, but since I come from a lower income background, I still jumped at the opportunity without much thought, operating from a scarcity mindset instead of from a belief in infinite abundance. I’ll get there some day.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Challenges
Now I’m sitting here with my new and shiny very important job. My work matters, it makes my community a better place, and I have a direct impact on hundreds of people every day. I love that. I will need to balance my love for serving my community with my love for my husband, my daughter, hiking, and myself.
This month, my challenge here is to give this extra $400/month a job, put it to work, and make it make sense. I’m learning about options at the moment and just purchased two contracts. I’ve tried to understand them before but could never catch on, until I watched a Youtube video by Black Girl Stocks about how to trade options on Robinhood. This lady is the truth!
I also need to get into monitoring my spending and budget. I haven’t checked our budget in months. Our current system makes the process more draining than it has to be, so I have to find a more intuitive way to monitor our spending throughout the month. Whenever I find something that works for me, I’ll be sure to share the win. I used to track spending on Mint, maybe I’ll try that again. If anyone reading has suggestions for budgeting and tracking spending, I’d greatly appreciate more ideas.
I look forward to this new path on my journey. I know that I will find more balance as I settle into my new work community. Already I have laughed more at my new job in one week than I did in the entire 2 years I was at my previous position. I feel more present, more impactful, and more alive. At this moment, I am reminded of Iyanla Vanzant’s saying that all things are lessons that God would have us learn. This opportunity is my next lesson, and I am ready to learn all I can from it.