A few days ago I got an offer from a team in Japan. My long term objective is to move to Japan to retire (early) there. What job I would end up with is almost irrelevant given that I’m Kind of Financially Independent and plan to pull the plug in one or two years. So, the plan was simple: find a team, any team, willing to pay the cost of relocating my family and myself to Japan, do the move, stay with them for about 18 months, and pull the plug. So far so good, the plan is moving smoothly.
My current manager wanted to keep my decision a secret until he had a transition plan ready for my current project. So for a while I was in this weird situation where I had to keep pretending to all of my colleagues that I was still going to work with them “forever”.
More than a decade ago, I remember wanting to break up with my at-the-time girlfriend. But we had this upcoming weekend together that she was looking forward to. I wanted her to spend a good weekend, so I decided to give her the bad news after that. That feeling I had the whole weekend, this is how it felt for me around the past few days with my colleagues.
But yesterday, my manager finally told the team about my move. And then, what happened was just unbelievable to me.
Multiple bloggers in the Early retirement scene will tell you that somehow, once you decide to pull the plug from your job, you seem to attract money whether you want it or not. In particular, many Early retirees have mentioned that when they announced to their company that they would leave, to their surprise, the company offered them lots of options to consider: a salary raise, a more convenient schedule (such as part time work), or sometimes both. Sometimes the packages included working from home, or switching to a “consultant” mode (less hours, better pay), and so on and so forth. Based on what many early retirees have written, it seems that whether you “engineer your layoff” or not, when you’re serious about moving on, if your company or team values you, they’ll try to keep you.
I’m not a very ambitious person, not at all actually, and I typically let others play the corporate ladder game while I stay on the sidelines. Of course I was happy when I got promoted last year, but I did not particularly push for it. So, even though many of the Early retirees have been writing that this kind of offer will come up whether you ask for it or not, I did not really believe it. Surely, all these folks just successfully milked their employer just before leaving, and pretend they didn’t even try, I thought.
Seems like I was wrong. Keep in mind that I am not leaving the company, simply moving to a different team. What happened is that my VP personally emailed me, and offered me to consider a job under his team, in Japan, with a promotion included. Literally minutes after my manager delivered the news to him.
This shocked me, and I’m not using that word lightly. It’s honestly humbling, and almost shattering, to be offered a promotion so soon after the last one, and directly from my VP. That’s half a year after my previous promotion, which itself took 8 years. (It’s a euphemism to state at this point that I was never expecting another promotion in my career, given how long it had taken to get the first one, and how much more competitive it is at my current level. There are, obviously, less seats available, the more you climb the hierarchy)
Chatting with a few colleagues, everyone is of the opinion that I should jump on the opportunity. I, of course, have multiple concerns.
First of all, I have already accepted the offer from the other team, at my current level. Although everyone is telling me to not take that into account, I personally would feel extremely bad to reject an offer after I have signed it. I probably shouldn’t have such feelings when it comes to a employer/employee thing, but this is how I am wired. My new team is also made of people who have vouched for me because I have worked with them in the past. Withdrawing now could damage some actual friendships here.
Secondly, the suggested role would be a move to something less technical than I do today. I’m a technical person, and in my experience I’m not good at other stuff, plus I don’t like it. It’s very possible I could end up being really miserable in that position.
Last but not least, I’m very worried about the level of stress this could bring to me. First, it’s a promotion meaning I’d be having more responsibilities, and probably people reporting to me (yuck). Second, the recommendation would come directly from the VP. He’s the person who hired me into my current team, he’s had my back for a huge part of my career and I have been led to understand he was key to my last promotion. On top of that he is genuinely a very good person. Independently of the job description, I can already feel the stress of trying hard to not let him down, considering the amount of trust he’d be putting in me.
Gah, I just feel physically sick already that I ended in this situation. Any normal person would be happy to be given such an opportunity, I’m sure. I just feel distressed that I’m going to have to make some tough choices. I literally feel like I’m going to throw up right now. You know, back to the girlfriend analogy, it’s as if she replied “I’m pregnant” just when you try to end the relationship. (Ha, did I take the analogy too far? My company is not pregnant. I think).
First world problems, I know. Literally, problems of the one percenters.
The rational answer would probably be to take the promotion and the new job: it will be more money, probably won’t be worse than the other job (just a different kind of stress), and I will pull the plug soon anyway. Then again, my gut keeps telling me to keep going with the existing plan, which was a smooth ride so far. If I try to picture myself accepting the offer, I have this terrible anxiety of having to go to the other team and be a jerk to them. I’m also worried of not having the guts to pull the plug in 18 months if I report to that specific VP, and end up in a case of infinite One More Year syndrome.
Have you faced similar choices in the past, where your gut told you to go with the option that was rationally not the right one?