Out of body experience

I met with my VP a few weeks ago and decided to decline his offer. I realized that some of the stress I have accumulated in my current team would not go away until I actually cut my ties with that team entirely. Changing role within the same organization would still not be enough, so I rejected the offer, and the associated promotion. For any “normal” corporate drone, this would probably be considered as the dumbest career move of my life. I guess the fact that I don’t care about my career, and care more about not bailing on the team with which I already signed an offer, is the flexibility that I’m getting from financial independence. I might come back to my current team ultimately though, assuming my plans for ER fail miserably, or if I change my mind about quitting in a couple years. I tried not to burn any bridges.

Incidentally, another team came to me last week to discuss a “high-visibility” project, looking for someone exactly with my profile. Had they come to me 2 months ago, I would probably have taken the offer. This just confirms to me that once you decide to pull the plug, somehow opportunities show up magically. This also gives me interesting data points into how hard it will actually be to pull the plug early: I’m probably in the prime of my career, at the turning point where I could go on a path to become a director/vp kinda person, or instead choose to stay a “mediocre” individual contributor all my life. I can see how that choice might be very difficult to some. These people who have come to me have offered me to become part of very cool stuff that my company will be doing in the years to come, and it’s difficult to resist. What will I do if this happens when I give my resignation?


I was supposed to start working part time (and remotely) for my new team in Japan last week. But my current manager decided that his team still needs me 100% of the time for a couple more weeks. I don’t really think they need me anymore, but I intend to fully play this to my advantage: For me, this is two weeks of semi vacation. I’m officially not allowed to work for my new team yet, and I honestly don’t see how I can help my “former” team anymore. The guy who will replace me is fully up to speed, he’s doing great so far and the best I can do for him is to actually remove myself from the picture. So, I show up in meetings, I answer the last few questions he has, and that’s it. Maybe my manager did this intentionally knowing it would be the best way to give me some free time? He’s a pretty good guy after all.

This is giving me some time to handle whatever I can ahead of our move to Japan. I still don’t have a visa so everything’s still a bit in the air. Nothing can move until I know the date we’re moving to Japan. And we can’t set that date until I have the visa. Nevertheless, the past few weeks have been spent calling a few places such as banks and the like, to understand if and when I’ll have to close accounts.

And yes, I’ve chosen to close my 401k. At age 35. For your typical “US centric” Financial Independence blogger, this would sound like financial suicide. The thing is, as a non US citizen, with almost nothing in my 401K, and no intention to come back to live in the US later on, it seems holding on to that account would be more of a burden than anything else. So, I’ll take the 10% penalty, thank you.

The good news is that I can apparently keep my US bank account for now, which will be useful for all these geographically-constrained services that require a US credit card or whatnot. I might close that one later if it becomes too much of a hassle to maintain.

As I was saying, I intend to enjoy the next 10 days or so to the max. I don’t feel like a part of the team anymore, and most of my stress related to the ongoing project is officially gone as of today.

My manager took our team to the restaurant today. It was nice. There’s a re-organization going on right now (our team’s moving under a new director), and I feel managers are worried that this is typically the time when people choose to leave. Hence the restaurant, to keep the team spirit up, I guess.

My teammates had a bunch of questions and concerns. Will our new director understand all the needs of our team, and the value we bring? Will he understand the importance of staying close to the tech teams? Will we have the same leverage we used to have on product decisions? Ha, I was enjoying my meal while pretending to care, even dropping my own questions into the mix. But in my mind, I was drifting away. It was almost like an out-of-body experience, seeing all these people at a table, discussing stuff that did not matter at all.

Somehow I felt a bit melancholic. I found, like I’ve mentioned before, that my colleagues are in general very interesting people. As soon as the discussion stopped from being about work, and was more about our personal lives, it became more interesting to me. Topics such as where all of us came from, where we’d like to live in the future, things like that. If those were the discussions we were having all the time, I thought, I wouldn’t mind staying longer to know these people much more. The weather is nice right now in Seattle, and this city has this super power of making you feel really happy as soon as there is the tiniest ray of sunlight. “I’ll be sad to leave this place and these people”, I thought as we were walking back to the office.

Sadly, your co-workers are co-workers, and discussions with them will always be about work, 90% of the time at least, even when you’re supposed to relax (e.g. lunch). It’s as if there was this mechanism inside our brains that tells us “you’re wasting company money on some petty discussion, talk about work now!”, triggering one person to mention some work item as soon as a non-work discussion is getting some steam. And yeah, we corporate drones sure feel great when we’ve prevented the discussion from derailing into some non work stuff. Bob saved the day by connecting our interesting personal discussion to those TPS reports!

In unrelated news, this weekend we paid $300 for a magic show for our son’s birthday, our door latch broke, and I received some mail from the IRS saying they’ve recalculated my taxes for 2015 and I owe them about $700 more. I won’t even try to oppose this decision. Probably my mistake so I assume they’re right. When all is said and done, it’s been the most non frugal weekend we’ve had in a decade, at close to $1500. I like that I don’t even have to think twice about where to find such a high amount of money within a week, but I don’t like how non-frugal the year has been so far.

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