One of the things making me feel less than 100% at home in my own skin lately has been some ongoing uncertainty about what I should be doing with my career. I've been feeling a bit bogged down, but it is hard to know if that is a sign of a problem, a side effect of the subtle sexism that still exists in my field, a symptom of my scanner nature not getting what it wants, or just a sign that I'm mid-career and the novelty has worn off.
Also, last yer was a difficult one at work, with lots of projects and not enough help managing them, so not much time to do anything but manage (I'm happiest when I get to do some hands on techie or science work, too). We've hired me some help this year, which should make things much better. Once I get the work load rebalanced, I suspect I'll go back to being pretty happy in my current job, which really is a good one. Petunia is sleeping through the night fairly regularly now, and we are starting to teach her to go to sleep without company. The kids play on their own more, too. All of these things together have given me more time for my hobbies and non-work projects, which will probably keep the scanner part of me happy.
So why I am angsty? Well, I still doubt that I'll be able to retire from a job similar to the one I am doing now- the biotech industry seems to moving toward more small, barely scraping by sort of companies, which means fewer companies that have the money to invest in the things I do. I think that is sad, and that good IT can make companies of all sizes more productive, but if the money isn't there, it isn't there. I have been kicking around ideas for ways to solve that problem (and also keep me employed), but nothing compelling has coalesced yet.
Given that uncertainty and the ever present possibility that my non-work projects won't keep my inner scanner happy and I'll need to move on to something different, I want to have a contingency plan. This became clear early last year, and I spent a fair amount of time thinking about things, until I came up with a plan. I was going to steer my non-work projects towards things that might either make me money or build skills for a second career. I even had a list of projects sketched out, with a plan for how I would progress through them. The fact that I don't actually know what I'd want to do for a second career made this challenging, but I think I managed to come up with some good ideas. I figured that would keep me happy for at least 5 more years at my current job (assuming the job lasts that long!) thereby giving us time to pay off our second mortgage and get both kids out of day care and into public school. Those two things would free up a lot of our income, and we would no longer need my salary quite so much- giving me the freedom to take more career risks, perhaps even do something as risky as start my own company.
|Guess I just keep going
And then my husband's company announced they were moving, too, and one of their three possible sites was even more horrible for us than my company's new site.
My 5 year plan crumbled. Suddenly it seemed like I might need to make a decision about my current career path as early as this year. Mr. Snarky announced he'd probably change jobs rather than tolerate the commute if his company moved to the distant site. If he changed jobs, would I want to do something risky with my career before we saw how his new job went?
We talked about moving Petunia to a different day care, and while that was an option we would have considered if Mr. Snarky's company moved to our least favored site, we hated it. We love our day care, and so does Petunia.
Luckily, Mr. Snarky's company decided to move to one of our preferred sites, choosing a location that is right around the corner from where they are now. This means that Petunia can stay at her day care- instead of splitting the child shuttling duties into drop off and pick up, we'll split by child. I'll do all the Pumpkin shuttling, and Mr. Snarky will do all the Petunia shuttling. I'm still not thrilled about my company's new location, but I think we can make it work.
However, to make it work, we may need to get some more help and/or cut some new corners. I've been gathering ideas in the background, hoping to convince myself that my 5 year plan can continue. I'm nervous that the commute will be longer than I expect, and that even if it isn't, the extra time in the car will leech away so much time that I won't be able to make even the excruciatingly slow progress on my non-work projects that I make now. I won't know for certain until we're in the new building and I see how the commute really goes, but I'm not very good at "wait and see." So here is my list of ideas so far:
- I can get some books on CD or podcasts to make me feel like the longer commute is not completely wasted time. Or I could find some better "learn Spanish in your car" CDs. The ones I have are so dull that I stopped listening to them. (One plus of the new arrangement will be that my commutes will be child-free.)
- We could rejigger our evening routines and eat dinner at 6:30 instead of 6, taking some of the time pressure off my commute. (Pumpkin would still need to be picked up no later than 6, though. The "cost" of this change would be the loss of after dinner playtime and a slightly more harried feel to our evenings.)
- We could hire a household assistant, to do some of our errands- and also possibly to get our dinners started and/or pick up Pumpkin.
- We could upgrade our kitchen and get a fancy stove that we could program to start boiling water before I got home (not sure if I could convince myself to do that, though- what if I got delayed and the pan boiled dry?)
- We could eat even less inspired weeknight dinners than we do now. Currently, I try to make something sort of interesting twice a week. We eat leftovers once, pasta with sauce from a jar once, and frozen pizza once. We could go up to two leftovers and add in something like quesadillas (currently a weekend lunch item).