Lifestyle choices - money, health, friends

Lifestyle choices - money, health, friends, other?

So I was in my optometrist’s office for a routine eye exam a few years back.  As he’s looking in my eyes, he tells me that he sees a bit of bleeding in the blood vessels in my eyes.  I’m like, OK, give me something to deal with that and let’s get on with getting some new contacts.  Instead he goes on to tell me that this is very worrying.  He tells me that it could be a temporal brain hemorrhage, me going blind, diabetes, or some other horrible thing.  At that point, I’m kinda rooting for diabetes.

Now this is very uncomfortable for me, life’s going pretty well, I have a job that I like, I travel around a bit, get free vacations, and make good money.  I can’t see because my contacts are out and my eyes are dilated.  It’s at this point I realize the trade-offs that I’ve made for this job and the way of life that goes with it.

As a financial management consultant, I traveled up and down the west coast, helping companies create financial system and process to provide management with the information and tools to make better decisions.  I was on the road full time every week, but I earned a bunch of air miles and hotel points which let me vacation in Hawaii for free every 8 or 9 months.  But I ate out about 20 times a week.  I exercised at the hotels, but not as much as I should.  My salary had a travel premium built into it, travel is hard, you’re away from friends and family, and I lived out of a suitcase.  I didn’t have to pay for anything during the week, so I was saving a bunch of money.  However, my health was being affected much more than I knew.

Little did I know (and in retrospect I certainly should have known) that my lifestyle wasn’t particularly healthy.  I didn’t think I was doing too bad, I had a glass of wine with dinner, I ate at nice restaurants, had good food, but there is a lot of tasty but bad for you food in restaurants.  I was not only trading my time for a salary like most do, but because of my life on the road, I was also trading my health for cash.  I then decided that I’d get a new job closer to home without travel.  I knew I’d take a salary hit, but it was worth it.

lifestyle choices - diabetes, money, family, all three

You can have diabetes, money, family, or all three?

To shorten a long story, I was asked by the consulting company I was working for at the time if Christmas and New Years were important to me, and if I’d mind working during on those days and the week in-between.  Since I basically had a local job lined up, I gave my notice right then.  I started working in the nice safe banking industry, albeit with a 20% pay cut.  After financial Armageddon and a brief time on unemployment and a nice severance package, I had a new job at 15% less than I was making just before.  So a fairly drastic cut in pay, but I had an easier commute, a bus instead of an airplane, I was able to see my friends and family, I was able to eat better and lost 35 pounds.  My blood sugars basically returned to almost what a normal non-diabetic would have.

Find your way in life, make choices that will result in your happiness

Make choices that will result in finding your happiness

It was a conscience choice to change both my lifestyle and career path.  Some people love to travel and can do it forever, some people burn out after a year or two.  The benefits are nice.  First class upgrades all the time, no fees, premium salary, eating at nice restaurants.  But do realize you are making trade-off all the time, and your employment is not different.  Start making choices that lead you to live the life you want, have a plan and execute on that plan to achieve your desires.

Think about the trade-offs you make in everyday life.  It’s not just your time for pay.  What are you trading for the convenience of that microwave burrito?  What about for missing you child’s soccer game?  Understand that through hard work and dedication, that you can have a job that pays you well over $100,000 or even $200,000.  The question is: are you willing to put in 16 hour days for years on end?  Are you willing to sacrifice your health, social life, and family relations to attain that?  Some people are, some aren’t.  I’m making no judgment as to what is right.  Simply understand the trade-offs your making, weigh them, and compare them to your desired lifestyle.  As for me, hurray for diabetes.

Readers, what trade-offs are you making?  What are you willing to give up and what do you want to gain?  How are the trade-offs you’re making furthering your life goals, and will you enjoy them when you achieve them or are they for someone else?

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35 Responses to Lifestyle trade-offs – Hurray for diabetes?

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I have been considering doing management consulting for a couple years after I finish my PhD but I am concerned about how the travel would affect my marriage and health. (I am on the lookout for signs of Type II diabetes!) It’s so nice to hear an honest account of the downsides. I don’t care about the salary much at all – it’s the varied work that I am most interested in.

    You were so smart and fortunate to get out when you realized how the travel was affecting you! It’s not just food and workouts either – stress and a lack of sleep can push us toward metabolic disease as well.

    • Karl says:

      No doubt that the different type of work and the different companies I worked for were great learning experiences. It was really the best part of the job! I was able to take advantage of fortuitous timing to get out of the consulting business, with the advantage of improving my health and relationships at the same time.

  2. This is a great post! My first job required me to travel a few times a month, and I really enjoyed it at first. However, it soon got old and I missed being around everyone at home. I think you made a very wise choice in taking a pay cut to be in a job that was less stressful and allowed you to improve your health and social life!

    • Karl says:

      There seems to be several different groups of people when it comes to travel and consulting specifically. There are those that can travel for 1 year and then burn out, 2 year, 5 year, and if you can get past 5 years, you’re generally going to be doing it forever.

  3. WorkSaveLive says:

    First I’d say that becoming diabetic typically isn’t related to the job. For you it was, but for most people it’s just because we’re not concerned with what we’re really eating.

    My wife and I have really taken being healthy to heart and we’ve become more aware then ever of how bad most foods really are. Have you taken a look at the sodium that is in EVERYTHING (processed that is)? It’s UNBELIEVABLE!!

    I love the premise of the post though. I struggle with this as well and I justify my crazy work schedule by saying that it will afford me “free time” in a few years. I’m 100% commission though, so my job is quite a bit different than the normal salary job I used to have. My justification to make a lot now WILL afford me the luxury to choose my own hours once I build my book of business.

    However, I am constantly concerned about the time with my family and my social life. That has certainly weighed on me heavily and if things don’t change in the near future then I’ll have to find something else to do.

    As you mentioned, there is no right or wrong. It simply comes down to priorities.

    • Karl says:

      True, the job directly didn’t cause my diabetes, but the lifestyle of the job certainly contributed. The eating out 20 times a week, no matter how healthy you eat, is very different than healthy. Though the stress, strange beds ad sleep patterns, and travel doesn’t help either.

      Yes indeed, simply know what the trade-offs are, and make the decision that you think will lead to the most happiness, whether immediately or at some point in the future. What line of work are you in now that requires the full travel schedule? Audit, consulting, other?

      • WorkSaveLive says:

        It’s not traveling, I just work 12 hour days a lot. There are a lot of nights involved…like ALL of them during the week. lol.

        I’m a financial advisor. Most of our clients work during the day and I’m at the mercy of their schedules.

        • Karl says:

          So you’re at the beck and call of the clients, who work normal hours, thus you have to work normal hours, plus meet with clients? Nice. Are they nights or more evenings? As I had to be on call at night, and that was very unpleasant…

  4. Every choice we make is a trade off but few people stop to consider the alternatives. I’m really glad that you discovered this before it got really bad, and make the changes to get it under control!

  5. I am really glad that your sugar levels have stabilized and that you were able to find a job in your field that has allowed you to be close to home so that you can eat right and exercise. 🙂

    My husband was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. He has type 1 diabetes which is the result of a virus which caused his pancreas to stop producing insulin as required. Basically he has an Autoimmune disease. Although his diet wasn’t perfect his disease was a result of tooooo much stress both at work, being on-call 24×7, tonnes of OT, and on top of that his father passed away a year prior to my husband being diagnosed. After my husband was diagnosed he continued to work for several years, but the stress was unbelievable and we struggled to get his sugar numbers down. Plus we were in and out of doctor’s appts every few weeks trying to learn how to deal with this. My husband had to finally quit his job. Unfortunately, his skill set in the IT industry would only allow him to move to a similar job with the same demands.

    We have spoken to many professionals and read many books over the past several years about how big of a role stress plays in our lives. For some it leads to heart problems, some it leads to diabetes and some it leads to cancer.

    We had to stop and think about what was more important to us. Heatlh or lots of money?

    We made many trade offs for money up until 2007. Then our outlook changed.

    Even though we are struggling financially (and we will get through this) I will take good health instead of lots of money any day. And it sounds like you are the same. Wish you the best with your health and new job!

    • Karl says:

      Ack, yes a different job I had in the past required some on call time, and we always got calls, so you knew it was basically a night without sleep, and usually the better part of a whole week. Type 1 diabetes is a bit of a shock to be sure. I feel lucky that I only had type II, and so far I can control it with diet and exercise. Don’t discount the related industry though, you just need to do a good job of marketing in order to show employers that what you want to do for them really is just like what you did previously.

  6. great post! My eyes are deteriorating and I suspect the long hours in front of the monitor. I have some other health problems too and I know staying with this job will make it worse over time. That’s one big reason why I’m trying so hard to leave this job and try something else.

    • Karl says:

      I hope that you do what you can for keeping your eyes healthy. I’m hoping that at some point they’ll have the ability to regenerate eyes. Maybe in another 50 years. We’ll see. 🙂 Is your job something that you could do 2 or 3 days a week?

  7. Nick says:

    Very good to hear you’ve been able to take control. I’m a big preacher of “sometimes you have to choose between two imperfect choices” guy.

    For example, I give up an hour of sleep per night to roam the blogosphere looking for fun posts to comment on, haha!

  8. When I worked for E&Y, I spent every night in a hotel away. Sure, the experience was great, and I learned a lot, but I would never ‘choose’ time away from my family again. I am glad that you got to make the right choice for you as well.

    • Karl says:

      Yes the work was great, the free trips to Hawaii certainly are nice, but they just don’t make up for all the time living away from home. Are you still working there, or did you move on to something else? Still some travel or none at all?

  9. I actually love being on the road meeting clients and prospects (for a couple of months I traveled almost every week, including several cross-country jaunts, and I loved it). But I may very well feel differently if I had to do that 5 days a week, every single week, every single month.

    It’s definintely hard on your health – I find it very hard to control what I’m eating when I’m in restaurants, even when I track all my calories.

    • Karl says:

      Yup, I have several friends that simply love the travel, meeting clients, living out of hotels, and the rewards for doing do. I really did like the actual work, it was just the commute that was the killer. how do you track your eating when out with clients? I always found that fairly difficult.

      • If the restaurant has more than 20 locations, they are required by law to publish their nutritional information. The smaller places I ask or make an educated guess. I usually google what’s healthy before I go to the restaurant – for example, a red snapper fish (moderate) is usually better than a seabass (high-fat), I avoid anything that has the word “fried” “crispy” or “sauteed”, I ask for steamed veggies, sauce on the side, and grilled or broiled as preparation. Also I ask the kitchen to go light on the oil – not sure if they actually do that, but it makes me feel better!

        Oh, and I always just order water or unsugared iced tea, except when I was in North Carolina and tried their sweet tea – it was so good! (But I don’t want to think about how much sugar was in that glass).

  10. Money Infant says:

    Amazing how something as simple as getting replacement contacts can change the whole path of our lives. Great that you got out before the job took an even bigger toll on your health. I too took a 50-ish% pay cut when we moved to Thailand and I don’t regret it for a second.

    • Karl says:

      It really is amazing. Those little things in life that change your direction, things like a potential temporal brain hemorrhage. 🙂 Like I said, hurray for diabetes…

  11. All about trade-offs, isn’t it? Go for the big promotion, and sacrifice your health, family life and general well-being at the altar of corporate profits.

  12. SB @ FPR says:

    Every choice we make is a trade off. I had to spend 6 months away from family once. Very good post Karl.

  13. Right now I’m working 2:30-11pm and am really struggling with how much longer I can do it. Not only do I never see my bf, who works a normal 8-6 day. I have also have gained about 12-15 pounds, eat at midnight, and am getting tension headaches from the stress. All of these things would (maybe) make sense if I was making more money (tradeoffs, I get it). But working for a non-profit that pays poorly just adds insult to injury. I promised the bf as soon as our mortgage gets approved I’ll start looking for another job. As I’m writing this, it really makes me realize how bad things have gotten. No job is worth compromising your health. I’m glad that you’re health is back to normal! Thanks for this post.

    • Karl says:

      That is a rough schedule, especially for someone like me as I tend to be more of a morning person. Though my brother works similar hours to those, and he has really enjoyed it. But he is as far from a morning person as you can really get. 🙂 It’s a shame that you’re not getting the pay you deserve, if you have to work an unpleasant schedule, you should at least be compensated for doing so.

  14. jefferson says:

    Great post, Karl–

    I’ve been in this boat before.. Trying to decide if a job was worth the effects that it was having on my health… It wasn’t travel for me, it was a killer on-call rotation that required me to work 20+ hours on the weekend, in addition to my normal mon-fri schedule.. it was a good job, that paid well.. but in the end i decided that i needed my sanity more.

    • Karl says:

      I used to work with people where we had the on-call schedule rotate through the whole company. Some of the guys would have horrible stress-related effect just in the week prior (when the schedule was announced) and the week of. People couldn’t sleep, they got sick, all types of gastrointestinal things happened. It was really quite amazing and direct the effects of stress, especially on those not used to it.

  15. What you said about working 16 hour days – SO TRUE. I actually just saw a story on the news that people who work 11 hours or more a day are 67% more likely to have heart disease. That’s not worth it!

  16. Every choice we make leads to certain results. For example, I chose blogging as a hobby and now after work I sit at home on a sofa, instead of being at the gym. Results: weight gain, obsession with blogging and high blood sugar. I am going back to the gym ASAP because I cannot let my high blood sugar develop into diabetes.

    • Karl says:

      And hopefully your choice of full-time blogger will reward you with more income, less stress, and one day some more time to take care of yourself. Diet and exercise really are important. The older I get the more I wish I had eaten better earlier in life. I still make the convenience / good for me trade-off with food quite a bit more than I should.

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  19. […] – Lifestyle trade-offs – Hurray for diabetes? posted at CultOfMoney.  Your job affects more than just how much money you make.  Cult of Money […]

  20. […] Karl presents Lifestyle trade-offs Hurray for diabetes posted at CultOfMoney, saying, “It was a conscience choice to change both my lifestyle and career path. Some people love to travel and can do it forever, some people burn out after a year or two. The benefits are nice. First class upgrades all the time, no fees, premium salary, eating at nice restaurants. But do realize you are making trade-off all the time, and your employment is not different. Start making choices that lead you to live the life you want, have a plan and execute on that plan to achieve your desires.” […]

  21. […] at CultOfMoney presents Lifestyle trade-offs – Hurray for diabetes?, saying “It was a conscience choice to change both my lifestyle and career path. Some people […]

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