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.
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.
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?