The following article is from Mike, our staff writer.
One of the most frustrating parts of trying to escape the rat race is that it usually can’t happen overnight. Sure, you could just walk into your manager’s office and tell him “I quit!” But while that might feel personally rewarding, it isn’t going to help keep food on your table.
Since you probably can’t afford to just quit your job outright, especially if you have a family to support, you’ll have to continue putting in a good effort at work. But that doesn’t mean you should sell yourself short and let your own goals fall behind.
For example, many RB40 readers are working on side projects so they can quit their day job. Given their ultimate goal of escaping the rat race does it make sense for them to expend energy trying to move up the corporate ladder when they could be focusing solely on their side projects? Or should they just do the bare minimum at work and even be willing to turn down a promotion so they can devote all of their extra time and energy toward their own personal goals?
Not long ago I faced this exact dilemma at my day job. As a high-performing and experienced member of the team I was offered a promotion to a supervisory role. If I accepted the position I would keep many of the responsibilities that I already had while taking on a bunch of new ones as well. It would definitely be more work and slightly longer hours but the promotion also came with a nice bump in pay.
I knew I could handle the job but I was a little concerned that the extra responsibilities and drain on my time would interfere with my side projects and make it that much more difficult to reach my personal goals. I’m wary of climbing too high up the corporate ladder because I know that each step I climb takes me further from my goal of escaping the rat race for good.
In the end I decided to accept the promotion. Let me give you the reasons why I made the choice I did.
New Skillsets. I’m a big believer in lifetime learning and I’m always looking to challenge myself and learn a new skill. This new position offered me an opportunity to gain experience managing people and projects and those are skills that would be useful anywhere. I can use the promotion to learn new skills that will help me in the future.
Money. Yup, more money definitely comes in handy when you’re trying to pay down debt and invest for your family’s future. While I would never make a decision solely for the money, it was a factor in my decision-making process. Since I didn’t anticipate the added responsibilities to be too much of a drain on my time I was glad to accept the extra money.
Options. If you start turning down promotions and making it clear that you’re not looking to move up the ladder, it could hurt you down the line. Like it or not, many companies will look down on someone who is comfortable in their current role, and I didn’t want to be labeled as lazy or unmotivated. When times get tough and employees are laid off, those are the first to go.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to advertise the fact that you’re looking to jump off the company ship and go out on your own. If your plans change or get delayed you could regret being so forthcoming. It’s better to play the game and be a good soldier while you plan to make your escape.
As for promotions, think about both the short and long term consequences if you accept. More money is always nice and if you can think of the promotion as a stepping stone to your goals than it’s a no-brainer. But if the promotion will actually move you further away from your goals you may want to think twice.
What do you think? Would you accept a promotion even if you knew it didn’t fit into your long-term plan?