To start, I’m unemployed.
It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Wonder why I didn’t do it before (the usual response is crushing student debt and a mortgage – that’s why dummy.)
Nevertheless, I finally did it, I left my career of a decade, in which I was rather good at it, and now it’s time for something else.
I was fortunate enough to get some offers, and then… I wondered how to choose?
If you ask my mother, I’m sure she’ll volunteer a suggestion, it probably is along these lines:
Salary+stability+prestige = Success score
Where the more money, stability, and prestige I get directly translates into success.
But when I started this period of reflection, the things I was looking for were:
- a meaningful challenge
- smart people to work with
- an agile and creative environment
All unsurprising responses to being in government for all that time. Yet, all those things are harder to score on a scale, and become more arbitrary they harder they are to define, and all in a quest not for success, but for happiness.
Take salary, you get a number, and put that on a scale, weighted to importance. A startup paying 15k is lower than another organization paying 80k or 100k. Simple enough, you have the numbers, and can compare apples to apples.
Things like prestige are harder to compare, since you have current versus future. The startup could have been facebook, but most likely it’s more like “Yo” – and besides the currency of prestige is a pretty subjective one, yet one that is still easily measurable in current sense via a number of measures.
I think the challenge I’m having is how to quantify things before you invest in them? At least when you date someone, you can meet them face to face, they’ll make statements about themselves. Ie. I am the best cook in the world, that a plate of charred vegetables will soon prove incorrect.(btw, I did actually end up serving someone charred vegetables on a date ones. Thankfully I never made statements about competence prior. She ate them all in a very surprising move) Yet, when you interview with a company, you have ways of getting information – ie. asking a question.
Unfortunately as I’ve found out, much like on dates, people lie frequently.
While there doesn’t seem to be any societal penalty to dating frequently, particularly with the rise of Tinder, though there certainly is a societal penalty for speed dating companies. Companies want to know you are ready for commitment before you get any of the goods. Which is fair, since that’s also how dating used to work.
I digress, but back to the issue. We do have proxy measures, Glassdoor reviews etc… to figure out how the organization is like in terms of a workplace (on that note, why is McDonald’s always one of the best places to work according to organizations like Aon Hewitt? which makes me want to question their methodology, or perhaps consider a career shift into food services). In doing so, we can get through the lies and truths of the interview process, and external data such as review sites, and even the social data generated by a company’s employees to paint a picture of proxy measures. That combined with my imaginary equation from my mother, gives me potentially a closer solution.
The weighting is arbitrary, it’s just an approach to see what’s more important to happiness in the short, medium, and long term.
Meaningful challenge is entirely subjective, but so is happiness, so a repetitive, simple task will not be enjoyable for long. Therefore, that gets weighted on a scale from 0-50
Smart colleagues and agile environment are all workplace specific and can be lumped together on a scale of 0-20
Salary is really only notable when it’s absent, yet is important for that very reason, so would match meaning on a scale of 0-50
And perhaps in this time of sheer economic distress with the price of oil at historic lows and equities all in a race to the bottom, perhaps stability does have a value in this environment, lets say 0-10
So let’s compare two and then I’ll call this too long initial entry done.
The first is a nimble startup A, and the second a hidebound bureaucratic B organization (boo!).
Challenge. Hmm. A is actually stuff I’ve done before, so surprisingly it’s not all that unique and fascinating, but I’m sure it will pivot rapidly and become insanely challenge. Let’s say A=35. B offers a cool opportunity that I’ve never done before in a field I’ve never worked in before. Double cool and scary factor. B=40. Neither one gets me dreaming about this. As yet.
Workplace, startup wins for being awesome A=20, but B has tons of brilliant people, just likely they are trapped in a web of stupid processes. B=10
Salary is similar so we are at a draw on this one. The bureaucratic organization can pay me for a lot longer than the startup, but let’s start by saying similar. A=50 B=50
Stability. Well in this environment A=0 and B=10.
A=35+20+50+0 = 105
B+40+10+50+10 = 110
Shit. A 5 point difference. Of course it comes down to a 5 point difference.
The fun lesson from all of this is that when I get this over analytical, neither option is actually right for me – since emotions should be more present, and is in one of the other options, but I was indeed curious what the exercise would deliver from two of the very different choices.
With that, you have my first excessively analytical inner monologue. I hope I can keep up the exercise, if only to put my thoughts down on digital paper.
So that was life equationing 101. Next step, figuring out how each action applies to the direct happiness of my partner, and what her inputs are. Wild guess “Not everything in life is an equation!”.