Tag Archives: trade-offs

Running Away from Home (Part I)

16 Apr

Off and on for the past ten years, I’ve been lucky to have the option to work from home; the last three years exclusively. The problem is that when you work from home, it’s not just you… how you look at work completely changes.

Now with the COVID thing, a lot more people got to experience that lovely option, so what I’m saying is not that revolutionary… or even unusual. But since I’ve been doing it longer, I’m going to focus on the option part. When you have the option to work from home, it’s a lot more appealing than when it’s mandatory.

When I first had the option, I worked for a major hospital, and after six months sitting in a very nice cubicle (a whole half mile from the facility), my boss just announced, “Hey, Marcus, you’re going to be working from home next week.” I was shocked. Sure, I got bored at my desk sometimes, which then allowed me to get back to writing; the result of that was Seven Heavens, Seven Hells.

What ended up happening turned out to be great. I had to go into the office once or twice a week because of in-person training or meetings, but any other trip was up to me. When we only had one kid, my wife still worked, and my son was in daycare, so I could work out of my study without interruption. When I wanted to get out, I could go for a bike ride and work out of a café along the bike trail.

After my second kid was born, my wife stopped working, and then she was always there. So I believe I found more excuses to head down to work and my shared desk there. After a couple years of this, I went on the road as a consultant, so I had all the time I wanted there. I would occasionally have to work on Fridays from home, or I had projects that wanted to save money by having me work from home every other week, and that allowed me to enjoy the experience as an option.

Six years later, getting on a flight on Sunday and coming back later Thursday got really old. I loved the travel, but my job sucked, so I was lucky to get a work-from-home job where I could stay close to home and still get paid.

I’m realizing this post is getting WAY too long, so I’ll continue it tomorrow. But if this sounds familiar to you, share it with me and let me know in the comments below! And then check our my books. But if $1.99 is too steep for you to pay, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

“You Can Get Everything You Want But Not At The Same Time”

3 Sep

When bidding for apartments, I was frustrated about the choices. When I told this to a co-worker, she said “You can get everything you want, but not at the same time.” Guess what? She wasn’t just talking about apartments.

So this is Maxim #3 that I live by because it works so well for so many aspects of my life. Of course, there is a better way to phrase it, as I heard CGP Gray say in a recent video, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

If you’re wondering what “bidding for apartments” means, this was back when I worked at Woodstock School, which is up in the Himalayan mountains next to Mussoorie, India. Unlike most international schools, they offer free room to their teachers because a) they’ve got a lot of leftover missionary homes to give out and b) they can pay their teachers a whole lot less. However, instead of choosing an apartment, you had to bid for them, and just like any socialist system, rank and seniority mean everything. So as a new teacher who had only been there a year, my choices were between the really nice places that involved a 15-30 minute walk to work everyday (we lived on the side of a mountain, forget driving or biking), or the close place that was smaller and had a yippy dog downstairs.

Thankfully, someone was leaving and I bid for their place (called the “Shoestring”). Plenty of space, but dingy. 15 minute walk, but it was at the same level as the school (not up or down). Had a couple of strange neighbors, but not annoying, although the turnip liquor still was difficult when he fired it up (hillbillies are the same the world over). In other words, I made trade-offs to find a good solution.

Of course, that was true about the school itself. Gorgeous location, wonderful students, free room, cheap to live there… but they paid incredibly little. When I was there (2003-5), we got paid $300/month. In the US, that’s below the lowest poverty level. In rural India, that meant upper middle class… and I mean rural. We were fifteen minutes from the edge of civilization–you walked around the corner and there was NOTHING for miles. What there was when you crossed those miles are very limited. I had two servants (who also worked for others and made a good living) and saved up enough in one year to go home to America. Of course, I had to sleep on friends’ couches, but I spent little while I was actually on site.

Later on in life, when I decided to follow the money and become a travelling consultant, I got paid a ton of money (1.5 to 2 times my previous job). I stayed in great hotels, got my meals reimbursed, and my credit score went through the roof. However, that meant I only was home with my family for 2.5 days a week. Now I work at home (have before the pandemic started), get paid far less (but more than my job would be in an office), and work far harder. But I basically get to work wherever I want… and sometimes that’s a cafe, a restaurant, or a bar. The pandemic meant that my kids and wife were with me all the time which killed most of the incentive for this job in the first place. Now I dream of an office… who knew?

So that’s when I understood that everything was a trade off in life. You want the hot car? You either earn more or get crappy everything else. You want the hot girl? You either earn more or get in great shape yourself. This is why this statement has become a maxim of mine and reminds me that I can’t have it all — I have to make decisions about what I’m willing to sacrifice to get what I deem a priority.

Do you find this to be valid? What are you willing to give up to “have it all?” Tell me about it in the comments below!

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