Thursday, December 22, 2022

Who do you want to be?


Lately, I’ve started to think like a working person again, and one of the things I like to think about at work is whether I’d like to have the kind of lifestyle of someone more senior than me. This is an excellent way to think about company culture and whether it is worth climbing the ladder in your organisation.

Sadly, the only time I’ve felt that I wanted my supervisor’s life was when I was in P&G because it cultivated a dynamic and fun working environment where managers did not have to sacrifice their personal lives to get ahead at work. 

P&G managers were cool people, and they had a great family life.

After that, with almost everyone I met in subsequent work engagements, I found myself unimpressed with the quality of their lifestyles. One possible reason why I was not inspired was possible because I finally managed to figure out how FIRE worked. By then, I was almost financially independent when I was outsourced to HP. 

While I did not envy my bosses after leaving HP, I was still ok working at my various IT roles because the money would eventually pay for a financially independent lifestyle. It was only when I left the private sector that I finally saw the kind of bureaucrats that ran the elitist, toxic workplaces in some statutory boards, which made me realise what kind of manager I do not wish to become. 

By this time, my finances could financially support my family, and I knew that I no longer needed a role model. I’m proud to say that seniors from some organisations I worked for have attended my programme. If anything, I expect managers to read about me and aspire towards my kind of financial independence.

Of late, as I am on OJT with a boutique law firm, I’m starting to see some lifestyles which I’m beginning to envy again (but in a good way). These folks I meet are senior lawyers in their 70s, who have spent a lifetime in service, and run their practice. 

In the grander scheme of things, my new role models are comfortable financially but not the wealthiest folks in the legal sector. They are exceptionally confident and have great stories to tell about their most significant legal victories in the past (and very famous clientele). They have a lot of autonomy and have been downshifting their workload towards less stressful engagements. They are also doting grandparents who give high priority to their families. 

Also, what impresses me is just how sharp and witty these seniors are when many peers in their generation are trying to stay alive or not fall into dementia. Almost every coffee session with them is a fun experience (because they have no filters). 

I’m unsure whether I will survive the next 1-2 years in this sector for a mid-career guy like me. My career runway may be too short of reaching the halfway mark to this stage, but I think I will benefit greatly from having front-row seats to seeing such successful ageing in practice. 

Here is what I have learnt so far :

  • Cut down on sugar, salt and food portions as you grow older. 
  • Don’t smoke and don’t drink. ( Kinda hard for lawyers )
  • Cultivate relationships, not just within the family, but have a bunch of kakis about the same age to drink coffee with you. 
  • Bonus points if your kakis are hilarious and optimistic. The substance of legal work can be very negative.
  • Do some work to give yourself the excuse to get to the office and interact with fellow human beings.
  • Work on something mentally engaging and interesting but not stressful.

[ You might find that my writing is not as good as I’m posting this on an iPad and can’t get Grammarly to work with Chrome. ]

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