It’s no secret to those around me that I’m going through somewhat of a mental crisis. The crux of the crisis is best summed up by a recent chain email I received, which included the picture above. Now, I have no way to prove the Dalai Lama actually said this, but it does make a point that is at the center of this crisis.
I moved to Southern California almost 4 years ago, taking a job with a public accounting firm as an information technology auditor / consultant. I was excited to move to a new city, to experience a different culture. It’s something you can’t get by just visiting for a few days or a week.
My living arrangements were somewhat unsettled at first, but always located in the Marina Del Rey and Venice areas. The main reason for picking this location was due to my brother living there and already having friends in the area. However, the reason for moving to this location has turned out to be part of the cause of this crisis. My primary business office, when I’m not traveling, is located in Irvine, which is over 40 miles from home. The commute and business travel quickly started to take its toll, with each year more business travel added due to new projects. After a few months I arranged to work from home a few days a week. On occasion, more recently, I would work from home 4 days a week.
However, the damage has already been done. The stress of the job and commute has made for a work-life balance skewed in the wrong direction. Even worse, my physical health has deteriorated to a point I find unacceptable (read: overweight and out-of-shape). It’s something I’m having a lot of trouble getting back on track. This was the real cause of a post a few months ago where I debated on making some changes, bringing up the options of beaches, mountains, or concrete.
This all brings me to my current situation. I’ve stopped debating on whether it’s the chicken (employment) or the egg (location). Living in Marina Del Rey / Venice, I’ve found that I have to find employment within the immediate vicinity, with Santa Monica or El Segundo as the main options. Anything farther away results in dealing with the 405 freeway, which has a way of sucking ones soul away. However, I’ve found the opportunities in these areas very limited, even more limited as I look for positions that are higher on the food chain.
So, let’s say I decide to give Southern California another chance. To do this I might have to search for and accept a position / title that is lower than where I’m at now, which also might require a slight pay-cut, which I can easily afford personally, just not sure professionally. There’s a lot of external pressure, which results in personal pressure, to continuously move up the corporate ladder, not down, even at the expense of work-life balance. Would I be limiting myself in the long run by taking a step down the ladder and taking a slight pay cut? And will that give me the work-life balance I so crave? These are the questions that I’ve been contemplating often the past few months. At one point I stopped the interview process with a company in Santa Monica due to it being a step down the corporate ladder. However, the pay would have been just 5% less than where I’m at now, would have been an easy commute, and was located right next to a 24 Hour Fitness. It would have provided all of the “options” I’m looking for in an employer. I’m regretting that decision. I let external pressures take me away from what I really want… and that’s to get my life back. I want to, as the Dalai Lama says, live for today with the understanding that one day it will all come to an end, and I don’t want it to come to an end without having actually lived.