The magic of tin foil handcuffs

open handcuffs with broken lniks between them
They only look like handcuffs from a distance

Today is looking pretty sweet. I’m flying solo today, as my spouse has a business trip. I’ll help them get themself packed and out the door, then I’ll have the whole day to myself. To putter. work around the yard. Do some reading (because I can). Sleep. Sleep a lot.

I can also take care of some traditional Sunday activities today. And do a little bit of work-work, since over the past few days I got caught up in some “flash” projects with work and didn’t keep to my established plans. Now I need to do a little bit to get myself back on track, so Monday isn’t such a pain in the neck.

Things at work are looking up – for me, at least. My boss indicated that my position is safe for the next three years, at least. There’s a small (and by that, I mean, only a few days’ worth of pay) honorarium that they’re paying out each year over the coming three years. It “vests” during that time. The amount they’re offering is laughable, but it is a gesture of intention to make at least some attempt to keep me.

The really good news about this is that not only do they want to keep me, but they’re not offering me so much money that I’ll go out of my way to stay. I really need to be making at least 15% more than I am — especially as my spouse is unable to work, and while they haven’t filed for Social Security disability benefits, I looked into it, and if they did, they’d be getting a few hundred dollars a month, max. They’ve had lifelong issues with employment, and much of their work was done under the table, so they haven’t exactly socked a lot away for retirement. I’m not sure they’ve ever given retirement any thought.

In any case, I am more and more the primary breadwinner in this household, even if my spouse is out doing work like today. They are having a lot of trouble walking and moving around, which limits them. And they are getting a little tired of all the busy-ness that goes into their work.  So, they’ve been scaling back, over the past year or two. And I suspect they will even more, in the future.

That means I have to make some serious money. Like real money. And that means I can’t afford to stay at this job for the long term. Plus, when the merger is totally complete before the end of this year, there’s no guarantee that our compensation will stay the same. That’s all the more reason to start looking in the fall.

I’ve been taking it easy, this summer, just thinking about stuff, “rambling” through my head, thinking about what I want to do with myself and what I want to do next. I need to build out a handful of different resumes, because I can do a variety of things. And I need to start  reconnecting with recruiters. I have a few in mind who are good contacts, and I’ll be reaching out to them over the coming weeks and months.

I don’t want to start anything before October, really. I need my summer OFF — something I haven’t had in five years. For four years, I was completely consumed by summer projects that had me working overtime from April till September (that sucked). After I left that job, I thought I’d get a break, but I went into a situation that was even worse – the sheer volume of work was crushing. And I couldn’t go on a full vacation at all. I actually had to work during the week when my spouse and I had a week at a beach house. I was home for three days during that week, while they were at the beach.

Yeah, that sucked even worse than my situation before.

Basically, I want to use all my abilities and skills and experience, and not have to suffer from anyone else’s foolishness and poor habits of thought and action. If other people can’t plan and follow through properly, why should I suffer? I shouldn’t. And I’m tired of feeling like I’m paying the price for other people’s laziness and ineptitude.

So, yeah… I’m getting more motivated to look around. And the fact that my employer is not offering me anything even close to golden handcuffs — more like tin foil handcuffs — gives me total freedom to choose something else.

And choose, I shall. I have time to be a lot more focused and deliberate about this next move — to look around and find a situation I want, rather than sitting back and waiting for others to find me. This is quite different than things have been in the past, when my main strategy was to build a fantastic resume that attracted people. It was my “chumming” strategy, where I put out “bait” in my resume that I knew would attract the headhunter “sharks”… who would then go out and find me work.

That was great for a long time, and it’s really my go-to strategy. But I’d now like to take a more active, pro-active role in my job searches, and go out and find companies I actually want to work for.

So, in preparation, I need to do the following:

  1. Create several different versions of my resume, each highlighting different aspects of my skills and experience.
  2. Scout around the areas I can reach by train. I really want to start taking the train, rather than being stuck in traffic, and I have access to two different commuter lines, which means, I have twice the potential area for good jobs. PLUS, one of the commuter lines ends up right in the middle of a regional innovation district, which — hello — is good news for me, since I need to be with innovators.
  3. Figure out how much I can ask for, salary-wise. I’ve always played it safe, because of my insecurity around my cognitive-behavioral issues. I also didn’t want to stress myself out terribly with heavy-duty negotiations over salary. And that’s worked. I haven’t had to walk away from any negotiations, and I haven’t flipped out from the stress of it. I’m in a much better, much more secure place, now, and I think I can handle that important piece of the puzzle now.
  4. Connect with recruiters.
  5. Connect with old colleagues who say they like their jobs, and see if there are opportunities there.
  6. Get my references in order. It’s only been about a year, since I last contact everyone, so, they’re still “warm”.
  7. Be smart about it. Don’t fall in love with how things look on the surface, because everybody’s hiding something, and no situation is 100% ideal. Even if it starts out that way, it won’t stay that way for long. So, don’t get all whoop-dee-doop over how perfect stuff is. Get ready for change.

It’s a lot to do… Fortunately, I have all of August and September to get my act together. If I break it down into manageable pieces and pace myself, I can do this. I can totally do this. I’ve never done it quite as thoroughly as this before, but I’m feeling pretty strong about my abilities, these days, so why not give it a whirl?

Why not, indeed?


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