How can I go on?
I learned yesterday that the CEO of the place I worked at 4 years ago is moving on to a new position at double his salary. That's somewhere around the neighborhood of $700k. This is the same guy who paid for his kids christmas presents on the corporate Amex card, had an affair with a VP, and engaged in other activities sufficient to warrant the OIG and FBI's interest. I also learned that the guy who replaced my friend at my last job moved on to a postion earning $120k + bonus. My friend was only at $80, as was I. This guy only got the job because his neighbor was friends with a member of the board of directors. The guy who replaced me at the first place came on board with a 50% higher salary than me. He is now a VP. His previous job he was terminated under suspicion of fraud.
Me? I am off to deposit the rent check from my friend who lives upstairs in my two family house so that I don't bounce my mortgage payment. I make $85k and sweat for every penny of it. I still have to rent out my home so I can send my kids to school, but I will not be able to send them to the school I want to next year so they will have to go to public school and I am ashamed and embarrassed that I could not do better for them.
I feel like I have done what I was supposed to do to get ahead in life and it just hasn't happened. I didn't cut class in high school. I didn't drink and get high in college. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and then I went for my MBA and I got the highest GMAT in the history of the program and graduated in the top 20% of my class. I gave up my weekends and vacation for two years to get this piece of paper and it hasn't helped me one bit. It was one of the top 25 business schools in the country, too. I accomplished this despite my aspergers syndrome. I've done all I can and I'm out of gas. I just can't do any more and I just can't take it anymore. It seems that I try and try and try and the little I succeed I can't enjoy in the face of the success of others who have done the wrong things. I've played fair and I've failed and I'm constantly faced with the success of the greedy others who have bent and broken the rules and used privilege and connections to get ahead.
I don't even care that anyone here may recognize my name because what I say is the truth and it's what I know and feel deep down. I feel so let down.
It would be great it playing fair were enough, but in many cases it just doesn't produce great results. I had similar experiences in the first few years of running my games business, running into a lot of dishonorable behavior and seeing it rewarded. I couldn't betray my values to make a buck, so I ended up going broke instead.
I eventually figured out that I wasn't here to play fair. I was here to play to win, but it took me a long time to figure out what winning meant. I at least knew it didn't mean betraying my values to get ahead.
When I tried to win for myself, I was always disappointed. We often fool ourselves into thinking we're trying to win for others, while we're really wrapped up in our own concerns. For example, while you obviously care about your kids, it's the shame and embarrassment of failure that you're focused on, meaning that you're still trapped in ego-identification.
Life really began flowing for me when I finally let go of that ego junk, pride, and feelings of doubt and said to myself, "I'm just going to focus on making the best contribution I can. If I go broke doing that, I go broke. My fears and worries are just not that important compared to the difference I could make if I really gave this life my very best. If I'm here to make a contribution, then the universe had better back me up."
To this day I find that whenever I keep my focus on helping others, I attract far more abundance than I need. Extra money just falls out of the sky -- it's almost ridiculous how easy it is. But whenever I start sinking back into my ego and thinking "me, me, me," my results begin to decline, and I start attracting more problems.
One of the hardest things to do is to focus on helping others when you don't even feel your own needs are adequately met. But as tough as it is, that's the solution. That's what gets us out of our egos and into a higher level of consciousness. That's what activates the Law of Attraction. When we stop worrying about ourselves and focus all our last drop of energy on contribution, almost like magic we find our problems simply vanish.
Try taking a couple bucks and giving them to a homeless person with a few words of kindness, and see what effect that has on your perspective. That money will have no impact on your finances, but to someone else it's a meal.
A similar suggestion would be to spend some time helping other people in these forums who are in a worse situation than you are. Even if you don't have specific advice, just offer some words of encouragement. Try doing that for an hour, and notice what it does to your level of thinking.
Yeah I feel you. Just keep going man. Everything works out in the end. Really.
Those are words beautifully spoken, Steve. I am "experimenting" with the idea of generating wealth for other people right now. I am in much the same situation (decent wage, but not enough to send the children to the school I want, more CC debt than I want, etc.), and the idea of "why does it have to be so hard" is understandable and even hard to shake, but doesn't serve me. The bulk of the work is to uncover the beliefs leading to this situation and turning them around into positive beliefs that make a contribution and create wealth. I'm right there near the beginning of this kind of work myself.
Thanks for these boards btw Steve. Its great to have the opportunity to learn from experts and the opportunity to teach people what you know. Its a great vehicle for helping other people.
Zfraile - keep on going man, you'll get there!!!
I predict that when you "let go" of the negative feelings you have for these people who may be climbing the corporate ladder without integrity and stop holding so much energy against them, you'll find yourself better equiped to concentrate on your own life and circumstances. Then you'll have enough positive energy to create the life YOU want.
Hey, zfraile --
I can totally relate. I don't mind so much when I screw up -- if you do something stupid, you deserve to lose out. But what kind of universe is it where you do everything exactly right, and get screwed over in return?
A couple of coping strategies:
Or you can always look at those less fortunate than you are. $85k/yr would more than triple my income. ;)
There's nothing much you can do about it but remain true to your values. Life is not fair and if you think about it there is enough injustice to make one a lunatic.
Just Let Go and move on. This article I have previously written may help you -- How To Let Go and Move On.
Finally starting to click, it seems. I will take some time, but my goal is to live in that context constantly. I will live there.
One of the things which is taught by implication at school is that you don't get to choose who you work with.
What if instead of hoping that a tolerable job comes along, or despairing that any are possible, you look for companies that are honestly run and treat employees well?
It makes no sense to worry about people who screw you over. They're not getting away with anything. People who lie and cheat may appear to have everything, but they do not have happiness. It's like they say in My Name Is Earl: "I'm the kind of guy who does nothing but bad things and then wonders why his life sucks." Karma works, and it works instantly. Don't let nasty people drag you down with them. If they deserve anything, it's compassion.
There are rich people who are unhappy
There are rich people who are happy
There are poor people who unhappy
There are poor people who are happy
Dont' assume that just because these people have what you want that it is enough to make them happy. Look at all the rich and successful people who commit suicide.
If I were you, I would focus on you. Figure out what you want and how you're going to get there. Dont' worry about what the other participants in the race of life are doing. You're only in control of you and your actions. So put your energy where it will do the most good.
My friend, you ask "how can I go on?"
Let it go.
Let this bitter life script fade away.
Be free of you personal history.
In the end, all that matters is your heart.
I wish you laughs and joy.:)
Thanks for all the suggestions. I know what I have to do and I know that I can't go against my values in doing so, no matter how the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. I'm not usually the jealous type and am usually happy for the success of others, but this particular bit of news just hit me like a ton of bricks and I don't know why but it took me a few days to get over it and I'm sure it would've taken longer without your help.
The universe had better back me up, indeed. That just might be my next bumper sticker.
From the World's Lowest-Paid International Lawyer
I am a 44-year old American lawyer. I graduated in the top 6% of my class at the University of Kentucky College of Law with a GPA of 3.56, and passed the California Bar Exam. I can speak and read Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. I am currently working for a large Chinese-American joint venture project in central China as inhouse corporate counsel. I am the only non-Chinese in the office.
Sounds impressive, eh?
My total income from all sources is US$12K a year, plus company-provided housing in a shared apartment. Perhaps I should apply to the Guiness Book of World Records for the title of "World's Lowest Paid International Lawyer". But the Marketing Department is next door, and my salary is about equal to the salaries of all of their employees combined (they make US$112 per month plus company-provided housing that is so ratty it doesn't even include air-conditioning or a refrigerator). So I feel lucky - in fact I even feel guily that I make so much more than they do. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to make 85K. I once made 70K when I was in Tokyo, but was run out of the office by a supervisor when I refused to make ethical compromises, and I have never made nearly that much since. I am divorced with no children.
You make 85K, are surrounded by people who make more than you do, and feel poor. I make 12K, am surrounded by people who make less than I do, and feel rich. I guess it all depends on who you're comparing yourself to. And I am not a failure, because what I do makes a difference (not only what I do at the office, but my blog as well). Neither are you a failure if you are refusing to sacrifice your ethics for the sake of a buck.
Ask yourself this: Is the 700K guy any HAPPIER than you are? And if you are unhappy, is it only because you're not making as much as those you compare yourself to?
First of all, thank you, Jake for that testimony. What a powerful message in that story...
What you said reminded of something from Sourceofmiracles.com transcript:
As Jake Danger has shown, the problem isn't your life. It's your perspective. If you are down, just consider where you are compared to the majority of humanity. You have food, shelter and OK health? You're already in the top 25%.
Don't worry about what other people have and how they've gotten it. Life isn't fair... fixating on that fact won't change it.
Decide what you want. If you are saying things like house/car/job/money, I suggerst you look deeper. These are just ends to a means. Decide where you want to be in 5 years, in 10 years, and make a plan. You'll be amazed how well you'll do when you focus on what YOU want, not what OTHERS have.
I think another aspect of this is that you don't see all of the lives of these people who stepped on others to climb the corporate ladder. They may be able to manifest money, but they also manifest pain, scarcity, and a whole lot of undesirable things. They may truly be happy, or only seem happy, or whatever. In some sense, it's all a story that you are telling yourself, and I'll offer that you are reinforcing a scarcity model by dwelling on "they have, I don't."
I read your post and I felt really touched.
I am in a similar position trying to make my way in this world and sometimes I say to myselfl "God, why is it so hard?". I think the advice given by Steve, and all the other members, is excellent and really does put things into perspective.
I've included a link to download Steven Covey's downloads:
particularly the first one which talks about your circle of influence (things you can control) vs circle of concern (things you can't). I've found that particular download very useful. Keep focusing on all the positive things in your life; your children, a roof over your head, food in your fridge, friends, this forum:)
We will all get there in the end. I feel there is definitely a concentration of positive and compassionate people on this forum and somehow I believe that that good energy will permeate and change all of our lives for the better.
Steve you hit the nail on the head. The focus has to be on where one is going not on the ego. The mind is the master the ego is the slave. Not sure if you are familar with Bill Bartmann but this person has it easy compared to him. His story goes from welfare, at 14 working in a carnival, to an alcoholic, to being a gang member, drop out of school, failing at everything really well. he eventually became a Forbes 400. We get what we focus on.
"If it hasn't worked out, it isn't the end." :)
Do you think more money makes you a success? Well... let me tell you my friend... I make more money than most of my college friends BUT I feel a lot poorer than most of them... Money is just a tool... it might be nice to have it BUT it doesn't guarantee your happiness.
The only way I got to feel rich was when I used this tool to make other people happy... to enrich their life... and guess what... you can enrich other people life even without money...
Making some sad friend smile brings me more wealth than a bonus to the salary.
If you want to feel wealthy and prosperous try to enrich others by any means you have at your disposal...
And one more thing.... 85K? I think a lot of the people in this forum think "wanna trade places?"... to give you an idea... my mom, after over 20 years as an accountant at some random city hall is making around 3.6k per year...
You know, I know I'm not the only one in such a situation, and I know most people are worse off. That said, it's not easy to take comfort in that. The reason I mention specific salaries is because it's the easiest way to compare the direct results of career efforts. Certainly you can't easily compare job satisifaction and life satisfaction resulting from career choices (i.e. my door-to-door is "only" 12 hours per day, 5 days a week, period). But in any case, I can't find a way to be anything less than frustrated by the fact that the average salary of my classmates on starting my MBA program was $120k and I know that many of them derived a much more tangible benefit on leaving the program than I did. It bothers me so much because I feel as if I wasted my time. I've changed jobs numerous times attempting to find a better situation both financially and in terms of life satisfaction, but each time it feels like I've taken a step in the wrong direction. In fact, maybe that would go a longer way toward exemplifying my frustration than dollars.
I worked 4 1/2 years in my first real job. I was promoted rapidly at 18 months. Then I was demoted at 2 two years due to a change in ownership of the company (sort of, but the truth is too complicated to go into here) who decided to create an intermediate role between entry level and senior staff. That worked out for me financially as it created a new role for me to be promoted to and kept my salary intact, but it was an ego hit as I felt I was one of the best workers and the top contributor to the firm in terms of extra work that I did to benefit the company (for example, I created a slew of templates and programs in Excel to streamline and automate processes that are still in use today). However, there was no further room for advancement because nobody in higher up positions was leaving. New management decided a one-size-fits-all salary raise structure was appropriate regardless of job performance, so when I got the chance to move up by leaving, I did.
I ended up working in the firm with the aforementioned CEO. There were clear abuses of federal programs going on within my department that I wanted no part of, so I went back to my old job. I found immediately that I was not wanted there. I suspect it was out of jealousy, but I really don't know. In any case, I was forced out less than a year later and had to take a job two hours away because that's all I could find. I sweated it out there as best I could until I could find something closer to home, albeit at a significant pay cut. When my old boss came calling from the two hour away job with a bigger salary, I could no longer justify dipping into home equity to pay my bills and I went back.
I decided at that point to flee my industry and got a big break at an investment bank. However, I just could not reconcile the working situation with my mental state of my mind, exacerbated by my aspergers and had to leave without a job lined up to preserve my mental health. I finally got hooked up with a great job at the same pay that was less than 10 minutes from home. It was great, except for one thing...there was no work for me to do. I felt terrible sitting around day after day doing nothing for my pay and wondering why I was there, what the future held for me, etc... I tried to propose projects for myself and do what I could around the office but I was basically told to sit still and let things be. Needless to say when I got recruited for my current job I had to take it. I'm grateful for the opportunity, but I really despite my line of work and just feel so stifled by the fact that I really don't have the opportunity to make the kind of contribution to the firm or to our clients or to the world that I feel I was put here to make. I just don't know what to do and I don't know where to go from here.
Financially I can still break even, though I don't know for how much longer in the fact of general cost of living increases. There's lots of life changes I can make to decrease that, but it just hurts me on the deepest levels to think that in spite of everything I've tried to accomplish that I'm going to have to resort to making those changes, and I honestly don't mean that for myself, I mean it for my family. I know my kids will do ok in public school and I know that any benefits to be lost from the private schooling I want for them can be more than made up for at home through my efforts to educate them. But it kills me to think they may be subject to the same bullying and harrasement I went through as a child. I want to shelter them from that as any parent does, and I feel that I did all I could to get to the point where I could do so, but yet I can't.
All of this dollar-for-dollar comparison is nonsense and I know it, but it just hurts to know that our own hometown smaller-scale Ken Lay's can afford to take care of their kids in ways that I can't, and I don't see any Ken Lay repurcussions in their future. It seems like the crooked are winning and their kids will reap the rewards.
Also, on a much grander scale, it has been weighing heavily on my mind that these guys are able to steer the course of our country and my family's future by controlling our democracy with their wealth. My vote pales in comparison to their fund raising and as much as I don't want to open up that topic to debate here, I know that the future is that much less bright for those who work hard and try to do the right thing because of it.
I guess, ultimately, I'm just stuck in this frame of mind where my daily efforts seem to go negatively rewarded, and it gets harder and harder to get out of bed and do it anyway in spite of what the universe seems to be telling me. I know what I can and must do, but that does not make it any easier to do it.
Something that actually helped Steve and I get out of the rat race was to play Robert Kiyosaki's board game, "Cashflow" It's fun and educational and truly taught us a lot about how to get ahead and leave the rat race behind.
When we first started playing the game it would take about 3 hours of playing to get out of the rat race. After we figured out the secrets, it would take no more than 30 minutes. Even though it's just a game, it is designed to teach you how to end up with more money in your pocket.
That Cashflow game sounds interesting...
And zfraile, it sucks that all of those things piled on you at once. Maybe the universe is giving you the opportunity to come to terms with a difficult belief about money. When I first had my heart broken, the universe gave me the opportunity to come to terms with my beliefs about love and relationships in the same way. Suddenly, out of the woodwork, I learned that almost every one of my female friends (and relatives) had been raped. Piles of uncomfortable knowledge coming all at once can't be ignored -- you sort of have to figure out how you're going to deal with the situation, sink or swim, be cynical or continue to love your life and make your financial (or in my case, romantic) situation better.
On a side note, income discrepencies suck. I recently found out that my boyfriend made a third more money than I'm making now when he was in high school. His high school job? Waxing boats. My current career? Associate editor of an award-winning West Coast distributed magazine. And I graduated college with high honors, too! Go figure. But... I love my job, and wouldn't wax boats for the world. My salary is enough to live fairly well on in Reno as a single person with some debt to pay off.
My instinctive response would be to recommend getting your finances in order first (like Erin says). That should relieve at least some of your pressure.
If you have a financial planner, spend some time with them working out a plan. If not, I would strongly recommend grabbing a few books on personal finance (Personal Finance for Dummies is a decent one). "The Richest Man in Babylon", "The Automatic Millionaire", "The Wealthy Barber", "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" are all great books to get started. I don't know how much of this stuff you already know, so these are books that cover the basics. In general, the concept is to spend less than you make. It may mean some lifestyle sacrifices upfront, but it can give you lots of security over the long term.
For example, you have trouble paying for your house? Perhaps you should consider moving into a slightly smaller house, or perhaps one slightly farther away. Unfortunately, many real estate agents try to find you the biggest and/or most expensive house you can afford, and sometimes that can be too much.
I really recommend reading "The Millionaire Next Door" as well. This book is more advanced than the above, in a sense. It really is a wonderful guide to what habits and beliefs make millionaires.
If you have more questions, feel free to PM me or ask in the Money forum.
I hope this helps.
fooled by randomness
This book by Nicholas Nassim Taleb, is chock full of interesting stories and meditations on the interplay between randomness, the markets and psychology. I think you'll find many stories and parts within it echoing with your current life situation. It's critical (rightly so, the authors need to be educated in the survivorship bias) of the book "the millionaire next door". It is overwhelmingly stoic and I feel perhaps it would be useful for you to try to believe/experience that.
I came back to this post now because I'm listening to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer's "Your Journey to Enlightenment CD1 - The Keys to Higher Awareness" at the moment and he's saying something very similar:
"..getting the focus off the centeredness of your life on the business of serving. The irony of it is that when you get to the point where you're able to do it and let go of that outcome, all of the stuff that you chased after and worked so hard for and figured you had to have, begins to chase after you and show up in your life. You're no longer on the treadmill. It's like a surrendering."
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