I was typing feverishly into my laptop and looked at the clock – 10 more minutes before 4am.
That means 10 minutes to complete this report, email it to my boss in NY, go to the bathroom, and hop on that conference call with my colleagues in London. Maybe? I can squeeze in an hour of sleep at 5 before my daily team meeting at 7am…
THIS – is what life is really like when it comes to a 6 figure corporate career.
We see on social media celebrating how much money someone is making,
How successful they are in their business and careers!
The jet setting lifestyle!
And I hear this a lot from other people “I wish I was as successful OR
I wish I was making that kind of money“.
And yet, the media don’t tell you about the other side.
The not so glamorous, ugly and messy side.
I mean, honestly – how many times have actually read about the failures or sacrifices to their marriages or health that they made in order to have that sort of success?
I am really tired of all the airbrushing and glamorous side that the media focuses on and portrays –
when the reality is, it ain’t pretty.
So, in this video I am going to give you my experience, as well as the experiences of several of my friends of things we wished we knew before we got into a 6 figure income, so you can go into this with your eyes wide open.
One of the biggest things I noticed about being in a position with a nice 6 figure income, is that:
1)Working long hours and weekends all the time – it’s your life
The amount of money that you get paid is, essentially a sort of hardship bonus.
The various companies I have worked for have like, an official handbook or contract stating the hours are 9 to 5, or that there’s no fixed hours and I can come and go whenever so long as I get the job done.
The reality of it, however, is that my typical day, when it is not a busy period, starts around 7am and ends about 8pm – that’s 13 hours a day.
And during crunch periods, which was very frequent – I was working between 20 to 22 hours a day, sometimes with no sleep – I just went home, showered and changed, and came back into the office again.
You are also expected to work very fast, with NO mistakes –
I think ,compared to my other jobs, I had to work at about 2.5 times faster. I didn’t have time for lunch breaks, pee breaks and was just constantly working. And why that happens is that the workload is INTENSE- so the only way you can ever finish anything on time, is to work very long hours, work super fast, and don’t make any mistakes.
I remember I complained to my boss once about how crazy fast and yet how perfect the work has to be when we are all working long hours – I mean, like come on, when you are working furiously and have been working for 15 hours a day, every day, mistakes are bound to happen right? We are human!
My boss just stared at me blankly and said: I expect you to do it fast, do it right and get it perfect.
It sounds unreasonable – but that is the sort of expectation when you are playing at that level.
And this wasn’t just me, but every person I know across different industries in finance, law and tech who are all making good 6 figure incomes. Long hours are normal because otherwise, there is no way that you can finish the amount of work on time.
The other thing is: that
2) You are expected to be on call and ready all the time
And I do mean all the time.
The unspoken expectation in jobs like these is that your time – all of it – belongs to the company. And you will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
So, if say, you don’t respond to an email or call after hours or over the weekend,
you are definitely on the line to be fired.
Because of this, your work phone is on, all the time, no matter if you are sleeping or if it’s the weekend and you are out. I remember vividly one Saturday morning I was having brunch with a friend at my favorite cafe, and I was eating the most heavenly waffle, when my phone rang and my vendor told me about a tech screw up with a project that I was running.
so, While my friend sat at the table, I picked up my phone to email and call others vendors to check what was going on, wrote and sent out several emails, called a coworker to discuss the situation and figure out how to fix this so the project can be launched on time.
And this was pretty normal – during the weekends I would always be working. And because of this expectation of having to be ready and available all the time,
3)Taking calls and meetings late at night/early morning is normal
On average I would have late night meetings around 11pm or 12am, and morning meetings at 5am, about twice a week. This could be any number of reasons – it could be trouble shooting, or checking in with vendors, clients, or teams who are scattered all over the world and that’s the only time everyone could make it.
I have also seen been woken up at 3 or 4am by my partner because he had to be up to attend meetings in the middle of the night. It really sucks because there are days when I needed my phone to be turned on while I sleep because I am anticipating a potential problem where someone has to call me to solve it immediately – and even though I was in bed, I would find it hard to fall asleep or don’t sleep well because I am anticipating having to wake up at some point to and be alert enough to answer that call. This is one of the biggest pet peeves – a lot of my friends have also complained about similar situations like these, and it really screws with your sleep – because your mind is constantly churning and thinking about work – and it’s hard to just switch off and go to bed.
And because almost our entire lives are dedicated to work or thinking about work, another thing that will happen is:
Your Relationships Will Suffer
Every single person I have seen who makes bank has a strained, crappy relationship, or they are never around for their spouses. For example, a few of my bosses used to do this: fly back home friday night, fly out sunday afternoon once every 2 weeks. So most of the time, their spouses are alone with the kids, and when they are home – they spend that time being semi there with the kids and their spouse while catching up with bits of work.
Or for me, I had to constantly cancel on dates because I had to work late, or fly out of town at the last minute. Imagine if your partner did this to you all the time – after a while, you are probably going to be sick of it – and the time apart is going to cause you guys to just drift apart. And it is really, really hard to hold on to it. Most of the normal relationships that we see – like, you know, going home after work to spend time with your partner or kids – that is just NOT a thing. It feels a lot more like a semi-permanent long distance relationship. It takes a lot of dedication, and the ability to be OK with such an arrangement, in order to try and make it work.
And it’s not just your partner either – but your relationship with your friends and family as well. Most of us have very few close friends in real life because we simply don’t have the time to nurture any sort of friendship – in fact, we have more work friends than real friends.
And it can get very lonely as well –
because there’s not a lot of friends you can rely on, you can’t really tell work friends everything, and for the most part, whatever time we have is spent working – either at the office, at home or in a hotel somewhere. I remember at one point instead of a 1 week visit to my client, I ended up extending my stay by 1 month- and by the end of that trip, I knew the room service menu like the back of my hand. I was holed up either at the client’s, or in my hotel room working on my laptop, while chewing my food. I don’t have memories of what the food taste like, but I do remember how lonely and stressful it was. And this brings me to my next point, which is
You Are Paid For Your Ability to Withstand Stress and Anxiety
– And the higher you go, the more you are responsible for- and the more stress and pressure you take on. For example, someone on your team makes a mistake – but it is you, as the leader, to take on the responsibility, to get scolded by, and placate the client, and make sure things are right again. You are the face of your team, department, division or company – and the more people or projects you are responsible for, the more likely there’s gonna be fuck ups – and it is your head on the line. It might look glamorous with the money, the flying, the hotels, the nice homes or whatever – but as you can see – the price to pay is really high.
So, with that said, you are probably asking, wow, is there any upsides to it?
And the answer is Yes
Comfortable Income Means You Can Afford Creature Comforts
e.g. Buying things without thinking too much about $ or how much it costs e.g. grocery shopping, you don’t have to think about what is cheaper versus whatever you want to get.
- Or flying business class, or
- staying at nice places for vacations instead of having a strict budget etc things like that
- sending your kids to private schools, having a nice house
and of course,
In Society’s eyes, you are a “success” that people want to be
it does gives you a certain amount of status, you know – People admire you and think of you as a success, that your life and path is what they want, and what they are chasing
And for some people, that 6 or 7 figure career is more a matter of chasing it because they are passionate about their jobs.
I have seen colleagues in the tech industry – where the hours can be particularly brutal, but they love it, and they won’t have it any other way – because being able to invent or create software or tech innovations is their passion. It’s less about the money, but about living their dreams – and it’s such a big part of them that they can’t imagine life any other way. Not everyone wants work life balance, or wants to get married with kids, you know. And I get it, we are all wired differently.
So if you are thinking to yourself – I really want that 6 or 7 figure career, then you have to be honest with yourself about why you are doing it, the sacrifices and trade offs – and if you are willing to live with that.
If say you are in your 20s and you want to build your career, and you have no serious relationships or kids or whatever, OR those areas are not important to you. And you want to get there. And you are OK with sacrificing your health or relationships etc in order to get where you want to be – fine. That is the choice you made.
Another thing I learnt is that wanting versus living that life is very different – and if you live that life and realize that it is not for you, it is OK too. I thought I wanted the glamorous career until I started living it.
And boy, it sucked. I really had to question my values and what was important to me.