Torn between coasting or getting my act together

The short version: I am 23 years old and having a hard time deciding whether I should just stay at my current no-name job with 89k salary, 20-hr work weeks or actually try to do something with my life and get a real job with progression.
 

Let me just start by saying that I am a lazy POS. Throughout high school and college, I did the bare minimum for schoolwork and never studied. I've just always been extremely lazy, but luckily I was able to wing it enough to pull through high school with decent enough grades to get me into UVA. I majored in econ at UVA and was always skipping lectures because I would spend my nights going out and then sleep the whole day after. I ended up with a subpar 3.3 gpa because of that.

People in my class always had their eye on ib and consulting, but deep down in my heart I knew that I would be too lazy to even get through a summer stint. And honestly, even getting the offer would have been a stretch with my shitty grades. Working just makes me feel miserable, I know that's such a pathetic thing to say, but that's just the lame person I am, and I am completely aware of it. So instead, I opted to spend my summers interning at a no-name marketing company (~200 employees) that my childhood friend's boyfriend recommended me to.
 

Apparently to them, they thought I was some genius because most of the employees came from small local colleges and weren't the sharpest if I'm going to be honest. My supervisor liked me a lot, so he gave me a full time offer at 85k base (it's 89k now after working there for a little over a year with raise), no bonus because they don't even have a bonus structure in place for junior level employees. Because all the other employees aren't the brightest and take at least twice as long as people in this forum would take to do tasks such as PowerPoint presentation building, drafting documents, and database management, I can get away with working only 20 hours a week on average by leading my boss into believing it takes me double the time it actually does to finish my projects. This company is based in New York, but they are allowing me to work from home permanently. 

I'm basically coasting through this job, but I have some reservations:

  1. This company is very poorly organized (doesn't even have an org chart) and there's no structure in place for promotions. 
     

  2. The people here aren't intelligent or particular pleasant to work with, so I feel like I'm stagnating and not learning anything.

  1. For the hours I put in, the pay is decent, but I live in nyc (I chose to live here Bc I really like the city) so my salary is basically nothing. And, because this company is so poorly structured, there's no guarantee that I will be getting pay raises in the future. I also intend to stay in nyc for the long run Bc my boyfriend intends to stay in nyc. There's also the issue of no prestige since this is a small company in an unattractive industry.

I'm wondering if this is the best spot for me given my self-sabotaging habits, or if I should push myself to go to grad school in an attempt to pivot into finance or some corporate dev/strategy role and eat shit so that I can start feeling good about my job and that I am actually progressing in life. I know this post comes off as super spoiled and pathetic, but I'm caught in between my laziness/desire to coast and my embarrassment at my lack of achievement. 

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Comments (45)

Most Helpful
  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Nov 5, 2021 - 5:30am

I have no FT work experience, so if I were you I'd take my comments with a grain of salt. That being said, everything in your post screams "I want more than this." I have gone through numerous periods of being similarly lazy, each of which have (without fail) evolved and became periods of insane productivity. And that happened when I had realizations, like the one you've outlined. At a certain point the only thought is "what the fuck are you doing?" Personally, any time I am aware of that question, shit gets real. Not sure if you'll have the same reaction but I think it's safe to assume most people would. Scary shit when you're worried about yourself. When other people worry, it's easier to brush off. 

The one thing I'd stress is that prestige should really not be a factor in the decision. It's an icing on the cake in some cases, especially so when someone's ego is starved. But if we're being pragmatic, someone who characterizes themselves as chronically lazy is likely not going to farewell in a demanding work environment that was only ever entered on the basis of prestige and money. Figure out what you're interested in, then sniff out the cash and prizes. If you hate the shit you're doing, and it's all day every day, and you're this lazy person, well... you're just as fucked as you are now. Rather, you'll be way more fucked. Uber-fucked. 

Find what you like, then fuckin' pop off. Don't be a waste of sperm and ovarian effort. Good luck

Nov 5, 2021 - 11:17am

Appreciate the feedback. It's definitely bad if I feel too embarrassed to tell my family and former classmates what I do. And, like yourself, I do have these momentary bursts of productivity when I really do need to get things done, so maybe it's a matter of accepting that and growing the fuck up.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Nov 5, 2021 - 6:18pm

TL;DR: Your ego is running you right now, from what I can discern. That's a recipe for disaster (something I know from a whole lot of personal experience). Also, those momentary bursts of productivity are not something to accept. They are momentary because of the shitty cycle they are in. Fuck the downs they respond to (laziness) and fuck the cycle they're a part of. Be aware of it, do not accept it. Hoo rah. Oh last thing, who fuckin' cares about former classmates. Your family wants you happy. Your classmates 9/10 only care about themselves. Focus on you.

I totally understand the fixation and have (many times) succumbed to that "what are they gonna think" mentality. But seriously, do yourself a favor and ditch it ASAP. I was lucky and went through a bunch of stuff that made my ego impossible for me to ignore. I'm not saying make your ego disappear -- some philosopher whose name I have forgotten said something like "death can be experienced after the death of an ego") -- just be aware of the choke hold it has on you right now. Pursuing a career that won't make you embarrassed to say aloud is an insane waste of your time. Like I said, you gotta find something that interests you at least a little. You'll be a shell of a human otherwise.

And nah, don't accept the cycle at all. Reject it on all accounts. It only ever exists because we, from time to time, become disgusted with ourselves. Fuck those productivity slumps. If you're aware that at any time you can slip into a useless sack of blood and bones, it's harder to let yourself get there. I don't totally know what was meant by "accepting that" and so this entire paragraph may be incredibly confusing if I incorrectly interpreted. Anyway, just like, c'mon. Woe is me attitude does not work for anyone. You've accepted you're a bum in a dead end job, that's good. But the ball is still in your court... shoot a three. Hahaha I don't know if that was literary genius or cringeworthy garbage but I'm leaving it there. Cheers.

Nov 9, 2021 - 2:02pm

You sound a bit like me, I never tried that hard in school myself. Most of my friends and family thought I was pretty lazy from age 14-20 or so. I was probably just depressed the entire time, honestly. 
 

Now I'm 25 and I'm working pretty hard and learning to work more efficiently and effectively. My income went from $62k all in (graduating from college) to $210k all in (just started a new job yesterday). 
 

I was also diagnosed with MDD (major depressive disorder) and autism- so those times when I wouldn't focus on stuff now make a lot more sense from this lens and better understanding of myself. 
 

Not saying those medical things apply to you, but only here to drop in and say there's no harm in getting checked out to understand your mind and personal neuroscience better AND you ultimately decide what to do with your life. What's the downside risk? You try and get a better job and hate it? Okay. Quit after some time and then find a new one. It'll be fine. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 4
Nov 5, 2021 - 1:12pm

I think you have set yourself up for awesome opportunity. Keep the 89k, 20hr work week job, as that hourly rate is crazy. Use that to your advantage. Don't look to increase any responsibility in that position (hours), but rather use all your free time to seek something entrepreneurial. With some aggressive saving and enough time, you'll have enough capital to take on a serious venture all the while having an 89k cashflow to always have as a support. If you ever feel like you took on too much, or get lazy, fuck-it and go back to 20 hour work weeks. Edit: lol, just actually read through the post. I'm not sure how viable entrepreneurship is in NYC, but see if you can get something going. From the mind of a know-nothing teenager, NYC seems rigid in terms of getting things going, just because of how dense the place is. Would you be able to keep your job and WFH? Commute to NYC from a less busy area? Living in NYC sure does change things. I basically see your situation as having so much free time that you're able to do two things at once where normally you'd have to choose one. But being in NYC, maybe there's nothing of significance worth doing as a second venture? Idk, explore the options.

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Nov 7, 2021 - 9:46pm

I think you would be surprised.  Often the cause of laziness is having to play in the rules.  Now lets say you figure out how to go to X freelance work, great you have a skill.  then the object becomes,  Go see how much you can get that for that skill.  I do some small things on the side and I only do them if the price is right, but let me tell you,  As someone who is lazyish at work,  I get amped to work on a side gig on my own time.  

Nov 5, 2021 - 3:01pm

Moving to a low COL is an option, this company is very flexible in regards to that because there's no structure or organization. 
 

BankingSlut makes a good point. I don't think it would be feasible for me to survive doing entrepreneurship or joining a startup on the side in NYC, but I actually do have family members who have started their own companies in the Midwest with pretty good success with much less effort put in than you would see in NYC and SF just because the markets there are a lot less competitive.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 1:16pm

Can you continue the 89k gig from home/in a low COL? If so I would keep it and be happy, marginal difference in pay and you have a TON of time to do something on the side or just trade stocks/crypto for yourself. Yeah I'm sure someone will come in here and try to convince you your earnings will skyrocket later on the longer you stay in the IB/PE industry blah blah but there's a lot of assumption and variables there. Honestly if you don't want your gig I'll take it instead, seriously. 

Again, though the KEY is that you continue WFH/in a low COL not fucking Manhattan otherwise the equation changes kinda quick.

Nov 5, 2021 - 2:55pm

Funny enough, I actually have started trading crypto on the side. Nothing serious, but I've made about half my salary off of crypto with an initial investment of ~5k total this year on the side. My job has told me that I'm basically allowed to WFH anywhere I want in the U.S., so moving to a low COL is an option.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 3:39pm

Nice, people on here are going to say you got "lucky" with the crypto stuff or that it's only because of a bull market. Tune that out ignore them. There's no such thing as "luck" past the family you are born into. You create your luck by taking the shots. Yes, I would consider moving elsewhere or at least to a cheaper suburb or something outside of Manhattan. NYC is not worth it. 

  • Associate 1 in ER
Nov 5, 2021 - 2:38pm

89k on 20 hours a week sounds fucking amazing, in a LCOL area

NYC? Phew idk, it'd be fun for a while but what happens when that job goes away? You'd probably be screwed 

Nov 5, 2021 - 3:06pm

For this company, I think the biggest concern is that my salary and career development will stagnate. This company is actually extremely healthy financially, we are seeing double-digit revenue growth each year despite its practices going against everything an optimal business should be. 

Nov 6, 2021 - 2:47pm

If that is the case, you need to leverage the perception that you have internally into a position that directly shows value to the senior management.  Use their ignorance and stupidity to your advantage.  Companies with double digit revenue growth tend to aggressively advance people internally so they can grow faster by focusing free cashflows on hiring new juniors cheaper than bringing on more senior people.   Well at least well run ones are.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 3:38pm

Wow- some surprisingly good answers on this post. Personally, I think you have two options. Either follow Intern in PE's advice or start something entrepreneurial. You could use the money you've made off of crypto to start something small in ecomm. Then work to scale it. This might not feel like work as much because you take 100% of the profits and it's kind of like a game trying to grow the brand. Seeing what ads work best, getting to see what people like about your product, etc.

Intern in PE's advice actually really resonated with me. I was in a similar situation to you recently. I was making $75k/yr in a LCOL city that gets hyped up on here a lot and was only working 10-20 hrs/ week. Like you and Intern in PE, I eventually thought "what the fuck are you doing". While my career progression wasn't non-existent, it was way slower than all of these IB/consulting people. I knew there were dreams/goals of mine I wouldn't accomplish without leaving so I did. I ended up lateraling to MM IB in NYC. I work way more now but luckily I'm not at a sweatshop like some people on this site and still get to have a social life on the weekends. Overall, I would say I'm more happy and more productive in every aspect of my life. I don't see myself in nyc forever but it was something I've always wanted to experience and I love it here. Glad I made the move.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 3:41pm

What did you do before for only 10-20 hours a week? Also what are your MM hours like now...must have been a sharp increase for more a bit more pay I guess

Nov 6, 2021 - 1:22am

My boyfriend doesn't come from money, he works in equity research and is 26. He's helping pay for his parents' home (~$1.2 million house in queens) and plans on sending his little sister to college in the future. On top of that, he's paying for his own place, so I don't think he's a crutch I can fall on in the near future. That's if we even get married. 

Nov 6, 2021 - 2:47am

apply to some jobs, see what else you can get. you ain't losing anything by applying. if you can get something better than your current job, take it, if not then it's how it is.

definitely don't go back to school - you'll end up with another $200k in debt, and employers won't necessarily see you as a much better candidate cause Masters programs in US have low interest among employers and you won't get in top MBA with your noname firm and 3.3 gpa. plus UVA is already great on resume - no need to cover it. and no guarantee that you would study well this time. also, employers in US kinda like experience over graduate degrees (unless top MBA).

Nov 6, 2021 - 11:41am

I see you say you are lazy. Maybe you are just more the creative type and think bigger picture strategy rather than mundane process oriented work. Maybe banking isnt for you. 

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Nov 6, 2021 - 1:17pm

Even if there's no framework for promotions, can you not ask them for one? If you could make 100k working 20 hours a week and 100% remote I'd tell you to stick with it and find other things to do the rest of the time. Grass is always greener and the majority of jobs aren't intrinsically fulfilling, especially if you're saying you don't want to work super hard for it.

Nov 6, 2021 - 1:44pm

Ask them for a raise or rank up then. You said they are boomers and you are a good employee. I think they will definitely let you rank up and pay you a tad more. They are raking in 300M here.

Btw. Wtf do you do (which sector) to see double revenue increase every year. That is super impressive for these past 2 years

Nov 6, 2021 - 2:15pm

We are all a touch lazy.  It is part of being human.  If you want a roadmap from someone here, you will not get it.  You must find your own path.

That being said, some recommendations from someone who HAS walked in your footsteps, but at a much older age.

  • MOVE.  NOW.  Given the limited information posted, getting $100k on a WFH basis with all of your benefits is a great place to start.  Any third or fourth tier city in a low/zero state tax environment is a HUGE plus..  That is nearly a 25 to 50% net income shift.  That $3,000 apartment in NYC?  $700 bucks in Jacksonville, Tulsa, Cheyenne, Indianapolis, etc.
  • Believe in your passion.  You may be lazy but EVERYONE has a passion.  Monetize it.  Immediately.  As an example, I started a utility scale solar company during COVID, because I like building crap.  Working a full-time 20 hour per week job gives you a LOT of runway to make things happen.  You might like making you tube videos...etc.
  • Take a nap.  Every day.  You will be surprised how much it helps.
  • Get outside every day.
  • Cook your own food...every day.
  • Take 30 minutes to reflect / meditate.
  • Buy an overly expensive bed.  Trust me, it will help.
  • Have fun.  It is OK to take "days" off, we all have done it.  Some of my best work sometimes occurs at 1am.
  • Be happy.

Namaste.

D.O.U.G.

  • 3
Nov 7, 2021 - 6:06pm

At first you had me raising an eyebrow but damn, this is one of the most honest posts I've seen and in a way I'm impressed by how self aware you are. Nothing wrong with lazy per se as long as your input/output work for you/your colleagues. Some of the smartest bunch of my friends didn't have ambitious career goals, but through some wise decisions, their networth still stack up fairly well. You don't need to walk the life of perceived prestige to get to financial security or happiness. Learned that myself the hard way. Wish you and the bf the best.

VP
  • 4
Nov 9, 2021 - 11:59pm

Appreciate the comment, I try to keep it real because lack of self-awareness is the biggest killer in any relationship-focused industry.

Nov 7, 2021 - 10:38pm

Right now it seems you're basically trying to figure out what is more important to you, time or money? Its hard to get both, and usually if you get one or want to have the other. 

First, I'd ask yourself what you really want to do. Meaning, are you looking for a job that is strictly more pay, something that would peak your interest more, or a hybrid? Ask yourself, what would they have to pay you to say but have the same job? If they were paying you $200k all in would you stay? What if they started paying you $80k? From what you're saying, you have self described been lazy your whole life. What's really going to make you flip that switch and stop being lazy? A high paying job may motivate you for an hour, a day or a year, but at some point you need to like what you do and actually have a hunger to show up everyday. 

Second, what do you see as your roadmap? Meaning, in five or ten years, do you see yourself getting married, stay single? Do you want a house or live in the city? Also, what do you want out of your life, would you be fine working 150 hours a week as long as the price is right? For example, if you think you'll basically stay single, and $89k can afford you a decent lifestyle, thats good too. Plenty of people, but probably not most on this forum, lead lives like that. I know from people I grew up with, their job is basically "adult" school, show up at 9, do enough not to get yelled out, pencils down at 5, see you tomorrow, go home, maybe do something with their kids, watch netflix, rinse and repeat. If you see that being your life thats fine too, but if you think you would lead that life then look back on it when youre 65 and think you wasted your life, go give something new a shot. 

Third, I'd look at it from a financial perspective. Its great to make a bunch of money, but sometimes you have to ask yourself who that money is for, meaning, you actually want or need it for things, or its just a way to impress others. If you make money now that can cover your living expenses, cover your fun activities, and allow you to save (easier said than done I know), then you're doing okay.

Nov 9, 2021 - 8:58am

This post really resonated with me because I'm also very lazy but stumbled upon a big 4 consulting gig paying 80k+ a year after I graduated 6 months ago. I average 15-20 hours of work max and feel like I'm wasting my time despite how jealous my friends are that I make what I do doing barely any work. I don't know if I have the right answer to what you're looking for but I've used this time to travel and learn more about myself. Its probably not the best financial decision at the moment but the way I see it, I have confidence in my ability to make a lot of money in the future so this expense won't matter to my future self. Overall, traveling has been been very rewarding so far and I feel like I'm getting closer to finding that answer we're both looking for.

Nov 10, 2021 - 12:02am

I totally know what you mean. I also have friends at big 4 who are basically coasting like us. In fact, one of them told me they keep getting benched at their job which essentially means sitting on the sidelines but still getting paid for the past 2 years, but the company is still keeping him. I think he even makes a bit more than me.

Nov 9, 2021 - 9:12am

I would keep the job and figure out a side gig. I work 35-40 hours a week and that's what I'm doing. At 20 hours, wow. 

Array

Nov 9, 2021 - 10:01am

I'm going to provide a contrarian point of view - I don't think you're lazy, not by most standards at least. I think you're just lost: you knew for a while that you didn't want to pursue IB or Consulting, so more accurately, you're productivity is aimless - you don't know where you want to head, but much like what the consensus confirmed, you want to do more than what you're currently doing. 

My personal philosophy has always been to gain perspective in what I don't know. Whether it be career paths, universities, countries, financial markets, etc - people who've spent lives dedicated to IB will tell you the pros and cons and from there, you can gauge whether it's something you see yourself pursuing. Ignore all that prestige and appearance of success. No one who's worked in any field for more than 3-5 years has given a second thought to staying at X company because it's "more prestigious". They may stay because they like the work, the people, the overall culture, or a number of other reasons. 

I also think that you're in a terrific opportunity as it stands. You're currently working 20 hours, which means you have another 20 hours purely to find what you want to pursue. I would say use the next few months to create your vision. What do you see yourself doing, how long do you see yourself working, what firm would be ideal, what firm would be acceptable. Spending some time to reflect on what you want from a career will help aim that latent energy into something you're passionate about (or at least intrigued about) and give you some intrinsic value in the work.

Nov 10, 2021 - 12:06am

FinnesseGod

I think you're just lost: you knew for a while that you didn't want to pursue IB or Consulting, so more accurately, you're productivity is aimless - you don't know where you want to head, but much like what the consensus confirmed, you want to do more than what you're currently doing. 

I definitely am feeling lost. I think you hit the nail on the head, my productivity feels aimless, and I find my tasks to be mundane with no long-term merit. If I do end up staying in NYC, I think I'm going to try to get involved in the startup space on the side with my remaining free time.

Nov 9, 2021 - 10:06am

I'm 22 and just started my first job in NYC, so I can definitely relate to this.

My two cents:

In my eyes, it comes down to what you prioritize in life. While this is glaringly obvious to a lot of people, this also seems to go over many peoples' heads. There's no "one way" to live a fulfilling life-happiness and fulfillment manifests in different ways for different people. For some people, work / career progression can provide a good avenue. For others, other aspects of life (family, hobbies, etc.) are more important.

It's quite normal to not to be stoked about your first job out of college. That said, I do think finding a role that is intellectually stimulating will make work a lot more enjoyable. The good thing is that your career will likely be twice as long as the amount of years you've been on this planet, so I wouldn't stress about finding that "perfect job" right away - this is something that takes time and usually requires one to work a wide swath of different roles.

In the meantime, I would enjoy all the free time that you have, enjoy NYC, pursue hobbies, develop relationships and start thinking about what interests you enough to not dread going to work every day.

Hope this helps - I've certainly been asking myself the same questions you've been asking, so you're not alone.

Nov 9, 2021 - 11:55pm

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