Suddenly, everything's a Big Thing

Thursday I got the surprising news that I’d be been granted stock options by The Very Big Corporation where I work.  I’ve been working here seven years — five different jobs — and recently moved up to the next “level” in management.  My former boss (who’s now my boss’s boss) called me, told me it was Christmas, and shared the surprise.

Wow, thanks………..!

I find it awkward to try to express the level of gratitude and happiness that people seem to expect when they surprise you.  Plus, I was multi-tasking – taking notes and googling “employee stock options.”

It took me a full day to realize the implications of this fabulous little retention strategy: to get the full benefit, I’d need to stick around for five more years.


Our recently married Master Black Belt at work recommended this neat planning software to me: Voyant Online Financial Planner. You put in a bunch of information, both financial and lifestyle, and then get to play with different scenarios to see how they affect your future.  What if you take time off to go to school and cut your income in half?  What if you decide to pay 100% of your child’s college expenses?  How will putting my kids in private schools affect our big picture?

When I showed it to my husband, he freaked out and walked away.  “I don’t want to see my whole life laid out in front of me like that!  It’s too stressful!”

My work peeps had the same reaction when I put our reality into a pretty little diagram.  “Oh, my GAWD, we can’t do all that!”  Except we are, every day, because we don’t stop to consider that we are.


I’m not planning to leave my company, but when I realized I’d have to stay to get the full stock option payout, I got a little stressed.  Like my husband and my coworkers, being faced with reality was a little bit startling.

Suddenly every decision is a Big Decision simply because we’re at the decision-making point(s) for having kids.  Going on vacation, tearing up the kitchen, taking a new job… all decisions suddenly bigger than before.  I’ve spent my career moving on to the next interesting thing with very little long-term planning.  I know I love my company, know they reward talent, know they make exceptions for the right people (I have a Seattle job but am based out of Knoxville).

But now that we’re actually in our potentially child-bearing era, something as cool as stock options that will fully vest in five years become a prompt for another “what are our plans?” discussion.

Or they would, if my husband could manage to get through half a conversation without making a lewd joke.

{Can I tell you I consider the fact that I can state that and not be annoyed just shows how far we’ve come in a year of marriage? I totally do.}


2 thoughts on “Suddenly, everything's a Big Thing

  1. I’m going to have to try out that website. We have the same sort of retention scheme here. My org pays into a pension (that I don’t have to) and I get get 100% of what they vested if I stay 5 years. I suddenly wondered how much I would lose if I left a year early (20%) and if it was less than what I’d be making at a new job. My husband has thought about going back for a PhD and I’ve wondered what that would cost us.

  2. Oh boy…I am so with you in so many ways. First, my company gives stock options (and restricted stock). Most of which vests over a 4 or 5 year period. It’s seriously a good retentiion tool as when I see the unvested awards in my account and how much money that could be…whoa. Not leaving anytime soon.

    Also, in terms of every decision being a big decision when you’re thinking of kids. I’m there too. We don’t want to be in our current house if we have a mobile child so we have to think about whether it’s worth it to do certain things to the house if we might start trying soon. In addition, I travel alot for work (though yours sounds worse than me – I am usually gone only a day or two during the week). How will that work in the future? Will I still have time to spend with our kids? Will I want to be home more? I also make much more than my husband so it isn’t a possibility to stay home even if I wanted to unless we had a MAJOR lifestyle change. Is it selfish that I’m seriously concerned about how even having a kid right now would affect my career?

    Anyway, all this to say, you are not alone and thanks for putting words to what I’m thinking too!

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