Mar 9Liked by Kevin Maguire

I just recently discovered your writings and I’m really enjoying them!

I arrived at fatherhood a little later than most and started navigating the beautiful and treacherous waters of fatherhood at 40. By the time our son was born, my wife and I had been together for fifteen years and married for thirteen. We had traveled extensively, earned graduate degrees, and had successful careers--her’s in healthcare and mine in as Naval officer. We were doing well and quickly moving up the rungs our respective professional ladders. Then, in 2015 when our son was getting ready to start kindergarten, I left my version of the corporate life and told the Navy to fuck off after 26-1/2 years of service. I was 45-years old.

Over then next few years we downsized our lives, sold our home, traveled the country in our Airstream travel trailer and roadschooled our son. After 2-1/2 years of travel, 39 states, and 102 National Park sites, we settled down on an island in Washington State’s Puget Sound. Now four-plus years into our new life I’m a stay-at-home Dad supporting my wife as she pursues a career in a profession that she loves and excels. Our son has grown into a caring and empathetic young man and each day is becoming more and more responsible and self-sufficient. I’ve been battling through the final throes of a DIY remodel while keeping the dogs exercised and the chickens alive. After the past two plus years of pandemic, I’m beginning to feel the pangs of wanting something more purpose-wise in my life, as well as more social connection.

Solidly in year seven of my *early retirement* I finally have the sea room for a bit of reflective contemplation and have embarked on a voyage of self-development. I’m still feeling my way around this new territory, but to help scratch the itches of “purpose” and “social connection,” I’ve started volunteering and serving on a local board, as well as being an active member of my local fly fishing club. These things help and have opened up other opportunities and I potentially have a few future projects on the back burner. I’m not sure what the next chapter (or volume) will look like, but I’m excited to see where it goes.

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I started my dream job when my kid turned 3. Quit 5 months later because I didn’t see a pathway to growth. More growth potential at home by being dad more, and starting my own business. 7 months later now and every once in a while I wish we had the income and security from that job. But I’m way happier. My daughter knows who I am. Worth it.

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Best decision I ever made was leaving the country for two years as a relatively young man (24-26). Seeing how the people in other cultures lives and how their values informed the ways they spent their time allowed me to better understand how to find a career that aligned with both my values and my hopes to have enough free time to enjoy the 'living' part of life.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Kevin Maguire

I have always given a lot of importance to my free time, probably because I have never had a passion for what I do at work. I feel an uncontrollable need to go out when I have completed my "mandatory" work day. I have never done extra work. I don't know if I did the right thing, but I did it out of some unconscious need. I want to run home as soon as I finish my working hours. When I get home, I am still tired because I have been committed at work. I am afraid of being too attached to my children and, when the time comes for them to want to be more independent, I am afraid of feeling bad about it. Yesterday, I received a pay raise, although it was long overdue, I was finally recognized for my work.

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Kevin, thank you for calling that out. I hesitated to write it because it feels trite and overly simplistic, but ultimately, I think that's it, right? I'm not some kind of martyr. My wife makes a million decisions a day based on this idea, but sometimes, it really feels that simple.

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As a new dad (when my son was one), I thought that the best way to show my love for my kid, and the general future of humanity was to do the most adventurous, meaningful thing I could imagine. I applied to be an astronaut.

Weeks earlier, I’d also quit drinking, and maybe I was just whiplashing from feeling lame being sober. Either way, now I think I’m glad (and not too surprised) that I wasn’t selected as an astronaut.

There’s only so much showing from a distance that can be felt as love. Risking my life, rocketing away from my kids and everyone else, getting an adrenaline rush as I do it, going places no one’s been, paving the way for the endless future of humanity—it’s entirely possible that my kids would have no idea how much I loved them if that’s how I showed them. Let alone everyone else. I think the Dalai Lama among other famously philanthropic people have dissed NASA. Actions all speak, but they’re easier to hear face to face.

Commercial fishing will have to suffice, leaving my kids for a couple months at a time instead of years. Bringing them with me when I feel like it, not when they’re old enough to navigate a government webform. Watching their lives expand day after day instead of pushing the expansion of life in general. And I know parenting is harder than fishing, probably flying a rocket too.

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At some point last year when I was going through a horrific work experience - and was ready to quit and find a new job - I asked the dads here for some advice. As much as the painful work experience was, the job I have is still pretty damn good. Very flexible, and accommodating to new parental roles, and doesn't tax me mentally with long hours or stressful deadlines etc. But I do feel from time to time I am spinning my wheels and wanted to do something else. But one dad just suggested to chill a bit, focus on your kid, there will be time to be more career focused. I took it all in, and I'm so glad I did.

I think if you're lucky enough to have some flexibility in a job and enough of a household income to manage the tough times at the moment, I don't think there's nothing much better you can ask for. I kind of knew that we would be poorer as a result of having a kid - childcare costs, just additional costs everywhere else - but apart from saying good bye to some pre-kid luxuries (I do miss having random cocktails with mates, but whatever...) I think its been ok.

The thing is now my daughter is 2 years, I feel like I'm starting to get my brain back. Sleep is becoming normal (until the next milestone/holiday event/developmental stage hah!) and I feel like I'm able to imagine for the future again beyond simply trying to survive with a newborn.

My biggest pivotal career move so far has NOT to take one. To just stay in place, try and keep things interesting for myself, but in a way just enjoy the ride and get off the relentless career train for a bit and enjoy the scenery with my daughter.

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Mar 3·edited Mar 3Liked by Kevin Maguire

Did 7 years at NPO focused ad agencies, doing the marketing technology & fundraising for nonprofits as my clients. The causes were great, being a hired gun was okay but it always kind of felt like I was part of someone's budget at risk of being cut.

I went to a full-time MBA program and ended a relationship that had become long distance w one of my former co-workers. Got to know Seattle really well, dated a bit too much for a broke grad student. Got hired by a decently big Seattle company out of graduation and made a move into Product Management. Had a real bad experience w a known repeat HR offender boss who used to make contractors so anxious they would get a doctor's note to avoid reporting into her. Boss was so bad I ended up going to therapy for the first time after that gig (probably should have started sooner)

They sold my division to a competitor and I got let go (and got decent severance). Was unemployed for 7 months after that, interviewing constantly and made it to final rounds 6 times at different companies, always to lose out at the last moment. I ended up getting hired as a PM contractor, winning some people over and coming on fulltime at that same company where I had done the contracting. much healthier culture but the topic was a little less interesting. (Supply chain technology). Got married at this point to a gal I had been dating since grad school was over.

Right as the Global Panera started, I left that nice, lowkey corporate job for a DTC ecommerce startup to be their first full-time PM hire. I learned a ton, met some great people, but that grind is not for me. Don't love having an exec call you at 8pm at home telling you that you made the wrong decision. My wife got pregnant, I had been interviewing a few places, and as the due date approached it started to feel more and more complicated of a job hunt. I'd have to start and then go on break like, right away. I decided to press pause on the search.

And then the first week of '22, I and about 20% of the company (inc all PMs) got laid off. My wife was 31wks pregnant at the time. Between a salary freeze that arbitrarily applied to me but not peers in 2008, Hellboss & Layoff 1, and the blood-sweat-and-tears startup laying me off in the 3rd trimester, my conversion to millennial cynic was complete. These guys and gals care about your labor but not your wellbeing. Ya gotta watch out for yourself, and yours. #radicalized

Whatever, I sprang into action. I had been laid off before, and I hauled ass over the next 5 weeks, and got a job offer the day my wife went into labor a couple wks early. My final negotiated offer was accepted after she got the epidural adminstered but before kiddo came. (I felt like I should try to stay "in the room" more but she said "it's gonna be a while, you're doing great babe 😂, go ahead and negotiate")

I had about 5 weeks of unemployment, 6 weeks of Washington State Paid Family Leave (which was about the same as a paid leave experience, but publically funded at an unemployment like level) and then I started the new gig w a 6 week old. New job pays 20% more than the startup, is in an area I'm interested in and have blogged about (Prod Mgmt for marketing tech).

Business/grad school (full-time, part-time or remote) can be a great way to make a switch. Esp if it's a full-time program and you and or family would be open to a move). Plenty of young/old moms & dads in that program. Nice way to meet people as well, in my opinion. Yes, many MBAs go on to become neckties with no souls. I hope to avoid that fate.

I will also say sometimes a career change happens TO you, and it's not a chosen move so much as playing the hand you're dealt, prospects, network, economy.

And I don't love being laid off. But both times, the experience kind of shaped me, focused me, and I came out w a new gig doing better professionally (and WAY better life-wise), than I had done before.

For anyone dealing w a layoff right now, my tips are: 1) file for unemployment right away, even if you accepted a lump sum severance payment you're eligible and you should, 2) join a gym or get regular exercise while you look for work, and 3) don't be so 'cute' about only applying places where you have an in, that your overall volume goes down. Volume, volume, volume. It's almost like a marketing or sales funnel. If you are targeting a lot of relevant openings, have a decently HQ resume, and can learn over time how to interview better, you will make it happen!

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I've been primarily entrepreneurial for most of my career. I decided I wanted to go for a nice cushy, stable tech job while my hypothetical kids are young. My wife and I waited to conceive our first until I had the offer.

Two months into my new job, when my wife was four months pregnant, I was hit by one of the mass layoffs sweeping through tech. Now four months later, 4 weeks from due date, I still don't have a job and it's starting to look like my best options may be entrepreneurial again. Prioritizing time with my child is still a value of mine, but it's now in a complicated mix of other emotions.

I assume this is a lesson in letting go and embracing the lack of control that kids imply/embody. It's just funny to reflect on "pivotal decisions" right now.

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Mar 3Liked by Kevin Maguire

This is wonderful, I love your writing, always kicks me right in the feels!

It feels like a good opportunity to reflect on where we've been and where we are wanting to be. Quite often we are so entrenched in the everyday and immediate as a parent, it's rare to allow yourself a chance to reminisce or dream ahead.

Looking back on the last 8 years, pre child, my wife and I were a relatively successful photography couple, we were shooting weddings and running workshops internationally. In one 12 month period we worked all over europe, east and west coast America, Australia and New Zealand. We were externally successful and very very lucky to do what we did and get paid well for it. But I always felt lacking, not ever satisfied, as though our external model of "success" was for someone else, or cut out of a magazine. Not really mine, it didn't fulfil any purpose for me.

In 2015 after an extensive travel period we came back to the UK pregnant with our son Frank.

I remember a sensation of 'a great disturbance in the universe' depending on your artistic preferences, a bit like Star Wars or Kung Fu Panda. As though I knew this would change absolutely everything and not in necessarily an immediately positive way.

We took a huge drop in money, as we could no longer sustain an international photography business, we were technically homeless, staying at Emmas mums and utterly devoid of any real connection to anyone or anything, having spent several years living our own vapid dream.

We eventually found a place to rent, we stumbled through the first couple of years, scrabbling for jobs and money and surviving early parenthood. I did the bigger share of childcare, being a stay at home dad as my wife found work easier to come by.

In 2018 my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers, my parents lived with us for 12 weeks over a hot summer, as they had to now move to a more suitable property in a well connected area. My mental health nose dived not long after, existential dread, fear, paranoia. A glimmering diamond in the turd was that I took it all as a red flag, to really start to appreciate and value the little every day qualities of my life and not devalue how fucking beautiful it is to grow a human and create a life with them, and how terrifyingly short this sprint across the galaxy this life is. I stopped being so god damn complacent and entitled.

Covid landed on us and removed all connection to our families and my dad passed away in the shitty lockdown numbers 2 and 3. No great commemoration or celebration of life. Just a limp empty void to the end of someones life. I'm still not over the experience of being in the war zone of caring for an alzheimer's patient and then having nothing to show for it at the end.

It sent me into a spiral and now two years later I find myself blinking into a post apocalyptic world with more purpose and desire than I have ever had before. I am studying counselling, forest school leadership and we are home educating our son.

The vivid 3 dimensional life we now have before us, because of all of these experiences.

I love and appreciate every day more, I love my son and my wife more, I value every essence of the simple joys of being with each other, just by sharing breakfast, or a dance in the kitchen or reading stories before bed. None of this is glamorous, well paid or highly valued status. But its all ours. So we now make decisions based on how much we can be together, how much we can devour this life and not be at the mercy of it. Finances will always have to be monitored, we may never be economically 'rich' but we will always prioritise our time together.

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It took 4 kids; with 2 for 1 deal. One of our twins as been through two open heart surgeries. In her first two years of life. Today, she has a liver biopsy. After the second surgery, my perfect stress management skills led to me inline skating a local skate park because skiing is too expensive; but then I broke my hip making skiing cheaper. In way I took a huge risk, 4 kids and haven’t worked in a year. But January 19, I got my second hip surgery for a total hip. Back to Powder I hope to hunt.

But look up the efforts of my wife on Facebook with her Gracing Hearts Page if any of you have a child with a CHD. Eventually, I hope to develop more CHD stuff on my Substack. For now my Substack is mostly poetic expressing the gauntlet; venture there is you wish.


Kevin, thank you for your efforts here.

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I’m in the midst of a change right now actually. One thing that has helped is my healthier relationship with money, which means we have a much healthier bank balance, which means I have some time to explore what’s next. I have a few things in the works, including offering coaching for writers and creatives (I wrote about that here if anyone’s curious: https://www.lyle.blog/p/just-enough-transformation). As excited as I am about it, I’m also feeling the stress of not having a stable, steady income stream on my end. My wife has been off work for the past year because she needed a serious break. She’s now getting back into work and doing some freelance stuff. But this also means I need to step up more on the home front. Having a kid with a disability throws a whole different monkey wrench into the mix too.

The thing I keep coming back to, though, is that I’ve done this before and I’ve gotten through it before. Having some faith in myself is the key for me.

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Mar 3Liked by Kevin Maguire

I have a 3 year old and 10 month old, and this article resonates. I've always told myself, even pre-kids, that I expected to have to put a halt on my career so it didn't interfere with my personal life. But, so far, I keep getting offered bigger and better jobs within my company and the work/life balance has been fine (avg 45 hrs/week). But at every promotion, I get nervous it's one step too far, even as I'm excited for the challenge. My real fear is I find myself "in too deep" and have the scary prospect of resetting back to something that better fits my family.

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I'm a new-ish dad, so your thoughts came at a great time (the exact time I'm thinking a lot more about this)! In one of the earlier comments below, Chris stated "Not being successful was never on the table" and that hits. Over the last few years I've been content to stay in a job that pays okay, is steady and secure, and allows me to work from home and be pretty flexible overall. But now, my wife and I feel like we want to figure out how to create multiple sources of income that allow us to be home as much as we can and to keep our little one out of daycare for as long as we feasibly can. We seem to be leaving a lot of money on the table (for now) to focus on being together and making these first few years of our son's life the best for him, and for us. It's a strange combination of inspiration to do more, in order to do less. We don't quite know what that looks like yet, but it's inspiring to see a bunch of dads here writing out really similar feelings.

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I used to be okay making a little less money to work on my own entrepreneurial projects. Now that I have a family the slightly easier but mundane job calls to me. I want the benefits and the reliability.

At some point I'd like to go back and run my own business but it's just not the time for me.

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Deadly relevant topic for me right now. I have *just* started a transition from toward facilitating journey work.

I realized almost immediately upon returning to my one-man finish carpentry business after two months of paternity leave that my purpose and heading had changed. Wrote about that here:


It terrified me for a while because my wife had closed her therapy practice upon birth, and there was no income but mine.

Finances have been really hard since baby was born 13 months ago, and for most of that time, I've been working an ideal gig at the top of my earning game, and we're still barely skating by.

Last month, someone broke into our job site and stole all of my tools.

I realized that without the large and functioning collection of material items outside of my body, I could not provide for my family. Definitely one of those 'everything you need is already inside you' moments.

Started working with my first journey work client a couple weeks ago.

Here we go.

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