Risk, reward and ruin

Imagine for a moment than you’re in a modest but secure job that affords little intellectual satisfaction, and very measly financial rewards. One day someone comes along and offers you an opportunity that is both interesting and with rewards nearly four times more than what you’re currently earning. The catch is that it’s not a permanent role – it might go two months, three if you’re lucky, with some small possibility of some occasional work in the months thereafter? What would you do?

Before you answer, let’s factor in some other details. Let’s say that you have significant long term debt, as well being a long way behind in the short term. You need dollars, now, more than will get in your humble job at present, but you also need to your long term financial health. To top it all off, you’ve endured a tough job market in the last few years and know that there’s no guarantee of finding another job soon after the contract. On the other hand, you’ll have fresh and credible experience – and it’s always easier getting a job when you’re already in one.

So, what’s the verdict?

The dilemma I possibly face. I’ve had ongoing discussions this week about a potential consulting contract. I don’t know all the details as yet, and I’ve pushed back pretty hard thus far – there’s no point doing it unless the numbers stack up.

Do the numbers stack up? As I said, I don’t know the details yet, but it would be on consulting rates, as opposed to contract rates. It’s with an unknown charity, so there would be a decent discount because of that – but realistically I would expect $800 day would be the minimum. At that rate I make more in three months than I would in a year in my present role. On top of that I would be doing something I know, like, and am desperate to get back into.

If it’s three months at $800 plus daily the answer is yes. Is it still yes for two months? Anything less and it’s a definite no – unless the rate is a good deal better.

There’s every chance that nothing will eventuate out of it – opportunities like these are like ships in the night, more often than not they pass you by for whatever reason. In fact my expectation is that it will come to nothing – but what if it doesn’t?

Receiving an offer feels like a fork in the road opportunity. There’s a lot to be said for playing it safe. I’m coming from a long way behind, and taking it slow and steady has a lot of merit. Times remain tough, but times will change.

That’s not my personality though. Maybe it should be more – I’ve lost as much by my risk taking as I‘ve gained. Is this a worthwhile risk?

Much as it might impact on the short term, it’s not really about that. Money comes and goes, but opportunities can be scarce. I’d love to get out of my hole and breathe a little easier, but at the same time realise that if I play it smart that will happen anyway – one day.

This might be the difference of safely working in a dead end job in ten years time, or in a job satisfying, fulfilling, and rewarding. Or possibly living on the street.

It’s not a thing yet. Right now it’s just a hypothetical (why couldn’t this have happened 6 months ago?). What if it becomes real, though?

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