Author Topic: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?  (Read 1103 times)

jfer_rose

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How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« on: February 22, 2021, 09:12:34 AM »
The general question first and then I will fill in my specifics. Has anyone else here struggled with dialing down their ambition once they quit their job? What wisdom can you offer? I would love to hear your stories and see if they can inform mine.

My specifics: after quitting my job in August 2019, I completed a one-year full-time program to learn woodworking. With that completed, I started a business this past fall. The main reason for the business is to find ways to challenge myself and grow as a person. However, an additional rationale initially was to earn a small amount of income to bring me from lean to full FIRE. However, now the markets have done that for me and the income is no longer a requirement.

Until recently, I was posting nearly every weekday on social media to try to get the word out about my business and gain clients. This entailed a schedule nearly as demanding as my former job. I'd done a lot of research and learned that "the algorithm" favors accounts that post frequently. But now I've obtained my first couple of clients and am spending significant time working on actual projects for them (a good thing!) and so I've let the social media work slide. The client work is difficult but very fulfilling and I'm glad I'm doing it! But I realize that while I want some clients, I don't want many clients. And I'm waging an inner battle to determine the best amount of hustle to expend. I would like the business to succeed, but my vision of success is not the same as it would have been if I were depending on income.

So how do you try to win clients when you only want a few?  How do you turn off the parts of your brain that say "I should be doing more"? How do you remind yourself that the only definition of success that matters is your own?

Thanks in advance to all who share here.





flyingaway

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 11:41:21 AM »
You still have ambition after FIREd?
I thought that you should take some time and enjoy your life after FIREd.

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 12:19:14 PM »
You still have ambition after FIREd?
I thought that you should take some time and enjoy your life after FIREd.

Maybe I'm not doing it right, LOL.

chevy1956

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 02:50:15 PM »
This is an interesting thread.

I'll come at this in a different fashion. I'm definitely not ambitious. I am happy to just live my life a day at a time. I don't buy into consumerism or having to succeed on societies terms.

I do though have stuff I like to do. I play guitar a lot. I go to the gym and do jiu-jitsu. I read a lot of books. I like watching my footy team and the season is about to start. I'm also happy sometimes just playing Civ 5. I have things I'm working on in relation to the stuff I like to do. I also track my finances.

My point is that although I'm not ambitious I still live a pretty darn good life and I do stuff. It's just that my stuff isn't related to achieving stuff that society states is important like your business desires.

I think you need to decouple yourself from doing stuff that is related to consumerism and societal beliefs about what is meaningful or important and learning to do stuff for you. Then you drop the goals. Life becomes a lot simpler.

You can still lead a full happy life.

Dreamer40

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2021, 05:48:30 PM »
I tell myself all the time that I should be doing things. It can be hard for me to relax when I always feel like I should be doing something. That self-imposed pressure got me all the way to a lucrative career that made me miserable.

Every time I now actually notice the word “should” popping up in my mind, I pause and question (1) where that feeling came from; (2) if there’s a more accurate word to use (like I do actually mean “I want” to do something?); and (3) if the “should” is even true. Over time, I catch myself more and retrain those thought patterns.

For your business, if you still want occasional clients, you can just wait until that desire comes up and then go look for one. You don’t always need another client waiting in the wings for the business to exist. Your business has already “succeeded.”

Passion for things is great. So do as much work as you want! Ambition based on habits or feelings like you’re supposed to do things a certain way are not so rewarding.

Malcat

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2021, 06:23:19 PM »
Well, you get to define what success looks like.

You're just used to business/professional success being the paradigm of success by which you measure yourself.

Just because you are used to it doesn't mean it has to continue that way. These are all just habits, and all habits can be changed.

If you are happy being driven to succeed this way, then great, enjoy. But if you aren't happy, then it's time to revisit your priorities.

Figure out what really matters to you, then set your definition of "success" according to those priorities.

So, what matters to you most?

Paul der Krake

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2021, 12:20:21 AM »
Smoke some weed, maaan.

Telecaster

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2021, 12:41:42 AM »
The general question first and then I will fill in my specifics. Has anyone else here struggled with dialing down their ambition once they quit their job? What wisdom can you offer? I would love to hear your stories and see if they can inform mine.

My specifics: after quitting my job in August 2019, I completed a one-year full-time program to learn woodworking. With that completed, I started a business this past fall. The main reason for the business is to find ways to challenge myself and grow as a person. However, an additional rationale initially was to earn a small amount of income to bring me from lean to full FIRE. However, now the markets have done that for me and the income is no longer a requirement.

Until recently, I was posting nearly every weekday on social media to try to get the word out about my business and gain clients. This entailed a schedule nearly as demanding as my former job. I'd done a lot of research and learned that "the algorithm" favors accounts that post frequently. But now I've obtained my first couple of clients and am spending significant time working on actual projects for them (a good thing!) and so I've let the social media work slide. The client work is difficult but very fulfilling and I'm glad I'm doing it! But I realize that while I want some clients, I don't want many clients. And I'm waging an inner battle to determine the best amount of hustle to expend. I would like the business to succeed, but my vision of success is not the same as it would have been if I were depending on income.

So how do you try to win clients when you only want a few?  How do you turn off the parts of your brain that say "I should be doing more"? How do you remind yourself that the only definition of success that matters is your own?

Thanks in advance to all who share here.

You're a woodworker right?  Social media isn't where you will find your clients.  It isn't like you are selling widgets.  You will find clients by word of mouth as well as repeat clients.  You only have a limited number of hours per week, so the goal isn't to sell more widgets because your are limited by time, the goal is to get a higher value for your time.

Now you have the luxury of only doing high value work which you enjoy.   Take those clients, delight them with your work, and enjoy the word of mouth and repeat business. 


2sk22

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2021, 06:50:12 AM »

So how do you try to win clients when you only want a few?  How do you turn off the parts of your brain that say "I should be doing more"? How do you remind yourself that the only definition of success that matters is your own?


If money is no longer your main motivator, I suspect you want some kind of recognition for your post-retirement achievements. In a conventionally structured job, most people get some kind of feedback for a job well done - money, promotions, awards etc.

If you desire recognition after retirement, you will have to go about it differently, perhaps by joining a club. Can you think of ways to exhibit your woodwork in a gallery?

Moustachienne

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2021, 09:29:33 AM »
The question might really be "how do I dial down fear once FIREd"?  And the answer might depend on what the fear is. A lot of previous posters have put their finger on that.
Fear of: running out of money; not knowing how to spend time; being unrecognized; being lazy; losing drive and interest; trusting the financial plan; other people thinking I'm a failure or slacker; me thinking I'm a failure and slacker; and so on.  So many possibilities!

How do you turn off the parts of your brain that say "I should be doing more"? How do you remind yourself that the only definition of success that matters is your own?
These are good questions and only you can answer them.  It might be a start to name and explore your fears one by one. Get 'em out in the open and see where they take you.

The Morning Pages process works really well for me.  I liked the whole Artists Way program and the update It's Never Too Late but Julia C. is too artsy for you, here's Tim Ferris' take on the benefit of Morning Pages  - https://tim.blog/2015/01/15/morning-pages/
Talking things over with other people has its place but there's no substitute for spending time with yourself.  It's interesting too!

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2021, 09:51:29 AM »


I think you need to decouple yourself from doing stuff that is related to consumerism and societal beliefs about what is meaningful or important and learning to do stuff for you. Then you drop the goals. Life becomes a lot simpler.

You can still lead a full happy life.

Thoughtful response, thank you. I've been reflecting on this and I don't think consumerism plays a big role for me. I've never found the outward trappings of "success" such as a certain type of home or a nice car to be related to feelings of satisfaction. But  I do think societal beliefs have played a role. For example, back when I was a kid, my best rewards were good grades and positive feedback from teachers. When I think this through, I absolutely believe that the smartest kids don't necessarily get the best grades and that those who get terrible grades can even be the smartest kids. So why do I care about grades? (I know I still care about this even today-- as I got grades in my woodworking program and I paid attention to how I felt about them.)

I was reflecting last week and asked myself why I never took an art class in high school. Back then I had a fixed mindset (I've been working hard to foster a grown mindset over the past decade) and I think my fear that I wasn't any good at art kept me from taking a class even though art was something I was very interested in creating. I didn't understand that my lack of ability to draw in high school didn't mean I couldn't learn to draw. It's hard to go back in time and parse what I was feeling and thinking back then, but I bet there were three big fears: 1) lowering my grade point average by not succeeding in class,  2) that I needed to take a more academically rigorous class than art to get into a great college and the big fear 3) finding out that I'm lousy at creating at art and that I'm incapable of learning something of great interest to me. I do think at this stage in life, I'm definitely more willing to take risks when it comes to exploring interests and I'm not as afraid of failure.

So yes, I do think it is absolutely worth it for me to spend some time redefining what success looks like to me in this new phase.

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2021, 09:55:16 AM »
I tell myself all the time that I should be doing things. It can be hard for me to relax when I always feel like I should be doing something. That self-imposed pressure got me all the way to a lucrative career that made me miserable.

Every time I now actually notice the word “should” popping up in my mind, I pause and question (1) where that feeling came from; (2) if there’s a more accurate word to use (like I do actually mean “I want” to do something?); and (3) if the “should” is even true. Over time, I catch myself more and retrain those thought patterns.

For your business, if you still want occasional clients, you can just wait until that desire comes up and then go look for one. You don’t always need another client waiting in the wings for the business to exist. Your business has already “succeeded.”

Passion for things is great. So do as much work as you want! Ambition based on habits or feelings like you’re supposed to do things a certain way are not so rewarding.

Thank you, this is helpful! I think I can work with this. I think there will be sometimes when I'll have to listen to the "shoulds", like when I'm midway through a project installation inside a client's home, with tools spread all throughout their living room... But in general, yes! I really like the reminder that I don't always need another client waiting in the wings.

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2021, 09:59:33 AM »
Well, you get to define what success looks like.

You're just used to business/professional success being the paradigm of success by which you measure yourself.

Just because you are used to it doesn't mean it has to continue that way. These are all just habits, and all habits can be changed.

If you are happy being driven to succeed this way, then great, enjoy. But if you aren't happy, then it's time to revisit your priorities.

Figure out what really matters to you, then set your definition of "success" according to those priorities.

So, what matters to you most?

Thank you, Malcat! Another thoughtful response. What matters to me most is easy. This is something I spent quite a bit of time working on before I quit my job. 1)making the world a better place, 2) helping people and 3) creating, particularly although not solely limited to working with my hands.

I like the idea of stepping back every so often to assess whether my recent activities have supported these values. Thank you!

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2021, 10:01:24 AM »
Smoke some weed, maaan.

Teeheehee! Last night my boyfriend and I watched Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle. Neither of us partake of the weed and we both noted that the movie would have been more enjoyable if we did. Maybe I'll give an edible a try next time I'm somewhere that is legal.

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2021, 10:08:03 AM »

You're a woodworker right?  Social media isn't where you will find your clients.  It isn't like you are selling widgets.  You will find clients by word of mouth as well as repeat clients.  You only have a limited number of hours per week, so the goal isn't to sell more widgets because your are limited by time, the goal is to get a higher value for your time.

Now you have the luxury of only doing high value work which you enjoy.   Take those clients, delight them with your work, and enjoy the word of mouth and repeat business.

Thank you for responding! My business includes woodworking as one component but it is not limited to that. I work out of a makerspace and some of the other makers I meet there have more established businesses and indeed are getting some of their clients via social media. But your comment still resonates. My FIRE'd boyfriend also has a business and his advice was similar: focus on the work that gives you the most satisfaction. Given the limited scope of how many clients I want, I think I am going to start doing social media on my own terms, algorithm be #$%!.

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2021, 10:12:25 AM »

If money is no longer your main motivator, I suspect you want some kind of recognition for your post-retirement achievements. In a conventionally structured job, most people get some kind of feedback for a job well done - money, promotions, awards etc.

If you desire recognition after retirement, you will have to go about it differently, perhaps by joining a club. Can you think of ways to exhibit your woodwork in a gallery?

This is also fodder for thought. Thank you. I know that places I have been enjoying recognition since starting my business include from other members of my maker space, from my business social media account, and on posts to a woodworking subreddit from my anonymous Reddit account.

jfer_rose

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2021, 10:22:04 AM »
The question might really be "how do I dial down fear once FIREd"?  And the answer might depend on what the fear is. A lot of previous posters have put their finger on that.
Fear of: running out of money; not knowing how to spend time; being unrecognized; being lazy; losing drive and interest; trusting the financial plan; other people thinking I'm a failure or slacker; me thinking I'm a failure and slacker; and so on.  So many possibilities!

How do you turn off the parts of your brain that say "I should be doing more"? How do you remind yourself that the only definition of success that matters is your own?
These are good questions and only you can answer them.  It might be a start to name and explore your fears one by one. Get 'em out in the open and see where they take you.

The Morning Pages process works really well for me.  I liked the whole Artists Way program and the update It's Never Too Late but Julia C. is too artsy for you, here's Tim Ferris' take on the benefit of Morning Pages  - https://tim.blog/2015/01/15/morning-pages/
Talking things over with other people has its place but there's no substitute for spending time with yourself.  It's interesting too!

I've been doing morning pages since August! I joined an Artists Way book club (which has since fizzled out) but my pages habit is still going strong and it really is helping me a lot! It's where I explored why I never took an art class in high school, despite a great interest in creating art. I have started exploring the topic of this post in my pages and I will continue to do so. I like the idea of specifically naming my fears in my pages and exploring those. Pretty sure the list will include: running out of money; not knowing how to spend time; being lazy; losing drive and interest; and other people thinking I'm a failure or slacker.

How long have you been doing Morning pages? Did you read the whole book? Now that the book club has fizzled out, I haven't gone back and finished the book because I feel like I got what I needed with the morning pages, but do you have any thoughts on whether it is worth it to finish the whole book?

Moustachienne

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2021, 09:15:11 PM »
I've been doing morning pages since August! I joined an Artists Way book club (which has since fizzled out) but my pages habit is still going strong and it really is helping me a lot! It's where I explored why I never took an art class in high school, despite a great interest in creating art. I have started exploring the topic of this post in my pages and I will continue to do so. I like the idea of specifically naming my fears in my pages and exploring those. Pretty sure the list will include: running out of money; not knowing how to spend time; being lazy; losing drive and interest; and other people thinking I'm a failure or slacker.

How long have you been doing Morning pages? Did you read the whole book? Now that the book club has fizzled out, I haven't gone back and finished the book because I feel like I got what I needed with the morning pages, but do you have any thoughts on whether it is worth it to finish the whole book?

I read It's Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond when I retired 4 years ago.  It lays out a 12 week personal discovery program that's very similar to the Artist's Way, I understand, but more focussed on life after retirement. I read and enjoyed the whole book but particularly the Morning Pages, which I still write several days a week, and the weekly Artist's Dates, which I've stopped doing but mean to get back to.  Writing a memoir didn't resonate with me so I didn't do it.  Didn't do many of the other exercises either.  I think it could be worth finishing the book but on your own schedule and dipping in to it as you please. You're retired, no rules! :)


Morning Glory

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #18 on: Today at 06:57:39 AM »
https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/overcoming-the-need-to-be-exceptional/

I've posted this article in another thread before. It talks about how to stop deriving self worth from achievement and recognition. Maybe it will help you.  I will add the book recommendations to my post fire reading list too.

 I don't see the material things as achievements either. It's more about the certifications and pins and letters after my name, the idea of the big salary even if I don't spend it. I am working on this.  Not fired yet but close to it and I'm trying to talk myself out of getting my doctorate. (It would be free so I feel like I'm wasting my benefit if I don't do it, hello inner bag lady).

I liked art in high school, even though I was just ok at it. It was a nice break from the rest of the school day, and satisfying to sit down for an hour and try to perfect a drawing. Now when I try to draw I can't do it any more since I'm so out of practice and I just don't have the time to sit down and try. Maybe one day I'll take a class again.

It sounds like you are doing something you love with the woodworking, but the marketing stuff is burning you out.  Could you maybe outsource this and sell on commission, or maybe etsy for your smaller pieces?

GuitarStv

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #19 on: Today at 06:59:44 AM »
I don't plan to dial down ambition . . . there are many ambitious things planned for my future.  They're all related to music, exercise, and being with friends/family though - not to my area of work.  Maybe your ambitions are just misdirected?

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #20 on: Today at 08:06:05 AM »
I don't plan to dial down ambition . . . there are many ambitious things planned for my future.  They're all related to music, exercise, and being with friends/family though - not to my area of work.  Maybe your ambitions are just misdirected?

I guess I'd agree with this. I plan to be ambitious once FIREd, just not ambitious around making money. I'm all for having hobbies, pushing yourself, challenges, helping others, etc. I'm very much wired that way. I don't plan to anchor any of those ambitious around work or a second career. Otherwise, I wouldn't consider myself FIRE.

This is a slippery slope for me, and when I work, I'm all in & need to give everything to be successful. I've tried to dial it back & had some success. But, at this point, I decided I'd rather go all in with the career, overachieve my FIRE number, and then stop cold turkey. A light FIRE where I'm still working for pay feels like a challenge, given my own style of needing to be really successful at work. Maybe something to think about for you as well?

jim555

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #21 on: Today at 02:06:35 PM »
Don't need to dial down something I never had.  LOL

omachi

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Re: How to dial down ambition once FIREd?
« Reply #22 on: Today at 02:27:59 PM »
Telecaster had the right of it for woodworking. Malcat is insightful as always.

The truth is, you don't need clients. You have a business but no need for income. You can take on only the work you want. If your business makes you a penny, it's a raging success. Hell, if you make a small loss akin to what you'd pay for entertainment, but enjoy the heck out of whatever you're making while doing so, it's still a raging success. Deduct the loss from your taxes in a way you can't for Netflix, revel in your creative enjoyment, and be happy.

If you feel like you need a whole bunch of clients, step back and ask why that is. Recognition and other external rewards? Can't sit alone with your thoughts? You fall asleep better if you've run yourself ragged? Just a pattern you've always fallen into and have never bothered to inspect? Just really love to create beautiful objects and they'd pile up in your own house if there weren't clients to sell them to? Those are all other possible aspects that might be covered up by ambition. You might feel the need to remain ambitious because of such. If generally positive and that's what you want, great, have fun and keep going. If not, say it's about needing praise for example, then accepting that you're great even when not being praised may quickly cut your ambition.