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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: kork on November 25, 2017, 01:08:32 PM

Title: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on November 25, 2017, 01:08:32 PM
So Jeff Bezos just passed a net worth of a 100 billion dollars.  I don't care. Doesn't both me in the least.  I don't know him.

But a colleague of mine was just acknowledged for a national award for industry success and it makes me feel "odd." I don't know what the emotion is. I'm positive that my colleague deserves it. No issues there. Hard work, dedication, absolutely. But for some reason, it bothers me. It almost feels like one of two things or a combination of both.

1. I'm at a disadvantage in life (when compared to my peers). Very primitive "survival of the fittest" sortof mentality. More success = more money = greater freedom and survival options.
2. I'm in the wrong career and I'm my own worst critic. If I loved what I did, I wouldn't be so keen to semi-fire?

As I'm getting close to 40 and feeling like I'm at the end of my rope professionally, colleagues of mine are seemingly skyrocketing their careers towards success. It's like after College, my fireworks took off early and shot hard and fast, but fizzled out...  All of a sudden, many people in my peer group aren't just "entry level workers" anymore.  They're Directors, CIO's, Entrepreneurs, Doctors... And you know what... So am I. 

But I feel like an imposter. Like all of a sudden, the whole world is going to wake up and realize "that guys been faking it!" and then boom! Career is over... I'm glad I'm at semi-fire levels and within a few years of full FIRE.

The only person that I can honestly say that I feel joy for in his success is my best friend. Married, wife, kids, works his ass off.  He just got a new job this year where he's earning 6-figures. Prior to that, he was lucky to break $50k. I couldn't be happier for him from the very depth of my soul.

So I'm wondering what the emotion might be and how others here deal with it? Peers seemingly doing well, winning at life, enjoying their work, etc while I feel like my success has been to save enough money to get out earlier than most?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: ixtap on November 25, 2017, 01:33:21 PM
I just recognize that we are all on different paths and celebrate everyone's achievement of their milestones. The only ones that ever bugged me were the people who made up a bunch of BS being lauded as the best researchers.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Hula Hoop on November 25, 2017, 01:50:58 PM
I find it hard to be zen about stuff like this too but the longer I live the more I see that you just never know what is going on with someone else.  For example, I was (I hate to admit this) kind of jealous of a fellow expat here a few years ago.  She seemed to have a perfect life, career, kids and wealthy husband.  Anyway, she called me crying one day to tell me that she'd finally plucked up the courage to leave her husband as he was abusive.  I had no idea and her life - particularly on social media - looked so perfect.  She was miserable but everyone was shocked when they learned the truth.  Another friend had an amazing corporate career but suddenly quit when she hit FI and is now freelancing with a much simpler life style and so much happier.

Even if the person you are comparing yourself to isn't miserable deep down - remember that you are not them and that everyone is different and is on their own path.  Try not to compare as that can just make you miserable - be true to yourself.  You only live once.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Accidental Fire on November 25, 2017, 01:55:45 PM
I just semi-retired and I'm feeling a little bit of this.  Some of my closest colleagues are still grinding away, and doing well professionally.  But they also look exhausted and stressed for the most part.  Some may be enjoying it, but for sure some are "caught" in the race.  They're kinda on auto-pilot - keep working hard, keep succeeding, ignore the lack of sleep, stress, and poor health.

It's just different paths.  I keep trying to remind myself that no one ever said "I wish I spent more time in the office" on their deathbed.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: marble_faun on November 25, 2017, 01:57:37 PM
Just from reading this, it sounds like some version of #2. 

You want to retire ASAP. This suggests that your job is not your passion, and perhaps in some way this mindset shows through.  Colleagues who dedicate themselves to their job (since it will be their life for decades to come) may rise, while perhaps you might stall a bit. 

If you're a competitive individual, I could see how this might create some mixed feelings. While others receive awards and promotions, you're not getting external validation for your choice to save a lot of money, then wave goodbye.

Do you think you will continue to feel weird about this whole dynamic after FIRE?  You won't have a fancy job title or a traditional expanding resume of accomplishments. (At least I assume not.) Perhaps it's worth considering what your new goals will be? How will you gauge success for yourself, rather than having it defined by the traditional career ladder?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Zola. on November 25, 2017, 02:51:20 PM
Interesting thread. Sounds like you need a break away OP for a long weekend.

Work can get you down now and again. But keep the head up!

As been said earlier, we are all on different paths and we never know what battles other people are having..

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Sun Hat on November 25, 2017, 03:23:52 PM
I think that what you're feeling is envy, and you know what? I think that it's a perfectly natural instinct. However, I agree with Hula Hoop, and think that you have to remember that we all have different paths, strengths and goals.

When my career was at its apex, I too felt like a fraud who would be found out for just winging it. It's an exhausting feeling, but common. I'd advocate meditation, therapy, or any other method to overcome that feeling though, since living in a heightened state of arousal for too long is seriously bad for your health. I imploded and had to stop working. Fortunately, I was able to FIRE by scaling down my planned retirement spending.

Then, as I belatedly slowed down to tend to my mental  and physical health, I had to watch peers surge past where I had been and go on to great new things. It sucks. On the flip side, I know that at least several of them are envious of my ability to garden and nap while they have to write endless TPS reports. I try to remember that for every certificate or picture of them cutting a generic sheet cake, there were thousands of hours of monotonous, head-to-desk banging shit. Work achievements are what society values, most of them will be forgotten in 10 years.

RE is just so much better than any pat on the back from work. If you like the back pats (I LIVED for them), get the postman to present you with a certificate and bland grocery store sheet cake every quarter. It's a purposefully preposterous suggestion, just like making yourself miserable trying to keep up with others who would love to get out of the hamster wheel too.

Be happy.  You've chosen the better path.

EDIT: Literally any time that you want to vent about the lure of society-sanctioned success, PM me. I get it and will counter with tales of the joy of hammocks.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: TempusFugit on November 25, 2017, 04:01:05 PM
Do you recall how you felt when you experienced some of the same milestones?  Do you recall how fleeting the sense of accomplishment and success were?   Do you remember when you got a big promotion or a significant raise and the sense of elation lasted only a month or so, before you felt the same as you did before about your job, your career, your 'accomplishments'? 

Just remember that it's pretty much the same for everyone.  The reality is just not as great as we think it will be for these sorts of things.  Now keep that in mind when those little pangs of jealousy hit you because your friends or colleagues are having a moment in the sun.  It's fleeting. 
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on November 25, 2017, 04:46:42 PM
Most of those people you envy for their success will end up envying you once you've FIREd.

I've been pretty well-respected by my colleagues as I have climbed the career ladder and racked up accomplishments.  When I announced my FIREment a few weeks ago, the reactions were (1) incredulousness that I'm leaving at the peak of my success, quickly followed by (2) envy -- pretty much everyone else would like to get out, too.  Take comfort in the fact that you are choosing the path that most people only wish they had the luxury of choosing.

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: clarkfan1979 on November 25, 2017, 08:58:42 PM
I would define success at doing what someone really wants to do in life. I have a Ph.D. and teach at a community college by choice. Many academics would consider my career as a failure with only 3 publications and teaching at a community college.

For me, I work about 30 hours/week, 8 months out of the year. My peers on the hardcore research track work 50 hours/week about 11 months out of the year.

My salary is 62K/year and my research peers are probably more likely at 80K/year. However, I also have two rentals which fetch me an extra 22K/year in cash flow only. If you consider appreciation and principle pay-down, it's another 350K over the last 10 years.

I have a 7 month old and took 12 weeks of family leave this year. Instead of working 8 months this year, it's more like 5 months. If my peers consider my career a failure. I'm ok with it, because I wouldn't want their success.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Syonyk on November 25, 2017, 09:21:24 PM
But I feel like an imposter. Like all of a sudden, the whole world is going to wake up and realize "that guys been faking it!" and then boom! Career is over...

There are entire companies that are staffed with people who all have serious Impostor Syndrome.  Yes, it's a thing.  I hear Google is really bad about it.

Quote
So I'm wondering what the emotion might be and how others here deal with it? Peers seemingly doing well, winning at life, enjoying their work, etc while I feel like my success has been to save enough money to get out earlier than most?

There's more to life than work.  Even if you like work.

I moved to the country to be close to family, changed jobs, cut down to part time (32h/wk) and remote work, and spend my weekends working on the property, or motorcycles, or building shelves in my sheds, or building compost pits, or fighting cheatgrass, or building small electronics, or... (etc, etc, etc).

From a career perspective, I've shot myself in the foot.  I'm not going to make management - ever.  I'm unlikely to rise past another promotion, and that's iffy.  And I don't care.  I have no commute, I have plenty of income, I enjoy my work, and I enjoy my three day weekends - literally every single week.  As a minor bonus, those weekends are actually great for my work - I frequently end Thursday with a problem on my mind, and solve it while I'm running a shovel or sledgehammer or something during the weekend.

I have no particular desire to climb the ladders.  I know people who have.  They make tons more money than I do.  They drive cars that cost as much as my house did.  They live in places that... well, a million is not that much, on the coast.  And they're trapped by it.  I just taunt them with my weekends spent digging in dirt, playing with the wife/kid, working on antique machinery, or doing my own thing with small electronics design/repair/etc.

It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

Trust me, when you're retired, doing whatever it is you want (most people I know who retire are busier than they've ever been before - but it's all stuff they want to do, on their schedule), those people grinding their career ladder are going to be jealous as hell.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on November 25, 2017, 10:39:51 PM
You're just having a moment realising that the way they have defined success will be recognised by society, while the way you have defined success never will be. Everyone would like to be recognised as successful by their peers. Just be very clear on who your peers are, because they're not the people wage-slaving.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Paul der Krake on November 25, 2017, 10:52:15 PM
If you never feel like the dumbest person in the room, you're either not reaching enough, or too dumb to see it.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: okits on November 25, 2017, 11:05:38 PM
Sun Hat, your post really resonated with me.

kork, we're about the same age (late 30s), and I think we are in an odd transition period where psychologically, we still think our youth and health are endless, and there's still so much opportunity and plenty of time to pursue it.  In reality, the shift has already started; now or soon we'll see people in our age range getting moderate-to-serious illnesses, one or two unlucky ones dying off, workplace ageism in some industries, our parents becoming infirm and needing our attention, for those that want it, the window of opportunity shrinking for the idealized family life (partnering with someone of a similar age who understands your generational points of reference, having it be the first marriage for you both with neither bringing existing responsibilities into the union, having the desired number of offspring with no difficulty or rush, having the carefree lifestyle you desire for a number of years before illnesses or dependents appear).

From the first perspective of bountiful youth and opportunity, yeah, the career achievements seem really desirable and important.  But the second perspective is, and has always been, closer to the truth.  The duration of your life is finite.  You must make choices.  Is your priority really some cheap wall plaque and some cash because this year you maximized shareholder value more than the other corporate drones?  If some things just have to fall away, wouldn't you put aside the career ladder for the friends that really care about you, the family that loves you, the causes that matter to you, the pursuits that inspire you?

I struggle pretty hard with looking like a loser on the outside.  I don't hand out business cards that proclaim the good fortune in my personal life or the size of my investment portfolio.  There is no external validation, which is what I was conditioned to live for.  Social approval is hard to forego.  Do it anyway.  Put the important things (NOT a career you don't really care about) first.  When you experience crisis points you will feel satisfied and grateful for your choices, and not a bitter realization that you spent your life on what doesn't really matter to you.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on November 25, 2017, 11:41:15 PM
I can relate a bit to this but itís a different. Iím at the apex of my career, have literally hit the perfect job for me with the pay and status Iíve always wanted and worked hard for, and Iím good at what I do. And yet I feel too old (late 40s). My predecessor was 6 years younger than me and has gone onto a bigger role at an a bigger company with far more money. I find myself a bit envious of everyone younger than me who is at my level or above. I feel like itís taken me far longer to get her than it should have and if I had been more focused, more hungry and smarter I would be past where Iím at. FIRE has been a bit of a saving grace because Iíve got a plan and end-game now. Iíll be free far earlier than most, but still nowhere close to MMM and many who have discovered this far younger. Looking back I think Iím about 5 years off of where I could have been. So yeah, itís not my peers Iím jealous of, itís this younger group who have me beat by mile and Iíll never be able to catch up. Oh well. Better late than never.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on November 26, 2017, 01:02:40 AM
If you never feel like the dumbest person in the room, you're either not reaching enough, or too dumb to see it.

This is genius Paul! It's going on my wall. Thank you.

I have similar feelings OP. Sometimes social, sometimes professional. I've found it helpful to think "great for them, not for me".

When I see the sacrifices that some people make for work, I'm staggered how different our choices and priorities are. When I really look inside myself, I wouldn't have chosen to miss the time I spend with my family (or Netflix) even if it guaranteed someone else's level of success at work.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on November 26, 2017, 12:20:54 PM
There will always be smarter, younger, hungrier, more dedicated, and more talented people around you.
If there aren't, you are limiting yourself in terms of the people you are exposed to.
If you're the smartest and most interesting person in a room, find a different room to be in.

The only people who are bothered by the success of others are people who aren't happy with their own lives in some way.
Take it as a warning sign that something is off in your life path and re-examine your priorities to make sure that they are actually working to meet your real needs. It's easy to get off track of what actually makes you happy when you operate under wrong assumptions that seem to make sense on the surface.

Casual transient envy is normal. I often get wafts of envy when my colleagues show up with their expensive cars and photos from their varied expensive travels and tales of business expansions and future revenues in the millions and the amount of real impact they have in our industry. I admire and envy for awhile, making no secret of it, and then it passes and I go back to remembering the back breaking hours and long years of work that it would take to live that life. I have no problem being openly and effusively envious when the feeling strikes, the same way that my over-worked and over-stressed colleagues openly envy my 3 day work week and early 50s retirement timeline.

Life is a series of trade offs, and when you know that you've made the right ones, envy becomes a mild and benign experience akin to watching an amazing martial arts sequence i  a movie and being envious of the person's abilities, but knowing that you wouldn't want to put in the grueling hours of training to have that skill. It can actually be quite entertaining. I love hearing my colleagues tales of business ownership and rampant consumerism, the same way that married people love tales of dating from their single friends.

If someone else's life is bugging you, it's time to take a deep hard look at your own and figure out why. It's not about coping with *their* success, it's about figuring out why your own successes aren't making you feel satisfied.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: PaulMaxime on November 26, 2017, 12:31:27 PM
But I feel like an imposter. Like all of a sudden, the whole world is going to wake up and realize "that guys been faking it!" and then boom! Career is over...

There are entire companies that are staffed with people who all have serious Impostor Syndrome.  Yes, it's a thing.  I hear Google is really bad about it.


Oh yeah, that's really true. I worked at Google for 8 years and it was rampant. You look around at all the brilliant people who all seem to know what they are doing and think "What the hell am I doing here."

It's worse for the first 6 months as you try to drink from the firehose. Eventually you get a few quarters under your belt and you settle in. But that nagging doubt is always at the back of you head.

The truth is, that if you don't have at least a little doubt then that's actually a huge red flag. It turns out that the more people know the more they realize how little they know. Those rank beginners who know the least often have the highest confidence level.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect


As described by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the cognitive bias of illusory superiority results from an internal illusion in people of low ability and from an external misperception in people of high ability; that is, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."[1] Hence, the corollary to the DunningĖKruger effect indicates that persons of high ability tend to underestimate their relative competence and erroneously presume that tasks that are easy for them to perform are also easy for other people to perform.[1]
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: EmFrugal on November 26, 2017, 02:11:07 PM
First, I started a great mediation program which teaches you to wish others loving kindness. Essentially, you begin by wishing yourself peace, happiness, and an end to your stress and suffering. Then you wish this upon someone you love. Then you wish this upon someone outside of family, and then ultimately, someone you have ill feelings toward (including jealousy). When you wish that person peace, happiness and an end to his/her suffering there is something magical that happens in your own heart. The jealously begins to fade and you can focus on your own path more clearly.

Secondly, remember that everything in the world is impermanent. What seems like a great accomplishment at this moment will change and eventually fade.

Third, ask yourself, "What are the three most important things I would like to accomplish with my life?" If winning an award is one of them, then OK. If not, then follow your answers because those will make your life feel far more fulfilling.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: asauer on November 26, 2017, 03:17:54 PM
So Jeff Bezos just passed a net worth of a 100 billion dollars.  I don't care. Doesn't both me in the least.  I don't know him.

But a colleague of mine was just acknowledged for a national award for industry success and it makes me feel "odd." I don't know what the emotion is. I'm positive that my colleague deserves it. No issues there. Hard work, dedication, absolutely. But for some reason, it bothers me. It almost feels like one of two things or a combination of both.

1. I'm at a disadvantage in life (when compared to my peers). Very primitive "survival of the fittest" sortof mentality. More success = more money = greater freedom and survival options.
2. I'm in the wrong career and I'm my own worst critic. If I loved what I did, I wouldn't be so keen to semi-fire?

As I'm getting close to 40 and feeling like I'm at the end of my rope professionally, colleagues of mine are seemingly skyrocketing their careers towards success. It's like after College, my fireworks took off early and shot hard and fast, but fizzled out...  All of a sudden, many people in my peer group aren't just "entry level workers" anymore.  They're Directors, CIO's, Entrepreneurs, Doctors... And you know what... So am I. 

But I feel like an imposter. Like all of a sudden, the whole world is going to wake up and realize "that guys been faking it!" and then boom! Career is over... I'm glad I'm at semi-fire levels and within a few years of full FIRE.

The only person that I can honestly say that I feel joy for in his success is my best friend. Married, wife, kids, works his ass off.  He just got a new job this year where he's earning 6-figures. Prior to that, he was lucky to break $50k. I couldn't be happier for him from the very depth of my soul.

So I'm wondering what the emotion might be and how others here deal with it? Peers seemingly doing well, winning at life, enjoying their work, etc while I feel like my success has been to save enough money to get out earlier than most?
You have a lot going on here.  The first thing is to examine what about your situation is actual fact "My co worker won xyz award".  Then, what is your thought or judgement about that? e.g. "he's better/ more successful than I am.  Then, what are making that mean about yourself? e.g. I'm not as good as him.  or I'm not valuable.  This is what is creating your negative emotion. 
What if you tried on a new thought- I'll give a couple of challenging ones:
circumstance- co-worker wins an award
thought- good for him, my value lies in my ability to reach my goals (e.g. FIRE)
feeling- value for self, contentment

Old thought- this isn't the right career for me
new thought- I will do whatever it takes to add value in this career for however long I choose to do it

See the difference?  The old thought focuses on fear and scarcity while the other focuses on action and choice.

HOpe this helps.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: rpr on November 26, 2017, 06:03:57 PM
P2F. Great thread with some wonderful posts. In some ways this is along the lines with "Wanting What You Have".
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: 4n6 on November 26, 2017, 07:15:41 PM
I can definitely relate to this. I still feel like an imposter doing my job after over a decade at it. I see other people winning awards and wondering why I have not yet, even though technically I have been a bit more successful than they have in other ways. I feel myself being envious of others when they have earned it. The truth is, for me, that my job is part of my identity so I have no desire to get out anytime soon.

At the same time, we would like to be closer to family. We would like to start a family much later in life. That requires some sacrifice from me, a bit, professionally. How this is going to play out? I have no idea. The only thing I can control is how much I save and reduce my debt. That is my goal, while I try to figure out the other parts. I just try to keep my head down, doing what I am doing, and know that good things will and can come my way.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on November 27, 2017, 08:43:18 AM
If someone else's life is bugging you, it's time to take a deep hard look at your own and figure out why. It's not about coping with *their* success, it's about figuring out why your own successes aren't making you feel satisfied.

There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in all the answers so far and I find them all to be very helpful.  Thank-you. I'll be rereading a few times.

I do want to hone in on this one post comment though because if it was this easy, then I could likely find truth there. I feel like the truth is that my own successes aren't as good as others and it's somehow limiting me. I sounds silly but I'll go back nearly 20 years.

I was an average teenage kid. Average grades, average looks, all average across the board. It wasn't until post-grad that I seemed to "come into my own" if for only a few years. I was somehow thrust into being the "best student." I was in great shape (best shape of my life), I was charismatic (had spent a few years learning how to communicate in technology sales), I was on the Dean's council, got top grades, etc. When I graduated I was arguably the top student and was nominated by my professors for multiple national awards in my industry.

But there's an ugly underbelly. I was seeing the school therapist at least 3 times of the week and had been recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. It's not severe, but it does impact my decision making. I has also put on 25 BAD lbs that year. I remember explaining that my biggest fear was not graduating #1 or failing my midterms (I never did well on tests despite doing exceptionally well on assignments). 50 or so grads from my class, and I needed to be #1.  This was a new perspective for me.  It was entirely driven by fear of failure.

The logic went like this.  If other students are better than me, then I won't be the top pick for work after I graduate. If I'm not a top pick, I won't find a job. No job = no income and no income means that I'll lose the roof over my head. From there, all hell starts to break loose. It's silly, yes. But it was a real emotion at the time.

And that all mainly went away for the last 15 years. I was always a decent earner for my age. It's not until the last 2-3 years where all of a sudden peers seem to be skyrocketing past me (at least, that's how it appears in my mind).

And my life if pretty decent. Would I trade it with anyone else? Nope. I'd like to cherry pick bits and pieces from other peoples lives to add to mine, but overall, I can't say I'd want to be "someone else" with all they have and don't have.

My younger brother is building a $15 million dollar penthouse condo right now for a client. Colleagues of mine are business owners and entrepreneurs. Some are winning national awards and gaining national recognition and here I am feeling like an imposter (Thanks for that info PaulMaxime - very helpful on this front). But I see the Facebook highlight reel.

Intelligently, I know these things...  But then there's the silly emotional response of "I want the money and connections involved with building a $15 million dollar condo" or "I want the income and recognition associated with being the CTO of a large company."

And yeah, I know that these people don't get there overnight. Doesn't stop me looking over the fence though.

But we live frugally. We're not in a McMansion, we drive average cars, have some nice things, but not a collector of nice things. I used to not care when I saw people driving around in expensive cars. But nowadays, if I'm being honest, if my brother were to pull up in a Mercedes I wouldn't be thinking "I'm happy you found success"

I hate feeling that way. I feel like a bad person.

I'm content with a smaller house and non fancy car when nobody else has one. I'm frugal by nature but I'm starting to want the bigger house and the fancy car only for the reason of peacocking. And not peacocking for any reason other than to give the illusion of success. But I don't want to give up the financial stability. Keeping up with the Jonses right? Simple concept. Not quite so simple to live through.

It's hard to try to capture the emotion in words so I'm doing my best.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on November 27, 2017, 09:24:03 AM
One thing to add above. I want to be able to not feel threatened by other peoples successes. That's what the emotion is.  It's not envy, but it's more a feeling of threat and vulnerability if I were to pinpoint the emotion.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: arob54600 on November 27, 2017, 09:42:37 AM
Everybody gets a little green with envy from time to time. It's okay, it doesn't mean you are a bad person. You are simply human with all the emotions that go with it.  The rat race, keeping up with the Jones, those are all just symptoms of living in a capitalistic culture.


In regards to "facebook highlight reels"
I have a confession to make, when people get obnoxious with their facebook/instagram posts, I un-follow them. If they are (my life, my car, my awards, my spouse, my vacation, my house, my kids) bragging all the time.. It is BS to make themselves feel better and to make everyone else feel inadequate.  I aint got time for that.  On top of that, even though I love my life and everything that goes with it, I try to keep it off of facebook. I used to be tempted to keep on that rat race. Now I'm beginning to understand, I don't have to brag to anybody. Although I still get urges to show off every once in a while, hopefully my FIRE will speak for it's self.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: okits on November 27, 2017, 12:59:25 PM
One thing to add above. I want to be able to not feel threatened by other peoples successes. That's what the emotion is.  It's not envy, but it's more a feeling of threat and vulnerability if I were to pinpoint the emotion.

I feel inadequate, inferior, in those situations.  It's a knee-jerk reaction and hasn't gone away.  I have to continually reason with it.

I feel like you should lease a Mercedes for a few months and see how you feel.  All this discussion seems less fruitful than finding out firsthand, "yes!  This fancy car is my ecstatic happiness!" or, "nope.  It's no big deal".  The answer is likely something in between, but at that point you'll at least have a recent experience to inform your choices.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: flyingby on November 27, 2017, 01:02:35 PM
I am dealing with the exact situation. I started my career earlier then most, received the promotions earlier then most and then stalled. The people I hired 6 years ago are now my equals and in two situations on my managers level. While everyone seems to be sprinting by me up the ladder I'm in a dead-end role just counting to FI. I've stuck to it because its 100% remote, <40 hour work weeks and above average pay.

Sometimes I feel its a chicken or the egg situation. Am I obsessed with FI because my job sucks or does my job suck because i'm obsessed with FI.

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: TheAnonOne on November 27, 2017, 01:08:15 PM
How do your "successful" friends view your ability to retire early? How much more bad-ass does it get than that?

Do you think you are perhaps under-valuing what you have achieved?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Kevin on November 27, 2017, 01:46:43 PM
Sometimes I feel its a chicken or the egg situation. Am I obsessed with FI because my job sucks or does my job suck because i'm obsessed with FI.

Pretty much sums up my situation.

(http://www.conditionforlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Nailed-It.png)
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on November 27, 2017, 03:59:49 PM
If someone else's life is bugging you, it's time to take a deep hard look at your own and figure out why. It's not about coping with *their* success, it's about figuring out why your own successes aren't making you feel satisfied.

There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in all the answers so far and I find them all to be very helpful.  Thank-you. I'll be rereading a few times.

I do want to hone in on this one post comment though because if it was this easy, then I could likely find truth there. I feel like the truth is that my own successes aren't as good as others and it's somehow limiting me. I sounds silly but I'll go back nearly 20 years.

I was an average teenage kid. Average grades, average looks, all average across the board. It wasn't until post-grad that I seemed to "come into my own" if for only a few years. I was somehow thrust into being the "best student." I was in great shape (best shape of my life), I was charismatic (had spent a few years learning how to communicate in technology sales), I was on the Dean's council, got top grades, etc. When I graduated I was arguably the top student and was nominated by my professors for multiple national awards in my industry.

But there's an ugly underbelly. I was seeing the school therapist at least 3 times of the week and had been recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. It's not severe, but it does impact my decision making. I has also put on 25 BAD lbs that year. I remember explaining that my biggest fear was not graduating #1 or failing my midterms (I never did well on tests despite doing exceptionally well on assignments). 50 or so grads from my class, and I needed to be #1.  This was a new perspective for me.  It was entirely driven by fear of failure.

The logic went like this.  If other students are better than me, then I won't be the top pick for work after I graduate. If I'm not a top pick, I won't find a job. No job = no income and no income means that I'll lose the roof over my head. From there, all hell starts to break loose. It's silly, yes. But it was a real emotion at the time.

And that all mainly went away for the last 15 years. I was always a decent earner for my age. It's not until the last 2-3 years where all of a sudden peers seem to be skyrocketing past me (at least, that's how it appears in my mind).

And my life if pretty decent. Would I trade it with anyone else? Nope. I'd like to cherry pick bits and pieces from other peoples lives to add to mine, but overall, I can't say I'd want to be "someone else" with all they have and don't have.

My younger brother is building a $15 million dollar penthouse condo right now for a client. Colleagues of mine are business owners and entrepreneurs. Some are winning national awards and gaining national recognition and here I am feeling like an imposter (Thanks for that info PaulMaxime - very helpful on this front). But I see the Facebook highlight reel.

Intelligently, I know these things...  But then there's the silly emotional response of "I want the money and connections involved with building a $15 million dollar condo" or "I want the income and recognition associated with being the CTO of a large company."

And yeah, I know that these people don't get there overnight. Doesn't stop me looking over the fence though.

But we live frugally. We're not in a McMansion, we drive average cars, have some nice things, but not a collector of nice things. I used to not care when I saw people driving around in expensive cars. But nowadays, if I'm being honest, if my brother were to pull up in a Mercedes I wouldn't be thinking "I'm happy you found success"

I hate feeling that way. I feel like a bad person.

I'm content with a smaller house and non fancy car when nobody else has one. I'm frugal by nature but I'm starting to want the bigger house and the fancy car only for the reason of peacocking. And not peacocking for any reason other than to give the illusion of success. But I don't want to give up the financial stability. Keeping up with the Jonses right? Simple concept. Not quite so simple to live through.

It's hard to try to capture the emotion in words so I'm doing my best.

Being happy is never simple in practice, itís just the concepts behind it that are simple.

I read through your post carefully, and I still maintain that the way you are processing your history is because of how you choose to process it now, not actually because of your past.

That might sound counter intuitive, but speaking as someone who has had a rather insane life and had a lot of great quality therapy along the way. My past experiences donít dictate how I react to anything. They certainly influence how I experience the world, but how I react to it is 100% my choice. I used to react differently and thought it was *because* of my past. Nope, I still have the same past, I just react differently now.

If you want to feel and react a certain way but find yourself continuing to feel and react in ways that you arenít happy with, then maybe itís time to go back to therapy and continue learning just how much power you can actually have over your own state of mind.

Iíve been there with ďneedingĒ to be #1, terrified of failing, competitive with everyone and feeling personally threatened by otherís success. Frig, I gained 65lbs during the worst of it. Iím not judging you or glibly implying that itís easy, but I am saying that it is possible and highly rewarding to let that shit go.

Once you sort your shit out and feel confident in your ability to make the right choices for yourself, the choices that other people make for themselves will feel utterly irrelevant to you and have no impact on your sense of value.

I come back to my original point now.
Itís time to take a long hard look at why you arenít finding satisfaction in your own success as defined by your own metrics, determined by your own priorities. If you are the only person setting the definition of your own success, then why is accomplishing it not satisfying you?

I think you need to spend some quality time with yourself figuring out what you really need.
Take it from me, now that I donít react that way, I canít fathom going back to it. Itís miserable, and it doesnít have to be that way.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: rbuck on November 27, 2017, 08:50:17 PM
While I am not that close to FIRE but I had a defined plan on where I wanted to go with my company. Along the May I took a position that I viewed as a stepping stone. The grade level is the same as my "dream position" and would be a natural progression in my career. Then something funny happened. I found MMM and wanted to work on retiring earlier. Also the job allows me to work remotely which works well as I have small kids. Finally there was the stress. I realized that I didn't want to 70 hours a week and saw a lot of co-workers burn out. Now I work 40-45 hours and almost never experience a lot of stress.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: JG in Hangzhou on November 27, 2017, 09:05:19 PM
Posting to follow.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Larsg on November 27, 2017, 09:43:25 PM


So I'm wondering what the emotion might be and how others here deal with it? Peers seemingly doing well, winning at life, enjoying their work, etc while I feel like my success has been to save enough money to get out earlier than most?
[/quote]

Great post and question. I had a similar period when I was your age. I was rising fast, crossed a chasm in earnings, prestige, recognition but all of a sudden could see the rest of my life before me where it would be a number of daunting, tireless years before me of the same. More high pressure cooker roles, more travel, more politics, more money, AND more and more time away from my family. I started to feel numb, numb to my body, the aches and pains that were trying to tell me something. I felt like I was the walking dead at work where finding satisfaction in the tradeoffs I was making was elusive. It's like chasing a ghost that never quite reveals itself. Then I began to carefully observe people that were about 10 years older than me in the workplace. How they would step back, how I would catch the chuckle or smirk on their faces while watching the rest of us in turmoil over "NOTHING," in reality. It became clear to me that I had already wasted to many years chasing the dream that never was.

I downshifted into a role that makes good money, far less prestige. The work is far less interesting but the pressure is also much lower. I see my family more and discovered this wonderful community that I would have never met had it not been for that uneasy feeling that I was moving in a direction that wasn't right for me.

This is a great time for you to explore, take a step back and reimagine the rest of your future.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Dr. Pepper on November 27, 2017, 10:19:53 PM
I've thought about this before, the conclusion I came to is that nothing is truly fair. Your feeling that your at a competitive disadvantage to peers is probably true in some sense. People all have different life circumstances that can make things easier or much much harder. In my own case I found I was competing against people who had no family, and had no intention to have a family, because it would get in the way of the job/studying etc.  I realized 2-3 years into training it wasn't a level playing field, and all I could do was focus on doing the best for myself and not compare my results to other people, because we were not facing the same challenges. It was hard to get to that place, I think most people who have run the academic gauntlet are competitive by nature. I would say if your looking to FIRE, that helps because it gives you a goal outside the realm of work, something you can judge yourself on apart from academic achievement or job successes etc. At least it's that way for me. Another way to look at it is the way Charlie Munger puts it, to paraphrase basically envy in the only deadly sin that doesn't feel good, so just choose not to practice it.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: plainjane on November 28, 2017, 07:53:17 AM
PTF - this is something I've been trying to deal with as I just took a new job with a lower title just as my little sister was promoted to a job with my previous level. I have no solution yet as I don't think sour grapes is a healthy one.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Linda_Norway on November 28, 2017, 08:31:27 AM
<...>
From a career perspective, I've shot myself in the foot.  I'm not going to make management - ever.  I'm unlikely to rise past another promotion, and that's iffy.  And I don't care.  I have no commute, I have plenty of income, I enjoy my work, and I enjoy my three day weekends - literally every single week.  As a minor bonus, those weekends are actually great for my work - I frequently end Thursday with a problem on my mind, and solve it while I'm running a shovel or sledgehammer or something during the weekend.

I have no particular desire to climb the ladders.  I know people who have.  They make tons more money than I do.  They drive cars that cost as much as my house did.  They live in places that... well, a million is not that much, on the coast.  And they're trapped by it.  I just taunt them with my weekends spent digging in dirt, playing with the wife/kid, working on antique machinery, or doing my own thing with small electronics design/repair/etc.

It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

Trust me, when you're retired, doing whatever it is you want (most people I know who retire are busier than they've ever been before - but it's all stuff they want to do, on their schedule), those people grinding their career ladder are going to be jealous as hell.

I am dealing with the exact situation. I started my career earlier then most, received the promotions earlier then most and then stalled. The people I hired 6 years ago are now my equals and in two situations on my managers level. While everyone seems to be sprinting by me up the ladder I'm in a dead-end role just counting to FI. I've stuck to it because its 100% remote, <40 hour work weeks and above average pay.

Sometimes I feel its a chicken or the egg situation. Am I obsessed with FI because my job sucks or does my job suck because i'm obsessed with FI.

Once my MIL, who was a psychologist, told me about a friend of her, who works as a secretary. The friend, approaching the age of 45-50 years old, was wandering if it wasn't time for her to be promoted to a management position. MIL had asked her the question back: if she would have considered you suitable for management, don't you think you would have reached that position a long time ago?

Same for me. I actually have a management education. But as you can't start working at the age of 23 as a manager, I rolled into being a software programmer. Nowadays I am 44 and a test manager. I manage the testing, but not the people. I have never had responsibility for personnel management or budgets (other than the budget for an occasional very small project that only I worked on). I have also understood that I am perhaps not being perceived as management material for whatever reason, maybe my personality. My DH is a manager and he really has some good insights in how to run an apartment in a smart way.

I have also found out that I really value my spare time and have stopped caring about things. I am not jealous of colleagues who show up with a brand new Tesla. I just think they spend a lot of money that I wouldn't want to spend on a car.
Hopefully just another year or 2, working as I do now, with a very reasonable commute, and I might reach my FIRE goal without ever having reach the management level...
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Askel on November 28, 2017, 12:58:40 PM
There's a name for it- or at least part of what is described in this thread:

Imposter Syndrome

Tends to hit graduate students pretty hard, but hardly limited to them. 

I find I enjoy graduate school a lot more when it's not critical to my career success.  And as such, it's my inspiration to achieve FI. I hope to find I enjoy working more when my financial security does not depend on it.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Syonyk on November 28, 2017, 09:35:02 PM
I am not jealous of colleagues who show up with a brand new Tesla. I just think they spend a lot of money that I wouldn't want to spend on a car.

I'm a bit jealous.  I just say that I spent that much on a vehicle, but it was actually two vehicles, they're joined together, on a very nice concrete foundation, and we live in it.  What I paid for our house, you can spend on a loaded Model S.

But I'd be afraid to drive a $100k+ car.  I'd worry about it getting scratched.  I'm a lot happier with a decent commuter (my wife and daughter go into town fairly often), a good solid truck (which... isn't running at the moment, but I've got parts on order), and my motorcycles (I mostly ride a sidecar rig, because it's slow, hysterically fun to ride, and hauls a lot of stuff).  I've got less in my total fleet than many people have in one car, and I can do an awful lot more with it.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Villanelle on November 28, 2017, 10:43:24 PM
I had to leave my career in my early 30s because we moved overseas for DH's work.  It's created a lot of identity issues for me, and I do often look at my friends and former coworkers and see their successes and feel... something about that.

For me, it helps to think about the other side of the choice.  I don't have those things.  But what do I have instead?  you have impending FIRE instead of what those people have, but perhaps that's too esoteric.  Perhaps you need to think about why you want to FIRE, and what, specifically you are FIREing too, so that it's more concrete and you can grab on to it and anchor yourself with that end goal.  You gave up a chance at that award for something.  What is that something?  Is it better than that award?  If so, remind yourself of that.  If not, then it's probably time to do some soul searching and make some changes. 
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: CanuckExpat on November 28, 2017, 11:15:21 PM
I enjoyed reading the input in this thread, and would like to hear more as you process your thoughts.

One thing that popped out to me is I feel a lot of these thoughts and feelings arise from our very natural tendency to view things from a scarcity mindset: when someone else gets praise or a promotion, that means I'm not getting it. The world gets a lot better when you start viewing it from an abundance mindset: that person didn't take anything away from you, and they probably helped make the world more awesome, which will make it more awesome for you.

There are very natural reasons for our brain to approach the world from a scarcity point of view, and society programs us to take that even further. It can be helpful to step back and identify when that is happening.

Ideally, what you want to target is being able to identify and feel compersion (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/compersion): "The feeling of joy one has experiencing another's joy"

I think that term may have had origins in relationships (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/gracie-x/compersion-a-polyamorous-principle-that-can-strengthen-any-relationship_b_6803868.html), but it is pretty broadly applicable

Also, regarding terminology, someone mentioned impostor syndrome. That is a thing, affects many high achievers, grad students, etc.
(http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive/phd092717s.gif) (http://phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1975)

And slightly helpful to remember this dialogue from the Simpsons:
"What's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?
Sour grapes."
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Linda_Norway on November 29, 2017, 12:37:47 AM
I am not jealous of colleagues who show up with a brand new Tesla. I just think they spend a lot of money that I wouldn't want to spend on a car.

I'm a bit jealous.  I just say that I spent that much on a vehicle, but it was actually two vehicles, they're joined together, on a very nice concrete foundation, and we live in it.  What I paid for our house, you can spend on a loaded Model S.

But I'd be afraid to drive a $100k+ car.  I'd worry about it getting scratched.  I'm a lot happier with a decent commuter (my wife and daughter go into town fairly often), a good solid truck (which... isn't running at the moment, but I've got parts on order), and my motorcycles (I mostly ride a sidecar rig, because it's slow, hysterically fun to ride, and hauls a lot of stuff).  I've got less in my total fleet than many people have in one car, and I can do an awful lot more with it.

I am also afraid to scratch a car. And unfortunately I have done that exactly today and need to confess somewhere. I wanted to park close behind a truck and saw the pulling hook sticking out. I thought: "careful Linda, don't park too close to that hook". And then I heard an awful noise and the thing had already happened... Hook was undamaged. My number plate is bulked. I am trying to figure out some excuse to tell my hubby. Luckily the car is far from new (2010 model with 145K kms). But still...
This is not my first scratch. I don't think I would ever be tempted to drive a new car again. I wouldn't trust myself.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: edgema on November 29, 2017, 04:37:48 AM
You touch on a few issues in your post and as someone now 41 and close to FIRE I recognise much of what you are saying. I also came out of the career gates fast and now find myself seeing some others power ahead (spend a moment thinking of those who haven't though as I bet you can name a few).

It is as old as the hills to compare yourself against others. We are 'relative' animals and judge ourselves in this way whether we like it or not. I have a few coping mechanisms when I feel that envy bubble up. At least for me one of the most powerful is to input my net worth into a global net worth percentile calculator. If you are semi-FIRE I would imagine you will be in the top percentiles or will soon be and for me it helps on the gratitude front to realise how many financially less fortunate people there are. Putting my net worth into an online calculator says that for every person with more than me there are over 500 with less. If that doesn't make one feel a little ridiculous about being envious I don't know what will.   

However, the mental exercise can only go so far and to fast track FIRE we moved to a MCOL area from a HCOL area. This move automatically changed the people we now hang around with. From London based bankers, lawyers, accountants and fund managers we now hang around with doctors (its the UK so not paid like the US), teachers, armed forces, small business owners. All doing fine in their own right but on a much more normal financial footing and far less obsessed with money and monetary displays. It might not be in your plans to move but who you surround yourself with matters. That if you earn 10% less than you neighbour you are 4.5% more likely to commit suicide (San Fran Fed research) shows the insane power of this relativism.

Your impostor syndrome. I feel it too but try to recognise that it is very common, wrap it up mentally, and ignore it. It is almost certainly not true after >15 years of working. Also remember that you are choosing a path which has you out in a couple of years, so whether you are an impostor or not is becoming decreasingly important.

I cannot yet truly speak from personal experience, but I am also very confident that when you FIRE and are no longer surrounded with the people you might be at risk of envying for their career, it will be amazing how quickly you stop even thinking about it. Just like you will not be remembered in the office a year after you leave (sorry but true) you wont be thinking about them or any award ceremony. Like Jeff Bezos they will become remote and unimportant to you.

I would be wary of your feeling that lots of people 'love what they do'. We live at a time where everyone is supposed to be 'passionate' about and 'love' what they do, but the reality is that most jobs in no way justify that passion. Sorry what - you are passionate about writing code which helps advertising companies more effectively target under 7 year olds - or whatever it might be. My wife hates that I am so opinionated about this particular point but I think if most people look deep into themselves they know this, even if we are brilliant at convincing ourselves of the importance of what we do. If you are saving lives as a doctor, perhaps, but most of us are not.

Finally, I try to remember that what makes sense for you is what is important and your post hints that maybe you are not yet totally sure of the path (apologies if I am misreading). You are worrying about being an impostor in a career you are leaving soon anyway. You are concerned about others success/awards rather than concentrating on your own measures of success (like being close to FIRE which is amazing). As you get closer and closer to FIRE hopefully these things will fall away as feeling important. Sounds like I am closer to FIRE than you but this has happened naturally for me as the date gets closer. The ridiculousness becomes increasingly obvious.

You are heading towards choosing a different way to live. This will at times feel difficult as you will not be working with the same indicators of success.

Good luck!



 
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Imustacheyouaquestion on November 29, 2017, 02:38:29 PM
It's just work. It's cool to be well-recognized in your field and successful at your job. After all, if you spend 40+ hours a week on something, you might as well have people recognize your efforts. But it's just work.

At the end of the day, I want to be successful in all the other aspects of my life, too: health, relationships with friends and family, side projects. I started caring a lot less about promotions and climbing the career ladder when I realized work was just a means to early retirement for me, and I'm basically uninterested in long term career goals because I don't plan to have a long career.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Laura33 on November 30, 2017, 08:36:26 AM
If someone else's life is bugging you, it's time to take a deep hard look at your own and figure out why. It's not about coping with *their* success, it's about figuring out why your own successes aren't making you feel satisfied.

I do want to hone in on this one post comment though because if it was this easy, then I could likely find truth there.

First, no one ever said it was easy.  It's just necessary.  If you do it right, it will be some of the hardest work you have ever done, but it will put you in a better place.

What you are feeling is completely normal.  You are at a time in life where you probably have more work years behind you than ahead of you, where you are experiencing your own version of the Peter Principle, and where it is completely natural to reevaluate your career goals and expectations.  You also are about at the point where you may have more life behind you than ahead of you, which makes it completely natural to reevaluate what you really want and value out of life and whether you are on the right track to get there.

The problem with turning points like this is that many, many options are still available to you -- but now you're wise and experienced enough to understand that each of those options comes with tradeoffs.  Do you want to throw yourself into your career and achieve that kind of success and recognition that you see your coworkers getting?  You can probably do that; it just means postponing FIRE, working a lot harder, angling for promotions/plum assignments, and a bunch of other stuff you are probably happy not to deal with right now.  Or do you want to FIRE and move on to other life goals ASAP?  You can probably do that, too; it just means cutting back on your lifestyle expectations and giving up those career aspirations for personal freedom.

When you find yourself having an unexpectedly strong, negative reaction to someone else's success, that is about you, not them.  It is a signal that you need to re-evaluate the path that you are currently on, to see if it is actually what you really want for your life, or if it is just something that you have been mindlessly following for years and doesn't actually fit you any more.  E.g., are you really chasing FIRE because you are excited about the freedom and personal opportunities it opens up?  Or is it more that you really, deep down, want to achieve things in your career, but your imposter syndrome has convinced you that you'll fail, and your fear of failure has convinced you that it's better/safer not to try at all (because that way you at least have plausible deniability, i.e., "well, I coulda done it if I'd tried, I just didn't want to"), and "oh, I'm going to FIRE" is a nice mental salve so that you can pretend you're running toward something instead of running away from your fears?*

How you do that analysis is hard, because it forces you to look at yourself -- your fears, your hopes and dreams, your life, your choices -- with brutal honesty.  You can't hide or bullshit yourself.  Given what you've written here, counseling can be a good option to get over that initial hump, because imposter syndrom is a magnificent bullshit artist.  But once you get past that, the key to finding what you really want is to look at the reality of the options before you, good and bad, completely unvarnished.  What are all of your great dreams?  What would that give you -- not the money/power/prestige, but what is the feeling you are chasing (sense of accomplishment maybe for work-related goals; connection to others for personal goals; etc.); you're looking for the emotional "thing" hiding underneath those exterior trappings.  And then, taking for granted that you have what it takes to achieve them, what will it take to do so?  And are you willing to accept those tradeoffs?**

I guarantee you that once you go through this first round, you will decide that you are not willing to do what it really takes to reach some extreme goal -- you're not going to care enough about the work to chase the billion-dollar salary, and you're not going to care enough about FIRE to quit tomorrow and subsist on whatever you have.***  So now the key is to figure out what version of "in-between" provides you the maximum happiness for the minimum acceptable tradeoffs.  This is where you go back to those underlying values/feelings that you identified -- i.e., maybe it's not about getting some stupid award, but it's feeling like you have contributed something meaningful in a field you care about, or doing something that will advance science/be remembered in future years, or feeling like you matter to the people you work with/for, or feeling smart and validated, or whatever.  So how else can you achieve that feeling, without sacrificing everything else that matters to you?  Maybe it's going into an "individual contributor"/highly technical path in lieu of a management path that would give higher pay (e.g., trading FIRE date for more meaningful work in the meantime); maybe it's changing your work to another industry or nonprofit; or maybe it's realizing that work isn't really the "passion" that we were all brought up to believe that it is, and that your best path to finding meaning is to treat the work like a paycheck and join groups/volunteer/write the Great American Novel; do whatever that other thing is you have been postponing because it wasn't what you were "supposed" to do.

The actual answer doesn't matter; there are as many "right" answers as there are people on the earth.  What matters is doing the analysis (without bullshitting yourself), accepting what you find, and then having the courage to go change whatever you need to change to get there, with full knowledge and acceptance of the tradeoffs.

I guarantee you that once you are confidently on the right path for you, others' successes won't cause more than a temporary blip of envy.


*Ask me how I know.

** I call this the "even George Clooney throws his dirty socks on the floor" test -- you're focusing on the realities of the day-to-day, not the pretty perfect picture.

*** Because if you really felt that overwhelmingly strongly about either extreme path, you'd already be doing it and not looking back.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on November 30, 2017, 05:39:39 PM
Wow,  so many great responses. I don't have any specific comments and need to read and absorb.

I do really enjoy hearing from other people who have experienced the same sortof emotions.  It's funny, I didn't expect this as I edge closer to FIRE!
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on November 30, 2017, 08:14:47 PM
If someone else's life is bugging you, it's time to take a deep hard look at your own and figure out why. It's not about coping with *their* success, it's about figuring out why your own successes aren't making you feel satisfied.

I do want to hone in on this one post comment though because if it was this easy, then I could likely find truth there.

First, no one ever said it was easy.  It's just necessary.  If you do it right, it will be some of the hardest work you have ever done, but it will put you in a better place.

What you are feeling is completely normal.  You are at a time in life where you probably have more work years behind you than ahead of you, where you are experiencing your own version of the Peter Principle, and where it is completely natural to reevaluate your career goals and expectations.  You also are about at the point where you may have more life behind you than ahead of you, which makes it completely natural to reevaluate what you really want and value out of life and whether you are on the right track to get there.

The problem with turning points like this is that many, many options are still available to you -- but now you're wise and experienced enough to understand that each of those options comes with tradeoffs.  Do you want to throw yourself into your career and achieve that kind of success and recognition that you see your coworkers getting?  You can probably do that; it just means postponing FIRE, working a lot harder, angling for promotions/plum assignments, and a bunch of other stuff you are probably happy not to deal with right now.  Or do you want to FIRE and move on to other life goals ASAP?  You can probably do that, too; it just means cutting back on your lifestyle expectations and giving up those career aspirations for personal freedom.

When you find yourself having an unexpectedly strong, negative reaction to someone else's success, that is about you, not them.  It is a signal that you need to re-evaluate the path that you are currently on, to see if it is actually what you really want for your life, or if it is just something that you have been mindlessly following for years and doesn't actually fit you any more.  E.g., are you really chasing FIRE because you are excited about the freedom and personal opportunities it opens up?  Or is it more that you really, deep down, want to achieve things in your career, but your imposter syndrome has convinced you that you'll fail, and your fear of failure has convinced you that it's better/safer not to try at all (because that way you at least have plausible deniability, i.e., "well, I coulda done it if I'd tried, I just didn't want to"), and "oh, I'm going to FIRE" is a nice mental salve so that you can pretend you're running toward something instead of running away from your fears?*

How you do that analysis is hard, because it forces you to look at yourself -- your fears, your hopes and dreams, your life, your choices -- with brutal honesty.  You can't hide or bullshit yourself.  Given what you've written here, counseling can be a good option to get over that initial hump, because imposter syndrom is a magnificent bullshit artist.  But once you get past that, the key to finding what you really want is to look at the reality of the options before you, good and bad, completely unvarnished.  What are all of your great dreams?  What would that give you -- not the money/power/prestige, but what is the feeling you are chasing (sense of accomplishment maybe for work-related goals; connection to others for personal goals; etc.); you're looking for the emotional "thing" hiding underneath those exterior trappings.  And then, taking for granted that you have what it takes to achieve them, what will it take to do so?  And are you willing to accept those tradeoffs?**

I guarantee you that once you go through this first round, you will decide that you are not willing to do what it really takes to reach some extreme goal -- you're not going to care enough about the work to chase the billion-dollar salary, and you're not going to care enough about FIRE to quit tomorrow and subsist on whatever you have.***  So now the key is to figure out what version of "in-between" provides you the maximum happiness for the minimum acceptable tradeoffs.  This is where you go back to those underlying values/feelings that you identified -- i.e., maybe it's not about getting some stupid award, but it's feeling like you have contributed something meaningful in a field you care about, or doing something that will advance science/be remembered in future years, or feeling like you matter to the people you work with/for, or feeling smart and validated, or whatever.  So how else can you achieve that feeling, without sacrificing everything else that matters to you?  Maybe it's going into an "individual contributor"/highly technical path in lieu of a management path that would give higher pay (e.g., trading FIRE date for more meaningful work in the meantime); maybe it's changing your work to another industry or nonprofit; or maybe it's realizing that work isn't really the "passion" that we were all brought up to believe that it is, and that your best path to finding meaning is to treat the work like a paycheck and join groups/volunteer/write the Great American Novel; do whatever that other thing is you have been postponing because it wasn't what you were "supposed" to do.

The actual answer doesn't matter; there are as many "right" answers as there are people on the earth.  What matters is doing the analysis (without bullshitting yourself), accepting what you find, and then having the courage to go change whatever you need to change to get there, with full knowledge and acceptance of the tradeoffs.

I guarantee you that once you are confidently on the right path for you, others' successes won't cause more than a temporary blip of envy.


*Ask me how I know.

** I call this the "even George Clooney throws his dirty socks on the floor" test -- you're focusing on the realities of the day-to-day, not the pretty perfect picture.

*** Because if you really felt that overwhelmingly strongly about either extreme path, you'd already be doing it and not looking back.

Youíre cool.
I like you.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 06, 2018, 06:09:22 AM
So I'm revisiting this.

Please note, I feel like an ass for this bothering me. It's close to home and a raw emotion. I feel it but can't place it so I'm looking for more thought.

All great advice above and I realize that it's an issue with myself. If I were to look at my own life under a looking glass, I'd say that it's a solid "8.5/10" on paper and intelligently, I feel very fortunate and blessed. And even if I'm in the 95th percentile for career success/income, I feel rather than looking at the 94 people behind, I'm fixated on the next ones above.

And the closer to me I see others success, the more vulnerable I feel.

Specifically, My younger brother coasted through his 20's (dropped out of University) and even 5 years ago was broke. He got fired from his job and sat around for 8 months. A year later, he had a small framing crew and I hired him to do some work on our home to help keep his guys busy (he had a small framing company). He was broke and I even loaned him money several times outside of the work he was doing on my home to meet his payroll because other family wouldn't. I felt like I was helping him. All was good.

Well, fast forward now.  He's earning well into 6 figures, has met some VERY wealthy people who are hiring him, owns 3 companies, is single and can focus all of his energy on him, him, him. I'm off like a sucker paying for family related expenses and clipping coupons while he's eating at the Keg with friends weekly, going on ATV expeditions, booking months of vacations and just kindof coasting. Without a care for money or responsibility because today, the money is flowing in.

I see as being reckless and lucky. He's a smart guy, but one of the BIG factors for his success is "right place at the right time."

He doesn't have any money really saved, but he earns a lot. Being his own business, he can take home $20-$30k a month and blow it all. He's now walking around touting that he's semi-retired, which has been a long-time goal of mine and one I've been carefully and working hard towards. He just kindof breezed into his version of it.

I wish I could be 100% happy for his success, but there's a feeling of annoyance and vulnerability. Almost like Frank Grimes and Homer Simpson. I can't place it.

Again, I feel like a complete ass for thinking this way, but I do and can't seem to ignore it.  What's wrong with my life that this bothers me???  Lol.


Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 06, 2018, 07:29:47 AM
BTW - Laura33 - I keep reading your post knowing the answer is in there (for me to understand fully), somewhere. Just trying dig it out!
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: okits on July 06, 2018, 07:44:39 AM
The situation with your brother sounds very ant vs. grasshopper-ish.  If you and your wife spent all your money on entertaining yourselves I'm sure you could eat a bunch of Keg steaks and go on some ATV expeditions.  Your description of your brother coasting, saving nothing, and spending like the party will never stop sounds like the grasshopper enjoying summer.  Make sure he has paid back the loans you made him before the weather starts to turn!

Life isn't fair and some people are luckier than others.  You really would benefit from noticing the 94% below you and how much fairer and luckier life has been for you.  Do it consciously and consistently because looking forward towards our aspirations comes naturally, while looking back to appreciate our good fortune often does not.

Please note, I feel like an ass for this bothering me.

I'm off like a sucker paying for family related expenses

Again, I feel like a complete ass for thinking this way

The only "ass" part of your post that really sticks out is that you think you're a sucker for having a spouse and children (and the accompanying responsibilities).  You can't have your brother's freedom unless you deadbeat on your commitments to them, but if you think having the responsibilities of a family makes you a sucker, why did you choose that life for yourself?  (I am also married with two kids and understand how much effort and responsibility a family can be.)  If this is just idle bellyaching and you don't really regret your marriage and children, reframe it as what you have and what your brother doesn't.  Hopefully these relationships bring you happiness and support, not just endless expenses.

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 06, 2018, 08:18:00 AM
The situation with your brother sounds very ant vs. grasshopper-ish.  If you and your wife spent all your money on entertaining yourselves I'm sure you could eat a bunch of Keg steaks and go on some ATV expeditions.  Your description of your brother coasting, saving nothing, and spending like the party will never stop sounds like the grasshopper enjoying summer.  Make sure he has paid back the loans you made him before the weather starts to turn!

Life isn't fair and some people are luckier than others.  You really would benefit from noticing the 94% below you and how much fairer and luckier life has been for you.  Do it consciously and consistently because looking forward towards our aspirations comes naturally, while looking back to appreciate our good fortune often does not.


Please note, I feel like an ass for this bothering me.

I'm off like a sucker paying for family related expenses

Again, I feel like a complete ass for thinking this way

The only "ass" part of your post that really sticks out is that you think you're a sucker for having a spouse and children (and the accompanying responsibilities).  You can't have your brother's freedom unless you deadbeat on your commitments to them, but if you think having the responsibilities of a family makes you a sucker, why did you choose that life for yourself?  (I am also married with two kids and understand how much effort and responsibility a family can be.)  If this is just idle bellyaching and you don't really regret your marriage and children, reframe it as what you have and what your brother doesn't.  Hopefully these relationships bring you happiness and support, not just endless expenses.

Don't get me wrong, I've got a great family life.  Wife and kids that "money can't buy". But with that family life comes less perceptual freedom. 

"Like a sucker" is more of a verb to describe the difference of being committed unconditionally vs. having the ability to flutter about.  There was nothing negative intended about it except for commitment. Just bellyaching as you described.  For example, I'd rather my time be spent planning a vacation than dealing with public school teachers and the various, unforeseen conversations that can arise simply from being an involved parent. I thought I was done with algebra when I WAS DONE school.  But nope, it's back in all its glory! Algebra or vacation thinking...   Only so much time to go around.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: plainjane on July 06, 2018, 08:25:38 AM
I think Okits may be on the right track here. It's very frustrating being the ant.

i'm also reminded of my rich uncle & aunt. They ended up very well off (penthouse with rooftop deck in NYC upper east side, custom built summer home in the Hamptons) thanks to a timely sale of a business. But when they were building that business? My aunt had to pawn baby furniture to make loan payments when she was on maternity leave and her husband's business didn't have the cash flow. They over extended several times and were very lucky on timing with some fancy footwork.

My parents, otoh, also started their own business around the same time. They didn't use leverage. They created a services company instead of a product supply chain company. They never sold. Was my mom jealous of her sister? Maybe. Hard to know, not something I can ask.

But my aunt, like your brother, made a risky play. It paid off. The thing about risky plays is that when they pay off, they can do so disproportionately to the effort.

Things to say and know. I don't know how much they help with feelings.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on July 06, 2018, 09:42:13 AM
Don't get me wrong, I've got a great family life.  Wife and kids that "money can't buy". But with that family life comes less perceptual freedom. 

"Like a sucker" is more of a verb to describe the difference of being committed unconditionally vs. having the ability to flutter about.  There was nothing negative intended about it except for commitment. Just bellyaching as you described.  For example, I'd rather my time be spent planning a vacation than dealing with public school teachers and the various, unforeseen conversations that can arise simply from being an involved parent. I thought I was done with algebra when I WAS DONE school.  But nope, it's back in all its glory! Algebra or vacation thinking...   Only so much time to go around.

Whether you meant it or not that is certainly a negative statement, but with three kids in various activities and whatnot I feel ya but it was a lifestyle decision that was and is important.   I know many be here say kids don't have to be expensive or big time sucks, but for me that just hasn't been the case....but a lot of it is choice and I am ok with that.

Just the other day I had a single friend talking to me about a ski vacation.  I said our family really aren't into skiing and to commit so much money to one vacation that isn't that important to any of us didn't make sense.  He said, its not a lot of  money....I replied how so, please describe your trip and costs.   "Well I had to get a plane ticket, me and my brother split a car rental, and then we stayed at the condo my parents rented,  and then lift tickets. 

Oh yeah, well I have five plane tickets ($2-3k), a larger car rental ($500-800), five life tickets for five days ($2-3k), a condo rental that can hold all of us (no idea really but figure $2-5k).....dumbfounded response was wow that would be a lot of money....yeah no shit.  A week long ski trip could easily hit $10k and don't forget about gear.   

The other example I can give you is me and my dear sister are complete opposites - me a more traditionalist career/life and her more hippie/vagabond (at least early on as she basically spent a decade traveling or bumming in vacay areas).  When she finally grew up in a more traditional sense she managed to live where and how she wants, has various toys, and doesn't work all that hard.   She is envious of the money that we make/have and feels we have been lucky in our jobs (there may be some truth in that, but high performance, long hours, commitment, good fields, etc probably played a little part too I think).   But there is a bit of envy on my side that she has lived the way she wanted to, but with some struggles, so there are tradeoffs.

I always joke with her that "I am trying hard to not be broke, and she is trying hard to stay broke."

I would just be happy for your brother and offer some guidance to set money aside for a rainy day given the cyclical nature of that industry...he probably won't listen but it would be good nonetheless.

And also just remember that saving really isn't fun....until a ways down the road when you have enough.  What I like to say to others who are more spendy or have different values is that "You and I and others aren't all that different, we just choose to spend differently and I have chosen to forego the new cars and trendy clothes and so on so I can make a much bigger purchase, it will be the biggest and most expensive thing I will ever buy and will be far greater cost than all the new cars you will buy in your lifetime."
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: dude on July 06, 2018, 10:18:47 AM
If someone else's life is bugging you, it's time to take a deep hard look at your own and figure out why. It's not about coping with *their* success, it's about figuring out why your own successes aren't making you feel satisfied.

There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in all the answers so far and I find them all to be very helpful.  Thank-you. I'll be rereading a few times.

I do want to hone in on this one post comment though because if it was this easy, then I could likely find truth there. I feel like the truth is that my own successes aren't as good as others and it's somehow limiting me. I sounds silly but I'll go back nearly 20 years.

I was an average teenage kid. Average grades, average looks, all average across the board. It wasn't until post-grad that I seemed to "come into my own" if for only a few years. I was somehow thrust into being the "best student." I was in great shape (best shape of my life), I was charismatic (had spent a few years learning how to communicate in technology sales), I was on the Dean's council, got top grades, etc. When I graduated I was arguably the top student and was nominated by my professors for multiple national awards in my industry.

But there's an ugly underbelly. I was seeing the school therapist at least 3 times of the week and had been recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. It's not severe, but it does impact my decision making. I has also put on 25 BAD lbs that year. I remember explaining that my biggest fear was not graduating #1 or failing my midterms (I never did well on tests despite doing exceptionally well on assignments). 50 or so grads from my class, and I needed to be #1.  This was a new perspective for me.  It was entirely driven by fear of failure.

The logic went like this.  If other students are better than me, then I won't be the top pick for work after I graduate. If I'm not a top pick, I won't find a job. No job = no income and no income means that I'll lose the roof over my head. From there, all hell starts to break loose. It's silly, yes. But it was a real emotion at the time.

And that all mainly went away for the last 15 years. I was always a decent earner for my age. It's not until the last 2-3 years where all of a sudden peers seem to be skyrocketing past me (at least, that's how it appears in my mind).

And my life if pretty decent. Would I trade it with anyone else? Nope. I'd like to cherry pick bits and pieces from other peoples lives to add to mine, but overall, I can't say I'd want to be "someone else" with all they have and don't have.

My younger brother is building a $15 million dollar penthouse condo right now for a client. Colleagues of mine are business owners and entrepreneurs. Some are winning national awards and gaining national recognition and here I am feeling like an imposter (Thanks for that info PaulMaxime - very helpful on this front). But I see the Facebook highlight reel.

Intelligently, I know these things...  But then there's the silly emotional response of "I want the money and connections involved with building a $15 million dollar condo" or "I want the income and recognition associated with being the CTO of a large company."

And yeah, I know that these people don't get there overnight. Doesn't stop me looking over the fence though.

But we live frugally. We're not in a McMansion, we drive average cars, have some nice things, but not a collector of nice things. I used to not care when I saw people driving around in expensive cars. But nowadays, if I'm being honest, if my brother were to pull up in a Mercedes I wouldn't be thinking "I'm happy you found success"

I hate feeling that way. I feel like a bad person.

I'm content with a smaller house and non fancy car when nobody else has one. I'm frugal by nature but I'm starting to want the bigger house and the fancy car only for the reason of peacocking. And not peacocking for any reason other than to give the illusion of success. But I don't want to give up the financial stability. Keeping up with the Jonses right? Simple concept. Not quite so simple to live through.

It's hard to try to capture the emotion in words so I'm doing my best.

Being happy is never simple in practice, itís just the concepts behind it that are simple.

I read through your post carefully, and I still maintain that the way you are processing your history is because of how you choose to process it now, not actually because of your past.

That might sound counter intuitive, but speaking as someone who has had a rather insane life and had a lot of great quality therapy along the way. My past experiences donít dictate how I react to anything. They certainly influence how I experience the world, but how I react to it is 100% my choice. I used to react differently and thought it was *because* of my past. Nope, I still have the same past, I just react differently now.

If you want to feel and react a certain way but find yourself continuing to feel and react in ways that you arenít happy with, then maybe itís time to go back to therapy and continue learning just how much power you can actually have over your own state of mind.

Iíve been there with ďneedingĒ to be #1, terrified of failing, competitive with everyone and feeling personally threatened by otherís success. Frig, I gained 65lbs during the worst of it. Iím not judging you or glibly implying that itís easy, but I am saying that it is possible and highly rewarding to let that shit go.

Once you sort your shit out and feel confident in your ability to make the right choices for yourself, the choices that other people make for themselves will feel utterly irrelevant to you and have no impact on your sense of value.

I come back to my original point now.
Itís time to take a long hard look at why you arenít finding satisfaction in your own success as defined by your own metrics, determined by your own priorities. If you are the only person setting the definition of your own success, then why is accomplishing it not satisfying you?

I think you need to spend some quality time with yourself figuring out what you really need.
Take it from me, now that I donít react that way, I canít fathom going back to it. Itís miserable, and it doesnít have to be that way.

Malkynn laying down more dope advice, as usual. I've found that reading daily reminders from the Stoics helps me to keep my mind in the right place. Marcus Aurelius' teachings are invaluable, and stopping to contemplate them once or twice a day does wonders for one's sense of gratitude. Also, to Malkynn's words regarding choosing how to react -- Viktor Frankl is the best example of this I've ever come across. Imagine being in a camp during the Holocaust, with everything and everyone dear to you taken away, and coming to the fact that the one thing they can't take from you is your power to choose how you react to your circumstances. Profoundly powerful stuff. I am close to some very, very rich people for whom money isn't really an object, and I love being in their midst and enjoying for a small time the fruits of their success, but I harbor no envy or jealousy at all, because I'm perfectly happy with my life choices. I had the intellect and connections to "go farther" in life if I'd chosen that route, but I didn't, because I knew I'd be miserable doing it. So I settled for "mediocrity" if you will, not in the bad sense of the word, but rather in the sense that beyond some of the very great names you see enshrined on various monuments and read about in history classes, the vast, vast majority of humanity (and their accomplishments) will be long forgotten in just two generations' time, and in time even the great names still with us will likely be forgotten as well, so in reality most of us are mediocre. Impermanence is the only permanent thing in this world. So chasing fame or accolades or validation from others is a fool's errand. It's beyond useless. Most of us have secured the basic needs of Maslow's hierarchy, leaving mostly just self-actualization as our final endeavor in this life. Don't waste the time worrying about others, do what brings you satisfaction, fulfillment, joy and purpose -- whether that be gardening or starting a non-profit, sitting idly on a beach or competing in Ironman triathlons, etc, etc. There is no "right way." Seek only to be honest and ethical in whatever you do, and the rest will take care of itself.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Dicey on July 06, 2018, 12:50:30 PM
Also, to the wise words already dispensed, I'll add this: I spent the day with a visiting relative (we went on a hike, because Redwoods + free). I sensed the same feelings in him. It raised alarms at the time. Ten years later, he is an alcoholic, his wife has divorced him, and his now-adult children resent him for his resentment of them. Kids don't miss a thing.

Not saying this would happen to you, but maybe a large dose of gratitude for what you've got would serve you well.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 06, 2018, 12:55:40 PM
I'll point out is has less to do with jealousy and more to do with vulnerability. I feel more vulnerable if someone has more financial flexibility/power than I do.

I don't know why. Vulnerability, not necessarily jealousy. It feels more like a safety thing.

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: shuffler on July 06, 2018, 02:26:46 PM
The logic went like this.  If other students are better than me, then I won't be the top pick for work after I graduate. If I'm not a top pick, I won't find a job. No job = no income and no income means that I'll lose the roof over my head. From there, all hell starts to break loose. It's silly, yes. But it was a real emotion at the time.

Vulnerability, not necessarily jealousy. It feels more like a safety thing.

Hey Kork - I know the first quote is from the earlier iteration of your post, but I suspect it's significant to your ongoing concerns.

I had similar feelings once, not in grad school but early in my career, when I had changed roles to lead a team for the first time, and after I got married and my wife was having medical issues (responsibilities!).

The logic went like this:  If I let any task slip then they'd know that I'm no good at being a team lead (imposter!), and then I'll get a bad review, which is the first step towards getting fired, and once fired I'd no longer have health-insurance, so I won't be able to afford the care my wife needs, and the money spent there will force us to sell the house ... and on and on.

It was a real avalanche of catastrophic thinking.

When you lay out the logic of your earlier grad-school thinking, and when you now say that "it's more to do with vulnerability than jealousy", it makes me think that you're experiencing small echos of your earlier catastrophic thinking.

If you feel like you're not keeping pace with your peers, then you probably feel like you're falling behind, not doing something right.  And if you're falling behind then you're vulnerable to ... something.  Maybe getting fired.  Maybe pay cuts.  Maybe being trapped in your job without other options.  Maybe some kind of professional/social ostracization or embarrassment.

If this rings true at all, then I can think of two things that may help.

First would be to spend time thinking about whether or not you're actually "falling behind".  Sure, the few people you've mentioned are outpacing you at the moment, but you're probably not weighing in all the other people you know, or all the other people in your city/state/country you don't know.  Are you actually losing the marathon?  Or are you kicking ass in 3rd place and getting too worked up about runner #1 and runner #2?  Nothing wrong with a bronze medal.  You still made the podium.

Second would be to take stock of your situation without comparing yourself to other people.  As a mustachian somewhere around 20 years into your career, you're probably doing rather well.  Take some time to acknowledge and appreciate the stability you do have in your life.  If the worst happened, how bad would it actually be?  What would you do?  What resources do you have to fall back on?  (Your stash?  Your employability?  Your spouse?)

Good luck!
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 06, 2018, 02:59:58 PM
Yeah, this could be a case of my diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) kicking in.

Over time, it's gotten progressively better as we've saved $ and found our footing. My anxiety tends to remain very manageable while the "core" of my life (house, health, money) is in a good state.

And these days we're well on the way to FI and if I were to lose my job, my wife could continue working and I could literally play video games all day and let our stache grow.

But somehow, the success of others and the closer they are to me, the more it affects my vulnerability/uneasiness.

It's weird.

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Sun Hat on July 06, 2018, 05:01:44 PM
Take some solace in knowing that imposter syndrome, jealousy and feelings of vulnerability (whether itís from fear of financial ruin or fearing a loss of relative status) are common enough that many of us can relate to your current discomfort.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: itchyfeet on July 06, 2018, 10:58:22 PM
I just stumbled across this thread. I enjoyed reading about all of your various fears and anxieties.

I am struggling with FIRE a little too.

I am insanely competitive. Stupidly so. I canít stand losing. It must be the way I was raised because my sister is exactly the same.

I have done very well in life. Better than I should have based on intelligence, physical gifts, inherited benefits, schooling, neighborhood where I grew up etc. 

I have married well and am very happy, I have amazing friends, have travelled the world, Competed internationally in sport and built a good career.

I have also steadily built a good stash to the point where I am just about to FIRE. I am 46. I really want to FIRE to pursue a few dreams that are impossible to chase when working 60 hours a week. I have no doubt that our stash will allow us to live comfortably (with some moderation) for the rest of our lives.

But......

I have some very successful friends. They arenít planning on stopping. They are pushing on.

I do fear I am taking my reward too soon.

If I worked 5 more years I would be wealthyish, maybe even top 1-2% wealthy if things go well. If I stop now I will be average. Average income but with 40 hours less work to do than the average person (ok, I will have a little more than the median but Iíll be average amongst my circle).

Some of my friends have fought their way to wealth. Maybe I should keep fighting for a few more years and I could have a Porsche too, or whatever. Thus far in life,  I have been spoiled with such good fortune, and now I am opting for something less conventional. Is it the right choice?? It is no doubt a risky decision to tip my world upside down.

Of course I know life is not about how much stuff you have. I wouldnít be here otherwise. Keeping a scorecard against friends is silly.

Ultimately I think it comes down to being brave enough to chase your own dream and to stay really true to yourself. My Uber competitiveness is just one aspect of my psyche. It needs to be kept in check so that I can really get all I want from this short life. This really, really short life.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on July 08, 2018, 05:23:29 AM
I just stumbled across this thread. I enjoyed reading about all of your various fears and anxieties.

I am struggling with FIRE a little too.

I am insanely competitive. Stupidly so. I canít stand losing. It must be the way I was raised because my sister is exactly the same.

I have done very well in life. Better than I should have based on intelligence, physical gifts, inherited benefits, schooling, neighborhood where I grew up etc. 

I have married well and am very happy, I have amazing friends, have travelled the world, Competed internationally in sport and built a good career.

I have also steadily built a good stash to the point where I am just about to FIRE. I am 46. I really want to FIRE to pursue a few dreams that are impossible to chase when working 60 hours a week. I have no doubt that our stash will allow us to live comfortably (with some moderation) for the rest of our lives.

But......

I have some very successful friends. They arenít planning on stopping. They are pushing on.

I do fear I am taking my reward too soon.

If I worked 5 more years I would be wealthyish, maybe even top 1-2% wealthy if things go well. If I stop now I will be average. Average income but with 40 hours less work to do than the average person (ok, I will have a little more than the median but Iíll be average amongst my circle).

Some of my friends have fought their way to wealth. Maybe I should keep fighting for a few more years and I could have a Porsche too, or whatever. Thus far in life,  I have been spoiled with such good fortune, and now I am opting for something less conventional. Is it the right choice?? It is no doubt a risky decision to tip my world upside down.

Of course I know life is not about how much stuff you have. I wouldnít be here otherwise. Keeping a scorecard against friends is silly.

Ultimately I think it comes down to being brave enough to chase your own dream and to stay really true to yourself. My Uber competitiveness is just one aspect of my psyche. It needs to be kept in check so that I can really get all I want from this short life. This really, really short life.

Lol.

Iím surrounded by rich people, the kind who host charity galas and where one of the main silent auction prizes is a drive in one of their many exotic cars. My colleague just bought a helicopter FFS.
Iím in the same line of work, but I chose to only work part time and will be able to retire in my 40s (after starting in my 30s).

I drive a used Corolla with rolly windows, I buy used clothes/shoes, and my little modest townhouse is super dated and in the sketchiest part of town. 

*Yet* most of my colleagues openly envy me for my part time schedule, my flexibility, my perpetual good mood, my activities and projects outside of work, and Iíve now made a business of advising them on their finances, so theyíre definitively not judging me for my financial behaviour.

If you have friends who would judge you, then you have shit friends.
If you are concerned about the judgements of others beyond those you care about, donít be, they donít really give a shit about your life, so donít worry what they think.
If someone wants to judge you, they will find a reason to judge you. You canít prevent it. Itís not based on the life you have or donít have, itís based on them being judgemental and wanting to judge you.

A warning about being competitive in general:
Being competitive is toxic shit that masks as admirable drive because the outcomes tend to be impressive. Meanwhile, being competitive just means suppressing your own values and drives in order to meet and surpass the values and drives of others. It impresses people and looks good on paper, so it tends to self perpetuate.
However, the more you use the drives of others to determine the course of your own life, the more you train yourself to become deaf to your own inner voice and the less able you are to identify your own needs, which can erode your sense of self and confidence.

Truly confident people arenít competitive because they donít need to use anyone else as a yard stick for their own success. They know themselves, they know what they need to be happy, and they pursue it with near total disregard for how that would be perceived by others.

Being competitive is not *who you are* btw, itís a well established habit and pattern of behaviour that you have *chosen* to accept and reinforce. It is well within your power to change that habit.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Dicey on July 08, 2018, 08:31:53 AM
What @Malkynn said. What a badass!
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on July 08, 2018, 08:52:18 AM
What @Malkynn said. What a badass!

Thatís some high praise coming from you.
Thanks Dicey.

I just know what itís like to live in a mental prison of ones own making and have the world validate it as a good and admirable thing to do. Iíve lived through some crazy shit and nothing has ever scared me as much as finally getting my life to a safe and comfortable place and realizing that I had no clue how to be happy and had cultivated zero habits and skills for living a good life.

And the worst part? It was my own doing, my own fault, and my own responsibility to fix it.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: itchyfeet on July 08, 2018, 12:18:40 PM
What @Malkynn said. What a badass!

Thatís some high praise coming from you.
Thanks Dicey.

I just know what itís like to live in a mental prison of ones own making and have the world validate it as a good and admirable thing to do. Iíve lived through some crazy shit and nothing has ever scared me as much as finally getting my life to a safe and comfortable place and realizing that I had no clue how to be happy and had cultivated zero habits and skills for living a good life.

And the worst part? It was my own doing, my own fault, and my own responsibility to fix it.

Yep, I agree with what you are saying too.

Being ďcompetitiveĒ by definition means focusing on others rather than on oneself. Unless you honour truly what is important to yourself you are quite likely to be putting your energies in the wrong place.

That said, my actions and behaviours up to this point mean that I am in a great place to press pause, take a look around and then do some thing differently.

My friends are not judgemental. As you said, they donít care what car I drive, or the size of my home. The problem, if there is one, is with me not them.

Anyways, as I said I enjoyed reading everyone elseís anxieties. I have put mine on paper, and I will spend the first few years Post-Fire retraining my outlook.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on July 08, 2018, 12:33:25 PM
Yeah, this could be a case of my diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) kicking in.

Over time, it's gotten progressively better as we've saved $ and found our footing. My anxiety tends to remain very manageable while the "core" of my life (house, health, money) is in a good state.

And these days we're well on the way to FI and if I were to lose my job, my wife could continue working and I could literally play video games all day and let our stache grow.

But somehow, the success of others and the closer they are to me, the more it affects my vulnerability/uneasiness.

It's weird.

You mention that you have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.  Have you sought counseling for it? 

I have a relative with anxiety issues, and it took me a long time to realize that merely pointing out to him the irrationality of his thoughts and self-talk was not doing any good.  He already knew that stuff was irrational; my pointing it out just made him feel that much worse about it.  It struck me that a lot of the reaction you're getting in this thread is similar; all of it is very well-meaning, of course, but it's basically just people explaining to you why your feelings and thoughts are not rational and why you shouldn't think that way. 

Not that it isn't good to talk about these things with concerned acquaintances, but I think a good counselor who knows how to work with anxiety sufferers would help you much more than we can.  That's what it took to get my relative over the hump to where he could function better.  And amazingly, as common as anxiety issues are, it took a long time for him to find a counselor that really understood anxiety and knew how to work with him.  His version of anxiety came with substance abuse as a symptom, and most of the counselors just wanted to focus on the substance abuse issue without addressing the anxiety disorder.  Which really did more harm than good.  So I guess my advice there would be if you don't like the first (or second, or third) counselor, keep trying until you find one that helps.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Bartleby_the_Scrivener on July 08, 2018, 07:31:58 PM
It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

+1

@kork, you might consider deleting your social media accounts. I did that six or seven years ago and don't regret it for an instant.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: chasesfish on July 08, 2018, 08:24:17 PM
Peerís Success?  It hurts and I canít help it, especially when I see peers not objectively as good as I am being promoted.  On the good side, I can push for the promotion and have FU money if they retaliate, but I really shouldnít care.  Often the title/promotion is about respect for the work youíve done. 

Iíll quote something Dell Curry said to his son when Steph entered the NBA:  ďnever count another manís moneyĒ. It should be that way with professional accomplishments too
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: snapperdude on July 09, 2018, 08:48:59 PM

"Like a sucker" is more of a verb to describe the difference of being committed unconditionally vs. having the ability to flutter about.  There was nothing negative intended about it except for commitment. Just bellyaching as you described.  For example, I'd rather my time be spent planning a vacation than dealing with public school teachers and the various, unforeseen conversations that can arise simply from being an involved parent. I thought I was done with algebra when I WAS DONE school.  But nope, it's back in all its glory! Algebra or vacation thinking...   Only so much time to go around.

Well, now you just sound like a whiney little shit. By the way, it sound like your brother doesn't have anything to show for his efforts but some memories. No money saved after all that? What a loser.

MOD EDIT: Please read the forum rules.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 10, 2018, 09:36:08 AM
Well, now you just sound like a whiney little shit. By the way, it sound like your brother doesn't have anything to show for his efforts but some memories. No money saved after all that? What a loser.

All great advice and insight - Thanks everyone (except ^ this guy)

My brother is creating memories, nothing wrong with that. I don't criticize him for his choices or actions.  It's just putting me under MY OWN looking glass. This has nothing to do with him. His choices are his own.

Getting back to the grown-up conversation, I've been reflecting on why there may be bother around this and why I may have the feeling.  Perhaps it's because by brother is doing the things that I'd like to be doing? I'm not living his life, only seeing the "highlight reel" of is daily dealings.

As I get closer to FI, I find myself thinking "what will I be doing with my time?" and I've thought long and hard about "fun jobs" or "menial labour."  But at a personality level, could I do something that is valued low in exchange for income? Could I "dig dirt" or work as a barista knowing that my my exchange for time for something less stressful was actually worth it?

If I find my passion that I'd be willing to exchange my time for with no income, then perhaps, but as it sits right now, my passion is striving towards FI and then deciding what to do with the time.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 10, 2018, 10:47:31 AM
Once you sort your shit out and feel confident in your ability to make the right choices for yourself, the choices that other people make for themselves will feel utterly irrelevant to you and have no impact on your sense of value.

I come back to my original point now.
Itís time to take a long hard look at why you arenít finding satisfaction in your own success as defined by your own metrics, determined by your own priorities. If you are the only person setting the definition of your own success, then why is accomplishing it not satisfying you?

I think you need to spend some quality time with yourself figuring out what you really need.
Take it from me, now that I donít react that way, I canít fathom going back to it. Itís miserable, and it doesnít have to be that way.

Just re-read the entire thread and I'm at this point. Not finding satisfaction. I feel almost like my value is based on my success and financial status and not my actual thoughts. "The messenger in the message" sortof thing.

I really don't want to do therapy again because it's $ out of pocket and my previous experiences have been questionable in terms of success. I'd rather see if I can figure it out on my own.  I feel like I'm close to a breakthrough.  Just need that "nudge" to have an epiphany.

By understanding the fulfillment curve and value and appreciation for the material stuff, I'm okay with that.  But inside I feel that even though I believe something to be true, I feel a nagging "yeah, that's what poor people say, you really should buy that $15k ATV without a care in the world for money and take it for a spin to see how much fun it really is!"
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: simonsez on July 10, 2018, 12:55:45 PM
It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

+1

@kork, you might consider deleting your social media accounts. I did that six or seven years ago and don't regret it for an instant.
You don't consider this forum a medium in which you are socializing with others?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 10, 2018, 01:01:12 PM
It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

+1

@kork, you might consider deleting your social media accounts. I did that six or seven years ago and don't regret it for an instant.
You don't consider this forum a medium in which you are socializing with others?

I can understand the idea.  Everyone posting their own highlight reel on Facebook for you to passively absorb. If 5% of your 200 friends are on vacation at any one time, it'll look like people are on vacation all the time!  Family pics!  Smiling kids! "Happy birthday to the most loving husband in the world..." messages.

Intelligently, it's a BS highlight reel that is in no way the same as reality...  But "what if" just "maybe" that person is as happy as they're letting on they are!  Newsflash!  Chances are, the ones who are happiest aren't posting!  But... What if?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: simonsez on July 10, 2018, 03:18:34 PM
It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

+1

@kork, you might consider deleting your social media accounts. I did that six or seven years ago and don't regret it for an instant.
You don't consider this forum a medium in which you are socializing with others?

I can understand the idea.  Everyone posting their own highlight reel on Facebook for you to passively absorb. If 5% of your 200 friends are on vacation at any one time, it'll look like people are on vacation all the time!  Family pics!  Smiling kids! "Happy birthday to the most loving husband in the world..." messages.

Intelligently, it's a BS highlight reel that is in no way the same as reality...  But "what if" just "maybe" that person is as happy as they're letting on they are!  Newsflash!  Chances are, the ones who are happiest aren't posting!  But... What if?
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 10, 2018, 03:48:19 PM
It comes down to what you want in life.  I'm working towards being less reliant on an income, simply because I'm one hell of a pessimist about western civilization, but also because humans are designed to be outside, in the sun, doing physical labor.  We're happiest doing that, and even happier doing it with other people.

+1

@kork, you might consider deleting your social media accounts. I did that six or seven years ago and don't regret it for an instant.
You don't consider this forum a medium in which you are socializing with others?

I can understand the idea.  Everyone posting their own highlight reel on Facebook for you to passively absorb. If 5% of your 200 friends are on vacation at any one time, it'll look like people are on vacation all the time!  Family pics!  Smiling kids! "Happy birthday to the most loving husband in the world..." messages.

Intelligently, it's a BS highlight reel that is in no way the same as reality...  But "what if" just "maybe" that person is as happy as they're letting on they are!  Newsflash!  Chances are, the ones who are happiest aren't posting!  But... What if?
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."

I'm personally not ready to delete my accounts, but I understand how it makes it easy to peer into other people's lives. That said, I did make a plan that whenever I was about to "go to Facebook" that I'd redirect myself elsewhere.  It's just such a habit now!  MUST RESIST!

I see this forum as a place where people have common interests and goals.  Facebook is the eternal "Look at me" and "listen to my political views" platform.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Bartleby_the_Scrivener on July 10, 2018, 08:26:50 PM
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."

I'm not sure an anonymous profile on a forum is the same thing as a Facebook account, especially in the context of the thread.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Dicey on July 10, 2018, 09:01:32 PM
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."

I'm not sure an anonymous profile on a forum is the same thing as a Facebook account, especially in the context of the thread.
A-fucking-men! Some of us are actually here trying to help others. Don't see much of that happening on FB. Oh wait, I don't do FB. I'm only saying that because of all the complaints I read about on those other forum threads like this one:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/overheard-on-facebook/

Five years old, 153 pages long and still going strong. Gotta love it! (But not enough to join, lol.)
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Villanelle on July 11, 2018, 01:35:22 AM
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."

I'm not sure an anonymous profile on a forum is the same thing as a Facebook account, especially in the context of the thread.
A-fucking-men! Some of us are actually here trying to help others. Don't see much of that happening on FB. Oh wait, I don't do FB. I'm only saying that because of all the complaints I read about on those other forum threads like this one:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/overheard-on-facebook/

Five years old, 153 pages long and still going strong. Gotta love it! (But not enough to join, lol.)
Meh.  I think "Facebook is evil" is about the same as "credit cards are evil".  It depends entirely on how you use them.  I intentionally kept my FB friends list very small.  While many people seem to pride themselves on how many friends they have, my goal has always been to try to keep people away, to the extent that I had a completely fake name for a while.  (I felt a need to change this due to a role I was taking on, but once that is over, I will likely start an entirely new account with another fake name and only friend request the people about whom I really and truly care, and the other account--with my real name--will serve as the place I send people who ask to friend me but who I don't really want in the true inner circle.)  Anyway, I absolutely see people on my account helping each other with information, resources (someone recently posted that her very low-income friend was looking for a room to stay in or rent for very cheap, and within a few days, the extended network had found a free room, for example), positivity, and support. 

The complaints one reads about Facebook are about the same as the complaints one hears about credit cards.  Certainly, if used certain ways, they can both be negative things, and some people aren't wired to be able to use them differently and therefore should absolutely avoid them (either FB or CCs).  But there is a way of carefully selecting friends (and or hiding people one might feel obligated to friend for some reason but whose posts one doesn't want to see) and watching what one posts oneself that absolutely allows Facebook to be productive and positive. 
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on July 11, 2018, 06:43:13 AM
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."

I'm not sure an anonymous profile on a forum is the same thing as a Facebook account, especially in the context of the thread.
A-fucking-men! Some of us are actually here trying to help others. Don't see much of that happening on FB. Oh wait, I don't do FB. I'm only saying that because of all the complaints I read about on those other forum threads like this one:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/overheard-on-facebook/

Five years old, 153 pages long and still going strong. Gotta love it! (But not enough to join, lol.)
Meh.  I think "Facebook is evil" is about the same as "credit cards are evil".  It depends entirely on how you use them.  I intentionally kept my FB friends list very small.  While many people seem to pride themselves on how many friends they have, my goal has always been to try to keep people away, to the extent that I had a completely fake name for a while.  (I felt a need to change this due to a role I was taking on, but once that is over, I will likely start an entirely new account with another fake name and only friend request the people about whom I really and truly care, and the other account--with my real name--will serve as the place I send people who ask to friend me but who I don't really want in the true inner circle.)  Anyway, I absolutely see people on my account helping each other with information, resources (someone recently posted that her very low-income friend was looking for a room to stay in or rent for very cheap, and within a few days, the extended network had found a free room, for example), positivity, and support. 

The complaints one reads about Facebook are about the same as the complaints one hears about credit cards.  Certainly, if used certain ways, they can both be negative things, and some people aren't wired to be able to use them differently and therefore should absolutely avoid them (either FB or CCs).  But there is a way of carefully selecting friends (and or hiding people one might feel obligated to friend for some reason but whose posts one doesn't want to see) and watching what one posts oneself that absolutely allows Facebook to be productive and positive.

Agreed.

My Facebook is pretty awesome.
If someone doesnít provide awesome content, I delete or unfollow them.
Most of my FB contacts post interesting, insightful, funny, entertaining, thought provoking stuff.

Awesome people make for an awesome FB experience.
I learn so much from my FB contacts on a daily basis.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: simonsez on July 11, 2018, 10:10:54 AM
To each their own, of course.  I just think a forum like this one IS social media as are any other websites in which you engage with people be it pictures, video, or with words.  To delete a facebook account and thinking of that as your only social media presence while still engaging with others online elsewhere seems silly to me.  I'm not saying going off social media is inherently good or bad, I just think it's weird when people say that they're deleting "social media" on a different social media site. 

Sure, if reducing your online presence would do you good, do it.  Maybe you could benefit from my dad's dinner "advice", "Worry about what's on your plate."

I'm not sure an anonymous profile on a forum is the same thing as a Facebook account, especially in the context of the thread.
A-fucking-men! Some of us are actually here trying to help others. Don't see much of that happening on FB. Oh wait, I don't do FB. I'm only saying that because of all the complaints I read about on those other forum threads like this one:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/overheard-on-facebook/

Five years old, 153 pages long and still going strong. Gotta love it! (But not enough to join, lol.)
FB is what you make it, as are many things.  FB is generally a positive experience for me.  If it isn't for you, that's fine but the website has a TEN figure usage.  Obviously a good chunk of humans on the planet are getting some type of utility from it.  I actually learned about MMM via FB from an old co-worker and have been PM'd about personal finance on several occasions in addition to many other positive interactions that were catalyzed/facilitated by FB that are outside the normal scope of posts that only your circle of family and friends care about.

Posts about FB also suffer from selection bias - of course there is outrageous, hurtful, wasteful, unnecessary stuff that gets shared.  I mean, there are over 2 billion people that logged on in the past month, there will be something.  If schadenfreude is your thing, FB will keep you entertained even as an outsider no doubt. 

Side note: can you imagine how boring it would be if there was a MMM forum topic dedicated to "Can you believe this person on FB shared a picture of their dog with their friends?" or "How dare this person talk about what their favorite movie is!".  It's mainly innocent, low-key, and not too private.  Thus, selection bias.

There is plenty of comparing that goes on this site that might make some envious of other's ability to reach FIRE and will just lurk or post minimally.  And keep in mind there isn't a way to un-follow or defriend certain posters, you can just try to click on articles that might only interest you.  Now, for the most part it is anonymous so it's a degree or three removed from a co-worker but I'm sure some feel intimidated in some manner by "peer poster success".  Or someone might not be bothered at all and will spill thousands of posts about their lives into journal pages and/or pick and choose what they read and not even think of other's lives.

FB and the MMM forum are obviously different, I never claimed they were the same but there is human engagement with one another.  So, if the OP has a hard time handling peer success and would also benefit from reducing/eliminating FB usage, maybe they'd benefit from a MMM diet as well.  Or, FB/MMM might not even be on OP's radar for thinking about other people and not relevant to the topic at all.  Everyone's "bubble" has a different level of sensitivity.  It isn't on my radar currently to be jealous of peer success in the workplace (but I work with lovable simpletons (-; ), FB friends, or those on here but I could see how comparing the "highlight reel" of FB could have a similar feel to hearing about the accolades of a co-worker or seeing how someone on the Internet in the same field as you makes twice as much.

Facebook behavior is definitely interesting.  I would never tell my wife happy birthday* or happy anniversary* or spew some corny mushy stuff online when she is sitting next to me in real life or engage in political posts (90% of this is due to being a fed) or post about life's problems.  I will have the occasional picture of getting together with family and friends or a picture from a trip or engage in a topic that interests me.  And I enjoy seeing what others are up to.  If some acquaintance thinks that this presence online is somehow a Potemkin village and decide to defriend/un-follow, I can live with that.

*-Now if there was a celebration of people getting together for an event, be it the two of us or a group then a picture online for others that might like to see it could be nice.  Otherwise it's intimate shit I'm not going to post.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Btag84 on July 28, 2018, 06:52:29 AM
Following
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: StarBright on July 28, 2018, 07:13:10 AM
First, I started a great mediation program which teaches you to wish others loving kindness. Essentially, you begin by wishing yourself peace, happiness, and an end to your stress and suffering. Then you wish this upon someone you love. Then you wish this upon someone outside of family, and then ultimately, someone you have ill feelings toward (including jealousy). When you wish that person peace, happiness and an end to his/her suffering there is something magical that happens in your own heart. The jealously begins to fade and you can focus on your own path more clearly.

Secondly, remember that everything in the world is impermanent. What seems like a great accomplishment at this moment will change and eventually fade.

Third, ask yourself, "What are the three most important things I would like to accomplish with my life?" If winning an award is one of them, then OK. If not, then follow your answers because those will make your life feel far more fulfilling.

I was going to post something similar!

I've just recently happened on the concept of Mudita - sympathetic joy.  It has been very helpful for me. Most of the time I've realized that what I am feeling is jealousy for the other's person's happiness, not jealousy for what they actually have. So I am retraining myself to just go with a great big mental "Good for them! How wonderful that they seem so happy!" and then keep working towards what makes me happy. I'm happier when I'm directing happy thoughts to others (funny how that works :))

Just noticed that this is a ZOMBIE threat! Brains . . . !
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 30, 2018, 09:14:02 AM
So more has developed.

The realization, as others have mentioned is that the issue has nothing to do with others.  It has everything to do with myself. I get that.

My Adult Life

[year 1 - 10] - Went to college. Worked hard. Went back for post-grad. Started career, started family. Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary.
[year 11] - Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary.
[year 12] - Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary.
[year 13] - Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary.
[year 14] - Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary.
[year 15] - Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary. Hit Millionaire Net Worth. Woohoo!
[year 16] - Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary.
[year 17] - ?????  Guessing it'll be "Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary."
[year 18] - ?????  Guessing it'll be "Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary."
[year 19] - ?????  Guessing it'll be "Responsible, Worked hard, raised family. Good Salary."
[year 20] - Early/Semi-retirement living off $50-$60k a year of passive income from investments and a paid off house.  Worked tens of thousands of hours to get there.

I've spent my entire life being responsible. I've taken moderate risks which have been good but I haven't bet the farm. I haven't been reckless and I don't know if my excuse is that I have a family, or if it's simply being responsible?

So my life has seemingly been a continual upwards trending boring line graph. Stable home, stable family.

His life has largely represented a scatter graph.

Brothers Adult Life

[year 1- 10] - Went to college, dropped out. Pot head, mooching, partying, etc, broke.
[year 11] - I lend him money. He's broke and living in parents house. Irresponsible.
[year 12] - I lend him money. The next year he gets fired and starts his own company. When he doesn't have work, he lays his employees off and they live on Employment Insurance.
[year 13] - I lend him money. He earns $200k doing construction with a crew. Blows it all. Nothing left. He's just managing the projects and essentially working part-time. Partying, etc. Takes winter off.
[year 14] - Builds a $15 million condo unit for a client and another $10 million condo unit for another. Turns down full-time job offer because he doesn't like the commitment.
[year 15] - Gets one of his billionaire clients to invest millions in a waterfront property to "flip it". Sells his own home and he lives in the boat house on multi-million dollar property while renovating. Agreement is to split the profits with billionaire.
[year 16] - ?????

This upcoming year could be the worst year of his life or it could project him into multi-millionaire status. He's now working with Billionaire's.

He's lazy. He's lucky. He's smart.

Do I fault him? No. Does it make me look at myself under the looking glass?  Yes.

The issue isn't with him, it's with me. But I don't know how to be reckless? I've always thought "Be careful who's advise you buy. For everyone who's successful enough to write a book, there's 1000 others who have done something very similar and lost it all."

The feeling is like Grimey and Homer Simpson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA1RgpYS2IQ


Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: okits on July 30, 2018, 12:24:36 PM
kork - you've basically just written that you think you lived your life wrong even though you have stability, a family, and are a millionaire.  Your comparison point is a guy who spent most of his life partying, mooching off others, and is currently living the high life because he hit a big patch of luck.

It sounds like you value the partying and flashy lifestyle more than what you have, and you value risk-taking and instability more than the steady, gradual approach you took.

This thread is eight months old.  Clearly you're persistently struggling with these issues.  Please find an experienced therapist to help you work through them.  For your sake and for your family's sake.  Unless they are utterly self-absorbed, your wife and kids can sense that you are unhappy and dissatisfied with your life, a life that includes them.  They don't deserve to be living with your unhappiness when you can do something about it.  Your wife is a grown up but your kids might think your unhappiness is their fault and be unable to communicate that idea (so they're carrying that around, inside).

My final thought is that the billionaire friends who could make your brother rich could also squash him like a bug.  What will he do if they simply refuse to pay?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: marble_faun on July 30, 2018, 01:29:37 PM
It sounds like you have a great life. You're a millionaire. You have a family. Within a few years you will be able to quit work and dedicate your time to whatever you want. Billions of people the world over would want to be in your shoes.

It's not healthy to compare yourself to your brother.  For one thing, we don't know how his story turns out. But even if it turns out well, that's not a bad thing for you.  It just means your family has even more millionaires in it.  And sure, he partied through his 20s... but you'll be kicking back (in whatever way you see fit) in a few years, likely in a longer and more sustainable way.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: bisimpson on July 30, 2018, 01:58:43 PM
I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread. Powerful wordsóthanks for raising the issue. I'm finding that this journey challenges me to consider my relationship to my own things than I would have guessed when I started.

You might not be wrong about your brother, but you also don't want to be Grimey either. He was sort of a jerk and ended up dead.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on July 30, 2018, 02:08:28 PM
kork - you've basically just written that you think you lived your life wrong even though you have stability, a family, and are a millionaire.  Your comparison point is a guy who spent most of his life partying, mooching off others, and is currently living the high life because he hit a big patch of luck.

It sounds like you value the partying and flashy lifestyle more than what you have, and you value risk-taking and instability more than the steady, gradual approach you took.

This thread is eight months old.  Clearly you're persistently struggling with these issues.  Please find an experienced therapist to help you work through them.  For your sake and for your family's sake.  Unless they are utterly self-absorbed, your wife and kids can sense that you are unhappy and dissatisfied with your life, a life that includes them.  They don't deserve to be living with your unhappiness when you can do something about it.  Your wife is a grown up but your kids might think your unhappiness is their fault and be unable to communicate that idea (so they're carrying that around, inside).

My final thought is that the billionaire friends who could make your brother rich could also squash him like a bug.  What will he do if they simply refuse to pay?

I've spent a fair amount of time with therapists over the years, mostly for the anxiety.  I've never found them to be any more helpful than by coming to conclusions myself by using common logic and reasoning skills.

My family life is fine and my kids are good. We spend a lot of time together and everything is very happy. This is not something that occupies my entire day, but seem to occur in spurts.  You'll notice for an 8 month thread there was about 6 months there where things were inactive.  It just recently popped back up.

I'm also not dissatisfied with my life.  I just feel that there could be more. Perhaps it's the "turning 40 soon" itch. Not sure. For the last couple years I thought I found it by the appeal of "MMM" and downsizing, but now I'm wondering...  Is the allure of FIRE brought on by not enjoying what I do?  If that's the case, then I'm sure anyone in these forums seeking to FIRE could be a candidate for therapy.

I've been exposed to the fulfillment curve, to studies showing that $75k income is the sweet spot for happiness, etc.  But OTOH, is that just what poor people say to make themselves feel better? If I'm seeking FIRE, then I'll likely never know because even though I have 25+ more working years if I choose (and health permits)...  But what if???

Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: plainjane on July 31, 2018, 06:32:54 AM
I've been exposed to the fulfillment curve, to studies showing that $75k income is the sweet spot for happiness, etc.  But OTOH, is that just what poor people say to make themselves feel better? If I'm seeking FIRE, then I'll likely never know because even though I have 25+ more working years if I choose (and health permits)...  But what if???

I think the 75k number is not the sweet spot for happiness. It's the number at which more money doesn't really help because lack of money isn't really the thing bringing you down. It's the point where it's mostly the relationships, personal fulfillment/mission, health, etc. that is driving the overall satisfaction with life.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: StarBright on July 31, 2018, 07:26:09 AM
kork - you've basically just written that you think you lived your life wrong even though you have stability, a family, and are a millionaire.  Your comparison point is a guy who spent most of his life partying, mooching off others, and is currently living the high life because he hit a big patch of luck.

It sounds like you value the partying and flashy lifestyle more than what you have, and you value risk-taking and instability more than the steady, gradual approach you took.

This thread is eight months old.  Clearly you're persistently struggling with these issues.  Please find an experienced therapist to help you work through them.  For your sake and for your family's sake.  Unless they are utterly self-absorbed, your wife and kids can sense that you are unhappy and dissatisfied with your life, a life that includes them.  They don't deserve to be living with your unhappiness when you can do something about it.  Your wife is a grown up but your kids might think your unhappiness is their fault and be unable to communicate that idea (so they're carrying that around, inside).

My final thought is that the billionaire friends who could make your brother rich could also squash him like a bug.  What will he do if they simply refuse to pay?

I've spent a fair amount of time with therapists over the years, mostly for the anxiety.  I've never found them to be any more helpful than by coming to conclusions myself by using common logic and reasoning skills.

My family life is fine and my kids are good. We spend a lot of time together and everything is very happy. This is not something that occupies my entire day, but seem to occur in spurts.  You'll notice for an 8 month thread there was about 6 months there where things were inactive.  It just recently popped back up.

I'm also not dissatisfied with my life.  I just feel that there could be more. Perhaps it's the "turning 40 soon" itch. Not sure. For the last couple years I thought I found it by the appeal of "MMM" and downsizing, but now I'm wondering...  Is the allure of FIRE brought on by not enjoying what I do?  If that's the case, then I'm sure anyone in these forums seeking to FIRE could be a candidate for therapy.

I've been exposed to the fulfillment curve, to studies showing that $75k income is the sweet spot for happiness, etc.  But OTOH, is that just what poor people say to make themselves feel better? If I'm seeking FIRE, then I'll likely never know because even though I have 25+ more working years if I choose (and health permits)...  But what if???

Based on the bolded above - it may be time to just acknowledge that this is your anxiety talking. You know at this point that anxiety is all about the "What if" so can you just accept that this is what it is? You obviously can only choose to go down one path at a time. Those of us "blessed" with whatever evolutionary advantages anxiety was apparently useful for have a big problem with the path unchosen.  On the other hand - if this is becoming intrusive thought territory it might be time to reach out for help again and don't rule out meds (I can't tell you how many friends I have that feel like different people after taking something for general anxiety).
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on August 01, 2018, 11:48:45 AM
Thank-you everyone for thoughts and comments.  I think it may be the anxiety getting the better of me. Like one poster said, the evolutionary advantage makes the path not taken much more difficult to accept.  I think there's much truth to that.  The caveat however, is that logic tends to prevail with me. If I can work something out logically and believe it to be true, then I can usually move past something.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: PseudoStache on August 01, 2018, 01:42:57 PM
This is an interesting thread and I feel that I've sort of struggled with a bit of what you have as well.

I started off strongly in my career, probably top 5% of 22/23 year olds at the time... I splurged a bit, but immediately started saving (a little), and then gradually ramped that up, got married, kids, etc.

I'm probably in the top 10% of net worth for my age group today.... but when I look at my salary, I see that I have seriously lost momentum.  Granted, it is still an enviable income to many, but it doesn't hold the same cache or status of yesteryear.

And frankly, I don't think it will improve beyond cost of living adjustments.

My little sister has recently hit her stride, and will likely begin making twice what I do in the coming years, and I'm seeing college grads with 0 years of experience starting off not too far from my current salary.

So what am I doing about it?  Not much.  Don't get me wrong, I'm performing well in my role, but earning significantly more money would mean changing jobs.  I want the next 10-11 years before I FIRE to be "simple."  I'm happy with the status quo and don't plan to change it unless I'm forced to.

When I feel "mediocre" from a salary perspective, what grounds me is the fact that I do have a significant net worth.  With my salary+investment gains I will likely grow my net worth at a faster rate than higher earners - including some well paid physicians and silicon valley peeps.  And even when my sister doubles what I make, there's almost no way that she will be able to catch up.

So while peers/family are now killing it and are becoming more "successful" than me, I am at peace with where I'm at.  I also know that if I lost my job today, I would not HAVE to work ever again.  I don't believe many of my higher earning peers could say the same thing.

I've also acknowledged that there are going to be people out there who are going to get rich off of playing pranks on youTube or hanging out with Billionaires - but I don't consider them my "peers"

I liked this thought exercise that I saw on Facebook the other day.  It basically asked: "If you could live in World "A" where everyone made $25K per year and you made $50K per year, or in World "B" where you made $100K, but everyone else made $200K - and the cost for all items/housing/etc. was the same in either world - which would you choose?"


 
 


Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on August 02, 2018, 04:58:23 AM
This is an interesting thread and I feel that I've sort of struggled with a bit of what you have as well.

I started off strongly in my career, probably top 5% of 22/23 year olds at the time... I splurged a bit, but immediately started saving (a little), and then gradually ramped that up, got married, kids, etc.

I'm probably in the top 10% of net worth for my age group today.... but when I look at my salary, I see that I have seriously lost momentum.  Granted, it is still an enviable income to many, but it doesn't hold the same cache or status of yesteryear.

And frankly, I don't think it will improve beyond cost of living adjustments.

My little sister has recently hit her stride, and will likely begin making twice what I do in the coming years, and I'm seeing college grads with 0 years of experience starting off not too far from my current salary.

So what am I doing about it?  Not much.  Don't get me wrong, I'm performing well in my role, but earning significantly more money would mean changing jobs.  I want the next 10-11 years before I FIRE to be "simple."  I'm happy with the status quo and don't plan to change it unless I'm forced to.

I did the exact same thing.  15 years ago I started saving as soon as loans were paid off. I'm in the top 5% for income and net worth is in the top 80%. It's worth mentioning that that 80% is not for my age, but across Canada. Additionally, my net worth is not just in property, but investments whereas most people with a high net worth have done so because of the housing boom over the past 15 years. Buy a house for $300k, now worth $1.5 million.

When I was already in leadership roles, my peers were lower.  I remember one of my colleagues mentioning "wow, director level at 25?" and I had never really thought of it. It's not until I wasn't at (or close to) the top did it start weighing on me a bit.

Then I started a family and less energy went to career.  Instead, it focused on time with them. Rather than speaking at conferences, I was speaking at the dinner table, lol.

And that's okay.

For whatever reason, over the past couple days I feel much better and I think it comes from the confirmation that money and success is fleeting. Too much is a bad think. We think we want it,  society tells us we want it, but in the end, it's a game of never quite having enough for many. The more you have, the more you want. In my brothers case, he places his value on his outward appearance of success, not the content of his character. He thinks more money will make him a better "catch" for a good mate and that these successes will make him more desirable.  And hey, it might do that but at what cost?  I'm content knowing that my relationship with my wife started when I had nothing and it would remain strong if we went back to having nothing.

I know I'm rich in nearly every sense of the word.  Income, net worth, health, family... But there's just something about the allure of "what's the grass like over there"? There's definitely a FOMO influence here. Brother brushing shoulders with uber rich. What opportunities present themselves by saying "my buddy, Mr. Tesla" for example... etc...

And by hearing stories from others here who have BTDT with the stupid high incomes and brushing shoulders with the financial elites but have chosen a different path are most helpful.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: jlcnuke on August 02, 2018, 07:11:29 AM
I have friends that have massive mortgages on their McMansions, lake-boats that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, upper 5-low 6-figure cars etc, paying for their kids to do every expensive thing they decide to try out, with all the associated trappings you could think of for such a lifestyle (clothes, food, etc).

I have friends that live in apartments or trailers and drive cars that cost less than $1k.

I don't compare myself to them. Their priorities in life are different than mine. What makes them happy is different than what makes me happy.  While FIRE is MY goal, there's nothing inherently noble about it that makes me a better person for pursuing FIRE over the person paying their bills and not saving enough to ever consider FIRE. For the same income, they'll have a more lavish lifestyle in some way or another, but that doesn't mean they're more or less happy than I am.

I have friends that have climbed the corporate ladder and I have no doubt I could be a VP or director of a company by now had I chosen to pursue that path, but it would have required sacrifices I wasn't willing to make. Sure, I'm missing out on some monetary compensation as a result, and maybe even missing out on higher professional satisfaction, but so what? That's the choices I made and I'm happy with my life as it is. If I wasn't happy with my life then I'd make a change. The only change I can imagine which would bring a real increase in happiness would be having adequate finances to stop working and keep up the rest of my life, so I'm working towards making that change a possibility.

Unless someone else's actions, awards, recognition, etc, result in a negative impact on my goals I have no reason to feel anything but happy for them.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: StarBright on August 02, 2018, 07:37:29 AM
Great little interview about deciding what you have is enough.

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/08/01/sustainability/divided-decade/lessons-financial-crisis-knowing-what-enough
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Arbitrage on August 02, 2018, 08:57:09 AM
Most of my peers are similarly or less successful.  Sure, some are doing better financially, working for tech companies or VC firms, making big bucks in the Bay Area, but we're not worlds different, as I've been reasonably successful myself.  I had an interview for an upper-management level job that I had to turn down recently due to family being a higher priority, so I know that I could go down that path if I really wanted to.

One exception is a good friend of mine whom we see on a regular basis.  We (group of friends/families) were all in similar places financially, but he got a job working for a hedge fund, and now is in a managerial position there.  Avalanche of cash.  They mostly don't flaunt their wealth in front of us (we're aware of the frequent international first-class travel, constant home renovations, nannies/housekeepers/gardeners, nicer cars, occasional fancy events without us), but I did have a hard time for a few weeks...ok, maybe months...when I first discovered the magnitude of money they were now dealing with. 

I've mostly recovered from that jealousy.  I admit that I occasionally think it'd be nice if they were a bit more generous with their wealth, as they've never offered anything more than a straight split on all shared costs (vacations/restaurants/etc), but recognize that they have no obligation to do so. 
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on August 03, 2018, 06:23:30 AM
How did you get over the occasional fancy events?  Was there a FOMO effect for you or did you not care?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Arbitrage on August 03, 2018, 08:05:41 AM
How did you get over the occasional fancy events?  Was there a FOMO effect for you or did you not care?

Some of the fancy events were things we weren't invited to anyway, but just heard about afterward (wow, this party was amazing, at some $20 million house by the beach, etc.).  Revealed some of their hedonic adaptation..."we thought we had made it, but then we saw XXX and realized we still have a way to go."  This is from people who increased their income by 20x in the past few years (over an upper middle class income), already have financial security for life for themselves and their kids, and want for nothing.  Personally, I didn't really care too much, since I have never had an interest in buying an estate like that.

Some of the fancy events we were invited to and decided to turn down.  Out of our price range.  Maybe a wee bit of angst - not at missing the fancy event, but at missing the experience with our friends.  These are some of the examples where I think it would be nice of our rich friends to offer/share their wealth a bit - if they want to have fun with friends doing things that are unreasonably expensive for a non-spendy family, they could certainly offer; the amount would be trivial for them to pick up.  Of course, we do have some spendier friends who are around our income level who will spend that money, so we end up being the cheap ones out.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Malkynn on August 03, 2018, 09:10:23 AM
How did you get over the occasional fancy events?  Was there a FOMO effect for you or did you not care?

LOL, noooooo, not in my case.

"Fancy" is seriously overrated.
That's not coming from a place of jealousy, envy, wanting to be okay with my own situation, or anything like that. That comes from having experienced A LOT of extreme luxury and realizing that it's kind of "m'eh."
Luxury is only really exciting when you can't afford it and someone else is paying for it. Then it feels rich, sumptuous, luxurious, and satisfying. When you are the one paying for it, it feels disproportionately expensive for the actual return, kind of lame, and honestly tedious.

I remember the first time I was invited to a professional dinner at a private club. I was a newly graduated, broke student with a brand new big job, and it felt like I had "made it" and the place felt so lush. Well, now I host professional dinners at the same private club and it all feels stuffy and kind of silly.

Eventually, displays of wealth become self evident as just that: displays. The experiences aren't actually that much better, they just signal to others that you have the means to spend on them. You pay this ENORMOUS premium to be perceived as wealthy. It's no different than any of the spendy bullshit at any socioeconomic class level. It's the same stupid game with a bigger price tag, and it's just as boring.

I make much less than my colleagues and I'm about to voluntarily make even less. Unlike PPs, I have no net worth to speak of, so I can't/don't console myself with anything in terms of comparing myself to other. I also genuinely don't care. It really doesn't matter in any way, shape, or form what others do with their finances. It has absolutely no impact on my financial reality. I make the decisions that are uniquely right for me and DGAF what decisions others make.

I am absolutely SURROUNDED by people who choose to make A LOT more than I do, and I wouldn't trade positions with them in a million years. The two different owners I work for are worth infinitely more than I am and earn much more because they work 2-3 times as much. On a nearly daily basis they say things like "you really have it figured out" and "man, I wish I had your job/life."
They say this because I'm a lot happier and healthier than they are. I shrug and say "different priorities" and then they make excuses as to why they can't make the lifestyle choices I've made, and I proceed to tune them out and be grateful that they haven't because I like taking their money to do the work I enjoy while they shoulder all of the risk and responsibility, and I get to capitalize on their success and reputations.

I voluntarily give up more income than most people could ever dream to make and I feel much richer for it.

I don't have FOMO because I could have all of the things I'm "missing out on" if I chose to prioritize them. Instead, I prioritize the MOST expensive luxuries of all: time and energy. Because time and energy are more valuable to me than boring-ass consumer luxuries, I live what I consider to be an INCREDIBLY rich and luxurious life.

My colleague can have his Maseratis and Ferraris, I'll take my Friday morning lounging on my balcony contemplating what writing/podcast projects I'm going to take on when I drop down to only 2 days a week of my day-job in January. Today I'm going to have a lazy do-nothing day because I can and I'll be grateful that the massive staffing issue that's going on at work right now isn't my problem and never will be. I have more fear of missing out on life balance and happiness than I do of missing out on spending opportunities. I dread weeks where I'm covering for the owner, because I know I'll be over worked, over tired, sore, and my home life will suffer. The added income isn't worth it. The spending opportunities certainly aren't.

Never compare yourself to others who have different priorities, and EVERYONE has different priorities, so it's useless to compare yourself to anyone. If you want to spend more money, then prioritize making and spending more money. If you want more freedom, then don't. It's really that simple. Who gives a fuck what others choose to put more value on. You're not "missing out" on anything when you make choices that are right for *you*.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: StarBright on August 03, 2018, 09:45:39 AM
To add to missing out on fancy events and to build on Malkynn's post.

In my misspent youth I was married to a NYC tech finance bro who was riding high in the early aughts. I myself was raised in a blue collar mid-west family. I lived the high life for about two years. It was fun for about 3 months.  It really isn't what it is cracked up to be.

I admit that I still enjoy "fancy" things. A good spa day, a seven course meal w/ wine paring, a weekend on the Vineyard or in Sag Harbor will always be more appealing to me than DIYing anything or (shudder) camping. But in day to day life, the people who live like that 24/7 are exhausting and living like that is exhausting.

I still let myself have the things I treasure a few times a year and I enjoy them immensely and they feel VERY luxurious. As we get older and closer to FI I also plan on getting myself on things like our museum and opera boards. I like the arts and I really enjoy charities and galas and I'm pretty unapologetic about it. In the meantime - I've volunteered for galas and gotten myself free tickets to other similar events.

So if there is a specific event that you are FOMOing - make it happen for yourself. Want to go to the Hamptons? Plan your next vacation there! Want to spend a thousand on a meal or get table service at the Gilded Lilly? Pick one- do it! Treat your friends. 

But if you do all those things, all the time . . . it just isn't that rewarding.



Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: kork on August 07, 2018, 08:19:19 AM
How did you get over the occasional fancy events?  Was there a FOMO effect for you or did you not care?

Luxury is only really exciting when you can't afford it and someone else is paying for it. Then it feels rich, sumptuous, luxurious, and satisfying. When you are the one paying for it, it feels disproportionately expensive for the actual return, kind of lame, and honestly tedious.

Fascinating. Sort of ties into the fulfillment curve. Having luxury every so often allows you to enjoy it.  All the time and the excitement is lost.

The thing is that I can afford mostly anything for a period of time at a luxury level. I choose not to because it takes me further away from freedom of FIRE.

I'm just curious if the drive to FIRE is becoming too involving, perhaps unhealthy? I mean, I'm kind of caught in between. Striving towards FIRE and limiting spending while others are coming into their own and enjoying their new found wealth.

For example, I've recently gotten back into riding my bike. I put about 100km on my bike a week riding on trails, roads, etc.  It's a 20 year old banger with signs of rust. No shocks, but it's got a comfy seat. I've got well over 30,000km on it at least.

I was telling my brother all about the joys of riding a month or so ago and he ended up going out and buying a bike. Dropped $1500. He's got a couple "silver spoon" fed friends who went out the same weekend and dropped $3k each on bikes. Now they're all riding trails, breaking chains, etc. They're loving it.

Then my brother goes out this weekend and buys a second road bike. Spendy, spendy, spendy.

As it sits right now, I'm still enjoying my 20 year old silver $300 rusting 21 speed road bike. And I have little desire to upgrade it.  I like my bike. It's kept me safe.  It's never broken down, never broke a chain, never been stranded. I know it well. He wants me to try his bike so I know what the difference is like. I likely will. I hope I don't really like his bike, I want to keep enjoying mine and by not trying a new one, I won't be tempted to upgrade.

If I had endless money, I'd likely buy another bike. But then the fulfillment curve kicks in.  Would I enjoy the new bike less because I barely had to work for it? Do I enjoy my current bike because I have some kind of relationship and memories with it in different places and times of my life? And after 3 months, do I look at my new bike and think "You're not new anymore, but I'm out $1500..."

I dunno?
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: itchyfeet on August 20, 2018, 10:35:23 PM
Ha, I can relate.

In 2011, before I had decided to pursue FIRE I purchased a really fancy bike. For the next 3 or 4 years I rode a lot, maybe 8,000-10,000 kms per year. And then I started riding less and less, mainly due to moving overseas, but also because I like sleeping in.

My bike is now 7 years old and sometimes I still get motivated to go for a ride, or even to start training again regularly. Every time I wash the dust off and lube the chain I admire my bike. She is an awesome bike.

I donít regret for one minute making that purchase. My bike has given me hundreds of hours of fun. I met a lot of cool people through cycling, and for a while there I got reasonably fit.

Last year DW and I rode across Europe on rented bikes. It was an awesome trip which would never have happened if I had never started cycling.

Maybe I have ridden 50,000 kms or more on my bike, which cost me about $3,500, so itís now down to 7 cents a kilometre. If I go out and ride an enjoyable 50kms, itís still costing me $3.50 for the privilege so still not the cheapest exercise, but not too bad for a couple of hours of fun.

Iíd say it was a pretty good buy all considered.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: chasesfish on August 21, 2018, 08:36:41 AM
How did you get over the occasional fancy events?  Was there a FOMO effect for you or did you not care?

I'll chime in on this one too..

These events were...intriguing at the beginning.  "Wow, this is interesting".   Most ended up being more exhaustion from being social then enjoyment.

That being said, I enjoyed a select few.  My favorite is still an occasional high cost sporting events with a client that could also be interchangeable as a friend.   I'm not a basketball fan, but seeing Lebron James in a playoff was neat.  So was seeing a Final Four championship game, MLB playoff game, and a couple rounds of NHL playoffs from box seats, all on the company's dime.  An occasional fancy dinner is still nice, although now that I can afford it myself it doesn't have the same appeal. 

Life has thrown me some wrenches, so I don't get to do a lot of this as much as I used to as I speed towards retirement.
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: WGH on August 21, 2018, 09:27:52 AM
I would be wary of your feeling that lots of people 'love what they do'. We live at a time where everyone is supposed to be 'passionate' about and 'love' what they do, but the reality is that most jobs in no way justify that passion. Sorry what - you are passionate about writing code which helps advertising companies more effectively target under 7 year olds - or whatever it might be. My wife hates that I am so opinionated about this particular point but I think if most people look deep into themselves they know this, even if we are brilliant at convincing ourselves of the importance of what we do. If you are saving lives as a doctor, perhaps, but most of us are not.

So much this. I actually feel bad quite often that I am not more passionate or driven by work but I just honestly don't care that much. It's a paycheck and a necessity on the road to FIRE. When I talk to my boss about some trivial report or process or procedure documentation it takes genuine effort to show any enthusiasm. Totally agree most of what most of us do just isn't that important. But to share that opinion at work of course is not a good idea.

Also agree on the impostor syndrome had that real bad when I was promoted to a CFO at 35. You suddenly feel like you need to be more than who you are and that all your ideas and work products are somehow no longer any good just because your title changed. At 38 I have realized that there are very, very, very, few people in this world worthy of being put on any type of pedestal. Next time you have an inflated sense of someone's prestige hang out with them while they are drinking. :)

As for peer success. To add another Simpson's quote to this thread:

"No matter how good you are at something there's always about a million people better." Meh good for them.

I do get jealous when I see others leading what appears to be more successful lives but it's fleeting. Except I am very jealous of Cash Warren who stole Jessica Alba away from me!
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: Hula Hoop on August 29, 2018, 02:23:58 AM
The recent tragic death of Anthony Bourdain reminded me that no matter how much someone might seem to have your dream job/life, you just never know what the real story is.  Sad but true. 

IRL I have a friend who appeared to have a dream life running a successful business with her rich husband in a beautiful part of the world and with three kids.  Turns out that the husband was abusive and now she's now a divorced single mom in a completely different career.  Her life looked so perfect on Facebook....
Title: Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
Post by: edgema on August 30, 2018, 04:40:33 AM
Just made myself chuckle reading your comment WGH. Started reading your quote and thought - I totally agree with that - then realised it was my own comment! The ultimate self-reinforcing feedback loop. At least I still agree with myself....