Author Topic: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?  (Read 13926 times)

kork

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How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« 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?

ixtap

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #1 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.

Hula Hoop

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #2 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.

Accidental Fire

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #3 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.

marble_faun

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #4 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?

Zola.

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #5 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..


Sun Hat

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #6 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.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 03:27:04 PM by Sun Hat »

TempusFugit

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #7 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. 

Monkey Uncle

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #8 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.


clarkfan1979

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #9 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.

Syonyk

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #10 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.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #11 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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #12 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.

okits

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #13 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.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #14 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.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #15 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.

Malkynn

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #16 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.

PaulMaxime

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #17 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]
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 12:33:41 PM by PaulMaxime »

EmFrugal

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #18 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.

asauer

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #19 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.

rpr

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #20 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".

4n6

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #21 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.

kork

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #22 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.

kork

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #23 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.

arob54600

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #24 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.

okits

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #25 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.

flyingby

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #26 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.


TheAnonOne

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #27 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?

Kevin

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #28 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.


Malkynn

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #29 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.

rbuck

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #30 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.

JG in Hangzhou

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2017, 09:05:19 PM »
Posting to follow.

Larsg

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #32 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.

Dr. Pepper

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #33 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.

plainjane

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #34 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.

Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #35 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...

Askel

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #36 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.

Syonyk

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #37 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.

Villanelle

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #38 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. 

CanuckExpat

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #39 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: "The feeling of joy one has experiencing another's joy"

I think that term may have had origins in relationships, but it is pretty broadly applicable

Also, regarding terminology, someone mentioned impostor syndrome. That is a thing, affects many high achievers, grad students, etc.


And slightly helpful to remember this dialogue from the Simpsons:
"What's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?
Sour grapes."

Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #40 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.

edgema

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #41 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!



 

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #42 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.

Laura33

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #43 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.

kork

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #44 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!

Malkynn

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #45 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.

kork

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #46 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.



kork

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #47 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!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 07:37:11 AM by kork »

okits

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #48 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.


kork

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Re: How do you handle peer success when you're looking to FIRE?
« Reply #49 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.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 09:00:04 AM by kork »