Author Topic: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?  (Read 6475 times)

happy

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Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« on: July 10, 2012, 06:31:37 AM »
This post is NOT for those who love their jobs!

At the beginning of 2012, inspired by MMM and ERE last Christmas I set a goal for FI . I managed about 42% savings (actually debt reduction) for the first 3 months, then for the past 3 months I got to 55%. My budget is projected in detail to the end of the year and I should manage to sustain the 55% if all goes to plan.  I should be FI in 5-6 years, if I continue 55%, working my current hours (0.7FTE) in my current job. (I think I should be able to notch it up a bit further with the passing of time since I still have  some quite unmoustachly tendencies, but I'm wary of go at it too hard and burning out.)

I've been ambivalent about my job for a long time, but I make good money, and lacking the imagination and energy to change I've just kept at it...like the good little baby boomer I am.  Now that I know I don't HAVE to do this forever, just another 5 years, I'm finding the job much more excruciating. Almost as if now I've seen the possibility of escape, the current reality is too much to bear, but whilst the possibility did not exist in my mind, I  had convinced myself I would plod away for another 15 years or more.

It feels so uncomfortable, I've found myself thinking that I couldn't bear to live this way for 5 years and that it would be easier to go back to the space I was in before. Not that I can, and not that I would because now I'm enlightened :-).

Has anyone else been here and  got a strategy for this? ( the term I've seen used is "mind hack" - I feel so old LOL)
Is this one of the reasons people back away and say" it can't be done"?

Xtal

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 07:05:32 AM »
This is a very, very good question.  I'm in a job that I like OK, but it's definitely not how I would spend my free time if I had a choice. 

Now that I have concrete goals for FI and have started very big steps in that direction, my job is chafing me more than it did.  I feel like I have just a short time to endure it, even though in reality I'll have to put up with it for 5-10 years.  Still, that's nothing!  I should be retired by the time I'm 47, at the latest (god willing).

Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm more eager than ever to get out.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I definitely understand your question.

Oh, and keep at it!!!!  Don't give up.  This is a good problem to have.

twinge

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 08:34:57 AM »
Are there goals that you would like to accomplish at your work before leaving it? Solve some problem, learn new skills, implement a new idea?   Can you envision something you could do via your work in the next 5 years you could work toward to make yourself more viable as a consultant either to your work place or elsewhere that would allow you to leave earlier and work on an as you want basis? Is there something you could do to increase your income/value to your work that would free up more options?

Not knowing your work it's hard to say more specifically, but it sounds to me like you need a goal to focus on internal to work to put your energies to in the shorter time you now have left.  I do have a similar experience of as soon as I start envisioning a long term goal I tend to "worsen" the situation I'm in to make my commitment to the goal stronger...but I think that's a real trap.  Your life is now even as you're working towards something else.

velocistar237

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 09:00:54 AM »
I have this problem. I've never liked working, no matter how interesting the work is, and now that I know FI is just far enough in the future to seem a long time away, I like it even a bit less, so much that I've had to stop thinking about FI as much.

I have an attitude issue, and MMM would probably say to suck it up, quit complaining, make the most of it, and it will be over before I know it. I finally received The Magic of Thinking Big from the library, and I'm working on an attitude adjustment, mostly toward my job. It just doesn't make sense to waste years of my life with a bad attitude. My attitude will carry over into FI, so I won't wait any longer.

Uncephalized

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 09:23:16 AM »
I always come to resent anything "mandatory", so I really dislike the 9 to 5. If anything learning about FI has given me a "light at the end of the tunnel", but it's frustrating because I just entered the tunnel--I've been working full time for precisely one year--and the light is currently very dim and seems unbelievably far away.

Which is too bad, because I like work, when I'm working voluntarily. When I have free time I get itchy to make something or do something productive after just a few days of non-action. But when someone is telling me to do something I immediately want to buck them off my back. And working on the same projects at work for months on end just makes me want to run outside and scream.

So I'm thinking I need to go into business for myself sooner rather than later. I'm just not sure what avenue I want to try yet. Right now I'm concentrating on getting us a house and then I'll probably start focusing on diversifying and increasing our household income to be able to ditch the job and work from home so I can actually spend time with my wife outside of weekends.

Xtal

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2012, 10:27:16 AM »
One thing that has helped me in my work life is to have an attitude that I read in a book about buddhism, which is to bring your full focus to your whatever you are doing while you are doing it. This same idea is also in Ecclesiastes:  "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

Maintaining a good attitude while I'm at work means that I do good work and receive pay and opportunities commensurate with that work. 

I've always been disappointed by people who wish their lives away, waiting for Friday to come (not that I don't sometimes fall into this trap myself).  What a sad way to live!

I may have an opportunity for a promotion soon at my job.  I'm considering whether to take it, since my current position affords some pleasant opportunities for slack.  If I get the promotion, I'd definitely be working harder (and posting less on Internet forums!!).  But it would also mean more pay, more interesting work, and the more chances to network within the company.

atelierk

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2012, 10:38:49 AM »
I can only respond in hindsight, but while the possibility of escaping early did make me even more impatient, I found it also motivated me to make sure it happened. I'm a bit different than most of you young 'uns; ER never occurred to me until I found out I could start drawing from my 403B without penalty at age 55 (as long as you follow the IRS rules). When I first mentioned this to the plan's financial advisor, he said it couldn't be done, I wouldn't have enough. So I figured out how to save more. And save more. And save more. I kept cutting my expenses until I was maxing my 403B ($22500 including the "catch-up" provision), plus saving some additional cash, out of an annual gross of $64K or so (a 40% savings rate). I know many of the folks on here do even better than that, especially if they make six figures.

Ten years previously, I was in debt up to my eyeballs, and if anyone had suggested I'd be able to easily save that much money every year, I'd have told them they were certifiably insane.

In the end, I did indeed retire on May 25th of this year at the age of 55.

So try to channel your frustration into ever more creative ways to cut out the waste, live on less and save even more. It's funny, once I started doing it, it just got easier and easier. My take-home kept shrinking, yet I barely noticed. Don't assume the savings you're doing now is the best you can do. It's probably not.

Arbor33

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 12:43:07 PM »
Has anyone else been here and  got a strategy for this? ( the term I've seen used is "mind hack" - I feel so old LOL)

I really see myself as 3 people (no I'm not schizophrenic). There's past-me, present-me, and future-me. Only one of whom I can control. I look back at past-me and say, "Wow, he was so different than present-me. I'm glad he did this, or passed on that." Present-me is always in charge which means he makes all the decisions and takes all the blame should he mess up. Due to our hedonic adaptation, he's the only one who really has to pay for any mistakes. Then there's future-me. The only version of myself who I don't know. He's like a guest in my mind and one should always be hospitable to guests. The best I can do to accommodate him is to try to make decisions that will either make his life easier or eliminate the need for him to make his own decisions further out. Present-me thinks, "Future-me is gonna love it in 10 years when he can sleep until he's finished sleeping, spend time with the kids and wife he'll have by then, and be able to have FU money should he need it." The best I can do is to convince myself that it's not for me, or at least not present-me...

It's a little wacky, but it helps me a bit.

Quote
Is this one of the reasons people back away and say" it can't be done"?

I wouldn't doubt it. I'm sure there's a myriad of reasons people say it can't be done. The important thing is, it doesn't matter. :D

arebelspy

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2012, 01:23:27 PM »
Likely depends on the person.  I have read of some people at e-r.org who feel a sense of relief and are able to enjoy work, knowing they only have a set number of years left (instead of the many they were thinking).

This relief is, of course, more common once you achieve FI and are still working, because you know you have the FU money.

But even when working to achieve FI, it likely - like everything - depends on your perspective.

If you are 35 and had been planning to work until 65, calculate and see you can retire in 10 years at 45, you suddenly are happy you're only working 10 more years instead of 30.

If you agonize over how long it seems, then it will seem long. 

Try to choose an attitude that helps, rather than hinders you.
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Xtal

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2012, 01:25:14 PM »
I can only respond in hindsight, but while the possibility of escaping early did make me even more impatient, I found it also motivated me to make sure it happened. I'm a bit different than most of you young 'uns; ER never occurred to me until I found out I could start drawing from my 403B without penalty at age 55 (as long as you follow the IRS rules). When I first mentioned this to the plan's financial advisor, he said it couldn't be done, I wouldn't have enough. So I figured out how to save more. And save more. And save more. I kept cutting my expenses until I was maxing my 403B ($22500 including the "catch-up" provision), plus saving some additional cash, out of an annual gross of $64K or so (a 40% savings rate). I know many of the folks on here do even better than that, especially if they make six figures.

Ten years previously, I was in debt up to my eyeballs, and if anyone had suggested I'd be able to easily save that much money every year, I'd have told them they were certifiably insane.

In the end, I did indeed retire on May 25th of this year at the age of 55.

So try to channel your frustration into ever more creative ways to cut out the waste, live on less and save even more. It's funny, once I started doing it, it just got easier and easier. My take-home kept shrinking, yet I barely noticed. Don't assume the savings you're doing now is the best you can do. It's probably not.

Wow, congratulations!!!  What an inspiring story.

Jamesqf

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2012, 01:35:47 PM »
Have you considered finding a job that you DO like?  Since you've been saving upwards of 40% of your current income, you could even afford to take a moderate pay cut (20%?) for better work.  And of course it's always much easier to find a new job if you're already employed.

vwDavid

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2012, 02:32:07 PM »
Good topic. It is definitely true of me. I enjoyed reading the mitigation suggested here. Thanks.

travelbug

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2012, 09:14:49 PM »
I think it does for us a bit as we are impatient people and the closer we become to FI the harder it seems to be.
We have our own business and used to have fun bringing costs down and profit margins up in all sorts of ways, challenging ourselves fully in various situations.
Now, we just cannot wait for it to be time to sell it and move on.
The next twelve months will not go by fast enough.
Although
We are also preparing ourselves so as we do not take baggage into our new life, so we have something else other than earning money and the expansion of our business to focus on.
If that makes sense...
We are our own projects now.
Rereading that, I think that DH and I hyperactive people who need a project, which is why having a full 12 months off and travelling will be so important to our FI lives for us not to embrace burnout fatigue.

Good luck OP,

C

Zoot Allures

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2012, 11:33:12 PM »
I have a couple of responses to this, from my perspective as someone who has only recently started down the (approximately 10-year) path to FI.

First, my satisfaction at work has actually increased since I've begun clarifying my FI goals. I've never enjoyed spending my day in front of a computer, and yet that's where my career has taken me. But now that I have the end in sight, albeit on a distant horizon, I recognize what a good thing I have (decent salary, great benefits, pension plan) and it seems very valuable to me. I don't fantasize anymore about leaving for a theoretically more fulfilling but lower-paying job.

However, and this is my second point, I now understand the impatience that can come with a plan for FI. I eagerly await payday because it means I get to move my money where it needs to go and get my checking account balance back to nearly zero as soon as I can. But if all I'm doing at work is waiting for payday and dreaming of FI--and I do feel that way some weeks--something's wrong. I've realized I need to continue challenging myself at work in order to enjoy the inherent value in self-improvement, even if my job security doesn't depend on it. Outside the office, I also need to remember that life has to be lived fully today, no matter how grand my plans are for FI.

gooki

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2012, 02:03:43 AM »
The goal of FI hasn't changed my job satisfaction, but is has made me be more proactive in balancing life with work.

I now work from home one day a week.

More aggressive in chasing down new opportunities to get me to FI earlier.

Learning to say no at work.

happy

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2012, 07:07:15 AM »
Thankyou all for a great bunch of replies...there's a lot here for me to dwell on I found something useful in every post. I think I'll re-read this post intermittently when I need an attitude adjustment.

I really agree with those that said I need to find a better mental space, and Twinge, yes maybe find an interesting project to take on.  I really don't want to be at work for 5 years with a bad attitude and my major frustration is being forced to do meaningless tasks  or tasks very inefficiently because I can't control the necessary changes to sort out the system. A new project might distract me and make me feel I can get something done (Yes those Nagging Voices of Success).

And again@ Twinge, yes I think I too maybe have been mentally making out my job worse to increase the motivation to save: not necessarily a smart idea.

@ Jamesqf - yes a new job would be ideal but not likely to happen! I work in a specialised medical field and my job options are limited. I could change jobs but a 16km each way commute would increase to a 40km each way and no public transport option ....I have been a single parent for about 13 years and when this happened I decided I was very grateful for my well paid job since this has given me the option to work part-time and still see my kids. So I haven't given it too much thought until recently.  I've just completed a masters degree in a related field I love,  hoping opportunities might emerge, or at least  I could spend part of my time doing the bit I love. I looked at academic jobs in this field but would need to work fulltime, to earn the same as I earn now in 2 days and there would still be a lot of routine work not doing the bit I like. Decided I would be better off sucking it up and staying where I am. At this point  my FU position is to drop hours to 2 - 2.5 days a week and do the academic bit in my free time... but this will delay FI. I'm 53 so don't wish to delay too much further. So I am trying to stay at my current hours for as long as I can...hence the request for suggestions re a "mind hack".

To those who suggested I use this as a spur to save harder.. yes I intend to try this. As I said I'm pretty confident I can save 55% since I've done that for the last three months and the numbers stack up in my projected budget for the rest of the year. I know I still have more I can cut, I'm planning to methodically scrutinise things as they come up over the next six months. My food and grocery bill is appalling for 1 adult and 2 teenagers although I think teenagers eat more than adults - initially in Dec2011 $15k a year (twice what Mr ERE lives on! blush!) then reduced to $250/week  and now down to $200 (maybe $25-50/week of this is grocery rather than food),  so  I've still got a way to go with that. I suddenly realised I didn't need my life insurance policy anymore since if I die my assets are now such my teens will be housed, fed and educated until they can get jobs...so that was exciting to work out, and I've saved $600 a year.

I think I can cut quite a bit more and I will keep at it!.


arebelspy

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2012, 11:11:09 AM »
Sounds like you already have a better outlook.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
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twinge

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2012, 01:18:16 PM »
Quote
I think teenagers eat more than adults

They do! My highly active 11 year old (not even yet a teen!), who is in about the 99% for height and barely makes 33% for weight literally eats 2x what my husband or I eat for most meals. And we're pretty active high metabolism folks.  And he snacks voraciously.  I find planning is the key thing here, just have inexpensive high nutrient dense food on hand in a ready to eat format.  Otherwise he'll do something like eat a box of cereal and a half gallon of milk for an after school snack. 

WageSlave

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2012, 04:12:47 PM »
Job dissatisfaction is what ultimately led me to the FIRE community.  I stumbled into a position that pays extremely well.  So well that I can live a very non-Mustachian life and still save well over 50% of my take-home pay.  But it comes at the cost of extremely inflexible 60-hour work weeks, living in a city I'd rather not, and a general discouraging trend in the work itself.

Prior to learning about FIRE, I just assumed I'd be working until age 65; and that contributing to 401(k) and having an emergency fund was good enough.  I feel like my biggest struggle now is basically hedonistic adaptation.  For ten years, I've lived only according to "basic" personal finance principles: spend less than you make, no consumer debt, etc.    Fortunately, we never went too crazy with the spending (no McMansion or luxury cars), but we picked up a lot of small luxuries and "premium" lifestyle habits.

What's frustrating to me is that, had I realized FIRE was a possibility five years ago, I'd probably be writing my own ERE/MMM style blog right now, rather than being a complainypants about my first-world problems.  :)

I don't know if that adds anything to the conversation, but I just thought I'd throw it out there.  To answer the initial question: the FI goal hasn't changed the outlook on my job so much as it has just about every other aspect of my life.  Reading Your Money or Your Life, and sites like ERE/MMM that build and expand on those ideas has made me realize that my life is less pre-determined than I originally thought it was.  Or, at least it's opened my eyes to ideas I don't think I would have come up with on my own.

Though previously I haven't actually lived the belief, I know there are plenty of people who are as happy or happier than I am, but have substantially less means.  It's always been this kind of romantic notion.  But I like how MMM has basically framed it as a practical, optimal lifestyle.  That appeals more to my action-oriented intellectual side than my daydreaming romantic side.  I have to make the change in myself, and "sell" it to my wife at the same time.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Does a FI goal increase job dissatisfaction?
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2012, 07:35:08 AM »
The funny thing is that hedonistic adaptation also comes into play when working toward FIRE.  We have all started somewhere:

Year 1 - Paid off all debt and have zero NW.  :)
Year 2 - Saved $20K, went from zero to $20k, awesome :)
Year 3 - Saved $25K - now have $50K, doubled my NW, awesome I'll be there in no time at this rate.  :)
.
.
. Year 9 - Saved $30K, NW is now $350K, I ONLY increased NW by <10%, I'll never get there at this rate.   :(   originally you felt great when NW was at $20K but not as great now.  But then you remind yourself $350k is contributing some of its own to the pot...maybe I will get there afteral.  :).