Author Topic: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?  (Read 5556 times)

MrsAdamsMustache

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Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« on: October 09, 2012, 02:34:40 PM »
Hi fellow mustachians – I need your opinion!  Here’s the scoop …

My husband and I both really love our jobs but I have to commute about an hour and a half each way on a good day from our home (3+ hours by car - no pubic transportation in between).  We each like the areas where we work, but aren't too crazy about any areas in between so moving and splitting the difference isn't really a good option.  I have always known how crazy this was, especially with all of the costs associated with commuting.  But I guess I didn’t really care for awhile because I really do love my job and feel lucky to have it.  After discovering MMM, I began to fully realize and appreciate what a horrible financial decision this is – not only because of the costs associated with commuting, but also because of the toll this has been taking on my health.  Again, things I knew on some level but wasn’t fully ready to acknowledge until seeing MMM break it down in writing. 

My husband earns more than I do so I talked to my boss about this situation and she has unbelievably given me the option of continuing to work as consultant from home on an hourly basis.  Never thought that would be possible before reading MMM and having the courage to ask!  One drawback is that I won’t know how much work I will get each week so my paychecks will fluctuate.  I also won’t be able to participate in the 401k which I currently max out each year.  I am hoping to be able to pick up other side projects with my extra time to offset this and already have a couple of things in the works.

On paper this sounds like a no brainer.  As I type this I realize that it is pretty much a no brainer.  No commuting, no commuting costs, less stress, more time for things around the house and healthy activities, opportunities to develop side projects I am interested in for extra $$, etc.  I know, I know, I know. 

Here is what I struggle with.  I feel like I am giving up my “career” because it will be a bit of a step back no longer being in a leadership role.  I also worry that I will miss the social interaction of being around people all day since I am a people person and I love my coworkers.  But I guess I will just be meeting people in other ways instead.  It is also just such a weird feeling to actually take this step instead of just thinking about it in theory.  I am a workaholic in a profession of other workaholics and it feels almost unnatural to break the mold and take a completely different path this early in my career.  For so long I’ve been educated in the philosophy of “go to a good school … so you can get a good job … so you can work for a good company ... so you can retire with good benefits …”.  I’m sure actually breaking away from this cycle is something some mustachians out there struggle with.  It’s weird – my body literally feels like it is resisting making this change which my mind logically knows is for the better and makes heaps more sense.

Any thoughts?  Are these normal feelings when faced with a drastic lifestyle change?  Words of encouragement or advice?  Anyone reading this wish they could come and physically smack some sense into me?

RoseRelish

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2012, 04:23:07 PM »
You're perfectly normal to feel that way. It's scary to make drastic changes in thought and lifestyle. You just need to think of a career as a way to make money - nothing more. You decide how much time you're willing to trade for money and find a way to spend that amount of time making your needed money.

sheepstache

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2012, 05:52:37 PM »
If the money and commuting time weren't a factor, would you prefer the consulting or the full-time version of your job?

tkaraszewski

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 09:42:24 PM »
I am going through a very similar thing right now. See my other thread about quitting my job (I gave notice yesterday). I do worry about the risk to my career, but that's mitigated a bit by knowing that, even though I'm not FI at the moment, I plan to be a lot sooner than most people, at which point my career will become much less important. Damaging a 10-year-career isn't as dangerous as damaging a 30-year one.

It is immensely scary though. It was hard for me to give my notice, not the least because I was afraid of letting down my boss and co-workers. I haven't picked a new job yet, either (although I have several promising options) and that choice is paralyzing.

This sort of life change is always a challenge, but we usually make the right choices in the end.

JT

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2012, 10:39:14 PM »
Hi Mrs Adams Mustache

I completely understand your predicament.  We used to have a one hour commute each way until our son changed schools and now I'm 6.3 kms away from work and 700m away from school.  It's really changed our lives for the better, my son can walk to school and I ride my bike to work every day.

So, first query is, why can't you move closer to work?  Being a people person who loves your co-workers, working from home would be like walking around on the moon (ie "is anyone out there???").  A friend of mine does this and she has become quite attached to her fridge.   And, she gets distracted during the day and has to make up time when it's dark.  I guess these are some of the perils of working from home.

My second suggestion is (if you can't move that is), seeing as your boss was so flexible in suggesting working from home.  Why don't you work from home for 3 days per week and go into work 2 days per week - or some other configuration.  That way you save on your commute and still get to see those coworkers you're so fond of.

To be in a job you like so much is a real treat. 

The third attempt to help is, can you find work closer to home that would see you attend an office closer to where you live?  (Perhaps even cycling distance?)

I hope this has been helpful.  Any change like this can be challenging so be gentle with yourself, know your goals and know your limits.

Go well.

happy

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 02:49:43 AM »
I think these are normal feelings and some of us find it harder than others to make drastic changes.

In addition a lot of  mustachian thinking goes against cultural norms, and that includes the norm of seeing your career as something you must strive to do, and that your life must be 100% focused on career, status and success and $$$.  But if you  would rather spend your limited time on this planet doing something else, or at least spend less time slaving, there's no law against this. But it will run against most of the cultural messages you are getting and its counterintuitive to everything you've been conditioned to do, so be kind to yourself. At some point you have to decide - you can't have both, but its your choice what you are prepared to trade for time and money.

You could request that you set this arrangement up as a trial, with a possibility of returning to the previous arrangement if its not working out. So you could try it for 3 months or 6 months and see how it goes.


MoonPilgrim

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 07:09:42 AM »
Congratulations on negotiating the arrangement!  This is a good thing--our health is all we really have, so it's great that you're protecting yourself.

You aren't "giving up" a career, as much as switching careers.  Once a workaholic, always a workaholic--you'll be able to put your efforts and energy into your own businesses, your own endeavors, your family.  You'll probably be even busier, now that you're not spending ONE DAY PER WEEK OF YOUR LIFE getting ready for work and commuting. (3 x 5 = 15, which is about how many hours I'm awake each day.)

The lack of social interaction will be a struggle, but you know that ahead of time, so make sure that when you're filling up the free time with new activities, you give priority to the ones that allow you to be around others with similar goals.  Some business incubators in my area offer coworking opportunities, which allows you to rent a cube and be around other people running their own businesses--or you could start your own, if something like that doesn't exist in your area.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2012, 10:19:59 AM »
Never thought that would be possible before reading MMM and having the courage to ask!  One drawback is that I won’t know how much work I will get each week so my paychecks will fluctuate.  I also won’t be able to participate in the 401k which I currently max out each year.  I am hoping to be able to pick up other side projects with my extra time to offset this and already have a couple of things in the works.

On paper this sounds like a no brainer.  As I type this I realize that it is pretty much a no brainer.  No commuting, no commuting costs, less stress, more time for things around the house and healthy activities, opportunities to develop side projects I am interested in for extra $$, etc.  I know, I know, I know. 

It is completely normal and healthy to have this anxiety - it is a big change.  I like the other suggestions about trying to do three days in the office to ease the transition.

Keep in mind that as a consultant you need to be compensated fairly - it is not as simple as you made a salary equivalent of $xx/hour so that's what you get now.  It needs to be at double that at least - remember there are additional costs to an employer beyond salary - 401k match, healthcare (even if you weren't using them it is still a cost) and other benefits, vacation/sick days/holidays, payroll taxes (you will have to pay both sides SSI&MEDI-16% total assuming SSI goes back to normal), other general overhead, and the big one is that they will not have any HR liability for you.

You will have your first client in your own business, but as a consultant you will need to diversify this business just in case they don't give you enough work.


MrsAdamsMustache

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 10:30:06 AM »
Thanks so much to you all for your responses!

It’s hard to answer if money and commuting time weren’t a factor whether I would prefer consulting or full-time.  The decision is a bit paralyzing.  On one hand I think my answer is full time because I have a pretty good gig and continuing would allow me to save a lot more money and reach FI earlier.  But on the other hand, I also know how freeing and healthier life would be as a consultant with some pretty much guaranteed work every week and the freedom to pursue other interests and make more money that way.  And to break out of the 9-5, M-F routine but still reach early FI by being smart and motivated about our planning at the outset.  I think you are all right - it comes down to an internal struggle between the cultural norms I was raised with versus the new enlightened mustachian way of thinking.  So eye opening to realize we don’t have to be slaves to reach FI. 

Tkaraszewski – Congrats!  I’m so sorry I missed your post.  Will check it out for sure – it is encouraging to hear your story and it is great you have promising options to choose from.  We sound like we are in similar spots.  I am also about 8 years into my career.  I agree – part of what has been tough has been telling my boss and co-workers because they are beyond great (which is why I love working with them every day).  I also am in a profession where work = your identity.  That is probably everywhere, actually, now that I think about it.  I want to break away from that for sure but it is not easy choosing to be different than almost everyone else I know.

JT – it’s funny you mention the going in 2-3 days/week because that is the other option on the table besides becoming a consultant.  It’s a very tempting option, but I worry about that just because I work long hours and even though it would only be a few days/week, they would probably be 14 hour days with the commute (at least).  We’d like to start a family soon too so not sure how that would play out.  We talked about moving closer, but my husband makes almost twice as much as I make and he doesn’t have the option of working from home so that has been part of the balancing factor with the FI end goal in mind.  We figured it is better for him to stay in his job and carry our benefits and for me to do this if I can still make a certain amount per month to reach our goals.  I too worry about the being on the moon feeling and finding a friend in the fridge … and the t.v. … and my bed.  I would have to be on high alert for this, lol.  I love MoonPilgrim’s business incubator suggestion – may look into that!  I have to say – the all caps “NOT SPENDING ONE DAY PER WEEK OF MY LIFE GETTING READY FOR WORK AND COMMUTING” put a smile on my face. 

tooqk4u22 - excellent points I will look into, thank you!

James

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 10:51:03 AM »
Embrace the change, it really sounds like the right move to me!

Uncephalized

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 03:00:17 PM »
You got offered a dream situation. Take it!

sheepstache

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2012, 05:52:17 PM »
Playing devil's advocate:

Being FI means being able to decide what you want and doing that.  Not everybody is going to be an independent solo worker like MMM with his carpentry; some types of value creation happen within an organization of people and sometimes that means everybody showing up at a certain time and place so they can interact with each other on a predictable basis.  There nothing _inherently_ wrong with that system.

There's also nothing inherently wrong with identifying with your job.  Writers slave away at their novels and identify very much with their work.  People who work for Amnesty International or who are life-saving heart surgeons understandably get a lot of positive self-image from doing their jobs.

Could being FI while working full-time lead to some exciting opportunities too?  Could you mentor up-and-comers in the field?  As someone who's not "a slave" to the job, could you be a positive example to help change the climate of workaholism?  Could you take more risks to change the organization in ways you envision than people who are dependent on a paycheck?  Are there things that, when you started, you wanted to achieve in your field?  A mark you wanted to make?  Now you could make it a priority.  Or who knows, maybe you can better achieve them as a consultant.  And by working part time you are in a way setting an counter-example to the current culture.

Also this is probably obvious, but just because your husband's job pays more doesn't mean it's more important to keep.  Ideally you would decide which of you wants to go to work less and have that person quit or go PT rather than basing it on money.  On a sociological level, it's notable that there is a perception that women (I am assuming you're a woman) are quicker to downshift or be less ambitious than men with the result that women new to the workforce have a harder time getting themselves mentored or taken seriously.  And it's not uncommon for people to get divorced and for the woman to realize she maybe should have invested more in her career.

Understand, I'm speaking in a general way, not trying to analyze your particular situation since obviously you're the only one in a position to do that.  My point is just that I don't think careers are in and of themselves anti-mustachian.  Their rewards are more than a paycheck.  And sometimes half the stress of a job can melt away just by reminding yourself you don't _have_ to be there.

flyfamily

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 09:41:21 AM »
Congratulations on this.

I was at a forced hand, career crossroads several years ago, when my husband was transferred to another state. Ultimately, we decided that our household would be best serviced long term, with my being at home full time. It put us in a different mindset to simplify, prepare for husband's retirement from his 1st career, and ended up being a great decision for us when I was later diagnosed with a chronic condition that we did not know about when we transferred!

Anyhow, the last year before our transfer, we got a little creative.  Husband was overseas, I had personal issues with our oldest child. I did work primarily from home (scaled back role) but also felt that I needed that in office time. So, I went in one of the days per week, just for a few hours. It gave me some stability (in my mind) to see my colleagues, to touch base, check through files. Would that be something that may service you better, where you're still feeling in the fold with the office?

Another alternative: Does your employer have a reciprocal business that is closer to your home, that you could work out of? This could be a sister company, affiliated office, or even someone that you all do reciprocal business with (think like in the real estate industry, we work with lenders, title, attorneys, etc.).  Perhaps, your employer would be able to talk with someone on that end regarding your having a 'desk' and fax/phone access? Maybe you'd have a desk fee involved to compensate that office. However, it is a possibility that I've seen work in my prior industry, so I wanted to mention!

Yes. I do think it's normal. Particularly, if you had been career motivated and feel that the position is a step backwards. However, if the work is gratifying, I think that coupled with the pros of not having that commute will win you over.

When my husband and I decided for me to be a homemaker, I left behind a career of over 10 years. My next move was to become a manager for a new office. Because of his transfer, I lost all of my networking contacts, that promotion, well.. and my current job. However, we approached it as a much needed change in our lives. It's opened the doors for our plans to be FI, which I believe would never have been on our radar to achieve, had we not been resilient through the changes that we were dealt.

Good luck!

happy

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Re: Fear and anxiety over lifestyle chagne - is this normal?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2012, 06:05:46 PM »
Playing devil's advocate:

Being FI means being able to decide what you want and doing that. 


Understand, I'm speaking in a general way, not trying to analyze your particular situation since obviously you're the only one in a position to do that.  My point is just that I don't think careers are in and of themselves anti-mustachian.  Their rewards are more than a paycheck.  And sometimes half the stress of a job can melt away just by reminding yourself you don't _have_ to be there.
[/quote

Altho I'm a down shifter,  I actually agree with this. If your career is your preferred way of spending your hours on this planet, then that's fine.  In fact  those who love their job and would do it even if not paid adequately, are blessed with having made the right choice.

But for many of us, our job/career is not that good a fit.. and I was certainly raised in a time when feminism meant to be a real woman you had to have a career.  So for me the career is what I "should "be doing, but its taken me a long time to realise I don't "have " to.  One key concern is the OP mentions this lifestyle is taking a toll on her health..which to me is a sign some re-ordering of priorities needs to  happen.

To me mustachianism is all about choosing to free one self from the tyranny of  having to earn $$ in order to mindlessly spend them in a self perpetuating loop.  By becoming mindful of consumption and how one really wishes to spend ones time and money , one may no longer need a "career". If however the career is still what one wishes to do thats fine.  Unfortunately  often careerism is associated with very long hours and stress so it may be difficult "to have ones cake and eat it too," so to speak: ultimately one may need to make choices if one values one's health, and relationships. If your career is you heart's desire AND you can do it without sacrificing too much in the way of health, reltionships and other necessities of life,  then thats great.