Author Topic: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia  (Read 1405 times)

BOP Mustache

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Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« on: March 11, 2020, 10:41:06 AM »
Discovering FIRE and early retirement a couple of years ago Im really struggling to find the motivation and desire I once had for my career.

It seems like most days when I wake up Im internally saying to myself... when Im retired I wont have to wake up at 5.30am to get ready for work when I have a difficult conversation or meeting at work I say to myself when Im retired I wont have to put up with this then when I drove home I say when Im FIREd I wont be so tired when I get home and will have more time and energy to pursue my hobbies, health, time with daughter, go to park, beach, etc.

Its making me despise the now in the hopes that early retirement will fix all my problems. Like FIRE is some sort of utopia where Ill finally be happy with life.

I feel its still a worthwhile goal to work towards (probably another 10-15 years away for our family) so how can I switch my mind over to enjoy them instead of moping around miserable that Im not financially independent yet?

Thanks in advance


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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2020, 12:01:09 PM »
You can:
Focus on smaller goals
Take a vacation
Take a sabbatical
Work part time
Change careers

There are more options than be miserable for the next 10 to 15 years. You are not trapped.

Magic Mocha

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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2020, 02:10:33 PM »
If you haven't seen it yet, friend of MMM "Mad Fientist" went through what sounds like a similar kind of depression stemming from overly focusing on the goal rather than the journey.  He touches on it in the "Dark Times" part of this post: Maybe it'll help?

Also, sometimes the well-meaning intentions of 'reduce your spending to achieve financial independence' can be overtuned to feel more like guilt and shame associated with every purchase, so keep an eye on that. MMM's intent is not "the good life can be had with just rice, beans, and living in a tiny room" but "the good life can be had for a lot less than people think, and it's worth investigating where things are ACTUALLY improving your quality of life or not.

Friends who have suffered from depression in the past say it sometimes helps to have smaller, achievable goals in the immediate (~1-3 month) future to try and shoot for. These don't necessarily have to be financial. They could be a concert, or a new season of a TV show coming out, or studying for a cert to make you better at your job, or any of those. The goals will vary depending on a dozen different factors unique to you, though.

Right now for me that's a wedding, riding my bike around the city as the weather gets warmer, getting better at grilling/cooking in general, and maybe even looking into volunteer opportunities if I can get enough time.


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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2020, 05:36:41 PM »
If your job now is objectively bad, find a better one. But if you're just thinking that all the normal frustrations of life will be fixed by FIRE, you should probably work on changing your mindset, because otherwise you'll not only have a miserable next 15 years, you'll probably also be really disappointed when FIRE doesn't live up to what you've built it up to be.

To me, learning about Stoicism has significantly helped my day to day outlook and how I deal with frustrations. Negative visualizations, in particular, help remind me how ridiculously fortunate I am to have a pretty interesting job that will allow me to FIRE in a few years while still living a life of plenty.


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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2020, 01:43:43 PM »
So what do you plan to do after you FIRE?  And by that, I mean, "do" as compared to "not do"?

When you focus on FIRE as an escape from all of your daily inconveniences, you will inevitably be disappointed:  you white-knuckle it through 15 years with your head down, you FIRE, and then two weeks later you still have to get up at 5:30 (it's just to go on a trip), you still have to sit through interminable meetings (it's just for a volunteer position you've taken), etc. -- and then you have a huge letdown and get angry and wonder why you missed 15 years of your life when all your problems are still there.  The reality is that life comes with annoyances, and many of the things worth doing involve uncomfortable tradeoffs.  Or, as that great philosopher Buckaroo Banzai noted, "no matter where you go, there you are."  (Emphasis on the "you," if that wasn't sufficiently clear from context)

The best way to avoid that kind of situation is to have a vision of the stuff you want to do -- not just "sleep in," but devote your time to, give you a purpose.  What important things can you offer your family and your community that you can't do now because of your schedule?  Now:  what are the negatives that go along with that?  E.g., volunteering can be a part-time (or full-time) job in and of itself, with all of the annoyances that go along with that; you'd hope that it feels more worth it when you are contributing to something you really care about and believe in, but that doesn't mean that the annoyances aren't there.  Work to build a more realistic mental vision of what your post-FIRE life will actually be.

(I have to admit, this was one of the most depressing realizations I've ever made -- you mean my life is always going to involve a schedule and time constraints and all the crap that I hate now?  Yes, because I am not happy puttering 24/7, and so to be actually content with my life, I need to sign up for things that will make me get out of bed and schedule my planned long trips carefully and all that.  Dammit)

The other thing I will recommend is to stop looking at FIRE as sacrificing everything fun now for this wonderful idealized future life.  The next 15 years of your life matter.  It's the only time you will be that age; the only time your kids will be that age; the only time you and your SO will spend together in this place at this age with this particular family.  The point of FIRE is to maximize overall life happiness.  So if achieving that goal means missing all the fun for the next decade and a half, then boy, that thing you're working and saving for better be really fucking awesome.  And really, nothing can live up to that expectation.

So why not take a bigger-picture look at your life?  What are you missing out on right now?  How can you get some of that back into your life?  Can you find a more appealing job?  Can you go part-time to enjoy the ride a little more?  Is there a hobby you can do, either individually or with SO/kids to really appreciate your time together?  A lot of people do FIRE a lot of different ways; some are willing to work insane hours in insane jobs for a short time to be able to never work again; some cut back on work in the short-term even though it moves the FIRE date back; some people do a bunch of mini-retirements or take long trips/breaks, even though it means working longer; some people work at a career until they get to a certain financial point and then plan to take on part-time work or do passion projects to continue to bring in a little income; etc.  So be creative.  Figure out which version of that will work best for you and your family to give you the best overall ride.


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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2020, 10:13:53 AM »
I too have this issue and very much agree with everything @Laura33 had to say.

You should also try to actively disrupt the so-called negative automatic thoughts. Your inner dialogue has created this universal solution that's not actually a good one. If you hate getting up at oh-dark-thirty for work and your inner dialogue deals with this emotion by thinking about FIRE a decade in the future, that's objectively not a good solution and should be challenged.

This happens to me all the time. At my work there's a decent percentage of incompetent people and basic operations functions like email don't work. This can make me SO frustrated and want to quit because it's so hard to get s*it done. I'll dwell on it during my commute -- dead silent in the car with my angry thoughts. Like you I'll dream of FIRE as the solution, but this makes me sad because it's so far away. So instead I have to just recognize my frustration and tell myself "wooosa, just care less -- your stress isn't going to fix anything so don't let it consume you" and then turn on a podcast to learn something new.

If your brain is in this destructive loop I doubt that a career change, sabbatical, or vacation will help. You'll only come to hate your new job, or dread returning to work from a sabbatical or vacation. At least that's the case for me.

Anyone have any good book recommendations for combating this phenomenon?
« Last Edit: March 14, 2020, 10:17:38 AM by FatFI2025 »


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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2020, 10:41:34 AM »
I would look into books on acceptance and commitment therapy.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Not enjoying work/career as dreaming of FIRE utopia
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2020, 04:17:43 PM »
I'll just say this.  Once I'm retired, there is no way in hell I will ever participate in another fucking conference call.