Author Topic: Lost and Looking for Directions  (Read 3078 times)

FloridaStache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Lost and Looking for Directions
« on: August 22, 2015, 11:20:23 AM »
Hi all- not a case study, exactly, perhaps more of a portrait.  I'd love to hear some thoughts of those that have had experiences similar to mine, especially from those that have been down this road and can point me to some hopeful notion of how it all turns out.

I'm late 30s, married, two young kids.  Spent my 20s and early 30s in the high-cost Washington, DC area, fell into many anti-mustachian traps such as buying a condo we couldn't afford right before the housing bust.  Then had a chance to move to a lower-cost area of Florida with a significant pay increase- rented the upside-down condo at a loss for years before giving up and short-selling it.  Discovered Mustachianism in 2013 and significantly changed my approach to finance, and have managed to nearly double our net worth since. 

Became disenchanted with life and the job in Florida and earlier this year had the chance to accept a new position that was a significant step up in level and pay, although in the much higher-cost Los Angeles area.  We have only been here for 4 months, but I feel like an immigrant here.  I feel like I live in a vast sea of anti-Mustachianism.  My peers at the company I work for all seem to be hyper-consuming workaholics.  The parking lot is filled with luxury vehicles and water cooler talk includes mothers advising their sons to hold off on proposing to women they'd like to marry because they "only" have $4000 to spend on an engagement ring.

While my salary has increased significantly, so have our rental cost (over 3X) and now have California state taxes to contend with.  I factored all of this into the calculus of the relocation opportunity- I felt like my wife and kids would have more opportunities in this area vs. the semi-rural part of Florida we were living in, and we are closer to family than we were before.  We have continued to build our net worth along the path to FI even despite all this. We have otherwise maintained our Mustachian ways, biking just about everywhere we can, strategically living within 5 miles of my office so I can easily bike commute most days, avoided excessive eating out, taking advantage of free and low-cost activities, etc.

However, I'm no happier than I was when I left FL.  I feel hopelessly surrounded by mindless consumerism and workaholism.  I typically work 10-11 hours per day, and when I leave there are still plenty of cars in the parking lot.  Even though I am getting my job done and have gotten nothing but positive feedback from management and co-workers, I constantly feel guilty or like a slacker for not putting in the kinds of hours that others do.  Once I factor in 8 hours for sleep and an hour (total) for commuting I have about 4 hours to spend between exercising and spending time with my wife and kids, and I long for more.  I don't know anyone else here yet, so I really have no other life outside of work and home.

Until this point I have been motivated by a desire to continuously advance my career and be "successful," but since discovering Mustachianism and the idea that financial independence is possible, I have become increasingly disenchanted with life.  Even though I would be considered extremely successful by any standard, I constantly feel like a fraud and a failure. And then I feel worse, because there are many people out there that would love to have the "problems" I have. I feel like the "higher" I go, the more of a slave I become- mostly to my own expectations of how I "should" behave and feel.  I'm tired of the corporate scene- the powerpoints, the meetings, the meetings to prepare for meetings, the politics.  I'd love to be free and do something else, but at this point I am making so much money that sticking it out for awhile seems to be the fastest way to FI- by my calculations, about 10 years from now or at most until my youngest graduates from college 16 years from now.

I think my mistake has been that I have always pursued what I am "good at" rather than what I truly love, but I've never really known what I truly love, so i keep doing what I'm good at, and people keep paying me more and giving me more prestigious titles to do it, so I feel stuck.

Since discovering MMM and other personal finance blogs I think I'd like to pursue a 2nd career as a "Mustachian" fee-based financial planner, focusing on helping people achieve financial independence through reducing consumption and making wise financial and lifestyle decisions.  Ideally I'd relocate to a lower cost area, set up in a home office or inexpensive office space close to home, and set up a practice.  However, in order to do this I feel like I need to reach FI first, so I can spend the year or more it would take to establish a practice, build a client base, etc. without earning much income right away. Once established, I could set my own hours and be my own boss, working as hard (or not) as I want to in order to truly enjoy life.  In the meantime, I am studying the Financial Planning profession and starting to make a preliminary plan of how to reach this goal.

It all seems so far away- 10-17 years.  And in the meantime my kids are growing up and I feel like the best years of my life are slipping away. Every night I leave the office and think "another day closer to retirement." Why am I so miserable when I've "achieved" so much? It seems contradictory to every cultural narrative we have.

Has anyone "been there" before? Any suggestions? Thanks for listening.


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2015, 12:04:21 PM »
Have you tried working a 40-hour week and seeing how it goes?

Kaikou

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: United States
  • Kermit is like a box of chocolates
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2015, 12:31:55 PM »
Hi all- not a case study, exactly, perhaps more of a portrait.  I'd love to hear some thoughts of those that have had experiences similar to mine, especially from those that have been down this road and can point me to some hopeful notion of how it all turns out.

I'm late 30s, married, two young kids.  Spent my 20s and early 30s in the high-cost Washington, DC area, fell into many anti-mustachian traps such as buying a condo we couldn't afford right before the housing bust.  Then had a chance to move to a lower-cost area of Florida with a significant pay increase- rented the upside-down condo at a loss for years before giving up and short-selling it.  Discovered Mustachianism in 2013 and significantly changed my approach to finance, and have managed to nearly double our net worth since. 

Became disenchanted with life and the job in Florida and earlier this year had the chance to accept a new position that was a significant step up in level and pay, although in the much higher-cost Los Angeles area.  We have only been here for 4 months, but I feel like an immigrant here.  I feel like I live in a vast sea of anti-Mustachianism.  My peers at the company I work for all seem to be hyper-consuming workaholics.  The parking lot is filled with luxury vehicles and water cooler talk includes mothers advising their sons to hold off on proposing to women they'd like to marry because they "only" have $4000 to spend on an engagement ring.

While my salary has increased significantly, so have our rental cost (over 3X) and now have California state taxes to contend with.  I factored all of this into the calculus of the relocation opportunity- I felt like my wife and kids would have more opportunities in this area vs. the semi-rural part of Florida we were living in, and we are closer to family than we were before.  We have continued to build our net worth along the path to FI even despite all this. We have otherwise maintained our Mustachian ways, biking just about everywhere we can, strategically living within 5 miles of my office so I can easily bike commute most days, avoided excessive eating out, taking advantage of free and low-cost activities, etc.

However, I'm no happier than I was when I left FL.  I feel hopelessly surrounded by mindless consumerism and workaholism.  I typically work 10-11 hours per day, and when I leave there are still plenty of cars in the parking lot.  Even though I am getting my job done and have gotten nothing but positive feedback from management and co-workers, I constantly feel guilty or like a slacker for not putting in the kinds of hours that others do.  Once I factor in 8 hours for sleep and an hour (total) for commuting I have about 4 hours to spend between exercising and spending time with my wife and kids, and I long for more.  I don't know anyone else here yet, so I really have no other life outside of work and home.

Until this point I have been motivated by a desire to continuously advance my career and be "successful," but since discovering Mustachianism and the idea that financial independence is possible, I have become increasingly disenchanted with life.  Even though I would be considered extremely successful by any standard, I constantly feel like a fraud and a failure. And then I feel worse, because there are many people out there that would love to have the "problems" I have. I feel like the "higher" I go, the more of a slave I become- mostly to my own expectations of how I "should" behave and feel.  I'm tired of the corporate scene- the powerpoints, the meetings, the meetings to prepare for meetings, the politics.  I'd love to be free and do something else, but at this point I am making so much money that sticking it out for awhile seems to be the fastest way to FI- by my calculations, about 10 years from now or at most until my youngest graduates from college 16 years from now.

I think my mistake has been that I have always pursued what I am "good at" rather than what I truly love, but I've never really known what I truly love, so i keep doing what I'm good at, and people keep paying me more and giving me more prestigious titles to do it, so I feel stuck.

Since discovering MMM and other personal finance blogs I think I'd like to pursue a 2nd career as a "Mustachian" fee-based financial planner, focusing on helping people achieve financial independence through reducing consumption and making wise financial and lifestyle decisions.  Ideally I'd relocate to a lower cost area, set up in a home office or inexpensive office space close to home, and set up a practice.  However, in order to do this I feel like I need to reach FI first, so I can spend the year or more it would take to establish a practice, build a client base, etc. without earning much income right away. Once established, I could set my own hours and be my own boss, working as hard (or not) as I want to in order to truly enjoy life.  In the meantime, I am studying the Financial Planning profession and starting to make a preliminary plan of how to reach this goal.

It all seems so far away- 10-17 years.  And in the meantime my kids are growing up and I feel like the best years of my life are slipping away. Every night I leave the office and think "another day closer to retirement." Why am I so miserable when I've "achieved" so much? It seems contradictory to every cultural narrative we have.

Has anyone "been there" before? Any suggestions? Thanks for listening.

Some questions:

Are you already in the financial industry?

Do you think you are depressed? (The reason I say this is that seeing other people do things that are the opposite of what I'm doing, wouldn't bother me much. I would be happily grinning on the inside.) Why do you think those things make you upset?

Have you sat down and figured out your game plan? (Seems like you felt like you were wondering aimlessly and this move to LA was suppose to CHANGE EVERYTHING, but hasn't. Disappointment is setting in)

Yankuba

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1357
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2015, 12:55:06 PM »
Another vote for depression/mid life crisis. FWIW I also have 10 years to go but maybe longer if the market continues to be unspectacular.

wordnerd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2015, 12:58:22 PM »
Did you feel this way before you moved to LA? The lifestyle is definitely spendy, but I bet you'll find your groove both at work and in the city in time.

FloridaStache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2015, 01:02:59 PM »
Hi all-

Thanks for the responses.

@shoulder: no, haven't tried working a 40 hour week.  Lots going on and I am the manager of a team that is facing significant challenges, so often times there is no shortage of work to be done.  I don't mind working the hours when we are doing legitimate work, I just feel (irrationally) self-conscious when there are others doing even more work.  But tough not to feel self-conscious when the culture of the company seems to tend toward the workaholic mode. I know, it's not about the quantity, it's about the quality...and no one has EVER challenged me about my working hours- it's all in my head.  I don't get emails at night that people expect immediate responses to, and I've never worked a weekend that I didn't want to.  So I tend to think the problem is me, not anyone else.

@kaikou: I'm not currently in the financial planning industry but I do work in a Finance-related position and have an MBA, so I feel that I have enough of a related background to make the transition.  I am still working on the game plan, but I have been reading many books on finance and financial planning topics and at some point I plan to join the Financial Planning Association and start meeting people and gathering more input.  I'm starting to spend a few hours each weekend on making a specific plan. It all seems so far away, but I know that's the first step.

Yes, I absolutely suffer from anxiety and depression, and I've thought many times that I should be happy on the inside that I am managing to lead a frugal, low-consumer lifestyle amidst this sea of consumerism.  And yet...I'm not.  You are right, I think I thought that this move would change the way I feel, but it hasn't so far, so yes, I'm disappointed.  OTOH, I've only been here 4 months, so I shouldn't expect it to change immediately.  Having done the relocation thing before I've found that you pretty much start your entire life over and it takes about 18 months to truly hit your stride in all areas of life.

So intellectually I know that I shouldn't expect things to immediately be *all better* but yet I can't seem to redirect those thoughts.

@wordnerd yes I felt this way for the last year I lived in FL, too. Another indicator that it's more about what's in my head than actual reality. Ironically, as much as I've loved discovering and implementing Mustachianism, gaining this knowledge has in many ways accelerated my depression as I realize how far I have to go to reach freedom.  I often feel like Neo getting unplugged from the Matrix and discovering the truth.

letired

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 823
  • Location: Texas
    • Needs More Glitter
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2015, 01:28:17 PM »
Based on your responses, I think you should consider giving more attention to your mental health. Many of the things you are saying re: your skewed perception of the world are very classic depression symptoms. The upside: you recognize that these thoughts and feelings are skewed! There are a ton of resources, for both chronic and situational depression. You might benefit from exploring some of them. Even if it turns out there are other issues at the root of your unhappiness, coping strategies like mindfulness and self-care can only help the situation.

It also sounds like you don't really have a plan or goal per se besides 'being happier'. What would make you  happier? Higher savings rate? More time spent with family? Different job? Toys? Hobbies? Learning something new? Underwater basket-weaving? Maybe work on answering that question, and then use it to set some short- and medium-term goals to help keep you focused and engaged. For instance, I recently became SUDDENLY OBSESSED with making cheeky counted cross-stitch 'samplers' for friends, and I've been looking for ways to get a mostly-passive side-gig going, so I've been designing the patterns I want to make for my friends, and working on turning them into a digital pattern I can sell on Etsy or similar.

It sounds like you have a lot going for you, both financially and in terms of self-awareness, so I think you can work this out. Good luck!

mxt0133

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
  • Location: San Francisco
Re: Lost and Looking for Directions
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2015, 08:21:59 PM »
Greeting from your doppelganger in SF.  I felt/feel exactly the same as you did about three years ago.  My wife and I moved to SF and had a child.  Discovered MMM and haven't looked back since.  Went through a rough time with work, marriage, parenthood, and just about gave up and decided to move to my home country to live in a hut, well not a hut but a third world country.  After spending six weeks overseas, I decided to make it work in the states until we were in a better position financially, mentally, and emotionally before we made any drastic moves. 

I calculated that I had 5 years to make it work in 2013, but it seems such a long time to be miserable so I did everything I could to make it better while building the stash.  I kept looking for a job that had better work life balance while climbing the corporate ladder, being a software engineer in SF helped with that.  We had two more kids, because I didn't want to put my family plans on hold until FI, while living in a one bedroom apartment.  Yay for rent control but now i'm stuck because moving to a two bedroom would mean my rent would go up a minumum of 300%.

I also wanted to be a mustachian financial planner and just finished taking my CFP course, which now qualifies me to sit for the CFP exam.  I will wait another year or two to take the exam, to be inline with my 5 year plan.  In another 2-3 years we will evaluate whether we stay in SF or move overseas.  I will take a sabbatical and then ponder what I want to do after, take the CFP or continue in software development.  I just took a management position that is partially remote, again better work-life balance for more pay.  I have to go on late night calls a few days a week but I also get to go to the Zoo during the day with the kids.

So it's a false dichotomy where you either have to be miserable to reach FI ASAP vs downshifting to spend more time with your family while making FI farther out.  There are many solutions in between.  You just have to find the right one for you.

For me not buying a house was one option that I had not thought of that put a lot less stress in our lives, because every family needs a house to grow up normal right?  By renting we are able to keep our expenses low, allowing us to build our stache faster.  I don't have to worry about maintenance or cleaning a large house which frees up time to work full-time, spend time with the kids and work on my second career options.

My advice would be to focus on one area you want to improve right now and do something about it vs the in 10 years I will really be happy because I'll be FI, which probably won't be the case because you'll be burned out, would have missed your kids grow up, and not have a live outside of work.