When work isn’t work anymore

Something peculiar has been happening to me as of late.

I am increasingly enjoying my work. Even despite the fact that I am there for about 11 hours per day and even work some weekends.

What the hell, how is this even possible?

This is quite a conundrum for the aspiring early retiree. A conundrum because it is from my dissatisfaction with work life that I have garnered motivation for writing this blog.

So what does this mean?

Is my early retirement goal over almost as quickly as it began? If I’m happy at work, then surely I don’t need to continue down this abnormal path of fiscal responsibility, right?

Of course not!

Becoming financially independent involves years or decades of hard work. So it stands to reason that you should make that time as enjoyable as possible. Plodding away for that long in a job you hate will destroy your mental health and probably your relationships.

I have taken this moment for some introspection of what has changed over the last few weeks to make me enjoy my job more than usual.

Waking up to sunlight

The first one straight off the bat is one we have no control over, but I will share it nonetheless. The coming of summer and the subsequent lengthening of daylight hours has been glorious. Being able to wake up to sunlight instead of pitch black darkness has been such a booster of mood. If this is important to you and if you’re ever looking to relocate to a new location in the world, stick to countries close to the equator. It will reward you with more consistent lengths of days throughout the seasons.

Shorter commute

I have recently moved to a new project site, which has cut my commute considerably. I will probably be there for a few months before moving again. For now, my commute is about 10-15 min per day. I can not overstate enough how much of a positive effect on your mood moving closer to work has. Seriously, even if you continue your self-destructive car usage, the difference between a 25 min commute and a 15 min commute is huge. You are flush with free time and less stressed from being stuck in traffic or sharing far too little space on a crowded train with complete strangers. That positive mood flows to everything around you.

A slower start to my mornings

I have begun waking up an additional 30 mins early to simply sit down, drink a coffee and stare out the window,  allowing my mind a rare daily opportunity to roam free and do its own thing. This is a strictly no media 30 min – no phone, no TV, no newspaper. It takes about 5 min for my mind to unleash it’s creative energy and really start solving my day’s problems. I really look forward to this time every morning. Changing my morning routine from a mad dash to get out of the door to a relaxed experience, means I no longer hate waking up. I no longer hit snooze and I arrive to work in a really good mood.

I hate playing with my phone, it takes so much time from our days and provides so little back. I have made a constant effort to stop playing with my phone each time I am faced with a momentary absence of other stimulus. This time is inevitably filled with far more productive and satisfying tasks. I waste far less time and get far more done. I have even now while writing this just decided to delete all the ‘infinite scroll’ apps from my phone. No more Facebook, Reddit or any other time-sapping habitual, addictive phone usage. Adding another step of inconvenience to accessing them will hopefully interrupt the habit for long enough for me to realise I don’t want to view that garbage.

Financial independence is not just for those who hate their jobs

Given my current positive mood toward work, it also seems like the opportune moment to discuss the early retirement motivation for those that like their job. I often hear that catchphrase “but I love my job” as a final bastion of opposition to the idea of aggressively pursuing financial independence.  But there are plenty of reasons regardless of your current attitude to work.

Jobs Change

Your job will not remain the same forever, I can guarantee it. From the top of my head, here are a few of the changes that can have an effect on your work life. The degree to which your current job can change is limited only to your imagination.

  • Management changes. A new manager may have a devastating effect on your job satisfaction.
  • Company policy changes. What do you know, it is now company policy that there is absolutely no alcohol in the office. Forget those awesome Friday afternoon team building sessions.
  • Legislation changes. The government has decided they want your site to be safer. This usually involves no actual improvement in safety but a whole lot of additional paperwork to demonstrate you are being safe.
  • Your work mates change, taking other jobs, retiring etc. You are now working with a constant whinger to your left and an absolute bludger to your right, so your work load increases.
  • Automation removes the need for your job. The company transfers you to another department altogether, you hate it there.
  • Job location changes. Management might decide that rent is too high, and relocate the workforce an additional 30 mins away from your home.

Now sure, I focused on the negative changes here to make a point. It is also entirely possible that things actually change for the better.  The takeaway is that sometimes you cannot control any of it and being financially independent gives you the freedom to react to the situation in the best way possible.

You Change

You change as well.

  • You may become bored with your job after a decade of doing it. You’re stuck because you have no other marketable skills or unable to take a pay cut to start a new career.
  • Your priorities may change.  You may need the time to care for loved ones or have a sudden urge to travel the world. Children may change your view of work.
  • You may become ill and unable to work.
  • You may still love your job but want a slower-paced life, working part-time.
  • Your home town may change, becoming too crowded. You do not want a job tying you to a place you no longer love living in.
  • Your spouse may want to move to a more relaxed location, or closer to family.  In general, jobs are hard to move.

Despite your best intentions, you are unlikely to remain the same person with the same goals, aspirations and priorities over the next 30 years.

Even if nothing changes, work is better without the money

In the extremely unlikely event that your job remains as enjoyable to you for the rest of your life as it is today, let’s discuss some other reasons.

Are you telling me that if you had the choice, you wouldn’t even reward yourself with more flexible working hours and the occasional 3 or 4 day weekend?

Have you ever gritted your teeth and done something at work even though you didn’t agree with it? Would having total financial security make you more willing to stand your ground and perform your job how you best see fit?

Could you only take on the most enjoyable projects at work if you knew you didn’t have to just take what you are given? Is there any pointless busy work that you would just slice out of your job if you could?

When losing your job is no longer a huge life-ruining event, you can gain the confidence to do your job the way you best want.

Now I am off to enjoy the rest of my weekend before getting back to another great week of kicking ass at work.

Shuffling away to work

Pat the Shuffle

8 Replies to “When work isn’t work anymore”

  1. This post really resonated with me. We have just moved house and I can now walk to the office (23 mins walk) or catch the bus (9 mins bus ride) or catch a lift with my wife as she dives straight past my work to get to hers (6 min trip). I will now be detailing the second car and selling it as we now have zero use for it, Big savings all round on this front!

    I wax and wane in my job as we have a rolling change in management each needing to put their tamp on the place (change for the sake of change often) so I am quietly working on other income streams that will replace my job eventually.

    1. This is just our current reality, things will continue to change at an increasing pace, which isn’t in of itself a bad thing however some times the changes are not ones I like. Having some financial independence will allow me the option to leave if I want to.

    1. Davis

      I have already come across Peter Thornhill and like what he has to say. One thing that strikes me about the most successful investors is how calm and unemotional they are about investing, Pete falls into that category and we can learn a lot from what he has done.

  2. This is so true, Pat. I loved my jobs for the first 10 years or so. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. But eventually for each of them something changed. A new boss. New policies. Cost cutting. Definitely take it while you can get it, but build the freedom to find the next job you love.

    I like winter, but Spring has put a spring in my step as well!

    1. Sometimes you just outgrow your current position, you are familiar enough with it that it starts frustrating you. You know it well enough that you can see all the inefficiencies and insanity, you care enough about doing a good job that those inefficiencies and insanity start to wear you down. I think it is a completely natural part of a persons job “cycle”

  3. Sounds like you have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. The way I like to think about it is:

    “If I could be doing anything in the world right now, would I be at work for 11 hours each day?”

    The answer is usually pretty clear!

    1. You are absolutely right ETF bloke. However a certain level of making the best of a bad situation through positive thinking can aid in making the path financial independence that much easier.