“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. Rowling,
[ Day 88 of 2000 ]
Do you hate your job? I realized that I did when a few years back, I would wake up on Monday mornings with a sickening feeling in my stomach. I knew that I had started hating Mondays. A couple of years later, I realized that I was getting depressed every Sunday evening – Just because the next day was a Monday. It got worse – I started feeling bad starting Sunday mornings.
For the last two years, I have been actively looking for a solution. I read a lot on the internet, and read books about it. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my different options. Unconsciously, I have been working on this post much before I even considered starting a blog.
These are the questions I asked myself, and the conclusions I got to. Hope it helps you too.
What is that you really want?
Think of your ideal job. I realize that it is not always so easy. I don’t know what mine is. However, I do know what it is that I hate about my current job.
I hate being in a cubicle all through the day. In my ideal job, I would be able to walk around, talk with people. I want to have days when I decide that I don’t want to work today. And days when I love my work so much that I like it when I work more than I have to. I love it when the temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees and I want the freedom to take a walk outside when it is perfect.
Right now, I am working on something that has already been cancelled and they still haven’t decided what I should be doing next. Since they don’t want me being paid for nothing, I still have to continue working on that. I am fine with that. Except, it is hard when I have to show that I am still motivated. I am not. But I do not have the freedom to show that I would rather stare at space. I hate that.
Are you working too hard?
Strictly speaking, I am being paid for 40 hours of work a week. However, I was putting in more effort than that. I got excellent performance reviews every time. My manager was happy about my work. Everything was fine on the surface. Why was I still so unhappy?
I decided to not touch my laptop once I got home from work. It wasn’t very easy. There were times when it was important that I work extra. Those aren’t the hours you should cut. There are periods of time when you work extra just because you are used to working extra. Cut that out.
Use up all your time off!
I know of people who hate their jobs, but still don’t even use up all the vacation time every year. Are you one of them? Rethink your strategy. Do you actually use your lunch break?
I now have about 1 day of vacation time left. It was not always like this. I have started taking the whole weeks off in December, February and April when the schools have breaks. It saves me money (300-350 dollars each week), and I get to spend time with GBoy. My employer has this option of buying extra days off, and I have opted for that as well.
Is your work hurting you? Or others?
My work wasn’t physically hurting me or anyone else. However, I have been resenting it because it is taking my time away from my family. I have 52 weekends a year. And GBoy is already over 9 years old. That means I have about 450 weekends left before GBoy is all grown up and off to college. And that is all the time I was getting with him. Is that enough?
For the past few months, I have been working from home thrice a week. So that gives me additional time in the evenings to spend with him. We play board games, or sometimes video games. I love that.
Can you change something?
Not all jobs have the flexibility to work from home. But if you can, that might solve your problem. Can you leave early in the evening? Will working part time, say, 80% of the time make it easier? Can you live closer to work so that your commute gets better? You are not as stuck as you think you are. There is always something you can do. Depending on your situation, ask yourself questions like these. What change can you make to make it a tiny bit better? What are the consequences? Is it worth it?
The days I actually go to office, I leave at 4:00pm. That way, I can still spend some time with GBoy. I also considered working part time, but decided that I probably should stick to the bigger plan.
Will changing jobs make life easier?
If your main issues are specific to your current work place like a bad manager, bad colleagues, or even boring work, the solution is easier. Changing jobs could fix all of them. Of course you may still get a bad manager or bad colleagues. But there is a chance that you don’t.
For me, my manager is okay. Not the best one I have had, but definitely way better than the worst. My colleagues – they sometimes irritate me. But I only have to see them twice a week, and I am not leaving my job for that. My work? I don’t love it terribly. But its okay. Like I said before, I am at a point where it could change drastically. I will wait and see how that goes. I do not think changing jobs will fix anything for me right now.
How about a different career altogether?
If your issues won’t go away with changing your employer, you should consider a career change. Ask yourself if there was a career that would solve all your issues. And whether you want to make the change.
For me, I found out that being a teacher might fix some of the issues. However, I am not ready to go back to college. I do not want to spend the money or the time, for a job that pays less than what I am currently paid. So I am just sticking to this.
Find other things you like doing!
Find a hobby, or spend more time on your hobby. If you are about to tell me that you are too busy for it, let me tell you – I understand. I still want you to consider something else.
Look at me, I call myself BusyMom. I am tired of life just because I am too busy. And what did I do? I started this blog. If you think it is not that time consuming, and all I am doing is writing a few words, let me assure you – it is a lot of work. It takes away whatever little bits of time I can find. However, ever since I started this, I have been generally less frustrated. I have been a more pleasant person to be around. Find what works for you. Try it out, you can always stop it if you want.
Make a plan
If you have read other entries in this blog, you already know my plan. We are living on less than what we make, and saving the rest. We pay more than what is required towards our mortgage. Today is day 88 of our 2000 day journey towards that. We started off with about 290,000 dollars invested and about 300,000 dollars left on the mortgage. Right now, we are at 317,000 dollars invested and about 262,000 dollars left on the mortgage. To get to our goal, I am now doing a year of buying nothing, and we avoid lifestyle inflation. We have been dreaming about how our life is going to be after retirement. This whole blog is about that journey.
Just hating your job won’t get you anywhere. Make a plan to do something about it. Even if you can’t do it right now.
What is yours? It helps to have a light at the end of the tunnel. Make yourself see it.
Stick to it!
There are days when I absolutely don’t want to go back to work the next day. I feel like I should quit my job as soon as possible, and start doing something else even if it pays much less. Checking my spreadsheet with details on all our investments, different projections, etc usually helps. I go to Personal Capital and try out the different scenarios. Usually, that is enough for me to calm down.
Find your own way to do it. You made a plan, and you thought through different scenarios while making it. Has something changed significantly? Otherwise, you may be better off sticking to it.
This is mainly for BusyDad. Once he makes a plan, he sticks to it. There are times when you have to make a new plan. Treat a plan like just a plan. You should be able to change it if circumstances have changed. If you find a better way to get to your goal, go ahead and make a new plan.
Thinking about your situation will make you more aware of what is it that you want, and you don’t want. No one else can do that for you. Not your closest friend, not your spouse. A lot of it is in your head. But like Dumbledore said, it doesn’t make it less real.
The one thing I will miss once we reach FIRE? I sometimes wake up on a Sunday morning thinking it was a Monday. And then it sinks in… It is still the weekend. The relief I feel at that point – I haven’t experienced anything sweeter than that.