“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”
― Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

[ Day 8 of 2000 ]

As a kid, everyone would ask me what I wanted to become, growing up. Have you ever felt how ridiculous that is? I am 36, and I still don’t know what I want to become when I grow up. Oh wait, I have grown up. Too bad, because I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.

I wanted to become a psychiatrist, a lawyer or a computer science engineer depending on my mood at that point. It is nice to know that I finally picked one of them. I was ten when I wrote my first program. To print something. I was hooked. I could actually get something to listen to my wishes, requests, my commands… Fast forward a few years. I finish first in my class, and I still loved programming. Honestly, I still do. When I write code, I enjoy it. I am still pretty good at that. What I hate is the rest of it that comes with it. Agile, Jira, Stand Up,… If you don’t know what any of those means, good for you. I hate all meetings. I hate that I am expected to sit in one place for the whole day. I hate that I talk to almost no one (unless I am in a meeting, which I hate any way!) I hate deadlines – It is a no win game anyway. If you are given some work to finish by a particular date, one of three things can happen.

  1. You finish it before the date: Wait – no good has ever come of that. You now get to finish the work for all the others who didn’t do theirs. Or what you were supposed to do has now been increased – you have the time to do it. That gets you to outcome 2 or 3.
  2. You do not finish it on time: If you didn’t finish it because you stuck to your limits and decided that you will only work for 8 hours when you are paid for 8, good for you! Usually, that is not what got you there. You would have sacrificed your sleep, snuggle time with your daughter, your son’s soccer game, and everything else you can imagine. It is probably because of some aggressive planning or it-needs-to-be-done-by-then-because-we-need-it-then decisions without taking your feedback. Or because you finished your work early and got more piled on top of that.
  3. You finish right on time: You would think this is the optimum solution. Oh no! You get to answer questions from strangers regarding the status of your work. You are pretty sure it is none of their business, but you are already on defensive mode and forget to point that out. People talk about how you should have managed your time better, how you should learn to prioritize stuff.

All of these are probably not particular to computer science. If you are in this boat, it is time for you to find your way out.

In one way, I am lucky. I got to study what I wanted, and I get paid handsomely for that. I can think of so many professions where you have to work as hard or worse, and don’t get paid enough. I am glad that the one thing I picked to learn pays me so much. Because that is my way out.

Ove is my favourite character – I haven’t read a book that touched me as much as that one. It is not that I identify with Ove. I don’t. I don’t do a single thing like he does it. But the words from the book (at the beginning of this post) have stuck with me. And it is true with everything, not just death.

You think you would have a lot of time to spend with your kids, and suddenly one day they need you no more. Meanwhile all the while they were begging you to play Clue or Connect-4 with you. But you were too busy.

You want to spend more time with your husband, but you just have to attend that meeting, meet that deadline and clean your kitchen. And one day, both of you are too used to ignoring each other.

One day, invariable, you are going to meet your death. At that point, do you think you would care about any of those? I do not want to die with regrets. When I work, I work with all my energy. But once I am done for the day, I refuse to check my email. And if the whole office comes crashing because of that, so be it. I am taking the effort to spend time with GBoy, even when I am so tired and all I want to do is to watch Netflix. He is growing up, and quickly. Soon, a day will come when I want to spend time with him, and all I have is Netflix. Even when my boss tells me that I have to do something immediately. I have decided to treat my job like a job, not my life.

Just a few days back I was talking to a friend’s husband. He was out of job for about six months. He told me that it opened his eyes, the number of times he was asked what he did for a living. He said that he had never really paid attention to that question until one day he was ashamed to say that he was jobless. Why, as a society, are we obsessed with what people do for a living? Especially, considering that most of the people work just for the paycheck? It makes no sense!

I made a couple of New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of this year. One was to lose some weight – I am pretty sure you will hear from me about that sometime soon. When you are obsessed with something, and you (try to) write a blog, you are bound to write about it. Especially when you know that you don’t have any readers yet 🙂

My second resolution was to find a new career. I was ready to take a substantial pay cut. I was ready to go back to college if that was required. I spent a lot of money reading books that were supposed to help me find that elusive second career. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking for it. I spent time thinking, dreaming and having nightmares about it. I thought about it driving to my office and made pro/con lists on plane rides. I had given myself two years to do about it – One year to find what it is that I wanted to do, and one year to make some money that will make it possible (like tuition fees, etc).

Right now, I am just about 8 days short of 11 months. I haven’t found that one career that will make me happy. All the time spent on the internet made me familiar with the Financial Independence and Retiring Early movement. I realized that it was the way forward. And there are two things we need to do to get there.

  1. Save more. My last post explains the plan going forward.
  2. Spend Less. May be this should have come first, because this is more important. I was going to write about it in this post, but it just didn’t happen. May be in the next one.

Have you seen this post by Mr.MoneyMustache? For the math oriented, the graph below explains it nicely too. It doesn’t matter how much you earn or how much you spend. What matters is the percentage of your income that you spend. If you spend 0%, you could retire now, even if you have saved nothing. If you spend 100%, you can never retire, even if you earn more than anyone else in the world.

I have one advice for you. And for myself: Stop to smell the roses, before they are all gone.

Right now, I am thankful for –

  • GBoy and BusyDad
  • getting paid so much so that I can make another plan
  • hating my job, makes me assertive and lets me ask for privileges I need, like working from home.

Happy Thanksgiving, all of you!

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Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023