Letztens entdeckte ich einen Interessanten Beitrag über das Thema FIRE – „financially independent and early retirement“ auf Reddit. Der User FreeRadical5 schrieb darüber, dass die Obsession mit Finanzieller Freiheit vielleicht ein Stresssymtom ist. Ich fragte daraufhin, ob ich den Beitrag als Gastbeitrag veröffentlichen darf, weil ich die Information für sehr spannend und wertvoll hielt. Viel Spaß beim Lesen! FreeRadical liest übrigens mit und ist auf die Reaktionen gespannt.
Your FIRE obsession may be a symptom of stress
Recently I quit a 140K job in a MCOL area to switch to a 100K role within the same organization. I’ve had the role I am switching to before and I could not be happier. But quite surprisingly, even within a few days of making this decisions I have noticed a change in my attitude towards FIRE. I am caring less and less about when it will happen. My high base level stress is what was fueling my constant need to plan FIRE even when I wasn’t aware that there was anything bothering me. In hindsight, this should be really obvious… when work isn’t miserable, dreaming about not doing it is not something we obsessively gravitate towards. But in the midst of it I did not see it so clearly.
The rest of this post is about what I mean by stress since it is a vague concept. In order to make this decision I deliberated for a year over what exactly is it that is making me miserable. I tried anything I could think of to quantify my sources of stress and reduce them as much as possible. For me, stress came from the following elements:
- Complexity of work: This is by far the biggest factor. The more complex the work, the more anxiety inducing it becomes and the more effort it takes to make any progress. Regardless of any other variables, a complex enough job can substantially reduce my QOL. There was no getting around that in my role.
- Quantity of work: There is a certain threshold of work, mental and physical, above which it starts to take a toll on us. If that threshold is being consistently crossed, it can generate a lot of stress and unhappiness.
- Urgency of work: While urgency can be a powerful tool for productivity, it also generates it’s own form of stress. Consistent exposure to it will generate similar effects as too much quantity.
- Alignment with personal goals: A job that feels like it is contributing towards what you want to learn and accomplish in life, suddenly becomes a lot more bearable. That’s how professors can get students to do the nastiest work for minimum wage. A job that is completely at odds with your personal goals can become a potent source of stress, even in the absence of all other variables.
My job was a intense combination of all the above. To compensate for it, it offered unparalleled benefits and autonomy, but none of it made up for the fact that in the end I was slowly becoming a husk of my former self waiting to start living my life. Even worse, over the years I was starting to forget how freeing and enjoyable life can be when not burdened by the ever present stress that drains your life force. Absent other sources of accomplishment and pride, I was starting to replace my identity with my professional title. I knew then that if I didn’t take action now, it would be a one way journey to the tragic life of a workaholic.
Anyways, the point of this post is to make others in a similar boat think about why they are here. If some form of stress/job dissatisfaction is the reason you are here, you owe it to yourself to try to find a solution now instead of wait decades for retirement and watch your best years pass by.
Stress was the reason I became obsessed with FIRE even when I didn’t realize it. Leaving my job seems to have changed my perspective over night. Stress can be hard to identify when you have been soaking in it for too long.