There are many people who are pursuing FI almost solely it seems to escape the so called ‘Rat Race’. I am sure we can all relate to this in some way ourselves as work isn’t usually a place we go to beaming with energy and excitement looking forward to another day. Fridays don’t tend to be the most depressing day with Mondays being the best due to us having a whole week of wonderful bliss fueled work ahead! I have read so many FI forum posts over the years of people dreaming of never having to work for their awful boss anymore, no more long traffic filled commutes, no more office politics, no more writing TPS Reports! The list of things at work which we despise can be long indeed and being able to escape these things can be a huge motivator in striding towards FI.
You apparently didn’t put one of the new coversheets on your TPS reports – Office Space Movie quote
Despite work not being perfect and still providing frustrations at times, I have definitely changed my views over the last few years as I have been in both a really bad job and now find myself in a really good job. This post will discuss my ever evolving thoughts on Escaping the Rat Race.
Work before FI
Its interesting trying to remember exactly how I viewed work before I started on this path to FI. I had only been working for 4 years from the age of 23 as I finished Uni at 22 and then had a gap year. I got into the FI world as it were at 27 so I hadn’t been working for very long without having FI as an ultimate future possibility. I do recall not feeling like rushing into work which is exactly why having 3 months off after graduating from Uni turned into 6 months and then finally into 1 year. I remember thinking that I will be working for the rest of my life so why rush, I have earnt a break after working hard (I was never one to leave assignment of the FYP (Final Year Project) till the last week or few days before hand in :D…. oh no wait, that was me!).
I think at this time my priorities were more on things that were happening at that moment. I certainly didn’t think about retiring early or that I might be able to do so. I was just like everyone else it seemed who used a credit card for certain stuff, my monthly money came to an end before the month itself usually so the last week was usually tight. I really needed that money to go in on pay day and it was a relief. I did feel under more pressure at work because of this bigger reliance on needing the cash and being hit negatively so quickly if I didn’t have it. Work was just something we all HAD to do for money we DESPERATELY needed.
Work in the early FI Days – The Bad Job
A big driver of my initial interest in FI was to escape the rat race. I loved to read articles and stories of people who needed to no longer work for an income. Work really was something I disliked. I had an awful boss who was very nasty, there was a really bad work atmosphere because of him. We had unmanageable work loads where it felt like you was setup for failure because in doing something, there would always be something you wasn’t doing that would be highlighted. The thought of being able to escape this situation was just awesome. The idea of FU money seemed to appeal more when having an awful boss.
I must admit that much of my FI pursuit at this stage was to escape a negative situation. I knew of all the positives in other ways such as having freedoms such as to say no without fear of losing your job, to give you more options etc. But, getting away from such a bad job was sometimes more of the primary reason. I think I wanted FI to come much sooner as a result and it made me slightly live life on fast forward to the point where I didn’t have this bad work situation.
FI Progress at The Bad Job
There is no doubt that progressing towards FI at my old bad job felt good. It did make my job more bearable as I felt like I was digging a tunnel out of the prison camp and that my Shawshank redemption moment would be coming. It felt like I had a pair of aces that my boss and colleagues never knew about and that did make me feel more relaxed and less bothered about securing a promotion or pleasing the boss at all times. The bigger my stash got, the more I became calmer at work. I still hated the boss, disliked going to work but I didn’t take being spoken to like crap anymore. I started to talk back without shouting though and put a complaint in about the boss after speaking to him directly and seeing no change afterwards. He was no longer bad with me but was to others in the team, the atmosphere never really improved and people were starting to leave. The irony was that during this time, I actually got a promotion and I think this was the result of being calmer and more direct in confronting problems. It no doubt helped me in getting things done better but surprised me as I wasn’t looking for a promotion or raise.
I decided after carefully considering the good and bad things about my job that it simply was making my daily life too miserable to be worth sticking with. I wanted to escape a bad job as it were. It was time to do something new. I remember being at the last Christmas doo I went to at this job in a restaurant with my team and the boss. I knew that this would be the last one and that I would be free of working in this place soon. I don’t think I have ever felt so relaxed or had so much fun at a work outing, it just changed the whole experience.
New Job – Grass can be greener
I have been in a new job now for the past 18 months. Working at this new place has been brilliant. I have an amazing boss who couldn’t be more different from my old one, he is approachable, funny and likes banter. He will go the extra mile to help you out and really is a people person. I feel like I am doing some good in the world in what I do and am challenged enough to be kept busy and interested but not overloaded. I feel valued and appreciated and the money albeit less still helps me edge that bit closer to FI every month.
This job has been a real game changer for me as I have heard of people really liking their jobs and I always felt like they were lucky and that I couldn’t find myself in a similar situation. Now don’t get me wrong, the grass is not fully green and there are some things that were better about my old job and I can still have bad days but the things that really matter have improved. Some of my co workers still complain about this and that and criticize the place but I think I notice the good more than them as I have come from a really bad work situation and appreciate the good in this one. There is always the chance this honey moon period could come to an end and it might only take a change in management to alter the whole dynamic but with how things currently are, I no longer crave a static FI date or am I desperate to not work anymore like I used to be.
FI Progress at a Good Job
Working a job that you enjoy and progressing towards FI at the same time has to be the ideal if possible. It certainly might not be possible for all of us to enjoy our jobs but I managed to find one after thinking I wouldn’t be able to. I think for those that don’t currently enjoy their jobs, it can sometimes be wise to escape a bad job but also to be aware that no job is perfect and there will always be things not to like about jobs so really look at your current job and see if there are ways that you can improve it and get some joy out of it, even if only thinking that it provides you a means to escape the rate race entirely makes it more palpable.
Full FIRE or FIRO
I used to want full blown FIRE without any doubts but now that I have a good job and feel ever more comfortable as I get closer to FI, I am not so sure anymore. I am just enjoying the current benefits of being on the path to FI and am in no hurry to get to full FIRE. FIRO – Financial Independence Retirement Optional seems much more appealing nowadays.
I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this and specifically your experiences of work and how how that those experiences may have changed along your FI Journey.