I’ve been enjoying what livingafi has done on his blog, posting a few articles about his life at work to remind his future self why he achieved financial independence. Although I can’t pretend to have his writing skills, I think now’s a good time for me to dump my current thoughts about my job.
8 years ago, I landed what I thought to be the perfect job, in the perfect company. Over the years, the job and the team evolved. The day to day routine went from perfect to acceptable, then grew into an annoyance, and, over the past 4 months I think I can admit it’s now become a living hell, and, probably, my worst nightmare (except nightmares aren’t real, but my job is).
There’s a weird chicken-egg scenario with Financial Independence here: the closer I get to FI, the more I hate my job, but to be honest I don’t know if the two are correlated, or if it’s just some sort of coincidence.
Sure, as many have stated before, having some F.U. money kind of opens one’s eyes at all the B.S. we’re taking for granted in our daily jobs. The closer I get to Financial Independence, the more I want to scream “I don’t need to take that kind of sh.t from you, I don’t need this job!” in the middle of a stressful meeting.
On the other hand, I can’t help but notice that my job has become incredibly stressful, and that has nothing to do with financial independence. It’s worth mentioning that I have never received a promotion since I joined eight years ago, despite taking on much more responsibility and work. For all the clever talk I did to my wife years ago along the lines of “people who work 12h a day are the ones doing it to themselves, nobody’s preventing them from leaving”, I find myself in a similar position nowadays.
I used to dislike Sunday evenings, like many people, because Monday was looming. Last weekend, while I was playing at the park with my 5 year old son, I realized I was dreading the upcoming Monday, on a Saturday afternoon! That’s right, my job has become so stressful that pretty much my entire weekend is now dedicated to dreading it, even (in particular?) at times that I should be enjoying.
Last week on Friday, I was asked in a meeting to plan a trip to fly across the country on the following Monday, and to work over the weekend. Two things that I despise, and I want to believe I’m not the only one. It shocked me that my manager and other people felt that it was ok to proceed with that kind of ask. I felt a strong disconnection from the rest of the team at that point, as other employees seemed to be perfectly ok with the request. I actually replied “I don’t usually work on weekends, I don’t have a private office and my kids are kind of noisy, it wouldn’t work for me”, but somebody else talked louder than me on a different subject, so nobody heard me. The “weekend” stuff ended up being driven by other people (who did work on Sunday) so in hindsight I guess I’m glad nobody heard my disagreement. Pussy!
I really need to get out of there as fast as possible. Cue in the question people should ask then:
Why don’t you quit your job if you hate it so much?
There are many reasons I don’t leave my job right now: I don’t have another job lined up, I feel a strong sense of responsibility towards my wife and two kids, I’m not fully financially independent yet and am so close to the goal that it would feel like a painful failure to give up just now, and frankly, leaving a job is easier said than done, as many personal finance bloggers have experienced.
But there’s one more constraint on me that most people don’t have. The golden shackles of the immigrant: my Visa to the U.S. is tied to my company, and officially if I leave the job or get fired, my family and I have 15 days to leave the country.
If you’ve ever done a move abroad, you probably understand that 15 days is not a huge amount of time to handle an international relocation. Plus with my wife and I being of different nationalities, wherever we would move next would require one of us to get the right approval (visa) in order to move together somewhere else. Can we all agree that in such a situation, this is a major pain in the butt, and the decision to leave the job is not a light one?
There’s more! I could still find another job in the US ahead of time, or plan a bit for an international relocation. In both cases though, I’d have to refund my company a significant amount of the “relocation costs” that were spent to move my family to the US (we’re talking about $30’000 here people, not pocket money). For all the bad stuff some people say about immigrants in the US, it is not only rainbows and unicorns out there. Would any US citizen want my job if the condition was that they’d have to leave the country and pay $30’000 if they ever get tired of the job? I feel like I’ve ranted on that subject before.
So, leaving my job would mean paying back a significant amount of money to my company, running the risk of being kicked out of the country, in the process ruining some of my wife’s plans for the kids moving forward… pretty heavy. Had I to make that decision as a 20 something with no family, I’d probably say “F.U.” and be back in my parents’ basement by now. Life has turned me into a family man responsible for the well being of 3 other people, and for now that responsibility means giving them stability, by not leaving my job after an angry meeting.
I’m taking a bullet for the team here, looking at my wealth numbers on a daily basis, counting until the time I can properly say “I’m done”. Maybe a couple more years. Wish me luck, and hope I don’t become insane before reaching the FI numbers!