My funemployment, as I suspected, has been far too short.
One of the surprising things I’ve found is this time has been how little I have been interested in money lately.
On an average day, I can spend my time reading books, going on walks, traveling to nearby towns I haven’t visited before and wouldn’t normally venture to. I have been singing a lot lately, something I haven’t done in years, and feel enthusiastic again about learning new things.
Without the obligation of employment hanging over my head, I am fully capable of letting go of my money anxieties. I’ve started to remember the core-YAPFB, the one that I haven’t really known since I graduated college. Core-YAPFB is super chill, not particularly ambitious, but is a pretty happy gal that likes good food, good friends, and good stories. I really like core-YAPFB. Rarely does core-YAPFB compulsively check Personal Capital, project out her FI/RE date, optimize her money-making and money-saving ventures, or even really care about running up her $ numbers.
That is, except when thinking about going back to work.
When I start thinking about work, my FIRE-obsessed brain goes into overdrive. If I let myself ruminate on it, the prospect of what has to be done, getting in the good graces of my colleagues, etc. is stressful. I’ve trained the pathway in my brain to go from the thought of work to the thought of work stress to the though of “oh my gawd I can’t do this for forty years” to FIRE.
But clearly, since I haven’t even started my job yet, work itself is not the issue. Rather, it is my method for dealing with low-level anxiety, i.e. obsessing about FIRE, that is the problem.
I find that when I am fully invested in my work, I am actually very good about both keeping my spending down and not even really thinking about FIRE. FIRE is something that instead occupies my mind during periods of high (often self-imposed) stress and ennui. Rather than directing my energies toward productive activities– getting what work I need to do or improving myself in non-financial ways– FIRE takes over what spare cycles I have, and often to a somewhat detrimental effect.
Given that I have the rough structures in place for FIRE– automatic retirement and investment contributions, rough outline of a budget, and the like– it really is a waste how much I think about FIRE when I could be focusing on literally anything else.
So I am going to add a new goal to my list for 2018: No more thinking about money unless (a) it is part of necessary maintenance to keep financial systems going or (b) relates to building a system in earnest for a specific and well-defined financial issue. No more idly beating myself up for spending too much on food. No more browsing /r/financialindependence out of boredom. Either decide to really adopt a system to fix already identified problems or move on. And if my anxiety brings me back to thinking about PF and FIRE? Use that energy elsewhere for something more important. Start building that life I want to live now.
Do you get overwhelmed by FIRE or PF-obsession?