ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

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Gilberto de Piento
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ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Has anyone else found that working towards FIRE in an ERE way (spend much less, not make more) has caused them to be less motivated about career and/or making money in general? I feel like the ERE philosophy has been beneficial for me in sorting out my finances but it has also caused me to stop trying to make more money as I know that if I just keep doing what I'm doing I'll be retired in 15 years or so. I've never been very careerist or greedy but I think I had more motivation a year ago. I had plans for building some awesome money making websites to make more money and getting a better job and buying a decent house in a nice neighborhood and owning a car that isn't a rusty junker but now I feel like oh well, who cares about any of that. I don't know if this is good or bad.

This is not meant to be a troll. Obviously I believe in this stuff or I wouldn't be here. I'm just doing some thinking about where I stand and where to go next.

A Life of FI
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by A Life of FI »

I would think your feelings are rather typical for someone pursing ERE. After all the reason many people pursue ERE in the first place is to decouple themselves from the typical careerist/consumerist track. And once they see that achieving FI will allow them to eventually separate from the careerist/consumerist track, they naturally become much less interested in careerist/consumerist things.

As for where you go next, that is more of an individual question and I think for many people who achieve FI takes time. Someone achieving FI needs to decide for themselves what they value and how they want to send their time. And after aiming for, for all/most of our lives things, that have been put in front of us/taught to us as being desirable (certain types of qualifications, degrees, positions in companies, cars, house etc.) it takes time to change our thinking to value and aim for want we intrinsically believe is valuable to us, even though others might not pay us/give us recognition for doing it.

steveo73
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by steveo73 »

I really struggle going to work now. I can enjoy my job at times. I enjoyed it today but in general waking up and going to work sucks.

When I think I can retire in 10 years it makes me think whats the point of working harder.

JamesR
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by JamesR »

I think that it makes some sense to focus on career if the timeline is 10+ years. If you can find a way to consistently increase your income 5-10% every year, it adds up. These increases would come from raises or changing jobs strategically.

Some math.. If your timeline is 10 years, 5% annual increases (3% after inflation) would reduce your timeline to 8 years, and 10% annual increases would bring that down to 7 years. Not a huge difference between 5% & 10% increases perhaps, but shows it's worth going for 5% increases minimum.

I guess perhaps the question is how much extra time/effort it takes to "focus on career" ? Well, I wouldn't necessarily work harder at the day job, that's not what is necessary here. There's better approaches, mainly working a bit smarter/strategically.

For instance, to ensure you get the typical 5-10% annual raise, it helps to keep a record of what you did and what the impact was to the business. For example, If you have a customer facing position, it helps to keep a paper copy of compliments/customers helped in a folder that you can bring to annual review. It might seem weird but better to show up with some kind of proof of your impact to the business rather than none.

The Subversive Job Search by Alan Corey might be interesting to you. He goes from a $50k (NYC) IT support job to a $110k project manager job in the space of 18 months. Ultimately it comes down to writing a resume that highlights the proper attributes for the job you are aiming for, and developing some work/jobs that show growth in that direction, as well as perhaps picking up a certification or just name dropping related conferences/seminars/other educational sources.

------

Money making websites could let you get to FI a lot sooner. Maybe lack of motivation is more because you feel stuck in your current career for the next 15 years since you've done the basic ERE math.

Maybe the problem is that the ERE community is focused so much on working a crappy 9 to 5 job while reducing consumption to a bare minimum. This means there's a huge gap where there's barely any discussion around income growth or developing side incomes. Which probably kills the motivation because there's no ERE math based on developing that extra income.

BTW, http://www.fifighter.com/ has an interesting approach with real estate investing that you could check out for inspiration.

GandK
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by GandK »

That was my experience. The workplace eventually had no association with my goals, other than that it was a place where I made money. That was disorienting. I'd never seen money as more than just a means to an end (still don't). I was certainly not used to thinking of my career - the single thing I had poured most of my adult life energy into - as just a method of collecting dollars. And yes, when my attitude changed, it was extremely demotivating.

In the end, that became a good thing. I reprioritized.

George the original one
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by George the original one »

JamesR has pretty much said what I'd say. Developing income streams from side-businesses is always a good idea as it provides for a more robust solution.

almostthere
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by almostthere »

Second vote for GandK.

jacob
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by jacob »

I guess I should explain myself, then, since I'm partially responsible for the overall tone of ERE.

1) Personally, I have never picked a job or a [potential] career for the purpose of making money. I have always picked whatever was the most interesting to me at the time regardless of what it paid or didn't pay.

2) Being naturally efficient/frugal (the ERE philosophy is just a formalization of what I more or less already did intuitively) practically all jobs pay way in excess of what I actually spend. If working already pays me 5x of what I actually spend, why would I be concerned about hiking that number by 5 or 10%.

3) Furthermore, I would be entirely unsatisfied limiting myself to the entertainment options offered to consumers: buying stuff, watching stuff, and travelling. I like to do stuff and doing stuff often brings income.

Adding 1+2+3 and FI becomes an almost accidental consequence. FI is a SIDE-EFFECT of 1+2+3 rather than a primary goal. Actually, by the time I found out about the concept of FI I was almost there already.

In that regard, my perspective on work and money is entirely different than the typical early-retirement.org ... we're separated by a couple of Wheaton levels.

Work is not something I do for money so that I can stop working once I reach my number and/or qualify for a pension. Rather work is something I do for myself and when I do it in a job-setting they just happen to give me something called money most of which I have little use for so I invest it ... and bloody-well I get more of that money stuff. But at least I get so much that I have the option of not even working at all.

Typically, I'm not working in the job-setting because they give me money but rather because jobs tend to give access to hardware and people which aren't available in my kitchen or the garage. At least not for the kind of work I have found interesting. (Except blogging and bike repair) This is a simple consequence of the fact that most human activity takes place in a job setting. It doesn't have to be this way, but it is.

This is why I often deemphasize the race or finish line aspect of FI. Because that's just not how I see it.

Of course e-r.org see it differently and that's fine too. If you only see work as "serving time"---a "job-sentence"---that will ultimately let you out of the "work-house", then it does make all the sense in the world to try to get out faster based on good behaviour by playing the career game and doing the right things to get raises and so on. Personally, though, I don't want to sacrifice years/decades of my life that way. So I do it my way. Of course the situation is different if your ultimate and only goal is to play golf and sip cocktails and you just want to get this "work"-thing over with.

So it's the difference between seeing work as a sacrifice to get income or work as an expression of who you are. I'm totally in the last camp. I've never been in the former.

Another reason I've never really looked at increasing income is that this path has not been available in my jobs. Wage increases have always been non-existent or below inflation.

cmonkey
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by cmonkey »

I totally understand the lack of motivation. I was losing motivation about a year or so into having a job and naturally found my way to this community as a result of it. I was living on like 30% of my income, investing the rest in my property, and wondering if I could somehow live off investment income after I paid off the house when I found this site.

I am just under 5 years away from FI and so I am pretty much coasting at this point and do what is required of me to keep my job....which isn't a lot. I get glowing reviews (which is weird because I don't do much, just a lot more compared with what others are doing) and so I feel comfortable in my position. Its super easy work (Unix type administration), so I can get by with about 2 hours of work a day.

The rest of the day is spent doing things that are interesting to me (most of the past year or has been spent researching ERE/FI and doing calculations, making budgets, etc...), but I'm now at the point where I'm not sure how to fill the rest of my 8 hour day.

Thankfully, I have a budding interest in horticulture and growing as much of my own food as possible so this is something that works for me. Youtube, coupled with our "employee device network", makes for a short day indeed.

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Jean
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Jean »

I lost so much motivation that I quit my job before being FI.
Now I'm applying for something completely out of my field, but that pays very much.
I'de probably try it even if I was FI. Not being FI just makes me trying harder.
I don't know if I'll succeed.
But maybe, not having money troubles to stress you into doing something you find stupid is not that bad, even if it makes it more difficult to be motivated by earning money.
But ain't that the point of ERE?

leeholsen
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by leeholsen »

I would think ere would make you more motivated, especially if you're young. If I had figured out the ere mindset in my 20s; I would've been working some oil rig in the worst conditions possible considering I considered myself indestructible then; and put away 75% of my income. at 30, i'd had put enough away to probably be retired or be doing whatever job i wanted.

I still could do that today, in my 40s; but I got parents starting to need me to be around as they have increasing health issues; so i'm on the slow boat to be FI by 50.

I still get discouraged sometimes, because almost any "job" can be a grind; but I see most everyone else I work with driving around $400 worth of monthly payments and am glad I have escaped life sentence.

J_
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by J_ »

When I started to realise that FI gives me more satisfaction and overall freedom to choose how to live it gave me a boost. I am/was entrepreneur, it challenged me not to maximise profit as that goal would spoil my goal to deliver value for money. It challenged me to reduce my personal spending, it challenged me to think what to do in future with my freedom. To conclude: FI (ERE) was not at all spoiling my motivation, it was fuelling it.

Dragline
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Dragline »

Yes and no. I have a lot of flexibility in how I spend my time at work. I've really tried to evaluate what are the things I like the most and those I don't and tried to maximize the former and minimize the latter. In that vein, I've pretty much avoided all of the "you should do this extracurricular thing to advance your career" items and have been pretty happy about that. And I've stopped paying any attention to my peers in terms of "advancement," many of whom are out doing those things I don't want to do.

I suppose I've been less motivated about my career from the standpoint of it being my "identity". But I view that as a positive thing, because I don't think most people should be identified by their careers, or only by them. That is the negative aspect of careerism and what creates a lot of anxiety in so many people.

And I've set different goals -- a lot of them health or relationship-related. I think that's what ultimately important -- identifying those goals that are important to you and working towards them. Some of them may be career-related, but a lot of them are not.

Tyler9000
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Tyler9000 »

I think going through a bit of a funk as you learn to disassociate career from self-worth is normal and healthy. However, resigning your working career to a period of "slave and save" you must endure to reach the holy land of retirement is not. I suspect there is a high correlation between the group of people that feel that way and the group that gets bored and depressed after retirement. If you refuse to take charge of your own happiness today, what makes you think that will change later?

I dealt with work motivation by job hopping quite a bit. It served a double purpose of keeping me engaged, happy, and learning new things while increasing my salary at the same time. The only time I really struggled was towards the very end when I was ready for the next step but realized switching jobs would no longer get me closer to my goals and I had to be patient. But in retrospect, I needed the time anyway to gain the confidence I needed to pull the ripcord.

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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by jacob »

It dawned on me that the Gervais Principle might be a much better lens to understand this issue with:
http://www.ribbonfarm.com/the-gervais-principle/
(Read the WHOLE thing. Read it in order!! Warning: Careful. Once understood, it can not be un-understood.)

Learning about ERE effectively makes it impossible to remain Clueless(*) (a college-education pathway is essentially a degree in Cluelessness) . Anyone who was previously Clueless must therefore change perspective/category. I think this [transition] is the issue here.

(*) This has a very technical meaning. Don't confuse it with the vernacular meaning.

Scott 2
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Scott 2 »

If you're just going to work for the money, it's time to start changing stuff. You don't get that time back. You could die on the cusp of "freedom", having wasted the whole path there, unhappy.

Dragline has the right idea, IMO. Use the flexibility being part way to FI gives you, to take risks and change your job into something you like. You have much more control over the employee relationship than it initially seems. It just takes a little confidence to tell others what you will and will not do.

I'm at a point where my work is as much entertainment and a way to feel productive as it is about getting a paycheck. All I do is IT stuff, but I get the fun parts with people I like. It's pretty cool to get paid well for it, since when I'm on vacation, I usually end up playing with a computer anyway.

henrik
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by henrik »

Having realised that both income/spending and satisfaction with everyday work is in my own control has definitely made me less concerned with the former and more interested in the latter. Or in Jacob's terms, the more I manage to decouple income from the rest of my life, the more I'm able to focus on the hardware and the people for work:) I've chosen to lower my income several times and in considerable amounts over the last few years simply due to the realisation that I never really needed it, I just assumed I did. In effect, I've been buying access to more interesting stuff to do. So the answer to the original question in bold-- yes, definitely. And it's a good thing, even though I might technically never get to FI as a result.

Dragline
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Dragline »

jacob wrote:It dawned on me that the Gervais Principle might be a much better lens to understand this issue with:
http://www.ribbonfarm.com/the-gervais-principle/
(Read the WHOLE thing. Read it in order!! Warning: Careful. Once understood, it can not be un-understood.)
Hmmm -- maybe the link should appear in red (like the pill) instead of blue. I'll probably slide into a weird lentil-dominated dystopia if I read it, but here goes . . .

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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by theanimal »

I read The Gervais Principle a couple weeks back and have been trying to coincide it with ERE. My thoughts are that of those who follow the ERE principles and have a typical 9-5 job, tend to lean more to a Loser side of things (the technical term in the article, not the common definition). In the sense that they understand the game (career wise), but choose not to play. The lack of dedication to a job (as compared to clueless and sociopaths), as exemplified by the replies here and elsewhere on this board by many, also seems to be a dead ringer for the loser category.

Aren't sociopaths sociopaths because they are more career and power minded? Would it be wise for the typical EREr to try to become a sociopath, so that they can pursue better opportunities if they are presented?

Dragline
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Re: ERE Philosophy Limiting Career Motivation?

Post by Dragline »

theanimal wrote:
Aren't sociopaths sociopaths because they are more career and power minded? Would it be wise for the typical EREr to try to become a sociopath, so that they can pursue better opportunities if they are presented?
Actually, that's probably not possible or extremely difficult. It would be the equivalent of changing handedness.

Sociopaths are sociopaths because they lack the ordinary empathic responses of most humans, and thus don't derive any mental benefit out of seeing others do well and little negative effects out of the opposite. In effect, that part of them never developed, so they have the view of the world of a small child who seeks to control or manipulate his or her surroundings. People are just objects.

The narcissists even still throw tantrums. The borderlines act like teenage drama queens in cliques, who either love you or hate you. But most lack self-control and end up in jail. It's the clever ones who have self-control that are the most worrisome because they have a fully functional "Mask of Sanity." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mask_of_Sanity

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