AE's Journal Round 4

Where are you and where are you going?
jacob
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by jacob »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_M._Cipolla#Essays

Lose-lose (aka "stupid people") are worse and to be avoided. If you can't then strategically they can be somewhat contained so that the damage falls inwards/the risk is mostly on them.

Win-lose (aka "bandits") can be treated like "stupid people", so avoid avoid avoid. However, bandits also respond rationally and will mostly prioritize encounters where they actually win. If you deal a crushing defeat, they will not bother you again. One way to deal with this is Taleb's strategy of mostly being a nice person but once in a while go above and beyond in your response. This increases perceived risk on their part not to piss you off again so to speak.

Ideally, of course you'd want to surround yourself with win-win types (aka "intelligent people") and help the lose-win types (aka "helpless people") depending on residual capacity. Carrying too many can also be a drag though---you'd want to avoid being known as "the guy who knows how to fix the printer". Lose-winners are often bandits who are simply unaware of it.

JustAGuyReally
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by JustAGuyReally »

We're about the same age and we've both got about the same amount of assets saved. Well, I was at 13-14x/years saved before the coronavirus dip hit us.

Needless to say, I'll be following this journal with great interest. A couple thoughts...

It was only after years of being miserable, and then seeing how I was miserable in exactly the same way as my NEET-type friends, that I realized there are fates worse than work. I didn't want to just "retire" to playing video games all day and live the same lifestyle as my NEET friends in their late 20s/early 30s. And given my lifestyle at the time, this was exactly the track I was going to find myself on. Retiring to play video games all day might sound fun when you're 22, but once you're 30, you realize how empty that would be.
I've come to the same conclusion. Hell, I'd say I even 'like' work. Just maybe not 40 hrs/week of it. I want more of life back on a day-to-day basis (or at least a weekly basis) to spend time on doing things that are important to me.

When I get to 30-40 years of savings, I'll start to experiment with different work amounts. I have a feeling I'll settle into a 'full-time, but only for 6 months a year' or 20-25 hours/week work routine.

Problem is, I suspect I *will* want a conventionally attractive woman in my life long-term, along with a kid or three. Which is another reason to keep going. I also like the rock-solid social network and connections that a good job comes with, if only for the 'social insurance' purposes.
grad school
Interesting thoughts... I've also toyed with this same idea. I think intellecutals might be the last bastion of truly curious people out there. It's a real shame, then, that they don't get to take advantage of this curiousity and tackle interesting problems or pursue interesting, unexplored threads in their research.

But there's the:

-rules/regulation/bureaucracy of academia/university culture
-publish-or-perish culutre
-having to infuse your work with progressive political ideas
-lecturing to bored undergrads at 9 on a Thursday morning
-other grad students (who, although they are interesting) that are miserable because they are perpetually/permanently broke

to dissaude me from pursuing this idea in the future. I think I'm more of an independent scholar. :D

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@Frita - You have a good point there. Watching for management style above all else there is key. I try to screen for this by asking how their project process is. Ie, how did the last software release go? How does business communicate requirements? This shows their commitment to developing a healthy culture.

@Jacob - That's a good rundown, and I'll have to reread that essay because this makes a lot of sense. Categorizing a person's behavior can help to avoid making social mistakes. For example, if you're dealing with a bandit, you don't want to give them the benefit of the doubt in the same way you would a win-win person.

@JustAGuyReally - Dealing with undergrads is definitely the worst part of grad school. When I got my masters, I worked as a GTA, and the undergrads were easily the worst part. Don't get me wrong, there were many motivated and intelligent students. But there were also the ones who'd show up late and ask me to restart the lab or watch South Park in class. You'd also get people who would endlessly argue their grade with you.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

BUILDING SKILL

I know ERE is more about building skills than anything, and yet I'm now convinced building skill is actually more of an emotional problem than a technical problem. So a lot of miscommunication happens when you try to address an emotional problem with a technical solution.

Case and point: eating out. I'm perfectly capable of cooking food myself. And there's a pandemic out there, so picking up a sandwich for lunch is just a bad idea. And yet, I find myself letting this become somewhat of a habit now because of how bored I am being stuck inside all day. Plus a myriad of other reasons, like being sick of eating lentil leftovers, being too lazy to cook lunch, needing the excuse to get outside, etc. I am honestly amazed by the stoicism that forum members like Jacob et al can show with staying in and just working on projects during this pandemic. It makes me realize that emotional resilience may be the most important form of resilience.

And this carries over to a lot of little home maintenance tasks too. Like I need to repaint some things and organize my stuff. And while I have made significant progress on all these things, they keep getting derailed by hobbies that I find more enjoyable (in this case, my artwork). So even if having my stuff organized according to 5S is better from a web-of-goals perspective, what I want to do is grab a sandwich for lunch and work on that next art project.

I keep coming up with all these excuses, like I'd have this clean were it not for work, I could exercise were it not for work, etc. And while it's absolutely true work is far too time consuming and far too boring, is that really what my problem is? I could do something drastic like quit work, sell my condo, and move somewhere LCOL now to instantly semi-retire. But would that really solve my problem? I'm not sure the answer is yes.

Anyway, since I believe this now to be an emotional problem and not a technical one, I'm going to see if I can somehow trick myself into wanting to cook at home all the time. Or at least set up a habit/environment that makes this the automatic choice. Certainly spending emotional energy hemming and hawing over the decision everyday is not doing me any good either.

bigato
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by bigato »

Or maybe you are underestimating how much the work is impacting your mental, physical and emotional energy?

Frita
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by Frita »

There is a huge difference between a performance and skill deficit (i.e., doing something one knows how to do versus learning to do something). Then while we are looking at K-12 educational theory, throw in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-p ... -taxonomy/ Suddenly, consistently cooking lunch seems much more complex.

Just (semi-)EREing doesn’t fix any procrastination and/or tendencies to not consistently apply habits. I have found it incredibly difficult! Whoever you were before is who you’ll be afterwards. (As an ENTP, I like to mix things up.)

Do cut yourself some slack with the whole COVID19 situation. The last week or so my teen has been like a caged animal. Today my spouse had a literal temper tantrum on the floor. (Both are introverted, ISTJs, and seemed to be fairing well.)

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Frita wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 5:23 pm
Just (semi-)EREing doesn’t fix any procrastination and/or tendencies to not consistently apply habits. I have found it incredibly difficult! Whoever you were before is who you’ll be afterwards. (As an ENTP, I like to mix things up.)
This is definitely true, and it is the pitfall I want to avoid. Even if work is limiting my time/energy, I know I can still make gains here. And if novelty is truly something I need, which it's starting to feel like it is, that's something I want to be aware of when building my plan. So I need to think about what I can do to make certain habits stick.
Frita wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 5:23 pm
Do cut yourself some slack with the whole COVID19 situation.
I do think this is also true too. I was surprised by how hard the lack of "normal" impacted me. It's certainly harder to make any habit stick while you're under additional stress. Certainly I want to channel it into motivation for building said skills--especially since who knows what other crises the future holds?

George the original one
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by George the original one »

Why are you staying indoors? Are you at least opening the windows, weather permitting?

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Well, I'm not inside all of the time. I do try to go for at least an hour walk everyday, which does help some. But actually this gives me an idea of where maybe I can take my bike out instead of just walking. Because then I could go further. Since I'm working from home now, the lack of scenery changes gets old.

Another option is to use the hour of my lunch break to go to the park near me and try to do some life drawings of the objects there. That would let me feel like I'm able to get out for lunch, it's free, and it's helping further my art goals.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by jacob »

Not ENTP here, but I've found it easiest to develop new patterns by going extreme for a "short" period of time and then dialing back a skodge. For example, the "buy nothing" transition is uniformly hard and gets the same emotional reactions from everyone who does it. It takes about 3 months to get over the withdrawal and 6 months to find alternatives. Only then would I give myself a break (because https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia ... %27s_fence ) People on the other side are not stoic as much as they've changed their whole mindset. CV19 would be an excellent motivation for making changes, because you can "blame" part of the new pattern on the lockdown. This saves some "spoons"(*) from making choices to stay disciplined.

(*) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory ... is useful because consumerism is a kind of disability in that it leaves limited energy and choices to break out of the "buy a solution" restraints.

Also, http://earlyretirementextreme.com/using ... -fast.html and http://earlyretirementextreme.com/making-changes.html

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by bottlerocks »

Re: being bored at home and food procurement -- ever try baking? Baking kind of satiates my need for science experiments in the house and there's a moving-target quality to improving most baked goods.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@Jacob - You bring up a good point, and I was actually considering doing a buy-nothing experiment soon. Perhaps the trap I was falling into before with buy-nothing was not doing it for long enough. But given CV19, and the fact the employment market may be heading into shaky ground, now is probably a better time than ever become to give it a shot. I'll have to come up with the exact rules for my version of buy-nothing, but doing it for at least 6 months sounds like exactly what I need to do. Incremental change can make it easy to get stuck in local minima, and I think that may be what's happened to me.

@bottlerocks - That's a really good idea actually. I was into perfecting baking bagels a few weeks ago, and it was working well because bagels are pretty hard but easy to improve with incremental batches. So maybe I'll get back into that again. I did recently get everything I need to make macarons, and those are one of the trickier cookies to make, so maybe I should bust out the almond flour next time I'm getting tempted for a food treat.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by Egg »

Hey AE. Your journal is a really interesting read so far. Going back to your older (but new-to-me) posts, I recognise a lot of what you say. Your win-lose vs win-win thing especially gave me pause for thought. I'm almost pathologically competitive, so am probably the asshole at work you describe. Will consciously experiment with trying to dial up co-operation and dial down competitive tendencies in the coming weeks.

As to not getting cabin fever sitting at home, I'm finding it pretty easy so far not being able to go out for anything except groceries. I think it's mostly temperament. For example, I used to spend months at sea, doing basically nothing but work and sleep - much more confined than my current comfy house and garden set-up. I didn't love it, but it was fine. Not because of any emotional resilience - just the way my brain is wired. Appreciate that's not a practical solution to what you're feeling though...

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Hey Egg, thanks for the feedback! Glad to hear that win-win post was interesting to read. It's definitely a headspace that 30-year-old me tries to be in a lot more than 20-year-old me was in. Especially in the workplace, it's surprising what kind of effect cooperation has on people. In particular, I think you have to watch out for creating an environment with people turning passive aggressive when they feel they can't "win" by direct means. This creates an environment where people are subtly trying to sabotage others because direct communication has broken down. I know I've definitely become passive aggressive when confronted with people who are hyper competitive as a means to avoid "losing." The classic example might be employees rebelling by working slower in the face of a boss they feel is unreasonable.

Temperament is definitely something that helps for sure. I'm not as prone to cabin fever as some, but the covid thing has pushed me to my limits, especially because I live alone. I'm hoping some of it is just withdrawal from being hyperactive. I have noticed I do have a lot more energy for personal things since I no longer have to go into the office, so the commute/environment was something that was draining my energy. It had gotten so bad that I started to feel like everything I did was a giant hassle. I do feel much better now, even if the cabin fever has been a new problem. Two steps forward, one step backward, as they say! I just have to channel this nervous energy into something constructive instead of squandering it ineffectively.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

bigato wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 4:59 pm
Or maybe you are underestimating how much the work is impacting your mental, physical and emotional energy?
After experiencing work for the past week, I think Bigato is basically right here.

A MONTH OF FREEDOM ENDS
Throughout April, I was working from home, but not really doing much due to covid upending everything. Well, the dust has settled, and now I'm having to do a lot of work again. Part of the problem is I am a contractor, so I'm first on the chopping block if layouts come around. This has caused my boss to suddenly become very concerned about my "visibility." This is code for the fact he wants to keep me on the team, but his boss doesn't think I'm important, so now my boss is trying to make me look important.

That's all well and good, except for now, I have to work on everything that's high "visibility" and make sure I look extra good in any meeting or demo. This really sucks because the high "visibility" items are stuff I have absolutely zero interest in.

I can't fault my boss for this. He's doing the right thing. It's just that this is making me significantly less happy at work, and now I have to worry about getting laid off.

ENERGY DRAIN
Before the covid situation happened, I was suffering chronic mental fatigue and completely lack of motivation to the point I thought I had something physically wrong with me. Mind you, this had been going on for basically years. Some of it got better when I switched jobs roughly ~8 months ago, but now it's back in full force. Then, when I had the semi-hiatus month of covid, all my motivation had suddenly come back. I got a bunch of deferred maintenance done on my condo, I began organizing the stuff I own, etc. But now that I'm working again, the depression-fatigue is back.

Part of the problem with the depression-fatigue is it starts to make me just feel bad about myself. Plenty of people I know work full time, have kids, and still manage to do a ton of other stuff. But I seem to struggle with motivation when I'm working, and a lot of other parts of my life suffer for it. I try to have a good attitude about it and do what I can. After all, if others can do it, then so can I. But it just makes me miserable.

The whole thing is making me extremely tempted to sell everything I own, sell the condo, and move somewhere where I can buy a house with cash. I'd have roughly $200k for a house if I did this, and there's a lot of cool places with houses that cheap. I just can't see myself staying where I'm at now forever, partly because a house here costs $400k, and partly because this suburb is very family-oriented, and thus not a good fit for me and my lifestyle. I just hesitate because I don't have quite enough to 4%-Rule-FI yet. So buying a $200k house would require that I also work in some capacity to afford other things. It's not the worst plan ever, but I want to think about it before I do anything impulsive.

STARTED BUY-NOTHING MONTH
I did start doing the buy-nothing thing. And while it's only been a week, so far it's actually helped me a lot cut back on unneeded spending. Having the "rule" in place makes all the superfluous spending decisions easier because they're an automatic "no." Obviously I'm only a week in, so I have a long way to go to reach the 6 month mark, but I'll post more about it here as time goes on.

I have also been baking more, and that's helped with the eating-out-because-boredom problem. After several attempts, I have mastered baking bagels. Now I'm going to attempt to master macarons.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Your post RE: livingafi blog sent me down a several hour binge read, and I've just come up for some air.

In your OP, you state that you're at roughly 15X expenses, in the Denver area. What if you were to sell your residence and move to a LCOL area? Would/could you get yourself to ~25x by being creative with spending, it sounds like you're REALLY burned out, and the taste of freedom from the past month of Office Spacing it from home will only amplify this in conjunction with the new requirement of looking extra good for management.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AxelHeyst »

Everything you wrote in Energy Drain really resonated with me. It hadn't occurred to me, but I also feel guilt ('bad about myself') for feeling the way I do, because plenty of other people seem able to work just as much as I do and keep their tails up and live what appear to be fulfilling lives. Full time work seems to drain me in ways it doesn't for other people.

And it occurred to me yesterday while explaining GTD in @roamingfrancis' journal yesterday, that I've spent a *lot* of effort attempting to improve my depression-fatigue. I've improved my time and energy management practices with systems like gtd, I've improved my mental and physical health with good diet and food, yoga, meditation, active lifestyle, I've worked hard on improving my emotional well being, I went full work-from-home, etc etc. And each time I did something, I felt an improvement, but it only pushed off the depression-fatigue for a little bit, and then it came back.

And I'm now realizing that I've been treating the symptoms without addressing the cause of my malady, which is full time medium-to-high-stress employment. And I've hit a point of diminishing returns on symptom treatment, and the elephant in the room is sitting on my chest now, staring me in the face, going "come on dude, this isn't that hard to figure out". I suspect (but haven't proven yet) that going to a system where I still work, but much much less (I'm nowhere near as close to FI as you), will be a radical improvement in my life, not just in degree but in kind. "Not working FT" is literally the only thing I haven't tried yet.

I feel like I can't give advice in good faith since I'm so close to the beginning of my journey and haven't seen how it's panned out yet, but I wanted to post the similarities that struck me and my thoughts on my situation.

classical_Liberal
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by classical_Liberal »

Frita wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 5:23 pm
Just (semi-)EREing doesn’t fix any procrastination and/or tendencies to not consistently apply habits. I have found it incredibly difficult! Whoever you were before is who you’ll be afterwards.
I'm going to kind-of disagree with this and pair it with your comment.
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 9:35 am
Then, when I had the semi-hiatus month of covid, all my motivation had suddenly come back. I got a bunch of deferred maintenance done on my condo, I began organizing the stuff I own, etc. But now that I'm working again, the depression-fatigue is back.... But I seem to struggle with motivation when I'm working, and a lot of other parts of my life suffer for it.
What I notice in my off periods of semi-ERE is that the actions of completing these to-do lists of life maintenance-type stuff fundamentally changes with free time. I agree that I don't fundamentally change as a person, but how I go about these things changes so dramatically that they shift from horrible chores, to pleasurable activities. Cooking, cleaning, home projects, self care, exercise... These are enjoyable things for me when I'm not working.

The "Why" behind this is likely a bit complex. I think the obvious thing is simply the idea of having more life energy to do them. You've already alluded to this. Just as important though is something 7WB5 & J+G turned me on to a year or more before I actaully Semi ERE'ed, but didn't "grok" until I experienced it. It's your personal flow for activities. Meaning that when you have the ability to choose certain times of day, or times of year, or certain moods to do things, it fundamentally changes the way in which you approach them (FYI this includes paid employment). IOW, choosing when you do something is just as important as what you are choosing to do. Doing the right things at the right times makes the experience so much better that the positive emotional/wellbeing feedback reinforces the habit. Add this to the fact you don't feel time pressured and the quality of work increases as well.

Personally, given enough time, I fall into such a pleasant existence that my biggest problem has been procrastination with activities I thought I wanted to do. Like travel, or visiting nonlocal friends and family. One of the bigger deciding factors to return to work when I did was the fact, after awhile, I really wasn't doing many of the thing I thought I would do in semi-ERE and I began to feel bad about myself (like you stated) because I wasn't traveling enough, or leisuring enough, or whatever. Creating some scarcity in the time in which I could do these things, by planning on returning to work, encouraged me to do them. In hindsight though, maybe I was just beginning to learn how to "be" vs always having to "do". If I can take almost as much pleasure in folding laundry, going on a bike ride, hanging out at the local pub or coffee shop, as I can on a slow travel vacation... then why do I feel this insatiable urge to have to go on vacations? It's an interesting conundrum, one that I think requires some serious balance.

I certainly don't want to never slow travel, or learn to build a house myself, or learn to really dance, ect. I think those experiences will be enriching in many ways. However, I also think learning to find peace and contentment in being is just as useful. Again though, the timing of these things is important, because you have to feel like you want to do them to truly get the best experience. So the key is to create a life which allows you to experience, do, and learn all of these things on your schedule. For me this might require a bit of FT work from time to time to really appreciate the off time and motivate me to do some of the bigger things, while remembering to have enough off time to practice just "being" as well. For you it may be something different entirely.

You will likely never feel you have "enough" money. There will always be a reason to have more. Your convictions will not change at 25X or 33X or 44X. If you feel you have enough to pursue a better life, it's best to take the leap. This is my opinion and that of most of the Semi-ERE crowd.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by horsewoman »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 1:58 pm
It's your personal flow for activities. Meaning that when you have the ability to choose certain times of day, or times of year, or certain moods to do things, it fundamentally changes the way in which you approach them (FYI this includes paid employment). IOW, choosing when you do something is just as important as what you are choosing to do. Doing the right things at the right times makes the experience so much better that the positive emotional/wellbeing feedback reinforces the habit. Add this to the fact you don't feel time pressured and the quality of work increases as well.
This! I have nothing to add, apart from pointing out that this is exactly my experience, more than a decade into "semi-ER".

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by bigato »

Don't fall into that trap of "plenty of people cope with so much more, why can't I"
You are not those people and you should not feel guilty in any way. They can cope well with stuff you don't, but they have their own challenges that are probably different from yours. The worst part about this trap is that you don't accept yourself for who you are and then it's so much harder to learn to deal with your limitations. Also, I don't think it is a question of motivation. It's lack of energy. As for why the job drains you, it could be something related to how you deal with the environment in your job. If such is the case, the good news is that accepting yourself more can help towards finding coping strategies that hopefully will save you some energy drain.

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