AE's Journal - Round 3

Where are you and where are you going?
AnalyticalEngine
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:15 pm

Introduction
Hello everyone. This is my third attempt at making a journal on this site. I keep making them and then deleting my posts. I have a tendency to get sucked into Internet communities, and so I was intentionally limiting my exposure to this site.

But after consistently journaling and using my planner for the first half of the year, I've come to realize I've been stuck in the same thought loop for years. I'll describe this loop in the later sections.

For now, I'll just introduce myself. I am 29 and currently work as a software developer in CO. I've been pursing FI since 2012, but have refined my thinking to a more ERE approach in the past year.

Goals for journal
I need a concrete, measurable way to hold myself to my goals or else I tend to lose track of my progress. I already use spreadsheets and my paper journal, but I want something more formal and structured to organize those reflections.

Additionally, most of the people I am friends with are significantly younger than me, and so I have recent realized I am lacking mentors. I hope to connect with some of the more experienced members of this forum for insight into my situation.

I do plan to eventually focus on my nitty gritty finances, but I am going to save that for a later time. My most pressing issue is the dissatisfaction in my life/job situation, and so I plan to tackle that first.

Current situation
I currently work as a software developer for a large corporation (20k+ employees), and I have been in this role for the past four years. I really enjoyed the first year of my job, but it has since grown extremely stale. I've been pretty miserable at this job for the past 3+ years, but I continue to stay there because it's easy and it pays.

After being miserable for so long, I've finally realized I need to change my approach. I spent some time reading MBTI research for my type (INTJ), and I think I have gotten stuck in an Ni-Fi loop. Because I understand all corporate jobs are basically exploitative (they pay you less than you earn them), I've become extremely cynical. This has morphed into a permanent sense of defeatism and pessimism. I view all software jobs as equally bad, and so I have not tried to find another one nor do anything more than the bare minimum in my role. This is a problem because instead of guarding myself against the scenario talked about in Disciplined Minds, all I've done is developed burn/boreout, a bad attitude, and a poor professional network.

Even though I have diagnosed the problem, I have been stuck in this rut for so long that climbing out is going to be a challenge. I will start this journal with my attempts to get out of this.

Next steps
I really need to find a way to connect with others professionally and network. Building these ties has always been a struggle for me in both my personal and professional life, and so it has made me isolated from most other people. I need to work on deliberately cultivating professional connections so I can find other opportunities to build my skills and earn my ERE nest egg.

classical_Liberal
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:54 pm

Hi AE!

Glad you're trying a journal again.

Like so many folks who wander into this community it sounds like you have a very unhealthy relationship with your work. No shame, I'm with you on this boat. Your job consumes a large portion of your energy, but instead of feeling like this energy is well spent, you feel like your simply being taken advantage of by a corporate overlord and controlled by meaningless bureaucracy. In seeking FI you are looking for a way out, ERE lifestyle is probably the quickest, most logical route to this end goal. Additionally, learning ERE provides a layer of security outside of the monetary system and is a more ethical way to live in this time of resource waste and shortsightedness. So here you are.

All of the above makes sense, except, you've already been miserable for quite some time by your own admission. Your plan seems to make sense. Tracking financials is an important part of ERE, particularly if you are weak in the area of consumption (I'm assuming in your business you are not weak in income). However, if FI is still many years away after you "handle" the consumption side, you need to make other changes sooner. Professional networking seems a good step in that direction, but if THAT makes you miserable too...

One of two things needs to happen for you to turn his around. Either the internal needs to change, meaning you need to find some form of pleasure in your current work by focusing on something other than the 1,000 feet up corporate overlord view. Can you focus on something within the structure of your employment you can control and provide positive productivity towards? Something from 100 feet up. (For me as a nurse, this was focusing on the daily patient assignment and nothing else, f**k the healthcare system and profits, I only care about the outcomes of my 5 or 6 patients for that day). Or change the external, find a job situation in which you can see how your contributions makes small positive progress towards something from that higher view. Since you've been pursuing FI for some time, maybe you have enough FU leverage to change external towards creating a more balanced approach where you do not have to expend too much energy/time on paid employment. If you can change both internal and external, and pursue ERE, FI will likely become a byproduct of living a great life.

All easier said than done, its taken me three years of hanging out here and I'm just starting to reach these goals now, but I'm a very slow learner, I expect more from you :lol:.

Good luck, looking forward to more!!

Edit: My opinions, For a great example of someone who has changed internal, try reading @suomalainen's journal. For someone who has done a great job at changing external read @SustainableHappiness or @Trailblazer's journal.

AnalyticalEngine
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:01 pm

Thanks classical_Liberal! I think you have described my relationship with work pretty well. Work is such a massive time and energy sink for me, and it kills me to know that what I am doing is, as you said, being taken advantage of by our corporate overlords. I've been trying to tell myself more lately that work is an economic exchange, but it's still hard when I don't want to be there and know the conditions of my employment are exploitative on a systemic level.

I've been pursing FI ever since I even got out of college, so to come extent I think that stunted my full transition into adulthood because I viewed FI as some kind of panacea to escaping work to play video games all day. I've now learned that's not a healthy attitude, and so I've been trying to negotiate what's next for me. So I think I probably need both an internal and external change. I appreciate those journal links and I'm definitely going to check them out.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:08 pm

I was reflecting on two things today, namely:

Predisposition to Negativity
In the Big 5 personality scheme, I score reasonably high (61%) on Neuroticism and reasonably low (30%) on Extroversion. This is concerning to me be low Neuroticism and high Extroversion are predictive of experiencing many positive emotions. This may explain some of my struggles. I have read that mindfulness can be especially helpful for people who score higher on Neuroticism, so this may be something I need to research.

The Nature of Work
I've come to realize that software development isn't about the desires you as a developer have to write certain code a certain way. The business looks at you like a generic Unit of Engineering, and they want their developers to be as interchangeable as possible. It makes sense from their perspective. They want to reduce coupling and dependence between any single engineer and the application. But it also means your life as a developer is second to their interests. You're supposed to be an interchangeable cog they throw random engineering problems at, and you need to spit out a solution no matter the context.

The worst part is I even understand why they want it this way. It makes total sense from their perspective to standardize the engineers and not worry if Alice prefers service work while Bob prefers UI work. But it sucks to be reduced to something so standardized, and the price to pay for breadth is reduced depth.

bigato
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by bigato » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:46 am

Yeah. I managed to bury myself in a position where I do assembly and that suits my personality. Also, it should last until I pile enough money. But it took me some years to get here. It really hurts to be forced into being something you are not.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:39 pm

JUNE 2019 UPDATE

June was a ridiculous month for me. Due to assorted reasons, I ended up hosting someone at my house for seven weeks. This put a lot of unexpected stress on me and really disrupted my routines. To recover from that, and to recover from some burnout at work, I took the week of the 4th of July off of work.

FINANCIAL
Expenses: $-2,285.91
Years of expenses saved (3% SWR): 7.02
Biggest expense: Food at $-707 (big yikes)

I won't post my entire budget every month. Instead I'll just post what I'm focusing on. As you can see, nearly 1/3 of my expenses on food this month were food. This was partly because I was feeding more people than normal, but it was also that I resorted to eating breakfast and lunch at the work cafeteria everyday to cope with the stress. $700 on food is ridiculous though, so I am going to try hard core to cut back on it this month.

LIFE UPDATES
The week off from work really helped me focus again, and I am thinking I should take these "staycations" more often. It did get me thinking though the difference between someone who is ERE and a NEET. I know several people who are either younger NEETs in their late 20s/30s who never had a real job and live at home. And I also know several people who "retired" at 50-60 for health reasons and now sit at home all day and play Facebook games. During my week off, I found myself slipping into some NEET habits, like spending too much time online or eating inconsistently/unhealthy, and so it made me reflect on how I can avoid becoming basically a NEET with money while pursuing ERE.

I think some of the distinction comes down to what you do with your time. A lot of the NEETs I know spend all day online doing media-based activities, like playing video games or writing 300k words of erotic fanfiction. What strikes me about these activities is they are only fun when they're not the main point of your life. But when you're 30 and have never had a job and live with mom and spend all day online, that's definitely not any kind of life I'd want to live.

So I think the distinction is that ERE is web-of-goals based and achieved by creating a life system where you consistently add value to everything around you. That's why ERE requires less conventional capital to achieve than FI. Whereas someone who is a NEET is consistently consuming value without adding anything back into the system. It's why being a NEET is unfulfilling whereas ERE is fulfilling.

I'm going to put more thought into how I can structure my ERE-life so it isn't a NEET lifestyle sponsored by index funds. I think I might start by focusing more on career and social objectives, but I'm saving those goals for after I get my basic routines back in order.

JULY GOALS
I want to get my very basic routines figured out before I focus on anything advanced. Therefore July will be about focusing on diet and exercise and meditation. My goal is to bring lunch to work every single day and workout before work five days a week.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:55 pm

JULY 2019 UPDATE

Personal

Phew, this was a tumultuous. I decided there were some major changes I needed to make in my life, and so I had to shake things up. It was stressful, but ultimate I think I'm now on the right path.

The first thing was ending my relationship of two years, as well as cutting out some friends. This was painful, but ultimately I had to do it because all these people were acting as emotional vampires and draining my energy. Getting rid of them was an emotional roller coaster, but I feel much better having done it, and I learned a lot of important lessons for the future.

This has made me somewhat lonely though, because even those these people were a drain, they were also my primary source of social engagement. So I really need to try harder to go make more friends.

Professional
I've decided I need to go find a new job. I've been complacent in this current role for years, but the boredom (combined with micromanagement) is finally driving me insane. So I'll be brushing off my resume and working on my technical skills to make a jump. I was hesitant to do this for awhile because I'll be getting a paid month off sabbatical in nine months, but honestly it's not worth waiting around at this point.

Financial
Total expenses: $2,572.92
SR: 57%
Years saved w/ current expenses: 6.5

Ouch, this month was expensive. Life style inflation has become a real problem for me. The problem is I tend to get so miserable at work, and I have very little free time outside of work, and so I start spending to compensate. For example, going out to lunch everyday to escape the office, buying entertainment outside of work to feel better, etc. It's a serious problem. I am hoping that if I find a new job, I won't be quite so miserable, and so then I can focus on stopping these habits. Because even though my current wages let me spend like this, it runs the risk of becoming a lifestyle lock in if I let this continue.

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Bankai
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by Bankai » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:02 pm

Some drastic changes, looks like you're resetting your life. Feel free to ignore, but in what way were these people emotionally draining? I have some of them in my life as well, prime example being my mother whom I have very limited contact with, but I'm always wandering if I'm not missing/failing to recognise some other vampires in my life for who they really are.

classical_Liberal
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:58 pm

Congrats on the positive personal changes! Those types of things are by far the hardest to go through.

My two cents. I would caution you, ending a two year relationship is a pretty big deal, couple that with giving up some of your closest friends puts your social state into a huge flux. I realize you need to change jobs, hating work sucks. Just be careful to not be too rash in the decision process, given everything else that's going on. IOW, maybe it's a good idea to give your emotions a month or two break before making a decision on another major life change. I doubt you'll lose momentum in that short of a period, but you'll probably feel a bit more socially and emotionally secure.

Good luck!!

bigato
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by bigato » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:37 pm

Yeah, c_L beat me to it. Too many changes at once, take your time now if at all possible. Wait for things to settle down a bit more. Congratulations on taking the though decisions. It sounds like this is an important turning point in your life for the better.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:00 pm

@c_L and @bigato - There is wisdom in that advice. At the very least, I think I can use this motivation to start honing my technical skills. Realistically it's going to take a few months anyway to find a role that's a good fit, and I was finding it hard to motivate myself to want to study esoteric JavaScript use cases. But I'm finding I'm actually excited about this stuff again, so it feels good to be motivated to study.

@Bankai - That's a timely question. After going through this experience, I narrowed it down to four main problems with the dynamic.

1. Inability to rationally resolve conflict. This leads to constant arguing and constant hurt feelings because the root issues never get resolved. I find this comes in two subtypes.
1.a Low emotional Intelligence. This happens when either they don't really know what they're even feeling or even want. Alternatively, they might know but be incapable of communicating it. Either way, you can never resolve anything because no one knows what you're trying to resolve. This results in drama and passive aggressive behavior.
1.b Intentional Manipulators. Much rarer than type 1.a, but also much more dangerous. Some people will try to manipulate you for their benefit, and thus it's impossible to resolve conflict because they're being deceitful.

2. Does not respect your boundaries and shows no consideration for your needs/feelings. Self explanatory in the most overt form, but can also manifest in disregarding your feelings or getting defensive/aggressive when you try to set boundaries. This results in you always ignoring your needs/wants for theirs or for the sake of the relationship.

3. Dysfunction. This one is difficult to manage. I was having a hard time with some friends who live completely dysfunctional/self-destructive lives. The danger here is these people have a tendency to self-destruct, and you will be caught in the blast radius, especially if you are an empathic person. It's also hard to watch someone you care about destroy themselves or their lives. This one is possible to navigate with strict boundaries, but you're gonna need to remind themselves that nothing you do will save them. These people are going to go down anyway, and the only question is if you'll go down with them. This can lead to #4.

4. High functioning codependence. There's a specific type of codependence that can happen to highly competent people. If you're high functioning and believe you can solve the problems life throws at you, you can also make the mistake of thinking you can solve other people's problems too. Thus you become codependent, not out of insecurity, but because you are so good at fixing problems that you think you can fix people. This is a huge, huge mistake and never fall into this trap. I think people who fall into this are usually also good at delaying their own wants/needs (think marshmallow test), so it's easy to start ignoring your needs in the relationship for the sake of someone else. Thus you, who delays the marshmallow, gets stuck picking up the pieces for someone who won't.

bigato
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by bigato » Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:04 pm

Yeah, you definitely crossed an important milestone in your life! I'm impressed. I'd be curious, if you want to tell us, at what was the process to arrive at these insights. Was it the pain? Did you do therapy? Read about the subject? You should be really proud of yourself and whatever you did to cross this hill, keep doing it.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:38 pm

It was definitely a lesson I had to learn the hard way. I think the mistake I made is being relatively good at delaying gratification combined with wanting to put more effort into building social capital. But because I am naturally introverted and always struggle with this, I don't think I grasped red flags as quickly as someone with more experience/intuition would have. As such, I ended up in a bunch of one-sided relationships with dysfunctional people. While it's true that relationships take work and compromise, I think it's also possible to be so good at ignoring your own needs/delaying gratification that you don't see the problem sooner.

It was also stepping back and thinking to myself, well, why don't I deserve to be with people who bring me energy? Like seriously, why am I putting up with this? I think sometimes codependence/savior complex is glorified in our culture, and it can be easy to absorb this message that you need to save everyone out of "kindness". But there's a balance to be had between Do No Harm and Take No Shit.

I now approach these types of people with a kind of palliative care attitude. I give some emotional time and energy to them as an act of service, but I except it will make zero difference in the long run toward solving their problems. I also no longer give more than I can afford. I view it like lending a friend money. The advice is never to lend a friend money because they won't pay you back, but also don't be afraid to gift them less than they ask if you can afford it. So expectations and limiting it to my true excess energy has helped a lot.

So it was a combination of all that. The single thing that kicked me off in this direction was this podcast about the fable of The Scorpion and the Frog, but it was definitely the pain and personal misery that primed me for the podcast's message. I do feel fortunate I only lost a year or two to this and not more. Some people end up in 20-year marriages with this type of relationship dynamic, and so I feel so relieved to get my life and energy back.
Last edited by AnalyticalEngine on Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

bigato
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by bigato » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:42 pm

Thanks! Will listen to that podcast feed from the beginning just in case there are more pearls for me to find there.

wolf
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by wolf » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:50 pm

Thanks AE for sharing this story out of your life. I share similiar thoughts with you regarding introversion, social capital, building relationships in life, etc. Therefore it was insightful to read your thoughts (and feelings) on this topic. Thankfully you made some important decisions in your life and moved on. I was in a longterm relationship some years ago. And we also decided to end it. Although I am a mostly independent nature, it was difficult in the beginning of my new episode of life (without being in a relationship). So, I wish you all the best with your new episode in life.
...and thanks for the link to the podcast.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:51 pm

New Job Offer

TL;DR: I have a job offer for a different company as a contract-to-hire employee. It's a 6 month contract where I'm paid 20% more hourly than my current role but it's without benefits. After the 6 months, they would want to hire me as an FTE. I'm trying to decide if I should take the offer.

The Background
The decline of my current role is a narrative that stars two characters. We have Managing Director S and Enterprise Architect B. S and B just might be the quintessential examples of Sociopaths at work. Both essentially destroyed our department in the name of furthering their careers. It's been quite cynical to watch them in action.

I think, when you get to S and B's career level, you want to be able to tell some kind of story about some new achievement so that you can look better. So if you work at some B-rated software shop and want to get hired as a VP at Amazon, you need to make up some fake achievements so you can justify your existence.

And what fake achievement could possibly be better than claiming to have automated away half the jobs in your department, thereby """saving""" money. Of course, """saving""" implies the money was, in fact, actually saved. Deferred maintenance may be a better way to put it. Oh sure, maybe you're not paying the software testers any more. Sure, maybe the company that sold you the automation framework made up some fake award for you to win by sheer fact you paid them. This is all a nice story until the software you're releasing on the market is so full of bugs that it makes a termite mound look sterile. But that termite mound isn't your problem any more if you can get to another company before the whole thing implodes into software that made IE 6 look functional by comparison.

Which is to say, after not testing our software for 6 months, combined with ridiculous deadlines, has made my job turn from development into production support. It's becoming a serious problem because we tossed any semblance of architecture and testing out the window in the name of getting the software to market. And when this has been going on for years, you find yourself with software "solutions" that require constant troubleshooting and debugging and patching in the worst possible ways. It's incredibly frustrating because all these wounds were self-inflected, but it's a cultural problem at the company.

The problem is exacerbated because all the high-level tech talent has started to leave the company. There are basically no architects at this point, and the senior developers are starting to leave too. It's somewhat of an omen when those above you start to bail.

Which is why I wanted to find a new job.

The Dilemma
The new role I found is a lateral move, although they are paying me more because I am a contractor. I'm debating still if I should take the job or not. I think a lot of the reasons I don't want to take it are based in sentimentality. I've been at my current role for 4.5 years now, and it's my first real job out of college. While I don't exactly like my coworkers, I am at least familiar enough with them and know how to deal with them. All the places I like to go to lunch are close to me. And a part of me hopes maybe they'd lay me off soon and I'd get severance for those ~5 years.

Professionally, my manager has been making a serious effort to be nicer to me, and he's suggested I write a proposal with some of my ideas to fix the software architecture to give to the VP.

That and quitting just sucks.

On the other hand, the new job isn't that far away. It's similar work to how my current role was ~3 years ago before the business was allowed to go rabid.

Does anyone have any similar experiences or recommendations about this type of situation? I might write more posts about this here over the next few days as I process my thoughts.

bigato
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by bigato » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:51 pm

I'd say go. If nothing else, the novelty of it will make it more bearable for some months more, before you start getting bored and cynical again. I know how it feels. Staying will probably make you more depressed very soon.

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Bankai
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by Bankai » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:57 pm

No similar experience but the situation is clear to me.

cons:
* the company/department is run by sociopaths
* you're frustrated & conditions at work are getting worse
* there's no hope of the situation improving
* best people start to leave
* you don't like your colleagues
* the other job is better paid
* your manager trying to be nicer implies he wasn't nice to begin with

pros:
* lunch places are nearby
* you might get severance pay - is this realistic? if best people are leaving, management will be looking to keep whoever they can from experienced staff

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Stahlmann
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by Stahlmann » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:05 pm

The decline of my current role is a narrative that stars two characters. We have Managing Director S and Enterprise Architect B. S and B just might be the quintessential examples of Sociopaths at work. Both essentially destroyed our department in the name of furthering their careers. It's been quite cynical to watch them in action.
pls examples or "references" to specific episodes from The Offce

Family father
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Re: AE's Journal - Round 3

Post by Family father » Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:12 am

Hi AE,

Welcome back then!
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:15 pm
I need a concrete, measurable way to hold myself to my goals or else I tend to lose track of my progress. I already use spreadsheets and my paper journal, but I want something more formal and structured to organize those reflections.
Having so few time to spare, the reason I keep coming to this forum is because I really value the insight I find in many of the journals: they make me think and also provide a wide range of wel formed and valid points of view.

On @C_L reflections on internal and external change, I'd add there's some people here that managed very well to adapt their job to their necessities (I think of @Wolf in some measure, @Rube, and specially @Scott 2).

And last but not least:
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:15 pm
I understand all corporate jobs are basically exploitative (they pay you less than you earn them)
IMHO "exploit" has an "unfair" smell that isn't necessarily there.

The more objective you can stay when making a big decission (such as changing jobs), the better.

;)

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