I received not one but three separate messages blasting me for my last post. The gist? Stop hating work, you crazy pessimist, you. Turn that frown upside down and be happy!
If it was a one-off, I’d ignore it, but three means that a good number of people must have been pretty grossed out, so I feel compelled to respond a bit.
Here’s my favorite of the bunch. (Identity withheld.)
Usually if I don't like a blog I just move on. But I wanted to tell you to stop THROWING your life away obsessing on negativity and misery and I hope you don't own a GUN because it sounds like you might go POSTAL. Love everything you do. Live in the moment and be happy - All of the time. And do what you love. Find the good in everything. Stop choosing to look for the bad. I don't think that QUITTING will help you. Because without your JOB, YOU will be left with YOURSELF. And YOU will still be ANGRY. You don't realize it yet but you are happier WORKING because it distracts YOU from YOU.
Again, I’m sure that this was a direct result of publishing the Litany of Office Hate.
Sheesh. I don’t even know where to start. Did YOU read the preamble to the Litany? (Also, while on the subject of reading, please browse a primer on internet capitalization protocols.) In the intro, I explained that I don’t feel this way all of the time and certainly don’t wallow in misery or obsess on my job. Most of the time, when I’m not at work, I don’t think about work. I engage in activities that bring happiness and satisfaction. Also: most of the time I’m at work, I make the best of things. It’s not all bad. And I do not ignore the positives, of which there are at least two: Paycheck, and free coffee.
So let’s set the record straight about how I feel about work.
- I like my core function. I have always liked my core function. It’s critical for people to seek employment which provides enjoyment, at least on some core, functional level, because if you don’t at least get a kick out of that, you may begin to view work as intolerable instead of merely a vacuum which sucks up the majority of hours in your week. I would never recommend staying in a job where you are actively miserable merely to reach financial independence except perhaps in extreme situations. (For example, maybe you earn 300K a year and could achieve FI in fewer than 3 years. This could be worth serious consideration even if your job consists of eating cockroaches.) At any rate, I’m with you, reader(s), on this central point: Life is too short to spend your life hating, if that’s really all you’re doing. And, as I’ve mentioned a few million times already, my current job is, in most ways, the best of my career and I do not hate it. In fact, I had some amount of difficulty leaving it, even though I know it’s time.
- I have not wasted my life. I’ve lived a happy and fulfilling life — but most of said fulfillment has come outside of work. If you were to tell me that tomorrow the world will explode and ask if I had any serious regrets about how I’ve spent my time on the planet, my answer would be no, other than responding to this message and perhaps watching the Green Lantern movie. (Ryan Reynolds, how could you do that to us?)
- I’ve made an effort to quote choose to be happy endquote by moving around a bit, from employer to employer, in an attempt to find better work environments. Most of the moves resulted in pay raises, but not happiness raises. The systemic problems of office work resurface and grind away. The conclusion I’ve reached is that I do not fit work — my mind unintentionally rejects the paradigm. In other words, I find these sorts of environments to be, on balance, inherently unlikable. True, this may reflect a deficiency in me, but still, this attitude doesn’t feel like something I actively choose, but rather the way I’m wired. (Aside: I would like to put hidden cameras on a hundred thousand random individuals who are doing paperwork — let’s say, self-reviews — with the goal of checking to see if any of them are smiling and happy the way that people naturally are when they’re, say, splashing water on one another while swimming in the ocean. Why can’t they — the people doing paperwork — just choose to as happy as the swimmers? Answer: Because self-reviews suck. Some things are just true, and you can’t make yourself believe the opposite through sheer force of will. I’m not sure why you’d want to, to be honest.)
- On that note, I don’t choose to look for the bad. When I’m at work, the bad hits me smack in the face at least a couple of times a week. I would require a lobotomy and a full loss of analytic skills and sensory input in order to stop noticing these things. I absolutely try to move on from these unpleasant events as quickly as possible. Resentment is no fun at all, and we all know that grudges are not healthy to hold.
- I’m highly satisfied with life outside of work. I spent a lot of time supporting my family, running and hiking outdoors,
beingtrying to be mindful, observing the world around me, and engaging in fulfilling hobbies. It’s exciting, it’s engaging, it’s terrific, it’s freedom. How could this not be preferable to being in a cube? Why should we deny that it is? It’s good even when it’s bad. I just don’t write about those things all that much because this is a office-work-is-relentless-and-boring-so-FIRE blog, not a my-life-is-generally-terrific, look-at-how-happy-I-am blog. Other bloggers already satisfy the world’s need for that second thing, OK?
- Although it’s an option to move to a different industry to seek greater satisfaction, it’s risky to pursue alternatives once you’re established somewhere. The equation goes:
- Time away from job to get a degree for your new one = money lost. (opportunity cost.)
- Degree = acquisition of debt.
- Degree also = loss of years when your money could be earning more money in the market (another opportunity cost).
- End result = Time to FI goes up by a decade or more by making the switch.
- Plus — There’s a risk you won’t like your new gig much, either. I consider this to be an utterly catastrophic scenario, actually, and one I decided personally was far too great to take.
That’s it. I’m always satisfied with life, I’m generally happy outside of work, and I’m generally OK even when at work. That post was a long compilation of complaints, built up over 15 years in my industry, and I don’t feel those things every single day. If I did, I’d be miserable and would mentally implode, which sounds pretty cool but I’m still not doing that. Honestly I just thought it would be a little bit of fun to air it all out. Oh, and no, I don’t own a gun.
Btw, I’m done with formal work at 37, in case you hadn’t heard. Like, forever. And that makes me pretty ridiculously, involuntarily and authentically happy.
In other words, so far, quitting has been terrific.
Hope that clears everything up.
And to everyone else, thanks for bearing with me on this ultra-defensive post. Won’t make it a habit.
While we’re on this topic, I’m going to assert, for the record, that it’s OK to want to retire early simply because you don’t like working.
And it’s OK to admit to yourself that you may not like any job at all.
It’s also OK to realize that you don’t the construct of work itself, i.e. the jobbyness of it.
Finally, it’s OK to realize you don’t like my blog. If that’s the case, do us both a favor: Choose to be happy and stop reading it.
** This will be the first and last time I respond directly to troll-ish messages of this kind. This includes comments. In the future, they’ll go directly to the trash because that will immediately bring me a great deal of joy. Who knows how to make himself happy? That’s right. It’s this guy.