Procrastinating on Your Job? Bad Idea

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When we started invested almost 3 years ago, our first objective was to get rich(er). We started buying stocks of which we believed would reach up to great heights so we would be able to cash in.  Of course, this wasn’t build to last. By researching more and more about investment strategies and how to deal with money, I stumbled on some PF blogs that were talking about a whole different way of thinking than we had at that time.

So, we shifted our focus to the long haul and started investing in dividend stocks. Aiming for a more meaningful and happy life by reaching financial independence, and the freedom to do whatever we choose. In other words, being opportunity-rich and time rich.

I can tell you, that it’s working. And over the years we’ve built up a small portfolio providing us with some passive income. We’re still far from reaching financial independence and it will take over ten years before we get there. The thing is, my objective that motivated me on this journey was the promise that one day I would be able to stop working my day job and could ‘finally’ pursue what I really wanted and when I wanted it. But I’m not that willing to wait until then, in order to pursue the things I like to do now.

The long wait to …?

Having a lot of money isn’t the end goal, it’s finding happiness. And having money sure makes it easier. But I also started to look at money being nothing more than a big safety net. If we want to pursue something other than our job, and we would have a big nest egg, it doesn’t matter if we fail. Because we already have income streams that will cover it if we fail. Many keep on working on their not so great jobs and wait until they reach the point until life hits a turning point called FI. It’s a long wait where we are accumulating money slowly in order to feel not only financially free but free to finally pursue our dreams as well.

So, I have been thinking about this quite a lot. And if we want to become FI, then quit our jobs, and do it the steady but slower way, a.k.a. save, invest and generate passive income. It would take us at least 15 years before we get there.

15 years of waiting for something you’re hoping to reach. A long wait where you have to give it your all to get there. Including the not so great job. Would you be willing to work your ass off for 15 years, in order to live the life you really want…? Don’t think so.

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Working to reach FIRE is creating a life you want. But you also have to stick with a life you don’t want in the beginning. For some of us, that is.

I’ve seen a lot of people around here that are motivated to reach FIRE because they don’t like their current job, and sometimes even hate it to bits. It’s easy to say to just find something else, not all can do that. But if you had that opportunity, would you take it?

Shifting focus

By focusing so much on the investment side of growing wealth and a passive income. I’ve forgotten the most important thing to increase your income.

Your job.

Still being in the early phase of investing, while our portfolio is just starting out to grow, getting there little by little. Our highest returns from investing will be happening in the long run. When our dividends would have been reinvested over time and growing to new heights, as is always the case with compounding interest.

In this phase maximizing your income is the best thing to do. Or as Zach from Four Pillar Freedom says it very nicely, become an income machine instead of an investment guru.

His article was just published when I was writing this article, and his message is so important for many: If you’re still young, growing your income is the most important, because you can build up a decent lump of cash before investment returns can even begin to matter.

For me, the best possible way to increase my income is to focus on growing my career.

Early retirement and building a career, not a good match?

Since I started this blog last year and got to know more about the whole early retirement thing. The goal of reaching FI slowly became more important than putting in the effort on moving myself forward in my career. And I kept thinking. Was it really possible to quit my job one day? Do I even want to quit my job? Is it still necessary to have a career in the first place? Just sit out the ride and wait for it to happen? Would I be willing to let my career go to waste? Well, the answer is no.

Working on building a career and pursuing something like early retirement can be a huge contradiction. My current job is a job which I love, but also gives me a lot of stress, and tired moments at some points. In those times I could really use a break. I also noticed that the ‘bad’ weeks happened because, at that moment, I didn’t put in as much effort as needed. That feeling to need to put in at least some effort was gone. But when I did put in the effort to my work, I felt much more rewarded and had better results. And I want it to keep it that way.

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If you’re still young, having a fun or decent job and are already thinking about early retirement. Don’t fix your focus too much on quitting. Because if you feel that way already, you will never be able to get the most out of your time now.

Can we do both?

We won’t stop with investing. But early retirement won’t be the goal anymore. Financial freedom will be. We don’t know yet what we will do when we reach the FI moment. We also don’t know when we will get there. And why bother to make a detailed plan with how much we have to invest each year in order to reach FI at year X? We see what happens when we get there. Having the goal in the first place is enough. It will form most of our decisions and actions involving money. And it will give us enough flexibility to change our strategies and actions to what’s most important now.

In the meantime, building a career or at least growing my professional life is equally (if not more) as important as investing. We will both work on our careers so we can maximize our income as much as possible, and create something we enjoy at the same time. Step by step. We like to work, and we like to invest. Why can’t we do both?

22 thoughts on “Procrastinating on Your Job? Bad Idea

  1. This is very well put and I have a similar approach. I like the job I have and want to continue to work hard and grow that job for many reasons, one of which is because the income can help achieve financial freedom. But there are many other reasons I like my job and I want to continue to invest in it as well. Ultimately, I think it comes down to options for us. We would like to be financially free so we have the option to choose our next step and our path forward.

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    • Same applies to us, we don’t want to limit ourselves down. Especially because we don’t know yet how long it will take until we reach FI, so better to make the most of what we do now. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Gosh, we are both so good at procrastinating 🙂 But I won’t do it much longer on my job, about 5 more months and I’m likely going to call it quits. Got enough to have one person in the household FI, so we are going for it. The only thing that might affect it is our search for more RE. In some cases they (the banks) still want you to have income on the side. Will see how the next 5 months will develop!

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    • Isn’t it just about setting priorities? Only 5 months, wow. Can’t blame you. Very curious how everything will work out!

      And about the RE, isn’t the income you’ve already got from other rentals, also taking into account by banks? Thought that if you already owned some, the aspect of income from a job would be getting less important…

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      • No, that is not taken into account (at least not with the ING), but you can leverage the house with a mortgage.
        It will be interesting to see how this will all work out, too many unknowns at this point!

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      • Ok, didn’t know that. But then again, don’t have much experience there yet..
        Very curious how everything unfolds, will be looking forward to read your progress and adventures 🙂

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  3. Very interesting post. We took a sabbatical year to travel across North and Central America last year (we just came back last month). This gave me the opportunity to understand exactly what I want to do once I reach FI. But instead of waiting for that moment, I decided to quit my job and work on my own business. I think I’ll reach FI sooner that way, but most importantly, I’m enjoying each day at work as a vacation now!
    Cheers,
    Mike

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    • I followed (parts of) your sabbatical on your blog, very interesting! This is what in the end it’s all about, doing the things you love to do. Very inspiring as well. Wish you all the best with the business. Look forward to reading the stories 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great evolution in your thinking. I do also feel the pain you have: you dream about stopping with work. And the only way to get there faster is to work harder to earn more. What a contradiction! I have been there a few times. I now understand that I need to see things different. I understand that others have another path and can stop in a year or 2 (or less). We still need 15 years to do so!

    SO, In the mean time, I try to organise my life to have fun now, while adding as much as possible to the FI goal. And like you say, the RE is not the goal for me. The goal is FI. And the, I will choose from the options available to me.

    In the early FI journey , what you save is so much more important than your investments. A 10 pct return on a 50K stash is only 5K. You can easily save a lot more in one year when you are good at your job and live intentional.

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    • That’s what happens when you hang out with like-minded 😉

      It’s difficult to find a balance that works well. Early in the FI stage definitely means you have to focus on different things that when you are at a later stage. The returns on investments won’t be as big. Which is, by the way, another reason why we like real estate so much 😉

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      • Well, to be the advocate of the devil ( and not wanting to give advice): real estate has interesting returns due to leverage. When applying leverage to other asset classes, returns are great as well. Does that make sense?

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      • That makes perfect sense. Real estate is most often also not something you can start out of the blue. So, here again it’s also important to focus on your own skills (and job) as well 😉

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    • Thanks a lot! Money is more used as a tool to achieve something greater. I think for most who seeks FI, it’s about the freedom of choice. Close to what ambertreeleaves describes in his comment as well.

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  5. Insightful post and definitely something to think about. Like you my job is super stressful, but unlike you I’m getting to the point where it’s less and less rewarding and I like it less and less. It’s very hard when you’re still on the journey to give up a six figure income though when you are trying to reach FI sooner rather than later. Thanks for the interesting read.

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    • Thanks Duncan,
      I can imagine when your job feels less rewarding, it’s harder to put up the same amount of motivation and energy towards it.
      Sooner isn’t always better if it means being unhappy, but it’s also a very difficult dilemma.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This article hits home right now, because I am not happy at my current place. I understand the struggle, especially since all of us crave FIRE. It doesn’t happen magically over night. I think we forget that it is okay to have a job. Even better, it is okay to hav ea job you enjoy. If you have to work a towards FIRE and aren’t there yet, you deserve to spend your time at a place you enjoy working at. For many, that involves being pushed and advancing in your career. You should still try hard, still focus on improving, even though you may have a different end game than others at the organization. Plus, advancing provides more income, which pushes more into the market, and pushes you to FIRE sooner. There is a balance in the early stages and finding it is the difficult part.

    Bert

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    • Very well put, Bert. Working a job isn’t a bad thing. And rather than cast it aside as something awful, it can actually bring you much value if you have something that fits you. The balance is very personal. I’m still struggling a bit with what’s best for my situation, but I noticed that not being too focused on the end goal really helps out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. AGREED! Very valid points. It’s not a contradiction. Because other than squeezing out additional money from cutting back on stuff (which in and of itself has diminishing returns), your personal income is the biggest contributor to your nest egg. You can’t keep what you don’t even make! So focusing on your career/job/money-maker, whatever it is, it’s critical. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I can empathize a lot with this – my goal has never been early retirement, exactly. It’s always been financial independence and financial freedom. Why? Security, so my family could survive without an income for a while if needed. And so that in the future, if I want to have a second career/start a business/want to start a charity/something else, I’ll have the funds available to do so. That’s why I post about working moms and career – I think many people want to succeed at their jobs while having fun and pursuing freedom.

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