A positive attitude towards work is important for your happiness in life. However, working in a one-way-street fashion for others while ignoring your needs can make you unhappy at work. Get your life back using Early Retirement. In this article I will share with you how my Early retirement journey has helped me be true to myself and perform better at my work. I hope it can help you too achieve happiness at work.
How you can get your life back using Early retirement
When you finish saving up a large corpus for early retirement as soon as possible you can leverage the bargaining power of your financial independence to make your job and your boss work for you as hard as you work for them. You will find yourself growing supremely confident even with just 5-7 years of expenses saved up. That’s what happened to me! Read on to know more..
Stop working from a Position of Weakness:
During my corporate career of about 10 years, I found that I did not have much bargaining power with my employers regarding flexible work schedule, choosing to learn new skills I was interested in and getting a raise without job-hopping or threatening to quit. On the other hand employers have a lot of control over an employee’s time even on weekends and weeknights. The job rut keeps the employee so busy that their skills get rusty and companies then use that as the reason not to give a raise/promotion or even fire employees.
My track record for negotiating a better job profile at my previous jobs was very poor because I would always settle for less than what I actually wanted.
The reason I could not negotiate better: I was solely dependent on my salary:
I had no cash-flow other than my salary. I was paying installments for my house. If my negotiation failed I couldn’t just quit the job. Also, finding another job requires you to upgrade your skills in your spare time after a whole day’s work since your day job is not giving you the exposure you need. Sometimes learning new skills is only possible by taking up a lower salary at the ground level of a startup or quitting your job to learn new skills or doing an MBA at your own time and expense. All of these options are not possible if you don’t have other income sources to tide you over for a few years especially when you have a family by now or loans to repay.
In short : Employers get that and have the upper hand as they know that you can’t just “up and leave” immediately even if you feel like it. You are more likely to “put up” with a bad situation since you think you have a “bird in hand”. All employers know this about their employees and that’s why employees don’t get a fair deal.
Working from a position of weakness is extremely damaging to your career, net-worth and self-worth:
My reluctance to negotiate hard for a fair outcome led to:
- lower salary increments
- career stagnation
- working long hours project after project
- not getting the exposure or bandwidth to learn new skills
- visiting my ageing parents only once a year
- increase in stress and decrease in health etc.
Ultimately I decided to achieve financial independence so I did not have to “put up” with employers who kept shortchanging me on money, skills, time and respect.
How my Early retirement journey helped me get my life back:
It has been 5 years since I left corporate life to start a business of my own working from home. In these 5 years working for myself I’ve realised that I did not have a problem with working long and hard. In fact I have more responsibilities now than when I was an employee only responsible for my work. I only had a problem with all-consuming jobs where only my employer’s needs were being met but my needs were not being adequately met. In the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us , the author says that people are motivated by 3 needs beyond money :
- Autonomy — Our desire to be self-directed.
- Mastery — The urge to get better skills.
- Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important.
If you are stuck in jobs that do not satisfy these 3 needs then I don’t blame you for dreaming about Early Retirement.
Even though I did not plan it this way, I found to my pleasant surprise that growing my small business at my own pace has given me all of the above in addition to money and I’m happier as a result. I’ve never been more at peace with myself in a work setting before.
- I live and work from Goa, the beach destination of India (Autonomy)
- I set my own priorities for the business and how I get things done. (Autonomy)
- I work from home so there is no commute and I set flexible work schedules including time for a quick power nap in the drowsy afternoons. At previous jobs I had to fight the afternoon drowsiness with coffee & walks because you can’t be seen sleeping at your desk! (Autonomy)
- I have time to learn new and difficult skills as they become necessary (Mastery)
- Of-course the flip side is that I’m responsible 24x7x365 for customer support & tech issues even on weekends & vacations, unexpected deadlines, competitors, business growth, marketing, programming etc. While all this this was initially stressful for me as I only have a computer programmer background, I have now accepted all this as part of learning how to run a better business. Also this is making me more “Zen” about life in general since running a business has daily ups-and-downs like the stock market. So if you are in it for the long haul, you have to learn to reduce your stress and anxiety about short-term downturns. (Mastery)
- The business is helping our family achieve financial independence so there’s purpose & meaning as well. (Purpose)
- So overall I feel that I have a better work-life balance.
If I can make this lifestyle last for the rest of my life I would actually consider that to be early retirement! I got lucky but a large part of the luck happened because I had the staying power to go without making much money for the first 2-3 years in business as we had savings that would have lasted for 7 years. You too can create a lifestyle business if you save up a lot of money which is the point of early retirement I keep repeating through this blog. I could have been happier in my previous jobs as well if they had offered the same job satisfaction as my current lifestyle business.
“I had the staying power to go without making much money for the first 2-3 years in business as we had savings that would have lasted for 7 years”
3-Steps to F.I.R.E your bullshit job and F.I.R.E up for your Dream Job:
1.Start your journey towards F.I.R.E (Financial Independence & Retiring Early) to put yourself in a Position of Strength.
2. Once you become financially strong, negotiate confidently with your employer for what you want out of the job just like how employers expect you to constantly perform for them
3. Get them to respect your personal life, your need for keeping your skills up-to-date, desire to try different job roles and being paid adequately for the value you bring
The best outcome of financial independence would be if you are able to achieve Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in your current career itself by negotiating with your boss to cut out the bullshit part of your job. If that’s not possible then you can quit immediately and take the time to find a better job instead of putting up with a job you hate or you can even start a lifestyle business. This way you never have to retire from working to find happiness!