Thursday, December 7, 2017

Living Now Instead of Ten Years From Now

I don't think I knew just how focused I was on my FIRE date until I started actively trying to not think about it.  Since adopting the "set it and forget it" approach to money, I have noticed that I think about FIRE all the time.

Waking up in the morning:  "In ten years, I won't have to set an alarm clock."
Seeing a difficult patient:  "After I FIRE, I won't have to see any patients at all."
Editing trainee dictations:  "I hate my life!  Woe is me!  This is the worst thing ever!"

(Also..."I will never have to edit another poorly written trainee dictation after I retire.")

It's...sad.  Here I am doing what I have trained most of my adult life to do, and I'm dreaming of what comes next.  And it isn't because I hate my job; it's because I have this idea that retirement is going to be so much better.  I've internalized the belief that work is just something you do to earn money before you can quit.

I'm trying really hard to stop.  Any time I catch myself thinking "I just earned enough to not have to work for three days", I am pausing, noticing the thought, and letting it go.  I'm trying to mentally be here, now, instead of when I retire in ten (or more) years.  Because constantly resenting the now and dreaming of later doesn't make anything better.


  1. I'm having the same problem wishing my life away. Mine is on a shorter scale. "It's ____day, only ___ days until Saturday." and the the weekend is all too short. And I am making it shorter. - Mary

  2. That was my thought when I read your last post... you have to find joy and happiness now... happiness is the journey, not the destination. I am quite confident that you did that all your life (« it will be soo much better when I am a resident » while in med school, or « it will be soo much better as an attending » while in residency. (I know, I do it all the time, but trying not to)). You have a great life, I am sure you are a fantastic person with great friends, stop living for FIRE and enjoy every day of your life/journey! I am sure it is worth it!

  3. I don't really have any plan to retire ever. Taking it one year at a time. But it's nice knowing that we'll be ok if something happens to change that.

    My work provides purpose. It's part of me making the world a better place. There may be other things I could do to make the world a better place, but this isn't a bad way. I think I would be less happy volunteering.

    1. This is how I feel as well. I hope to be doing Anesthesia into my 70s at least, hopefully no longer taking call. Work keeps me young!

  4. After I finished college I ended up with a "good" job working for Revenue Canada. Everyone I knew was thrilled for me - a government job! I was set!

    But I was working for the weekend - wishing away my life - "Oh it's only Tuesday! I can't wait for Friday!" As soon as I earned a sick day, I would use it!

    I realize that I was only 22 and NOT willing to do that for the rest of my life - so I went back to school and changed careers and now my job is challenging - I still enjoy my weekends, but I no longer wish away my life.

    I save for my retirement and look forward to it - I may or may not retire early - hopefully, yes. I have dear friends who are retired and I look at their lives with some envy - but mostly just happiness - they worked for their reward - and I'm not there yet.

    A few years ago, my mom passed away, 1 year before her planned retirement date - it really made me rethink what I'd been doing - which was to save every penny with the concept that I would do fun things like travel and art "when I'm retired".

    The fact is, life is funny, and it's possible that I may not HAVE a ton of time after retirement - or I may not be in a position to go DO all those things.

    So I'm making a conscious effort to go places and do things NOW - even if it means spending money now, rather than socking it away for retirement.

  5. My goal is to work in a sustainable way so I can keep doing it for a long time, and also save enough money so I don't have to... in my mind the financial and work approach are separate.
    I think this came out of seeing a lot of people in my field (primary care with an underserved population) burn out really fast, and then on the flip side knowing so many well off people who have inflated their lifestyle so much that they are having trouble keeping up even if they're in the 20/10/5 percent.
    For me a helpful question was: What would my work life need to look like for me to be able to do this for 40 more years? This was a mix of of work things, i.e. work less than full time, work somewhere I have the opportunity to be involved in projects/continuing ed etc so my entire week isn't only seeing patients, and personal things i.e. non negotiable exercise time, using all my vacation time, try my best to meditate in the mornings etc. Many more details but those are some vague examples.
    Obviously some are somewhat in conflict with each other, i.e. working less than full time means less savings, but I also want to be happy.
    Maybe another question: have you had long periods of time of not working? Do you know if you'll like it?
    If you do awesome, I just know for me I actually really like working, and more than 1-3 months not working does not work for me at all.

  6. I sometimes find myself conflicted by similar thoughts. I think you are on the right path by acknowledging them while trying to live your life now, too. It's hard with such a big goal. But life is full of wonder, when we have the capacity to notice.