The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary. – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The flood of thoughts. Only one at a time can pass and get externalized. That’s our limit. At least mine. Last time I felt like this was while tripping. I love money. And my relationship with money is one of the most interesting phenomena I had a chance to observe over the course of this lifetime. Bottom line is this: tomorrow is my last day at work. Hopefully I was quitting a job for the last time. Now let’s start from the top.
When I was a teenager I came up with a mental model:
Acknowledge the system. Then rule it.
Nothing special from an observing kid. Just noticing the patterns about learning curves and moving tasks from conscious to subconscious – automated series of actions.
First official job
First official job I landed was in the end of my first year of Master’s degree in Engineering. I was working in a company perfectly fit with the field I was studying in.
I had to prepare drawings for client proposals. Schemes, plans for building as well as for site. Interesting stuff, except for the fact that I was in finance department. Project engineering, but on easy mode – simplified. Project engineer – technologist, that’s how it was called.
They paid me shit, but I knew that I knew next to nothing and I had to earn my competence first. It was totally alright with me. 6 months of daily practice on Autocad and I was fast as a motherfucker.
For most of commands I used hotkeys and sales people were increasingly amazed by the speed of my drawing creation process once I had a clear picture in mind of what it all should be look like when finished.
I’m over expanding. Prospects in that workplace were as follows:
- transfer to design department;
- memorizing shitloads of legislative papers associated with engineering systems, buildings and specialized equipment requirements;
- taking a specialized test after 2 years of practice in the field which would enable to carry responsibility with a personal sign on particular part of a serious project;
- working in stress, sometimes hurry, earning a decent/high wage in reward for the responsibility put;
- until then slaving all the way.
At that time I got an offer from a friend to join the company he was working at a time.
Second job – design engineer at manufacturing company
More money, less responsibility, better atmosphere, higher and modern inside cultural values, smaller and more innovative. Less specialized, more general mechanical engineering. Finishing Master’s.
First year – acknowledge the system
Company produces standardized and customized equipment. I was hired as a design engineer of customized ones. Standard department was introduced to me as creating innovations, keeping standard equipment up to date and do other “advanced” level stuff only few could understand.
Before going into job interview I spent 2 hours figuring out how to navigate and do something with sheet metal in Solidworks, which I previously had never touched before. I succeeded to convince employers I was a fast learner.
First two weeks were BRUTAL. I encountered problems editing sketches and working with entities relationships. Funny. Little by little I caught up to my colleagues. Once I did what everyone else did (talking about the procedures on the software, not difficulty of actual equipment in design process), I started googling for hotkeys, shortcuts etc.
Second year – highest contribution
Since this company was not yet an old-timer of LEAN, I had a lot of ideas. A lot of them landed and created more efficiency. I started to consult my colleagues on Solidwork’s bugs, complicated design problems, efficient drawing methods. Near the end of a year I got transferred into standard department. Less hurry, more creative challenges, faster growth, greater influence. A nice year.
I expected a solid raise, from which in further years we could do something like “inflation +1%”. To create a base wage of solid – long term specialist in a modern company. I had arguments and they were evident and strong. During an annual chat with chief of department I claim mistake was made and I received no verbal of non-verbal clues my expectations are not realizable.
A week later I had faced the discrepancy between reality and expectations, which, to my belief is the main reason for unhappiness.
I know how my mind works, to some extent. If I think I am not valued enough at a company, subconscious processes kick in decreasing productivity, increasing mobile surfing time, being late for work, holding back ideas etc. This is exactly what happened.
Third year – internal debate and grand finale of 8-17 rhythm – quitting a job
I had a fight with a head of design department, but since I was not mentally ready for departure I made compromises, hit high fives and continued to work with decreased motivation.
At this point I would say I was among 10% of people who knew Solidworks the best in the department. Challenges were less frequent, questions from colleagues – more. I’m happy to educate, I noticed.
Throughout the year I was thinking of quitting. From time to time I had bursts of new knowledge, sense of family within my colleagues and increased motivation to create and build great stuff together. Closing in on year 2017 I decided I’m not having a repeat on annual meeting again. This year I called my price. I knew I was selling my conscience another year and postponing the inevitable. Gladly I did not get what I asked for and can now, for the first time in my life craft authentic life. My life.
Birth –> School –> University –> Job –> Relationship –> Family –> Mortgage –> Kids –> Still at job, remember? –> Grandkids aaand –> Death.
This is a classic model that has been around for decades. I’m having a hard time buying this model. I have tasted a bunch of it. I have seen people in two jobs now around me that are pushed by life into these scary tracks. They have young kids, a house of flat and a bank’s rope around their necks. And 10 to 15 years of certainty ahead. 8-17 security. Addiction of a highest intensity.
RSD had one quote I really like:
Humans are like trees. Either you grow or you are already dead.
Occasional business trips, new equipment or training won’t fly. World is far too rich.
Trading time for money in a rigged game
ECB currently prints out €60 billion per month, while I ask for a hundred or so raise. My assets in € are being diluted through indirect inflation while I struggle to establish my self in upper class. This what I call a rigged game.
It is the wrong game to focus on. I realized this in my teens and luckily I was able to play capitalist game by investing and creating excuses to follow the path of commercials and movies. However past years shifted my focus from money to time. Time is the most precious resource there can ever be.
I asked my self a very simple question. Would I like to keep doing what I am doing at my current job in say 5 years? Fuck no.
Submitting mental capital
What is the worst about daily work at a company is that you sell the most productive hours you have. If I have no plans at the weekend, Saturday, Sunday I amaze myself with the level of productivity I am able to achieve. Always made me wonder: what would happen if I had 7 days a week of rested mind ready to take my own personal tasks? I am excited. The risk? Laziness is always out there. But I trust that myself conscience won’t let me rest for too long.
If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs
I’m in my late twenties. I still can learn a ton with somewhat fresh mind. Future will appreciate the people with diverse knowledge. Wasting mental capital on repetitive tasks is a crime. I’m simply following personal development cliches and kicking my self out of comfort.
Ego trap – the land of zeroes and stoicism
I have to admit – I do not know this school of thought yet. But I’m familiar with the basic concepts of it. Tim Ferris made a great introduction in his TED talk, I do recommend consuming:
I drive a 19 year old car (which provides an extraordinary pleasure to drive by the way), rent a room and share a flat with two other people, I don’t buy stuff I don’t need, usually I don’t even buy stuff I perhaps do need.
I always allocated my decent engineer salary into portfolio and travel budgets mainly. There were times when I got salary, and the same day I would transfer more than that to my portfolio. I admit I was pushing this too far.
I have had major confrontations between my choices and reality of friends. Seeing others create homes, families adopting other responsibilities are on one hand really admirable. I have to even admit I felt jealousy at times. Questions then arise:
- why do you save?
- what are you postponing?
- are you running from responsibility?
- are you running from life itself?
because buying property, which is an eastern European tradition is a major action that limits your future. We know we need limits for happiness and basic sanity.
There is rationality behind (economic cycle), but basically I know I postpone big decisions and am afraid to make ultimate mistake. Over-expanding; again.
On the other hand, living in scarcity is attractive in lots of other aspects. I wrote about my sympathy to struggling lower – working class people in treatise on money and recent blog post about (in)justice. Those, who had seen the pain and scarcity in life, in my experience, are more true people. Money and power corrupts souls. When you play numbers (investing), you don’t necessarily feel the power they carry. Choice of scarcity is pervasive way to keep a moral compass in tact. Friendships – that’s what I value. Friendships among “my type of people” are somewhat purified by life struggles and hence more appreciated and valued.
The land of zeroes – cultural isolation
I keep a cash buffer, not much. One day I was calculating, went to take a leak, came back and looked at the money lying around on the table in a different manner.
This is a paper with numbers on it. People run around outside chasing this stuff. And I have some of these precious papers just for a bad day to come. What the..? Am I better than the rest? Am I greedy to ask for increasing (though still reasonable) amounts of raise?
In last summer I have been thinking of purchasing a flat as an investment to rent in student area. Roughly 5k equity, 25k debt, 30k asset returning next to 8-10% on equity after mortgage payments to bank. Me and my friend, looking at potential place were with a lady, a wife and a mother of a ~8 year old walking around talking about their future plans. We asked where do they move, since they are selling this property.
I expected they are building a house, or buying a fresh apartment. Turns out they are moving into suburbs, garden house. I could tell she was not particularly intelligent and probably was earning next to half of what I earn. Again sense of reality, injustice and gratitude was in front of my eyes. If I did not know that you should only compare your self with your past self, lifting your nose would be extremely convenient here.
When I get personally close to the people that have it hard I realize just how isolated among my average environment I am. It’s easy to loose reference points. I value moments like these. I call them “reset to reality“.
My stoic lifestyle helps meet people that would otherwise be out of reach in some sense. They have developed awareness and are into spirituality.
Letting go of things is a virtue. Living in presence is a virtue. I past year I realized I have been postponing life with thoughts like “when I meet someone”; “when I own something”; “after I travel there”; “when I reach X portfolio size”. This is bullshit. Thanks to people around I will try to balance my hyper rationality and delayed gratification with the sense of fulfillment and joy of the day.
I have been chasing money as far as I remember myself. Obviously pissing them away is not the answer, but bleeding them while I try to replace income sources or creating something of my own will sure be a healthy practice. Balance is the key.
Plans for future
Tomorrow I will excuse myself from the last official hour at work to catch a plane to Bulgaria with my mates. After this trip, I have personal trip to… far FAR away, which I will hopefully write about. After travels, I will finally have a chance to catch up with my readings and put my focus on learning programming. Come on, I’m Generalist. I will find a field to put my focus on in no time flat, will it build a living? Will see.
This event of quitting a job is a personal experience. You live your life, I live mine. Now it seems I did not know it before. There is merit in finding happiness in any place or occupation there is. But not to test your potential, especially if you know thy self is a crime against not only your conscience but against world itself.