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When I was at university, my perception of happiness was based on graduating and quitting my "shitty" job at the local supermarket.
When I started my corporate career, I found the FIRE movement, so that perception shifted to wanting to grow my bank account and retire early to work on my side hustle.
When I did FIRE, I was so miserable, it almost broke my spirit.
First I want to extend a big thank you to this community. I have learned so much from here. There are some threads on here where I have read the replies so many times that I almost know them by heart ;) I achieved my FI by
1.Having a high paid corporate job I managed to climb up the corporate ladder in a relatively short time span not because I was so skilled at what I do, but because I have always worked on my social skills. (no that doesn't mean that I sold my ass lol)
2.Investing I started with a term deposit account then bought gold, then index funds, then individual stocks. The usual except that I also sold stock options which paid me handsomely.
3.Always having a second source of income from a plethora of side hustles that I had started over the years. - Dropshipping was the most consistent business I owned. - Day trading bitcoin was the most profitable.
4.Frugality: This is where my views diverge a little from the common dogma. I just chose not to waste my best years pinching pennies and not doing the things that I want (not necessarily need) to do. Not material things but more experiences. As an example, travelling has literally changed me as a human being and my net worth could have been a lot bigger without travelling every single year, but I believe that travelling when young is very different than when I have settled down and/or matured. My Story
Early 2016, although my net worth by most calculators out there told me that I have to work for at least a few more years before I make these calculators happy, I decided that my safety net is large enough to retire and I am capable of making my side hustle at the very least cover my expenses. So I quit my job.
The mornings feel so damn different when you are not a corporate slave. Everything seemed more enjoyable from getting coffee in the morning to taking random walks during the day. I started to enjoy my interactions with others so much more. Maybe the facade of the corporate world had trivialised the small things for me.
Leaving my corporate job was no excuse for being lazy. I was working 14 hour days on growing my e-com business. and it was definitely paying off. I was either behind a computer screen, at the gym, or with my girlfriend.
Around 3 weeks in, I started talking to walls as all my friends were at work during the day and I started feeling some loneliness.
I found a job at a local gym. 3 nights a weeks. Working at a gym is something that I have always had on my bucket list. I loved it. It kept me sane.
I started having what Financial Samurai calls an identity crisis. I was good at my job, financially stable. I consider myself a very confident individual. But I hadn’t realised that most of my sense of self worth was tied to my job. Now that it was gone and everyone around me including my girlfriend were still at work. My self esteem started to suffer.
The gym closed. Now my loneliness was exacerbated. Combine that with a fluttering self esteem. My relationship started to suffer. I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, 4 months after quitting work. I've had many break ups, but I still carry the deep scar of this one as it represented more than a breakup. It represented the collapse my identity that I had built over the years. Viktor Frankl's A man's search for meaning describes this perfectly. I lost my purpose. Now severe depression set in. I cannot describe to you how debilitating that was. I didn't want to do anything. I literally felt that there was an invisible door stopping me from leaving my room, let alone the house. Stopped answering calls let alone talking to other human beings. I didn't even know what day it was and I didn't care. I was prescribed antidepressants and Valium. I refused the antidepressants and on a whim,pushed by my siblings, decided to travel ,alone, for the first time in my life.
A silent retreat in India. Bungee jumping in a dodgy place in Thailand. Learning meditation and yoga. Scuba diving. Catching up with childhood friends and family members across different countries. I started feeling better. So much better very quickly.
Then I went to Bali. I wanted to live the "nomad" lifestyle, so I signed up at Hubud and the Dojo (2 renown coworking spaces in the digital nomad community)
This was life changing. One the best experiences in my life. I felt a sense of belonging to a tribe of like minded people. I was so motivated to work because the energy around me was contagious. I closed my e-com store (too many negative emotions attached to it) and started leverage trading bitcoin (on Bitmex). I bought all kinda courses, joined paid groups, newsletters and it did pay off... I was averaging $200-$300 days which is incredible for a noob. Imagine waking up, meeting up with friends for breakfast at the beach, going to the co-working space, making money, then having fun at night with your friends. You know that picture marketers paint in our heads of some dude running a business from his laptop at the beach? That's real.
Then comes the wake up call. I quickly noticed that people come and go. I would develop friendships (even a great relationship) then a few weeks later, my new found friends would go back home and I'd have to start from scratch. Then the novelty of working from the beach and not answering to a boss started to lose its meaning. Also, the visa run wasn't my favorite thing to do.
At that crossroad, I had a call from a recruiter who had worked with me in the past, about a new alluring opportunity.
My decision was based on this: I can always go back to FIRE but the longer I stay out of the workforce the harder it will be to find a job.
So I went back to the corporate world. This is not the end of my story as I know that office work will never be a long term option for me. But I had to retreat and regroup for now….
I am as usual working on a side hustle - I am still trading options. Lessons learned
*I didn’t realise this at the time, but for me now, the end goal of FI isn't necessarily early retirement...but a sense of freedom. I can quit whenever I want which makes work a lot less stressful. Hell, I enjoy my work a lot more now just knowing that.
*Early retirement is still on the agenda, but I will not do it alone. I will make sure that I have a better support system (a business partner / a spouse on the same journey / a team).
*Loneliness is a bitch. I know that there are many introverts like me amongst you, but social isolation can literally KILL you based on multiple studies like https://heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009
*When you shift your paradigm, be psychologically prepared to conquer your demons and centre your self identity. You are not your net worth. You are not your job.
*I understand the gravity of mental diseases a lot more now and I have a massive amount of empathy towards people who suffer from them.
*Oh, and I have zero regrets. If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I am grateful for the opportunity to fail and learn from my mistakes.
Thank you for reading!
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