Tug-o-War

Two labrador puppies playing tug-of-war with rope

I recently wrote about how I’ve gotten better at adapting to my circumstances and found a degree of work-life balance. But, the flip side of that is that it’s hard to know exactly when to leave my job and move onto the next chapter of my life. In the absence of a sudden, precipitating cause (which I hope doesn’t happen), it’s been a sort of constant mental tug-o-war between staying and leaving.

At times, I just focus on my day-to-day life. I go through my daily routine and somehow, inevitably, the days, weeks and months pass. It feels harder and harder in recent years, but, like a marathon, I concentrate on putting one foot in front of the next and I get by. Some days are more enjoyable than others, but at the very least each day I know I’m making progress toward my savings and potential future freedom.

At other times, I get a sudden, cold fear when I think about my finite time on this earth and what I’m doing with it. If my life were to end tomorrow, I would regret spending as much of it at work as I’ve done. Life is short. Even if my work is tolerable and occasionally enjoyable, I should be doing something that really aligns with my life’s purpose and doesn’t feel like “work.”

Every day I’m not living in harmony with my so-called true self, I wonder, what am I doing? I think I must quit immediately, while the world still seems full of possibility. Even though I haven’t achieved financial independence yet and don’t know what I would do next, I should be orienting my time and energy toward answering that, instead of biding my time.

Yet, every year I stay at my current job, the closer I am to financial freedom and no longer using my time and energy for the sake of money. And saving has never been easier than it is now. Of course, I’m operating under the assumption that I’ll still be in good health and have enough time to enjoy my savings, but that’s not a given. What’s the right balance between ensuring a comfortable life in the probable future and pursuing a more enjoyable life in the present?

It’s a difficult question that I’ve wrestled with often these past years, but I feel like this tug of war is going to end soon. I’m several years older and wealthier than when I first started my job, and it feels like I increasingly care more about the former than the latter. If I had to guess, I’d predict moving on within the next 1-2 years, if not sooner, but only time will tell.

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