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Career Personal Finance

Feeling Guilty About FIRE

Ever since this pandemic started, I haven’t been able to shake off this nagging feeling that I would be working all the time.

For months I thought it was because I was afraid of losing my job, but that didn’t feel right. I knew that even if I were fired the next day, I’d be fine. After all, I’ve technically reached FI.

I was actually hoping I would be furloughed or laid off, since it would give me permission to take the break I’ve been wanting to take and an excuse to try something new.

But none of that has happened. Instead of thinking about why I’ve been wishing for job loss, I’ve been giving into the feeling that I should be working on nights and weekends and burning myself out in the process.

This week it got to a point where all I could think about was how I could justify a change. Do I need to save more money? No, because I want to work on things that I’m passionate about and will probably make money in the process. Is it bad if I leave after two years? No, because recruiters are trying to get me to leave now. Do I need to get a promotion first? No, because I want to leave this industry and don’t care about titles.

So I picked a date. Not an arbitrary one of course, but being the over analyzer I am, I had to optimize for bonuses, 401k matching, stock vesting, and health insurance.

The date? February 3, 2023

Once I wrote it down, I felt relieved. I could justify why it made sense to step away at that point.

At that moment I realized why I was looking for permission.

I feel guilty.

I feel guilty about wanting to leave a job that others would love to have.

I feel guilty about leaving money on the table.

I feel guilty about leaving safe for risky.

I feel guilty about having options.

I feel guilty about disappointing others.

When I got this job, I could see everyone’s expectations. My uncle said that I would become a director or VP someday. My cousin told me how lucky I was to get a job where I could work forever.

But when this job ends, there will be confusion, disappointment, and frustration regardless of the circumstances. The only reason I’m fine with the company ending my employment is because I’ve deemed a business justification as forgivable, but my own personal fulfillment as unforgivable. There’s something messed up with that.

I need to forgive myself because no one is going to live my life for me and I can’t live a guilt-free life because I wouldn’t be living at all.

FIRE will leave some ashes in its wake, but it’s from those ashes that new life emerges.

So starting today I forgive myself.

I hope you’ll forgive yourself too.