This short post had some people thinking the new job was horrible. Which it isn’t. Like I explained in the comments, it’s more like returning from a blue sky, 25 degrees (Celsius, for the Fahrenheit using people) vacation in October. Even if the weather in Belgium is ok-ish, it’s going to be gray and rainy. And even if you know the weather is actually ok-ish your brain is going to be saying: well this sucks. Because, during those first days it will suck. Not because of how the weather actually is but to what you are comparing it: a near idyllic, paradise situation. And compared to that, almost everything sucks. There is a valuable lesson here: a lot of the time we do not see the things as they are but how they compare to something else. Change your base of reference and all of a sudden things look or actually are something completely different!
It was a bit the same for me, I really enjoyed the three months at home. Really, really enjoyed it. So those first days adjusting to the work life were, ahum, ‘challenging’. The fact that google has been going higher and higher doesn’t help as I know I would have made more by day trading a few hours a day than working 8 hours like I have to do now. I really need to stop thinking that way. Or grow the balls to call it quits now and go the early retirement route/day trading route. Which I am not going to do, so brain: stop thinking this way!
So a little overview of the positive and negative sides of the job might be in order.
And a nice paycheck at that. I am right back at making the average wage for Belgium. It’s more than the interim I worked at for 9 months, but that one did pay out an untaxed bicycle allowance. So in regards to net wages the difference will not be big.
And let’s face it, the steady pay check is the main reason why I took the job. Emphasis on steady. My day trading did fill the gap between unemployment and the average wage I was used to making. But day trading is fickle. Good months will be followed by bad months. The way I did it, it’s good as a little side hustle to make a bit extra money. The unemployment benefits would also diminish over time (this deserves its own post as the Belgian social security system is neither social nor offers it a lot of security). And after some time the government would start wondering why I was still unemployed and start asking proof that I was still actively looking for work. Dealing with government bureaucracy is not something I particularly enjoy … No, a steady pay check is the final puzzle piece I need for this last leg of my journey to financial freedom!
12 extra holidays
Once my interim period is over I will work 2 hours extra each week which translates into 1 extra holiday per month. I like that. That is two whole weeks I do not have to go to work! The normal amount of holidays is 20, so this is a 60% increase!
Work from home.
Again, once the interim period, is finished I will be able to work from home one day a week. A big win in my book and it should help to keep up with my swimming regime!
The job is in Brussels.
That’s a total commute of three hour each and every day. By train. And the train in Belgium isn’t very punctual. So there are delays, a lot of them, almost every day. The work from home will help with this. It is also the reason why I am really happy with those twelve extra holidays. Those are not only 12 days I do not have to work, but also 12 days I do not have to go to work. It will save me 36 hours of commuting in total. The interim I did before this job was near Leuven, I even went by bicycle most of the days! I loved it! I looked for a new job closer by home, but the bulk of the companies that need somebody with my experience are located in Brussels. My present plan is to stay here for at least 2 years (this will also put the ‘patchy’ part of my Curriculum more in the past, which will help in getting interviews) and then very selectively start looking for a job closer to home.
I also try to look at the train ride in another way. I try to see it as a chance to catch up on some quality series. Believe it or not, but even after three months of being unemployed I still have a huge back log in series I want to watch! I thought I would totally eliminate that back log, but I actually didn’t watch that many series when I was home. There were only a handful of days where I did nothing except watching series. Most days I had other more fun things to do. By the way: Westworld is f*ing brilliant!
My 10 minute walk from the central station to my workplace I try to view as my healthy morning walk. It is through some touristy area of Brussels so people travel thousands of km’s to snap a picture of buildings I walk past every day!
But even with trying to look with a positive attitude to a big part of my commute, the fact remains I leave home at 7:15 in the morning and am back at 18:15, except Tuesday and Thursday when I go swimming: then it is closer to 20:00 when I am back home. Two days of teleworking from home would be ideal. We’ll see if I can arrange that in the future (= extra motivation to do a good job!)
Well, it’s work. It is sitting behind a computer doing stuff for around 8 hours. There is a lot I need to learn but there will be enough variety in my day. Which is good. I like variety, it makes the day go by faster. I actually did spend a lot of time behind my computer when I was home also. I like surfing the net, reading about interesting stuff, figuring stuff out or go on the hunt for classic techno tracks from my youth (spend the bulk of my last weeks at home doing this, still haven’t finished!). The difference is, now I have to do work stuff. Which I find a lot less interesting than all the stuff I did when home. But that is ok. I did it before: usually I build in some rewards during my day. Finish task A, then read a blogpost. Finish task B, then take a little break. Finish task C, time for lunch! … It breaks the work day into 4 blocks or more and makes the day go faster. When I am able to do this system it actually improves my productivity!
Although at 42 I am in a way better position than most of my peers in the ‘having to work’-department the fact remains I am on a course to achieve financial freedom (even with some work once this is achieved) when I am 47 or 48. Although this is 20 years less than the official age I find this pretty, pretty old. Hell, I find 42 pretty old. I now know 35 (or perhaps even 32) should be possible if one starts young enough on this path. The solution for this is part letting go of the fact I did not follow the optimal route and part of the solution is getting in better shape. I know for a fact that improving my physique and losing weight will make me feel younger again (I have a very interesting story about that 5 month window where I lost a lot of weight and experimented with a testosterone booster, it sure made me feel a lot younger!).
So even if I did enjoy the 3 month test run of early retirement immensely, the reality of life is that I still have some work to do. Work in the house (finish the home renovations), work on my health (lose weight, build muscles) and work on the stash (it needs to be bigger).
I guess it is time to get to work again!