For the last two months I’ve reentered the workforce on a 3-month contract, after having had the past 13 months off work. I’m working as a Project Manager in one of the big Australian banks, so it’s very much a quintessential corporate IT gig. Before starting I actually calculated how much of the rest of my life I’d be giving up if I took the job. I’m 45 years old now and assuming I make it to 70 then the 3 months is 1% of the time I’ve got left. Today I’ll compare how life is now that I’m working, compared to when I wasn’t.
1. My health and fitness has noticeably deteriorated. I’m spending much more time sitting in front of a screen and although I do have the time for exercise the motivation levels are much lower. I don’t think I was ever ill when I wasn’t working but I’ve spent most of the last month feeling somewhat under the weather.
2. Book reading, meditation and any creative activities have been largely sidelined. Even these blog posts have a pretty big gap since starting work. Again, it’s been really hard to summon up the energy to do stuff after a long day of tedious and largely trivial work. I was definitely far more intellectually stimulated at home as I had access to podcasts, books and whatever learning material took my fancy.
3. My diet is worse, again because of fatigue induced laziness and the convenience of being able to eat out for lunch. This causes a feedback loop of feeling ‘meh’ making me even lazier and meaning I eat even less healthy food.
4. Socially however I’m in a much better place. When you’re not working and everyone else is it can be hard to form relationships, or see anyone during the day for that matter.
5. Financially, I’m obviously much better off as I’m earning money, even if it’s only for three months. I’ve talked about income throttling before – working just long enough to keep you out of the higher tax brackets, and this 3 month job should get me there. From a financial perspective doing this job makes a lot of sense.
The three month contract has been a sacrifice and a setback in terms of leading a healthy and more examined life. However it has allowed me to reconnect socially and make a bunch of new friends. It’s also been a smart tactical financial move to get a little further ahead. It’s been a great reminder of why I’ve pursuing financial independence but even so it’s been an acceptable trade of 1% of my remaining time on this planet. I’ll just have to work on a decent recovery before I take off on my 10 month world bike tour..