I recently watched the movie office space for the first time in many years. A scene that struck a chord with me was the scene where Peter comes to work on Monday and he keeps being told “Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.”
I worked at my first employer for almost 10 years. Over the span of that time I had gotten burned out and was altogether miserable not just at work but it boiled over to my home life. I was working long hours, averaging 12 hours per day including the commute and having to work at least every other weekend.
On one weekend off in September of 2007, my future wife and I were watching live professional cycling. I know that wouldn’t interest most but I used to race competitively and I was one of those that could watch a three hour Tour de France stage on television. Thanks to the Tour of Missouri, I was able to see the best in the sport in my hometown, live and in person.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and my wife and I were watching the peloton complete several circuits around the Kansas City Plaza. This should have been one of the more exciting experiences of my cycling fandom but I was miserable. I remember not even wanting to finish watching the race but rather just wanted to go home.
While driving home I was thinking to myself, “Why the hell are you so miserable? You should have been thrilled to watch this race.” Then it hit me…it was Sunday.
Sunday afternoon meant that I was going to have to go back to work on Monday. My subconscious mind had already dreading the next day.
Suddenly having the realization that I was so unhappy with my job that I couldn’t enjoy one of my passions was a shock. I was also making those around me miserable. I had to make a change.
That night I pondered what I was going to do. I was making good money at my job, I was well respected and had a bright future but it was mentally unsustainable. Over the next few days, I spent a lot of time looking at my finances. I had been living far below my means for some time after recovering from my baller years. I had no debt outside of my mortgage and I had saved nearly a year’s worth of living expenses in a savings account. I didn’t know what it was called at the time but looking back I realized I had achieved F-You money status. I didn’t need this particular job anymore so I began to plan for my exit.
Jim Collins has a great post on F-You money here. His blog is the first place that I found the term. After having an emergency savings of 3 – 6 months of living expenses and maxing out your pre-retirement savings, the achievement of F-You money is the next most important step to financial freedom in my opinion. F-You money gives you so much leverage, you are no longer a slave to your employer. You can walk away and be just fine.
For fun listen to this fun video by Jim Collins, be forewarned he uses the actual F word.
After realizing that my job was making me miserable, my future wife and I planned a six-month adventure of traveling, hiking and camping across the US after I would leave my job. I would take a 6 month break from work prior to starting a new job.
Before we had the opportunity to take our long reprieve, out of the blue I got a call from a former colleague recruiting me to a new employer. I ended up leaving my 10-year career at my first employer and never looked back. I took a $20,000 annual pay cut from my previous salary but I didn’t care. I already lived so far below my means that the reduction in pay didn’t make any difference in our lifestyle. I was happier and that is all that mattered.
I have now been at my second employer for just over 10 years. Looking back, I made the right choice to walk away from the first job. Not only am I working in a more stable industry than my previous career but my job has the greater mission of supporting our nation’s soldiers.
A different case of the Sundays
I am much happier now, but I still get a case of the Sundays. Sunday still signals the beginning of the workweek. Sunday is the one day we complete most of our chores for the coming week. We do laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and meal prep throughout the day.
Most think of the beginning of their workweek as Monday, we think of Sunday as really the first day of our workweek. The preparation we do ensures that we minimize stress and maximize family and personal time each night after work. Without the Sunday workday, we would be adding the stress of preparing meals and doing some chores after spending many hours at our employer.
If I wasn’t employed full time and needing to travel to work, Sunday would be another weekend day but until I walk away, I think of Sunday as the beginning of my work week.