Before you read this post, I just want to give the disclaimer this is going to be a very personal post and quite long. Although this is a personal finance blog focusing on financial independence (early retire too I suppose), stock investing, and dividend income, the blog is also a personal blog about me and my pursuit for joyful life.
Consider yourself warned!
My recent personal struggles
The last little while I have had days where I was extremely irritated, upset, frustrated, and just not in a very good mood. I would feel extremely impatient and little things would set me off. I would find myself yelling at kids for little things, getting upset at Mrs. T, or throwing things across the room due to frustration.
This is a complete opposite of what I am usually like. I am usually a happy-go-lucky type of guy that doesn’t get fazed too often. I can be as cool as a cucumber. Having worked in high tech for the last 12 years, I know I can handle and thrive in high-stress and high-demand environment.
But something just hasn’t clicked for me the last little while.
And I cannot figure out why.
Whenever I was in this frustrated, irritated mood, as a person, it felt terrible. Deep inside although I wanted to feel better, it was extremely hard to pick myself up and get myself out of this state. It was as if I was on a sinking ship. Once the ship started to sink, there was no looking back. Although Mrs. T tried to cheer me up and help me, most of the time it was of no use. Once I got in this state, it would sometimes take me the whole day to get out of it.
Now I have never been diagnosed with any mental illness prior, and there’s no mental illness in my family. But my recent incidents of being frustrated and upset had certainly made Mrs. T quite concerned, especially one day I said something along the line of… “I feel depressed.”
Yea… alarm bells started going off for sure! I was pretty sure that Mrs. T thought I’d commit suicide or something since there have been a few stories about mental health and suicide prevention.
I’d never imagined myself doing that to myself. I never will. I have simply been feeling really upset and haven’t felt like myself at all. And I don’t believe I have any mental illness. It is just a matter of getting into the frustrated state and staying there for a while.
A couple of weekends ago, I had another episode of such utter frustration. It started on Friday morning, Baby T1.0 was whining when he woke up and Baby T2.0 was not much better. One thing led to the other, I went to work feeling extremely annoyed at the kids. Because they weren’t listening and were throwing temper tantrums left, right, and centre right from the morning. It felt like their sole purpose of existing was to annoy me and make me upset.
When I got to work, that annoyed feeling never left. It lingered on despite me trying to get rid of it throughout the day by shifting my focus to work tasks. When I got back home from work, I was greeted by two screaming kids that were throwing temper tantrums and a tired-looking wife. The annoyed feeling came back immediately. I felt irritated and frustrated. I didn’t want to be in the same room with the kids. Within a few minutes of getting home that evening, I was yelling at the kids, and getting mad at them.
I felt terrible for yelling at the kids, but I didn’t know what else to do. The more I yell at them, the more frustrated I felt, and that led to more yelling. It was a never-ending vicious cycle. After the kids were sleeping, Mrs. T tried to comfort me, but I was not having any of it. I ended up going to bed feeling extremely annoyed. Since getting married, we have been giving each other goodnight kisses before going to sleep every single night. That night was one of the few nights that we didn’t give each other a goodnight kiss. Yea, it was that bad. I was pretty sure Mrs. T was frustrated and was lying next to me, sobbing.
Somehow this annoyed feeling lingered on the very next day too. I was in a miserable mood the whole day. I didn’t want to do much. Mrs. T tried to get me involved in various activities to take my mind off. We went swimming as a family in the afternoon. Mrs. T and the kids were having fun at the pool, but I was not enjoying myself. I barely cracked a smile.
When we came back home from swimming, I was still in a miserable mood. I didn’t want to spend time with Mrs. T and the kids, I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted to be by myself and be left in my own misery. It was a terrible feeling and I did not have a good state of mind. I tried to play some Starcraft games on Battlenet, but after losing for a few games, that only made me more frustrated and wanting to throw the computer out of the window.
Mrs. T to the rescue…thankfully
Fortunately, Mrs. T is a very understanding woman (I love her for that) and she decided to put the kids to bed that night by herself. When the kids were in bed sleeping, Mrs. T sat down with me and together we spend quite a bit of time talking about my feelings. We then spent 10 minutes writing down answers to the following questions.
- What makes me happy?
- What would I do with 1-hour free time?
- What would I do with the whole day to myself?
Below is what I wrote. We then put stars on the top 5-7 things that make each of us happy and ranked the answers for the other two questions. (Yes I have a very messy handwriting, please excuse me for that).
My answers typed out for ease of reading since sometimes I can’t even read my own handwriting. Oops!
What makes me happy?
- *take pictures
- play video games
- clean up clutter (Mrs. T questioned this one, LOL)
- *spend time in the outdoors
- sit and relax, do nothing
- *be with friends
- learn new skills/things</>
- be active
- *intimate with Mrs. T
- *play with kids
- * travelling
- relax under the sun
- try different types of food
What I would do with 1 hour of free time?
- take pics
- play games
- be active
- watch videos
What would I do with the whole day to myself?
- take pics
- be with friends
- work on things (i.e. blog, investment, pics, etc)
- go outside hiking
- go to the gym/swimming
- sleep in
- unwind with a movie
This was a very interesting exercise for me and I was very glad that Mrs. T suggested it. Somehow, spent time thinking what would make me happy helped me out of the miserable state. I felt uplifted. I began to feel better. I felt I saw the light at end of the tunnel.
Guilt-free me time
After going through the answers with Mrs. T, I realized that what I really needed was to have more time to myself. Or have some self-care time. Lately, I haven’t spent as much time doing things that I wanted to do. I go to work every day, come home, spend some time with the kids and Mrs. T, have dinner, put the kids to bed every other day (Mrs. T and I take turns), then spend some time with Mrs. T before going to bed. Then on weekends, we typically spend time together as a family by doing family activities. Without realizing it, I had failed to look after myself and have some “me time,” so I can be myself as an individual and do things that I enjoy to do, and not feeling guilty for doing that.
You see, although I have had some “alone time” by myself from time to time, I would feel guilty for doing that afterward. This is because Mrs. T is a stay-home mom that looks after both kids every single day, I feel guilty to have to ask her to look after the kids, so I can have some “me time.”
On the other hand, Mrs. T has long realized that she needed some “me time” every so often. So she has been taking Zumba classes, attending women’s circles, and other activities while I look after the kids.
She has gotten her “me time” and has been able to fill up her “happiness” tank. Meanwhile, I haven’t been able to do that myself.
I think deep down inside because I haven’t been spending time on self-care and without feeling guilty about it, I began to hold a grudge at Mrs. T whenever she was having her “me time”. Unconsciously I would try to make her feeling guilty for leaving the kids with me.
That’s not how I picture a healthy marriage. And I did not realize I was doing that until I looked deeper within myself.
Although I have written many posts on happiness and joy, I had to dig even deeper to understand what makes me happy and what brings me joy. Perhaps I have lost my focus. And perhaps I have been spending too much time thinking about financial independence retire early (FIRE). Perhaps I have been thinking that once we are financially independent, I would be able to have more time to do things. So I have been putting the “me time” on hold.
The reality is, if I can’t find time to do things that I enjoy now, I probably won’t be able to find time once we are FI. Things won’t just magically change all of a sudden. Somehow I have been living my life in the have-do-be mode rather than the be-do-have mode.
But I guess writing about something doesn’t automatically make you an expert. It’s the continuous practice and on-going learning that makes you an expert. And once you get there, you will realize you cannot call yourself an expert, because there are so many things you still don’t know. (I’m going off the topic a little bit here, but that’s the reason why I don’t believe in the word expert).
It was extremely hard to come to this realization that I have not been living my life according to the ideas and advice that I have written. In part, it feels like I have been a fake. I have been projecting a false image of myself and hiding behind an imaginary role that I created for myself.
It has been hard to come to this realization. It is even harder to spend the time and write it down and share my struggles on the internet.
I need to spend time taking care of myself and have guilt-free me time regularly to fill up my happiness tank.
I realized I don’t want to feel miserable all the effing time. I don’t ever want to tell family and friends that I feel depressed regularly and cause them to be concerned. I want to be happy. I want to be that happy-go-lucky guy. I want to enjoy my life every single minute. I want to be a good dad who spends quality time with his kids. I want to be a good husband. I want to be a good son to my parents.
I want to look back in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and so on, and say without a doubt that I lived my life to the fullest every single minute and that I truly love my life. To be perfectly honest, right now, I cannot say that. There are too many frustrating days in my life right now for me to say that.
I need to work on myself to change that. I need to improve myself as a person, so I can be happy and influencing others in a positive way.
When Baby T1.0 was born, many people told me and Mrs. T to cherish the moments because kids grow up fast. I still get this advice from many of my coworkers with teenaged kids. Baby T1.0 is almost 5 years old and Baby T2.0 is 2.5 years old now. Although it hasn’t felt like a blink of an eye, the years sure have gone by quickly. At the same time, it seemed it was millions of years ago when Baby T1.0 was born. I want to spend time with the kids, provide guidance and help when they need it, be there when they want to share stories, and play with them when they want to. Because I want a healthy relationship with my kids when they are older. I don’t want my teenager kids to not wanting to share things with me, because they are afraid of me. Although I had my rebellious teenager days, I shared things with my parents, and I can have deep, meaningful conversations with them today. I want to be like that with my kids.
So after some discussions with Mrs. T, we have decided that each us will schedule some “me times” every month. It is important to do things that we want to do and not feeling guilty about it.
We have put that into practice already and I am already feeling better. I believe over the last few days I have been more patient with the kids and generally, I have been in this peaceful joyful state more often.
Happiness the short film
Speaking of happiness, I came across the following short film by award-winning animator Steve Cutts the other day and I thought the video was very fitting. Please take a few minutes to watch it.
Are you able to relate this video to what we see in society today? I sure can.
At the beginning of the video, all the rats crowd around to wait for trains. Interestingly, all the signs say “NOWHERE.” Then one rat barely gets out of the packed train, then another rat packs itself into the train with its tail hanging outside as the doors close. Sadly, many of us do that every day. We commute to work not really wanting to go to work. It almost feels like we are heading nowhere every day.
Throughout the video, there are many signs and ads that claim to bring happiness. They give the impression that you must have these things to be happy, regardless of whether you need it or not. It almost feels like once you see this “Buying = Happiness” messages enough times, you begin to believe it and feel emotionally attached to the idea.
In the Black Friday sale scene, thousands of rats are waiting outside of the store. When the doors open, they enter the store all at once, flattening the store manager. The crazy shoppers then fight and chew each other’s arms and legs off to get the discounted merchandise.
Pretty scary stuff, because this is exactly what we see every Black Friday. It makes you wonder, is it worth it to lose an arm to get a giant flat screen TV at 60% off?
After the Black Friday sale scene, the main character finds happiness by buying a brand new sports car. He is beyond happy and is enjoying his life until the car comes to a halt due to traffic. While sitting in traffic feeling miserable, a police-rat gives the rat a ticket and some kids vandalize the car by stealing the tires and painting a giant penis on the car door. Then it rains and the rat feels miserable.
Feeling unhappy and gloomy, the rat sees a billboard in the rearview mirror that says “Happiness – Drink. Forget.” In a pursuit to find happiness, the rat turns to alcohol for happiness. When he runs out of alcohol to drink, he turns to drugs. Sadly, the happiness from consuming pharmaceutical drugs is only momentary and the main character finds himself plunging sky-high happiness to rock bottom sadness.
Then a $100 bill appears next to the main character. Thinking the $100 bill will bring him happiness, the main character begins to chase after the $100 bill. When he finally gets the $100 bill, a trap catches his head, forcing him to start typing in front of a computer. He has fallen into the money trap! He is now trapped to sit in front of a computer for the foreseeable future. He is now one of the million rats that have fallen into the rat race.
There are so many truths in this video which is extremely scary. Nowadays, we are taught from a young age that buying new things will bring happiness. In fact, on average, kids ages 2 to 11 see an average of 25,600 ads a year! No wonder why so many of us have the “Buying = Happiness” idea ingrained in our head.
What is happiness?
Having my personal struggles with happiness lately made me ponder quite a bit when I watched this short video. Am I one of those people who fall into the “buying = happiness” fallacy?
Looking at the list I made above, interestingly enough, none of my answers had to do with buying new things. They all involved doing something that I enjoy doing, so I can be happy. Therefore, I don’t think I am like the rats in the video.
But I think the line between happiness and joy is a bit blurred for me lately. As I have explained previously, happiness is externally driven while joy is internally driven. If you win the lottery, you feel happy; if you get promoted at work, you feel happy; if you purchased your dream home, you feel happy. To put it simply, happiness is a momentary feeling that will disappear after a certain time frame, leaving you unsatisfied and wanting more. This is why in the video, the rats want to buy new things and want to consume more and more. On the other hand, joy is internally driven and does not have a pre-defined expiry date. You can’t achieve joy unless you are content and at peace with yourself. Joy lasts much longer than happiness. You can be joyful when you wake up each morning, knowing that you’re still alive. You can be joyful knowing that you’re loved by someone. You can be joyful by laying on the grass doing absolutely nothing on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how I define happiness and joy. What it matters is that I feel good, content with my life, and at peace. I want to feel good about myself so I can treat other people the same way I would like to be treated.
If you have read all the rumblings I have written so far, thank you.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, this is not the end.
95 thoughts on “The END”
I wonder if part of your frustration and comes from your goal of financial independence. You are sacrificing a great deal to reach that goal and I am sure the goal seems very distant and elusive. What would happen if you capitalized on your technical training and moved into sales? You would escape being chained to a desk. You would have greater control over how your time was spent each day. You obviously enjoy interacting with people, you are creative, observant and write well. In the right sales environment, where you were rewarded for superior results, you would have a much better chance of doubling your income and reaching financial independence faster. People who can bring unusually large amounts of money into a corporation get rewarded and promoted. With your skills I could see you eventually in sales management which is great mind game. Your written communication skills would be a great asset to any company. Few sales people can write as well as you. The hard part is making the jump. Selling isn’t easy at the beginning, just like anything else, there would be a lot to learn but it becomes fun and exhilarating.
You’ve made some very interesting points, definitely something to consider in the future.
Love the video – Steve Cutts certainly knows how to do a strong ‘black mirror’
Pray and spend some time with your Lord.
Hey Bob. Thanks for your bravery in sharing this. It’s refreshing to hear people share the good, the bad, and the ugly — not just their beach holiday Instagram selfies.
Thank you Fuller.
Thanks for this frank, honest post about how you’re feeling and what you’ve been experiencing. Very few would have the courage to put it all out there for everyone to see like this.
The best parts of the post from my seat:
1) Your wife’s idea to refocus on your priorities in terms of what makes you happy. The exercise itself, I’m sure, was helpful.
2) The video of “Happiness” and your analysis. I couldn’t help but see myself in the rat in some ways… and it has given me plenty to think about.
Keep your head up, brother.
Thank you. List out my priorities definitely help me to get refocused and figure out what’s important for me.
You’ve received plenty of well deserved accolades and advice so I won’t rehash the obvious. My one suggestion would be a thorough physical. All of your symptoms corresponded with my experiences about 12 years ago which I ignored as they disappeared. They came back with a vengeance about 5 years ago. My issues were a result of stroke #1. Numbers 2-5 didn’t kill me but left me permanently disabled (at least I still have my reasoning ability – which my wife would debate). I would recommend that health issues be excluded as the culprit.
First of all, very sorry to hear what you’ve gone through. Definitely a good idea to get a physical check to make sure there’s nothing wrong with me.
i feel like you put my situation into words, except I have 3 kids. My routine is M-F work, take care of the kids after work and family outing in the weekend. After a long while you feel frustrate for no reason and yell at the kids for being annoying, then you realize kids are suppose to be like that and you feel sh%tty. You also feel guilty that the wife has to deal with the *situation* and many sleepless night with the new born baby. So you try your best to support her more and feel worst. All I got is time will past and the children will grown up. I think I got the best wife in the world and not sure what I would do without my kids. Just hang in there… just a bit longer.
Yes time will pass once the children grow up. But I guess there will be always challenges with kids at any age. I think the key is to look at things from the brighter side and find positives during these challenging times…
I think that’s a really powerful insight you had. If you don’t find what you love in life now you never will when you hit financial independence. I’m glad you have a supportive wife that is understanding. Powerful post.
Thank you Tim. I’m grateful that Mrs. T is so good at helping and supporting me. 🙂
To quote 50 cent; “Anybody mad if their paper don’t stack right”
Probably the best blog post you have written
Putting your thoughts into words makes them real and helps reflect on the emotions and the process.
Also kudos to MrsT for helping you find the path
Thank you Chris, I appreciate it.
Bob, it’s great to see that you and your wife are working on this together. It took guts to publish that post – that was a great step in reaching out for support. I was really surprised to see so many readers offering great ideas for finding your way back to your happy and peaceful life. There are truly amazing people out there and you are one of them! Professionals can also help by giving new perspectives and recommending strategies to make the transition out of depression and sadness. Take care.
Thank you very much. Like I wrote, it was hard to write the post but I thought it was important to write it. Seeing all the positive and supportive comments have been extremely helpful and amazing.
That was literally like reading my life for the past few weeks, you have fricking smashed the nail on the head and I love that happiness video! It’s amazing how it can sum up life as we know it!
I recently joined a program wealthy affiliate and I’m working my way through the training. I’ve been putting 2 hours a day in but it’s amazing how much time it takes to get a website up and running and responding to comments/ connecting etc.
My wife and I literally just had a long “sit down” as the whole point of me starting this was to create more time. Our previous blog was all about health, success and happiness and we’ve always read around and talked about the stuff you mention throughout this post.
We’ve concluded that we just need to go back to basics and give time each week to set mini goals and get some of our good habits back in place (reading, grateful list, yoga, meditation etc.)
But it has made me think… is the current “pain” worth going through or should we just strive to live every day happy?!
Btw we have FI goals too and hope to be almost there by August 2019 with property in the U.K.
Thank so much for sharing I really needed to read that right now
I didn’t anticipate to describe your recent weeks with this post lol, but it’s interesting that many people have written to me stating they have faced similar struggles. It’s uncommon and we should be more open about facing our own demons and how we can find our own happiness. 🙂
Thanks for sharing. I think everyone goes through some dark times, and it’s heartening when you hear you’re not alone.
You certainly seem to have a ton going for you (except for your handwriting – it is terrible), and I think peace and contentment are well within your grasp.
I also loved the video – puts things in perspective.
Haha on your comment about my handwriting. :p
That was a very nice, frank post. I hope you are able to sort this out in short order. I remember a few years ago hearing a term, “21st Century disease”. It was basically a term used to describe the build up of multiple stresses within someone that create an “overwhelmed” sense of being which in turn creates depression like symptoms as you react to it. I don’t hear it so much anymore. I remember it was used during the 2008/2009 crash and after as people lost their jobs and lost self worth and couldn’t cope with all the fallout from that. We all feel overwhelmed at times. I’m sure you will beat this. All the best.
Thank you very much Paul. I am feeling much better, writing this post and publishing it has helped. Definitely need to manage things better so I don’t feel overwhelmed at times. 🙂
Your story is deep and heartfelt. Thanks for sharing your struggles. I’m sure it took a lot of courage. What you are experiencing is very relatable. As a new father, sometimes I feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and the mental energy it takes to take care of a child. And I only have one child too. My wife is staying at home and I have no idea how she does it. It can be mentally and physically draining.
Thank you for sharing the movie on happiness. It was very powerful. And it’s telling how we are trapped in this society due to a false pursuit of never ending consumerism disguised as happiness. I have seen his other Steve Cutt’s other animated short films too. In particular, Man left a lasting impression on me and my wife. It helps reinforce our philosophy of choosing a vegan lifestyle and that we are sharing the earth with so many sentient living animal creatures who desire to be loved and live freely just like us.
I acknowledge that you are not asking for help or suggestions. However, I’d like to share some of the things that have helped me endure tough times when there are moments where I am feeling down, irritated, anxious, and overwhelmed.
1) If you can, take periodic mental breaks while you’re at work. Go outside, enjoy the fresh and crisp Canadian air and take a walk. Experiencing nature and walking (even for a few minutes) is re-energizing. That’s what we do with our baby. We put her in the carrier and go out for a walk. It’s a nice mental break. I do it a work too.
2) Try meditation. It helps with mindfulness. Think of it as exercise for the brain. Studies show that meditation helps with anxiety, mood, boosts your immune system, increases productivity, and improves your overall well being. There are number of free apps like Head Space and Calm that you can try out. I think it has helped me and my wife.
3) Get off social media, or at least limit it. Social media is a time sink, increases our anxiety, FOMO, envy, depressed thoughts, and can produce a lot of negative emotions that don’t matter and you don’t need.
4) Get more sleep. It is amazing what a good nights rest does to make you feel better. Your mood suddenly improves, no more cranky irritableness, and you feel like you can take on the world. That’s how I feel at least. I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
5) Write in a gratitude journal or something like “The 5 Minute Journal”. You are an excellent writer. And you are very reflective person too. I think a journal like this would be beneficial. Studies show that having gratitude improves so many aspects of life. It’s something seemingly simple, but it works wonders.
I am glad you are taking the time to take care of yourself. Never feel like you are being selfish. Self-care is vitally important.
I hope you find happiness, joy, inner peace, fulfillment and get back to being the happy-go-lucky Bob that we all know 🙂
Hi Dr. McFrugal,
Great stuff and thank you. Definitely have to give it to my wife to stay home with two young kids. 🙂
I think I’m doing all of these 5 things you have suggested. Maybe I can do more meditation to continue a gratitude journal. These things will help me keep my sanity lol. One thing Mrs. T and I have been doing is going to bed earlier so we can wake up an hour or so before the kids do. That way we get to spend some time doing yoga and have some quiet time. I’ve been going swimming too, which is a great way of having some me time.
Life is beautiful, just accept it the way it is and it will not bother you.
Life is indeed beautiful but simply accept things the way they are is easier said than done IMO.
Agree 🙂 It takes practice
Fantastic post. Sometimes it is ok to be down and feel a little upset. What really matters is getting back up and enjoying life. I really hope you do get to enjoy life again. I think this is something that we all struggle with at one point or another. Thanks for sharing something so personal to yourself. Cheers
Thank you Buy, Hold Long. You’re right, it’s human nature to feel down and upset from time to time. The important part is to know how to pick yourself up and move on so you can enjoy life. I am feeling much better now. I think writing the post helped to get my head straight.
Change in weather patterns and winter blues get to me. Fortunately I’ve found work around to gloomy Pacific north west winters
Yea days with shorter daylight definitely can have a negative effect on your overall mood. Glad you have found workarounds. What are some of your workarounds?
Thanks for sharing your perspective! I got into an argument with my husband the other day (haha we are ok). He was taking care of our toddler the whole day and then I came home from work. I cooked and there were dishes that were not done yet. I rushed out to get groceries after dinner and after our boy went to bed. I came home and my husband was having his me time and the dishes were not done haha. So I was a little upset. I did get to go out with my girlfriends the night before for dinner and had my me time. I felt a little guilty! It’s hard when you are both fighting for time alone. Good that you figured out what it was. I think it can be stressful being the sole breadwinner. Also this will pass when your kids are 4 and 8 and they will be more self suficient! Then you may miss the days when your kids snuggle up to you!
I’ve been there too! Often it’s easy to criticize but you don’t realize what your partner has gone through the whole day. That’s why is important to talk and communicate with each other. 🙂
I can empathize. We have a 5 year old and a 2 year old also. Since both my wife and I work, we only have a few hours each night with the kids and it’s always rushed and we’re tired. On the weekends, we try to make up for lost time. Then there are errands and family obligations (dinner w/my parents who also want to see the grandkids). Neither my wife nor I have us time or Me time. It’s something we need to change but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time ever!
That must be tough when both parents are working. It’s a challenge not to rush things at night so you can get some rest to your left. Kids definitely take up a lot of your time. 🙂
This post is amazing. I don’t know how else I can describe it. It is amazing because what you did is so hard for many of us to do Be open, vulnerable, reflect, and address what has been bothering you. Life is not perfect and no one situation alike. Heck, you could be cruising along one day, feeling great, and suddenly things can change in a blink of an eye. Depression and sadness can be difficult to shake and aren’t easily explained. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to do the proper soul searching needed to get to the bottom of it. I love the exercise you and Mrs. T performed and I think the end result will help you achieve the balance that you want. Everyone needs their personal time with no strings attached to fill however they would like. I’m sure some days for you it will involve blogging. Other days it will involve reading. Other days it will involve Starcraft. And Other days it may involve looking at pictures of your kids or just surfing the internet. I really hope that this exercise and this article will help you start moving and feeling the way you want to everyday. I”m happy that this wasn’t the actual end for your blog and it was a very pleasant surprise. Even if it was, I would have been happy for you. All that matters is that you are happy.
Thank you very much, I appreciate it. Depression and sadness are real and we need to talk more about these life challenges. We shouldn’t just hide them under the rug and hope things will improve one day. The more we talk about it, the more we can help each other IMO. And you’re right, it might be different thing that you need each day, life isn’t stationary, so it makes sense why you seek for different things to make you happy.
deep post Bob
I think your story is very relateable since our 2nd kid.
I get home from work and want to relax for like 10 minutes and i got our son whos 5 who just wants to play and is screaming for attention while i just want 10 minutes of quiet time. This got really frustrating. The wife would be busy with the kids and didnt walk the dog. Shit its 7pm and i just walked in dirty and stinking and i got to walk the dog too!
It can get very frustrating and i felt myself snapping a bit too.
Luckily hockey started up again for me, so i get the guys time and when i get home the kids are sleeping.
I have explained to my son to just give me 10 minutes to relax a bit when i get home and then ill do whatever he wants most times. Its a hard line – you dont want to be a bad dad / husband but need some me time as well…
My wife has read the women are from mars and men are from venus book. I states how different we are and that guys like to go to a quiet place sometimes and relax – hence the man cave….
Work life balance can be hard. You got a decent yard as well. Since we moved to our new place (1 acre) its even harder now that i need to cut the grass and weed gardens etc etc. Luckily my wife and yours too by the sound of it are great moms!
Sounds like the writing things down plan really helped. Slowly but surely one foot after the next things should turn around.
We all need breaks. (I cant even remember the last time.me and the wife were kid free for a whole day)
Sounds like you have been going pretty hard for awhile. I like the list you wrote up, hikes are fantastic! We did one on the weekend for a couple hours and it was great. Walked the dog, my son loved collecting acorns, baby was chilling in the stroller calm too! And me and the wife could just enjoy not nagging about anything. Loving the moment.
Sounds like your just going through a rough patch. Most people have those they just dont post them on instagram, facebook etc.
“There’s Greatness within you” – Les Brown.
Love your posts man, always real.
Hi Passive Canadian Income,
Thank you very much. I think most parents can relate. It definitely can be a struggle to find work life balance. But you’re right, sometimes it’s about getting that 10 minute break so you can shift your mind and get yourself ready for what’s coming up next. Sounds like your wife is super supportive, which is awesome to hear!
Yea often men just want to be left alone and work on their own things, hence for the man cave lol.
Sometimes, life can be overwhelming, especially if you have little kids. One reason that I like to ride my bike is that it helps to release my stress. I would recommend doing some sort of exercise. Sometimes, we need to get away from our homes in order to relax and to spend time by ourselves. People should also focus on their mental health. Good luck!
Way to write with transparency and self-reflection. Not that you need anyone’s permission, but there is certainly nothing wrong with deviating from the traditional topics of your blog from time to time to share some real life experiences. As a married father myself, I can certainly relate and I appreciate the perspective you’ve shared. Best of luck from here – you’ve made many wonderful decisions to get yourself to this point in your life and I am sure you’ll continue to do the same for the remainder of life’s journey!
Hi Passive Income Vortex,
Thank you. Being transparent and honest is very important to me. I don’t want this blog to be just another generic blog that covers generic topics. I want to share unique stories and that’s why I’ll continue publishing personal stories that people can relate.
Took balls to write that. I think you will be fine.
Haha thank you. 🙂
That balance is so critical! I’ve not felt the need for separate me time on the weekend or outside of the work week until very recently because I’ve been able to squeeze everything in as I needed it but PiC has been needing it a lot longer so we have an arrangement on the weekend where he takes one weekend morning every weekend to do something healthy and fun. We are a much happier family when he sticks to that routine and I will figure out what I need soon.
I’m glad that Mrs. T had that talk with you. I know it can be really hard to figure out what’s going on with your spouse when they just seem unhappy and it’s such a heavy feeling when you’re stuck in that rut of feeling angry all the time. I’m also glad you shared. Other people need to know this happens as well so they can recognize it when and if it happens to them. May this be the first steps of getting back your joy.
Mrs. T is awesome, I’m glad to have her as my life partner. And it was so important to be able to talk heart to heart and determine what makes us happy so we can help each other along the way.
Hey, man! I know what you mean.
My marriage ended when my oldest boy was 6 and my youngest was 11 months. I can’t remember exactly how old the middle two were, but they were in their somewhere. (It’s early morning – I’m not starting the day with Maths.)
I was the custodial parent and I had them all the time, except for one weekend a fortnight when my ex-husband would take them.
I was so very lucky that he saw them, almost without exception, every fortnight for 15 years. Plus a week between Christmas and New Years.
I NEED my alone time. I’ve always known that. I loved my boys but by gum! I loved my child-free weekends too!
I’m pretty sure being able to have them saved my sanity. Four boys in the one small house can be loud and pretty energetic!
I’m sorry that your marriage ended, was part of the reason that you weren’t getting enough me-time yourself?
It’s because I married a narcissist who enjoyed gaslighting.
You sound like you’ve chosen a spouse who is far superior to the one I did!
Hey Bob, I hope you’re feeling better now. I’ve been there too and it was tough to kick. In my case, I think it was mostly working in a stressful job and didn’t have enough free time. Quitting my engineering career worked for me, but obviously it isn’t for everyone.
I suggest talk therapy if you continue to feel cranky. It can be really helpful if you find a good therapist. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help. I know asking for help is difficult. Sometimes, you have to overcome it and do what’s best for your family.
Best wishes. Contact me if you have any question about therapy.
Thank you, I do feel better. Writing the post helped, that’s for sure. I can see having a stressful job and not having enough free time could cause you to be not happy. After realizing that I need more self-care time, I have been able to feel calmer and be happier. Yup, asking for help is difficult, but it’s definitely worthwhile and necessary from time to time.
Very powerful post Bob, and thank you for having the courage to hit that publish button and share this with everyone. I have been there myself, and still occasionally see aspects of this surface in my life. I think the exercise that Mrs. T suggested and you guys walked through is outstanding, and can really help bring some focus to your activities.
Like you, I have an amazing wife that has been my rock, and I did find that I was so consumed with reaching our goal of FIRE that I was neglecting myself and the most important relationships in my life. It was like a cruel twist that by being so focused on what I thought was my “why”, I was actually neglecting it in the process. I’ve done a much better job lately of focusing on the present moment, and relaxing some of my strict behaviors towards FIRE, because unfortunately tomorrow is never guaranteed and I want to be sure that the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.
Something I have tried to put into regular practice is to start and end each day with a few thoughts about gratitude. What are a few things that I am grateful for in my life? And who are a few people that I am grateful for in my life? I always eschewed things like this because they felt a little too cheesy, but I really do believe it has brought a new level of joy and contentment to my life. I am most certainly still a work in progress, but this has helped me.
Again, thank you for sharing such a raw and personal post. I am sure it was not easy but I believe this is something that a lot of us personally struggle with or know someone closely that does. Thanks!
Thank you glad you enjoyed reading it. When I told Mrs. T that I plan to publish the post (she proofread it for me), she was like “are you sure, you know your friends and family read your blog right?” Ultimately I think being honest and being authentic have a lot of values so I decided to publish this post.
The FIRE journey is a long one and I think it’s very important along the way to focus on things that are important to you. Don’t lose these important things because you are pursuing FIRE. Because when you finally reach FIRE and you don’t have these “things” anymore, you will question what’s the point of FIRE in the first place.
Practice gratitude is so important. We all need to do more of that.
Your wife is amazing! My wife and inlaws who help take care of my kid are from a culture that treats “me-time” as being selfish and “lazy”.. yeah you can probably guess what culture. Life is work for them. . if you aren’t working away at improving your financial situation or cleaning and organizing your house you are being lazy. . . not surprisingly they are often cranky, depressed, angry, perfectionist and especially hyper critical of closest family around them. Be grateful for people who understand the importance of mental and emotional health being in your life.
Yes Mrs. T is amazing, I’m so glad to have her on my side with me. I think some historical culture thinkings need to change. Work isn’t your whole life and shouldn’t define who you are.
Difficult to picture you irritated with that picture on the side 🙂 I recently read somewhere that happiness falls by an incredible 80% – 90% for the first six years after your kid is born.
On a personal note, my wife and I get our own times because she works night shifts about 3 – 4 times a week. So I do what I need to do, and she does her things on our personal times.
Haha gofi, yeah the pic is my “good days” lol. That’s interesting that happiness falls by 80-90% for the first six years after your kid is born. That doesn’t really surprise me I suppose but definitely something to keep in mind as you continue your life journey.
I experienced first hand how bad depression can affect your life ( with my husband) so I don’t take this topic lightly. Any of us can be affected by depression, and most of us do at some point in our lives.
I have to admit i am always in admiration for bloggers who are also parents of young children and have a full time job, how do you do it?
In your case, would blogging fall under “me time”? It is VERY time consuming and is not in your “what makes me happy” list, maybe something to consider when trying to find the right balance.
Thanks for this post Bob. While my circumstances are quite different from yours, I can see much of myself in what you have written.
The parent guilt is definitely not just for moms. I know exactly what you’re talking about with feeling guilty about leaving the kiddo with my husband to do something that is totally “unproductive.” We’ve all heart the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” but we all try and do it anyway. Glad you’re taking some time to dig deep and figure out what happiness looks like for you.
Glad you enjoyed reading the post and yes taking some time to figure out what happiness looks like for me was very important.
So why call it “the end” if it isn’t the end?
Anyway — long post today Bob! That said, I think you just described my life to a ‘T’. We’re both at a time in our lives where we don’t get a lot of ‘me’ time. The kids need a lot of help, and they don’t always (ever?) listen. I confess to having many of the same feelings you do.
I don’t have any answers to share, but commiserating is the best I can do — “Yeah, me too!” 🙂
Haha I guess it was a little bit of a click bait, just like your “Famous FIRE Blogger Tragically Dies Falling Off Boat.” 😉
I think many parents with young kids can relate how I feel. It’s about finding the time to self-care so you can keep yourself “sane” during this tough time.
Thanks for sharing this very personal post – really appreciate that it could not have been easy for you to write.
I hope that the scheduled ‘me time’ will work out and enable you to relax some.
I’m glad to hear that Mrs. T has her own ‘me time’ because she needs it – you leave the house to screaming toddliers, you come home to screaming toddlers. She has had the screaming toddlers all day!
Thank you, it was not easy to write the post but once I started, I couldn’t stop lol. It’s kinda funny because around the same time, I wrote a ~1500 word post but decided to scrap it because it was too generic and did not have any unique personal perspectives in it.
Having some me time lately has definitely helped me finding content and happiness. 🙂
” Without realizing it, I had failed to look after myself and have some “me time,” so I can be myself as an individual and do things that I enjoy to do, and not feeling guilty for doing that.
You see, although I have had some “alone time” by myself from time to time, I would feel guilty for doing that afterward. This is because Mrs. T is a stay-home mom that looks after both kids every single day, I feel guilty to have to ask her to look after the kids, so I can have some “me time.””
I can relate to this very much. Being a parent and trying to financially provide is tough. There’s a huge amount of mental stress that’s hard to shake.
Me time is huge, and I’m going to try to do more of this as well as I always feel guilty NOT being with my son. For example, if I go play tennis for 2.5 hours, I start feeling bad after the 2nd hour and try and rush in order to not be away from the house for more than 3 hours.
But this outlet is important. I would say feel blessed to have toddler #2! Many couples would love to just have one, let alone two, but can’t.
Finally, hire some more help. It’s worth it. We’re looking for more help right now.
Yup, we’ve come to the realization that time is HUGE to both of us, that’s why we are trying to be more efficient with our time and looking into helps to save us time (i.e. hire for help, etc). One of the things we need to try is utilizing online grocery shopping. 🙂
For sure man. We use grocery and food delivery all the time here in SF b/c they are ubiquitous! There’s actually too many options which cause us to overeat haha.
Do you think if you stopped working, or shifted to part-time work, you guys would be happier?
Hmm, that’s a hard question to answer. Maybe? But with more time on my hand I might just find something else to do right? I don’t think happiness has a direct relationship with how much spare time you have on your hand.
nice post, bob. i can relate to that. while i have a great wife at home and free time the one thing i miss is being around close friends. one of my buddies came over yesterday to watch a game and that was great, but a little more of that social time would be a good thing. do you have guy buddies or just other couples in the social circle? i think what comes with blogging also is taking too fine a microscope to your life sometimes instead of just “being.” i hope you sort it out. i enjoy your writing.
Thank you. I think a lot of people can relate my post and that’s why I felt it was important to write about it, rather than only write about the best part of my life. Yup, definitely need to hang out more with my guy buddies. 🙂
Anger, frustration, and grudge holding show themselves when your emotional well runs dry. Fortunately you have a loving wife who could help you get to the root of your frustration.
With reading and taking pictures appearing consistently as #1 and 2 on your lists, I think that quiet time alone will help you recharge your batteries. You just can’t think of those as luxuries. They must be necessities.
Thanks for being brave in sharing your feelings. Most people share their highlight reels and only share their struggles in retrospect, if at all.
Hi Mrs. Groovy,
I’m very grateful and thanksful that I have Mrs. T on my side to help me through my own struggles. It’s important to have someone like that in my life. Since the last episode, I have felt more recharged and feel more content. It’s good to know what I need in life to keep me content and happy.
Hi Mrs. Groovy,
I’m very grateful and thankful that I have Mrs. T on my side to help me through my own struggles. It’s important to have someone like that in my life. Since the last episode, I have felt more recharged and feel more content. It’s good to know what I need in life to keep me content and happy.
Powerful post, thanks for your transparency! I hate to say it, Bob, but Mr. Groovy may be on to something. I dont think I saw “writing” on your Passion list (other than “work on things”), and you’re working through what really matters to you, what your priorities should be, what brings you joy. No holes barred, no options left unexplored.
I’m sure you’ll find your path. Just don’t worry about us as you seek it. Do what’s right for you and your family. We’d all understand, and applaud you for doing what’s right. Good luck.
Good point, interesting I didn’t write down “writing blog posts’ on my passion list (it did appear on work on things like you said). I guess writing is a long and thoughtful process for me and I need to get in the right mindset to write. I do enjoy writing though. And as you can tell from my articles, I enjoy writing posts that have unique perspectives and show who I am. No BS. 🙂
Thanks for sharing these glimpses of yourself here! Your words are clearly raw and real. I’m sorry you are feeling this, it does not sound great. I am happy that you have such a supportive team member in the Mrs, and you’re taking steps to increase your happiness and satisfaction. It can be so easy to neglect your own care when you have a family that depends on you. But you can only be 100% there for them if you’re there for yourself first. Sending happy thoughts.
Thank you the Budget Epicurean. I felt it was important to be honest and be authentic and this post is definitely just that. And writing about my struggles has definitely helped me to feel better 🙂
Hey Bob, wonderful post – thanks for sharing and happy you found a remedy and way back to happiness together with your wife. We happiness focussed humans tend to forget: Nothing grows when the sun shines all the time. Some rain is necessary to nurture and feed more good stuff to come. Your post reminded me of how my wife and me did balanced scorecard analysis to dreamscape our current future back in 2006. Happiness is not a destination, happiness is about the way, the struggles, the good and the bad moments that we can overcome that let us feel fulfilled and content. Did you see the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler where he had the magic remote control to fast forward his life? Whenever a boring or difficult time in life was coming up, he clicked on forward and rushed through his life to the next enjoyable milestone. Before he knew it, his life was over. He suddenly wished he could go back to do so many things differently again. The happiest way to enjoy life is to know the bigger picture, the “why”, and design life in a way that allows you to enjoy also the harder parts – knowing that going through them will be rewarding at least! The trick for me seems to be to set new goals and to challenge myself in order to keep life as interesting and inspirational as possible. I enjoyed reading this post and am looking forward to the next post since this is not the end! Cheers
I love what you wrote – happiness is not a destination, happiness is about the way, the struggles, the good, and the bad moments that we can overcome that let us feel fulfilled and content. I can’t agree more. While it’s easy to just fast forward through the tough parts of life, often when you look back, the tough parts are the most memorable. They are also what shape us as human beings.
And yea, this is definitely not the end lol.
I think parts of your post would resonate with any parent, especially new ones. Taking time for you as well as time for your spouse is a must to keep sanity.
Very good point, it’s certainly not easy being a parent!
Wow, Bob! Powerful post. And the Steve Cutts film was spot on scary. Here’s my pathetic advice. You sound trapped. Too much of your time is being controlled by others–kids, boss, wife, readers, etc. And not having a comfortable degree of autonomy is wearing you down. Since the kids, boss, and wife can’t be ignored, I think you should start ignoring us, your readers. Take a sabbatical from blogging. Or, at the very least, go to one post a month. It will suck for me and other readers or your blog, but you need time to recharge your batteries and refocus your priorities. Happiness is a fickle beast.
Posts like this are why you’re a renowned member of the FI community. But paradoxically, posts like this, because they require so much time and brain power to produce, might be the cause of your unhappiness. I wish you well, my friend. Cheers.
Hi Mr. Groovy,
Yea maybe I sound a little bit trapped but writing this post did feel like it was a relief to me. Like I wrote, it was a really hard decision to hit the publish button but I felt it was important to be authentic and honest. I do feel that after writing this post, my head is now in the right space. It was simply important for me to recognize what I’ve been doing wrong and correct it.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy writing blog posts. Just that sometimes it can take a LONG time for me to write something. I’ve been scaling back a little bit in terms of post publishing, I guess I just need to find the right balance. 🙂
Stress and burn out has those affects … I think you are trying to find some good ways to find balance , personal time, walks, sleep, mindless electronic fun, a little wine, swimming, prayer, movies etc etc etc … times out … everyone needs to find their balance …. this may differ at different times … read some books on stress and its management … 🙂
Good suggestion on reading some books on stress and its management Michael. Something I’ve done in the past but haven’t done lately.
I can totally understand where you are at right now. I used to be a private banker (doing my CFP and MBA title at the same time as managing 3 young kids at home). Then, I just decided to do things differently and enjoy life (because it goes sooooo fast!).
Take that “me-time”, but make sure you go to bed each night and be able to tell yourself (today was terrific, I can’t wait for tomorrow!).
Yea I can see how that can be so stressful for you. I like what you sad about today was terrible and I can’t wait for tomorrow. Something to remind myself each night for sure.
Powerful post Bob, and sound very similar to personal experiences! Having a family and a job make you have a very busy life without having time for you. You need “me-time”, both of you! The key is actually making that time available and using it too. Personally I had that quilt feeling too when I do this, but I also know I need that time to recharge and be the happy person I am most of the time. It does indeed take time to accept that you need to be a bit selfish on occasion to be a happier person. Good luck with it all, life is not easy and certainly contains rollercoaster moments.
Hi Team CF,
Thank you. I struggled on whether to write the post or not. In the end, I did and it felt like a relief as I was writing the post. It’s definitely important to take time and recharge yourself. 🙂
I really appreciate your honesty in reporting things when you were not at your best. I am sure this report will reflect in the lives of many who read your posts. Just make sure you take time for yourself. Your wife is wonderful and you must appreciate her understanding of your moods. Just remember the next time this mood overtakes you to take a deep breath and give your thoughts over to thankfulness= for having two beautiful children a wonderful wife and a life where your struggle to put food on the table is so thankfully reduced by your wife and your adherence to sound economic principles.
Thank you. I am definitely taking more time for myself. And yes Mrs. T is wonderful and I’m so glad I found her. 🙂