One of the things that I like about the FIRE community is that it is full of people who do not settle for average and try to get the best out of their lives and pursue the things that give meaning to their life. Today I want to share how my mother is a huge source of inspiration for me in that regard.
My mother’s career track
My mother started out her career at a difficult time because when she graduated, the job she trained for had basically turned into a volunteer position. Paid leadership positions in her field were still available but not realistic to get as 21-year old without experience. So she ended up working for my grandparents who owned a small business, way below her abilities. My sister and I were born after a few years and she transferred to a customer service job at a very large company. In the next 12 years, she slowly worked up the corporate ladder and eventually got a good position making good money. However, after a while her idea of what it means to be a good manager no longer aligned with what the company wanted her to do. It was a hard process but she ended up quitting in her late forties without another job lined up.
It took some soul searching and a lot of job applications but eventually, she got another job. She had to take a pay cut but she found a great company and worked there for about five years. She had a good time at that company for quite some time. After some time the work environment started to change. The stress and pressure to do more with fewer people was making her miserable. The bosses just seemed to be focusing on increasing value for shareholders of the company and not on serving people well. She contemplated just quitting and retiring early but one aspect of her current job she really liked and was still giving her a lot of energy. So instead my mother has started getting some formal education in that field and is starting her own business. She quit her job in September at age 55 and is starting her business on the side. My mother has some clients right now, be it unpaid for now because she is still in training. I’m quite sure she will be able to make money once she is done with her training next year.
How Does She Inspire Me?
Especially in my previous job, there were a lot of people in their late forties, early fifties who were already counting the days until retirement. They were constantly complaining about their job and how everything used to be better. I really disliked it because they could really sour the work environment. Sure, I understand it’s not easy to change jobs in your fifties and age discrimination is a real thing. Here in Holland employees now have to work until age 67 before they can collect social security and most pensions are linked to that age as well. To be miserable in your job for that amount of time is just so depressing. I commend my mother for having the guts to quit her job twice when it no longer was a good fit for her.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without my father. They have the ability to live on his income when necessary. In order to do so they had to make some lifestyle changes. My father makes a good living, but he’s also not a very high earner. My parents have always been relatively frugal and never took on debt except for a mortgage. We’ve always lived in fairly modest housing. My parents raised us to live on less than you make and not spend money before you have it. This mindset has made sure that they could make the decision that my mother did not have to keep working a job that was making her miserable and was affecting her health.
I’m a very risk-averse person so quitting a job without having another one lined up would make me throw up of anxiety. My mother showed me that it can be done in a responsible way and turn out OK.
This has turned into a rather long post and I could write a lot more about this if I want to. To sum up, this is why my mother is a huge inspiration for me in my journey to FIRE:
- It’s worth it to find out what makes you happy and pursue that path even if it’s not always easy or conforming to the norm.
- Live well within your means; this will give you the freedom and the choice to not be enslaved to a certain career or job.
- Take a risk sometimes (very hard one for me!)
- You don’t have to have everything figured out at age 30, it’s still OK to change careers at age 55.
This is my story of how my mother is an inspiration in my journey to FIRE. Have your parents (or anyone else!) been an inspiration for you?