If you’ve ever had a weekday work schedule, you’ll know the barrage of feelings that Sunday brings. You wake up Sunday morning with your heart beating a little harder, your chest constricting a little tighter, and your mind running a little faster. The task list starts to creep back in as the weekend hours wind down.
Sunday dread shrinks the weekend to Friday evening and Saturday, a whole 18 waking hours in my world. This means that just over 10% of my average week is relatively stress free. The rest of the time I spend working (24%), commuting (6%), sleeping (33%), or being otherwise occupied but still in a state of work-related stress.
Ditching the work week routine is my ultimate reason for pursuing financial independence. How can I live a healthy and fulfilling life when I’m almost constantly preoccupied with my job? One of the initial reasons I chose a 9-5, Monday-Friday career was that I saw others around me working 8-8, Monday-Saturday and I knew I wouldn’t thrive in that environment. Unexpectedly, I found myself mentally taking work home with me anyway.
I know part of my stress comes from the weight of student loan debt. Even the minimum payments add $1,300 per month to my baseline salary needs. When I’m debt free, my stress levels will go down but I suspect that the lingering restlessness will continue.
I’ve tried various ways of coping with this state of mind – the negative (shopping, alcohol, food) to the positive (meditation, exercise, therapy). Although I tend to feel better temporarily, the dread always seeps back in. I’ve come to realize that maybe I’m not the problem here – maybe it’s everything else.
Financial independence isn’t just another milestone to me. It’s a way to quiet down all of the noise in my life. When I no longer need to rely on a steady monthly income, I can dedicate more energy to work that allows me to feel productive but doesn’t flow over into other areas of my life.
Sometimes I think about all of us, many working in jobs we’re either ambivalent towards or outright dislike, and wonder about the impact we could have if we weren’t weighed down by the need to earn an income. What if we enjoyed our productive hours as much as our leisure hours? What if we weren’t stuck between anticipating the weekend or dreading the work week? What if so many of us were freed from the mental and physical afflictions caused by a society of overwork? Imagine how much we could accomplish together.