Expectations and Reality

Last time, we let everyone know our plans. We’re packing up… We’re moving. We don’t know where, we don’t really know when we are going to settle down.

And if you remember, at the end of the last post, I mentioned I was going to be giving my notice.

This was something that I had definitely been contemplating for a while. I didn’t know how exactly to go about it. I wasn’t sure if I should just give two weeks, or if I should give them a month of notice, or more.

I consulted with friends, I got a variety of opinions that I trust.

Some said, “Fuck ’em, give them two weeks. You’d be lucky if they returned the favor.”

Others said, “Be professional and let them have a chance to replace you.”

Well, I settled somewhere in the middle. I decided to give notice exactly 1 month prior to my leaving.

But, I already had approval for a week long trip during that 4 week period. The week long trip to ride my bike across the great state of Iowa.

When it came time for my 1:1, I had run the scenario over and over in my head.

“Were they going to walk me out that day?”

“Were they going to just say, don’t worry about it? Leave before your trip.”

All these things just kept running through my mind. And there it was, the moment of truth, so I just let it rip:

“How’s it going? What’s been going on this week?”

“So, I’m leaving.”

“What? Where are you going?”

“I’m taking a sabbatical, I’m not going anywhere. Except across the country and then to Europe for a while. I know I have the week trip planned, so I can leave before that if you need me to.”

“Don’t worry about that. Tell me more about your plans.”

And that was it. What I had been fearing and fretting over for weeks was over. The end. My boss asked for some time to tell the executive team, before I spread the word. And that was that. Super Anti climatic. No perp walk out the door, no screaming, no tears. Nothing, but a casual conversation.

I’m one of the only people that does data engineering and BI at my company, but over the course of the last 3 weeks, I’ve been basically put into a consulting role, to allow other people to back fill my position.

They’ve opened up 3 positions to cover for me (which tells me I was drastically underpaid). But, they’ve also allowed for some other folks to learn and fill in where they can.

All this is to say I made this out to be a huge deal in my head but expectations rarely meet up with reality.

Your Imagination Will Drive You Crazy

Let’s try something.

Imagine the last time your spouse wasn’t at home when you got home. No warning, just wasn’t there when you expected them.

What happened? What starts going through your mind?

Did someone grab them? Are they in trouble? Are they hurt? Are they cheating on you?

Your imagination runs rampant, and you start thinking about all the most extreme cases you can possibly come up with.

This isn’t to say that those extremes never happen, but it is to say, that the likely hood is that they stepped out to grab some ice cream and thought they would be back before you got home.

Our imagination is funny that way. We default to imagining extremes.

Ever buy a lottery ticket?

We all know mathematically that we won’t win. And yet, the first thing you do before you even stick it in your pocket is spend the $100 million.

There are countless studies that say that happiness is how closely reality matches your expectations, for better or worse.

I can speak from experience, I was imagining all the worst that could happen when I gave my notice. And it just didn’t come to fruition.

Just two weeks ago, I was nervous and terrified about riding my across the state of Iowa in 7 days in the heat and the rain, and you know what? It sucked at times, but it didn’t suck nearly as much as I made it out to be in my head.

So, there is some trepidation in us as we embark on this new journey. I think it’s going to be awesome, but at the same time, I’m nervous. (The Market shitting it’s pants right before we take off is always a good feeling!!)

So what do we do about it?

A while ago on this blog we talked about Stoicism and how it helps to find that situations are neither good nor bad, it’s our emotional reactions to those events that cause our anxiety.

So, when I find myself giving in to my “catastrophising” self, I have to remember to think calmly, and logically.

I have to take a deep breath and think logically. Start looking around, trust in the fact that I’ve made it this far. And just given that, the odds are I’ll make it further.

Regardless of the best or worst case scenario I can imagine, chances are it probably won’t be either, it will be right in the middle somewhere.

So how do you cope when your imagination runs wild?

22 Comments

  • introvertida on FIRE August 7, 2019 at 5:01 am

    I remember when Introvertido finally quit his management position and went back to full-time clinical medicine. They literally spread his duties among 3 different people. The fact that they couldn’t come up with that counter-offer before he quit was the best reassurance that he had done well to leave.
    Congrats on your new project! And let me know if your trip takes you to Spain!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 10, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      Yeah I feel that pain. I was asking for help for a year. And then when I decided to leave they kicked finding some people into high gear. Just the way it works I guess.

      We actually will be in Spain. I can hit you up and let you know.

      Reply
  • freddy smidlap August 7, 2019 at 7:31 am

    i hear ya on the imagination thing. i don’t like when my wife isn’t home like usual when i get home if i haven’t heard she was heading somewhere. i enjoyed a perp walk from a job when i was in my late 20’s but i was going around being a butthole so it was deserved…and they paid me until the time i put in the letter.

    i usually cope by having some wine, like with almost everything else.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 10, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      Wine is usually a good idea.

      I haven’t been walked out… but it always has been a fun thought experiment.

      Reply
  • 5am Joel August 7, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Dude, CONGRATS! You’re doing something only a small percent of people get to do in their life. Enjoy every second of it. The bad, weird, ugly, scary feelings are all a part of this adventure. Try to enjoy them?

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 10, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      I’m trying my best. I’m sure it just takes a little getting used to. That’s all.

      Reply
  • Dan August 7, 2019 at 8:30 am

    If you come to Germany let me know!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 10, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      We actually will be in Germany. Sooo … Hmmm…

      Reply
      • dan August 11, 2019 at 1:08 pm

        well shoot me an email (click on my name, I think that’ll work) and we can see where you’ll be! Huge country obviously, but i could at least help with some travel planning as we’ve done a pretty good job covering the southern half over the past 2 years. So if the Alps are on your list let me know, we have some great recommendations!

        Reply
        • Mr WoW August 27, 2019 at 7:14 am

          Thanks!! Will Do!!

          Reply
  • Tina from Boi-SEE August 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    I imagine you’ll make the right decision 🙂

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 10, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      I think I MADE the right decision 😉

      Reply
  • Dave @ Accidental FIRE August 7, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I think for many of us our minds are wired to automatically think the worst as a protective measure. Like the caveman who hears a noise behind him in the bush. The one who thinks “Lion!” runs, the one who doesn’t sometimes gets eaten by a Lion. Over time the brain gets wired to think Lion.

    Reply
  • Adam @ Brewing FIRE August 8, 2019 at 6:43 am

    If I came home to an empty house, I would scream “freedom!!!!” and crack a beer. I’d probably worry at some point, though.

    Congrats man. I’ve been playing out a similar work scenario in my head lately (asking to go part-time), and I’m terrified of all the ways it could go. Hopefully it’ll be better than I imagine.

    Reply
  • Joe August 8, 2019 at 8:50 am

    You’re right. The anticipation is always worse before the action. Usually, we’re wrong so that’s a good thing. When I told my manager that I’m quitting, he didn’t react at all. I thought it’d be more, but maybe he was expecting it. I’m pretty sure most people will get that kind of muted reaction. The manager will already move on and thinking about how to replace you. Enjoy!

    Reply
  • Cubert August 9, 2019 at 4:17 am

    Hey man — I can relate to this fully. My mind thinks up a thousand scenarios, and similarly to your story, the end result is the least dramatic. Good on you for giving your notice. Had you thought about asking for a severance package? Either way – enjoy that trek across Iowa. You should get up to the northern lower peninsula of Michigan some time and bike along Lake Michigan – magical.
    Cheers man!!

    Reply
  • Maria August 13, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    m so glad i read this through, you made the right decision

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 27, 2019 at 7:13 am

      Thanks. It sure seems like it so far.

      Reply
  • Fire Up The Couch August 18, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Sorry for the late comment but holy crap….. Congrats! I loved reading these last two posts. So excited for you guys. Can’t wait to hear more about your upcoming plans – short term and long term. “Wake me up, when September (FinCon) comes…” Almost here!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 27, 2019 at 7:15 am

      Most certainly. This has been a whirlwind at the moment and we’re still trying to figure it all out!

      Reply
  • Jacq August 18, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    I try to give myself positive things for my imagination to run away with ($1M lottery – when I never play), and try to reality check myself for other stuff. Sometimes I find comfort in the worst outcome I can think of and knowing it’s highly unlikely can be reassuring. I just had an all day for 2 days on boarding training at the beginning of the month, with 60 coworkers, on metal folding chairs. I didn’t fall out of my chair, fall asleep, or get fed up and run out of the room, so I consider it a success!
    Everything tough I’ve gone through in life so far, I’ve gotten through and am on the other side of. People sometimes comment on my positive attitude, or drive to move forward, but I don’t see another choice. Sure pause and check the path forward, or next steps, and then take those steps.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW August 27, 2019 at 7:18 am

      That’s awesome. I’m so glad that you always come out the other side, and are starting to realize that there really isn’t another choice than to move forward.

      Finding the worst case and saying to yourself, “It’s not that bad, I can deal with that.” And understand that is highly unlikely, which is super comforting in a way.

      Reply

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