the grass is always greener syndrome
Do you suffer from this? I certainly do!
The grass is always greener syndrome, in case you have been living under a rock for most of your life, can be described simply as always wanting what someone else has (e.g. your neighbour’s house, who has a luscious green lawn compared to yours). However there is a secondary part that if you then got what you originally wanted (e.g. you moved next door and got that nice lawn) then there would be something else that you would notice about your original situation that you preferred more (e.g. you didn’t realise your neighbours garden required daily maintenance and actually now preferred the low maintenance rockery you in at your old garden).
It’s a worry I have for when I hit Financial Independence, especially from recent comments from various people who have already got there, not least Jim McG who has just started his own blog up (go take a look by the way, it’s very entertaining so far!) and wrote about the top 10 downsides to FI.
Although the article was admittedly tongue in cheek, it does highlight how us humans can often find ourselves in a sweet situation and just end up focusing on the negatives from it if we are not careful. Meanwhile we forget about the negatives from our previous situation and look back with rose tinted augmented reality 3D google glasses (or something like that) and say, “why did I think that was so bad?”. It’s really stupid and we know we shouldn’t do it, but we sometimes just can’t help ourselves!
the tfs grass is always greener top ten
Inspired by Jim McG’s top tens, I thought I’d do my own top 10 of different life situations where I thought the grass was always greener:
I am pretty sure I hated school for the most part when I was there, however as soon as I grew up and started working a job with normal hours at the weekend I quickly realised how sweet a deal we have it as kiddywinks. All that free time to do whatever you want in the evenings! 6 weeks off every summer!??!!! Jeez man, the grass was definitely greener on the school/work divide in this case. In my defence as a child, I had never experienced work so I had no point of reference, and I think the grass on the other side in this case was simply just “not going to school” and not work as such, but I think it still counts due to the whole “not realising how sweet a deal you have” aspect.
2. Sixth Form
It was in 6th form where I got into making electronic music (geek, I know, but hey I loved it) and I certainly would never have that sort of freedom to spend hours on the computer being creative again. Although at the time all I was thinking about was getting a job so I could afford some decent equipment, I never realised how good I had it!
3. First proper job
I worked for a retail computer sales company called Tiny computers. The pay was excellent 1 considering my tender age of 18 although it was fairly long hours and was a high pressured commission based sales environment. I pretty much hated that aspect of the job although obviously enjoyed the pay and got to work with some very “interesting” characters 🙂
So now I could afford all that equipment I was after in point 2 but I had no time to actually use the bloody stuff!
So yet again I found myself looking forward to the next step in life which was going to University, where I would have lots more free time (again) to do the things I really wanted to do, such as make electronic music and become a superstar DJ (Ugh! I suppose you have to admire the aspirational naivety of yoof!)
So much free time on my hands now!!! What did I do with that… Wasted it all being hungover. Oh dear 🙂
I also found the degree I chose, Music Technology, became a bit of a chore now it was a forced activity rather than a voluntary one, and it seemed to stifle the creativity I had when I was back in those young and free flowing hazy school dayz. Or maybe it was just the hangovers 🙂
By the end of University I was definitely a bit bored of the whole lifestyle and being skint all the time got old pretty quickly (don’t worry I was working jobs where I could to avoid going into debt etc…) so was looking forward to graduating and getting a “proper job” where the grass was most surely going to be greener?*
*Spoiler alert to any younger readers out there: It most certainly isn’t… why the hell do you think I’m so obsessed with retiring early? 😉
5. Living in London
When I started to work in London the commute was a killer and yes I do still like to moan about that on the odd occasion 😉
So really all I wanted to do was to move up to The Big Smoke as soon as I could afford it. However after one year of living there I decided it really wasn’t for me. All of my family and most of my friends were still back in my home town so I found myself feeling quite isolated and was just coming home every weekend. The
green grass grey concrete of London was most definitely not greener (for me) than the lush meadows of Sussex 🙂 and now I’m back commuting again I much prefer this original situation!
We went on the trip of a lifetime in ’08 and drove across the US of A followed by bussing it around South America for about 5 months. It may sounds ridiculous but there are some downsides to being away which you don’t think about before you go, such as missing family, UK food, your own bed etc… It can also get very tiring being on the road all the time, especially if you are doing the driving!
Clearly I would not have changed this trip for the world but before I went away I thought I could be one of those digital nomad type people. Afterwards I realised that around 6 months is probably my limit for being away, and I really did miss Ma, Pa and the rest of the TFS clan too much to ever move away somewhere permanently. I do love to travel but guess I’m a home boy at heart! 🙂
7. Owning your own home
It’s the British dream isn’t it, home ownership?
Once you own your own bricks and mortar (well, the bank does at least) you know you’ve made it and are a proper adult. What the mortgage advisor won’t tell you though is that it’s a right old fucking ball-ache with a never ending list of chores to be done, things to be fixed and bills to be paid. I’ve actually learned 2 to enjoy all this stuff over the years but at the start I have to admit it was a bit of a culture shock and considered it a major time suck when I could have been doing something way better such as playing video games.
Renting ain’t all that bad and the grass is most definitely not automatically greener just because you own your own residence!
8. Being a manager at work
Ok I’ll admit I made this one up. I never really wanted to be a manager at work (apart from getting the pay rise of course!) because I foresaw that the extra bullshit you get with the position was not for me. However I think for many people this will definitely be a grass is greener situation:
“Once I become a manager all my money worries will dissapear and I will finally get the respect and admiration from peers that I deserve, along with my own headed letter template and full access to the stationary cupboard!!!” – one might be thinking (again I am guessing here)
Once I became a manager my fears were mostly proven correct and although now the team I’m on is great, it took two stressful years of hiring and firing to get there. Ironically I am now stepping down just as things are all good in the hood, but I’m not going to miss the extra admin, email answering and so on. I am literally just about to “step down” as this last month has kind of been a handover month, and I already feel way more chilled out and am getting more work that is actually interesting done. Big whoop for me! However this brings us onto…
9. Going part time…???
As mentioned a few months ago I am going part time at work (33% cut in hours). This new shift pattern is just about to start with me working 4 weeks in September and then having the following two weeks off.
What if this new situation becomes a grass is always greener moment?!
Will I miss full time employment!?
What if I can’t find any part time freelance work to fill up the other 33% of my time?
What if being at home on my own isn’t for me and I start to feel isolated from the real world?
I can’t see any of the above happening but I just don’t know having never done it before. It may well turn out to be the grass is always greener, I will find out very soon!
10. Financial Independence…???
I sincerely hope not but I would be naive to not at least consider that FI could be a grass is greener moment.
Will I miss the regular paycheque?
The feeling of going out to work and achieving something?
I am aware that I do start to feel down in the dumps if I have a few days off and don’t really do anything productive so I will need to work hard on making sure I am always balancing the chilling out with “doing something” such as building/fixing stuff around the house, training towards some sort of health/fitness goal, helping friends/family out or volunteering my services to a charity.
Don’t get me wrong, I think I will be fine on this count! But it’s silly not to consider and prepare for this sort of thing.
conclusion – the grass is always green, buddy!
The lesson here is a simple, clear and strong one: always try to focus on the positive parts of your current situation!
Focusing on the positives and being grateful for what we have is a great attitude to cultivate as it makes us live more in the present rather than wishing our time away, waiting for some future situation where everything will be rosy, which will never actually materialise: there will always be good and bad parts about any situation you find yourself in.
It doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to eliminate the negatives or to better your position in life. But, as far as I am aware, nobody I’ve ever met literally has the perfect life, and it is worth reminding ourselves of this fact regularly – especially if we start to get the little green (grass) monster of jealousy or envy boiling up inside us! 🙂
How about you?
When did you think the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence, only to discover it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be when you finally got there?
- Assuming you hit your targets ↩
- I’m not sure if learned is the right word there? All I know is that I didn’t used to enjoy it all that much and now I kinda do. Weird! It may just be enjoying the satisfaction of completing a job well done and by myself rather than the actual process itself. I’m rambling again, back to the post please… ↩