Culture Shock

Before I begin I have been a little delayed on posting and replying, that is because I'm currently out of the country on vacation, so bear with me for a few more weeks while I continue exploring the world.

Robot Cabaret Show - Tokyo, Japan
Robot Cabaret Show - Tokyo, Japan
I was in need of a change. I was burnt out on almost everything as of late, I was very tired of work and I didn't really have any good reason why. I don't particularly dislike my job like previous ones, so I'm not entirely sure why I was feeling that way. But it had been almost two years since I had been on a real vacation and I even started dreaming about being at work. Everything just needed change.

So I picked to go to Japan for vacation, I'd never been there so that was one of my few requirements. I had looked into Borneo as a possible location but I found that I couldn't actually go up an hug an orangutan in the wild so that kind of turned me off. I was also considering a volunteer vacation to Africa where I would volunteer at an animal sanctuary (see the animal trend here) but after some research I found that volunteering would be much more expensive than just going to Japan so that's how my choice was made.



Capsule Hotel - Tokyo, Japan
There's something about changing your environment that makes you pick up certain traits of your new surroundings. When I first got to Tokyo I figured I would immediately submerse myself in the strangest, weirdest, most Japan like things I could. I thought that the best way to do this would be to stay in a capsule hotel. Not only is this a very economic thing to do in a country that is known for being expensive, but it's weird. The reviews of capsule hotels online say that it's mostly for drunks that missed their last train, while that may be true, those are not the people I worried about. It was the other backpacking tourists that came in groups that didn't understand that you hear everything that anyone says since there are no doors to your capsule. The drunks mostly keep to themselves and just want to sleep, so I really had no problem with them. Another thing about the pods experience is that they get very HOT by the morning, I woke up a few times because I was just cooking in my own personal little oven. Also everyone's alarm clocks go off in the morning which is a bit annoying but I had stuff to do that morning so it wasn't a big deal.

The next thing I did to throw myself out of my comfort zone was head to the robot cabaret, which was an interesting experience to say the least. I would try to explain it but it's hard to say more than fighting robots, cabaret dancing girls on electric tanks, and Robot cover bands singing 80's American pop songs. I think that's really just scratching the surface of what it really was too...

Oh wait, this is a personal finance blog so I guess I should blatantly tie this back in to something related to finance... Well, I already mentioned that the capsules are a really cheap way to spend a night in an expensive city in Japan. They seem to be in every major city that I am visiting so if I wanted I could make this trip pretty cheap if I wanted. But personally for me it was a one night experience so I don't think I will be going back unless I really need to.

Robot Cabaret Show - Tokyo, Japan
I guess the main reason I threw myself into culture shock was to see how I liked something new and different. I think that's how a lot of people first get into personal finances. Many people just blindly do what they have been doing their whole lives, spending everything that they make because that's normal in our society. I know for me I saved the standard 6% or 8% when I first started working because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. I didn't question if I should be saving more, I just spent the excess on..... Well, I'm not sure what I spent it on and that's the scary part. I used my extra discretionary spending money on things that I don't even remember. Once I got into personal finance I saved more because I realized I didn't have to work for 35 years at a job that I didn't care for. I immersed myself in personal finance blogs, investing, and learning to only spend on what was important to me. And over the past 4 years or so I know exactly where that extra discretionary spending money is, and when I look at my finances I am  very happy with the progress that I see.

The problem with immersing yourself too quickly is that a lot of people face the problem that I started this post off with, burn out. I see so many new bloggers write about how into personal finance they are and then they suddenly just disappear after 3-6 months. So if you are just starting out don't go from 0 to 100 immediately, take some time to ease into it so you don't burn out. Start with small changes and add more over time. I've compared personal finance to weight loss before and I will again, it's not an overnight fix. You have to put in hard work and slowly lose a pound at a time or increase your savings slowly until one day you look up and realize that you've lost 15 pounds or your suddenly have $15k saved up, or that you cut $10k off of your debt. It's not going to happen over night though, I know that if I went to an extreme diet and workout regiment because I wanted to be in better shape I would probably stick to it for about 2 weeks then get burnt out. Whereas if I slowly change my diet or workout routine to be slightly better for me it will be minor changes that won't make me burn out on working towards my goals.

Burn out is a horrible thing to reach in your working career, I know people that have taken 8 months off of work because they just would not separate themselves which led the a breaking point where they just decided to call everything off while they figured out what they needed to do. I'm glad that I had 3 weeks of vacation saved up so that I could just take some time to myself and still come back to a job. Hopefully that's enough time for me to feel refreshed when I get back. I know I've been so concerned with just navigating the streets of Japan and figuring out what I was going to eat for each meal that I haven't given much thought to work.

Have you ever been burnt out? What did you do to get rid of that feeling?

11 comments:

  1. Wow that seems like an awesome trip! I've never been to Japan, but I've had friends that have went and they always have awesome stories to tell. I had to really look close at those robot pictures to see what was actually going on!

    I don't think I've ever burned out with personal finance, but I feel every year in the fall we go through a seasonal indifference to our finances. This year I started a blog, so that helped a little. I'll try now to overdo it though. 3 months done!

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    1. CheapMom,

      Don't feel bad if you don't know what's going on in those pictures of the robot cabaret. I was there and I'm still not entirely sure of what I saw, but it was amazing!

      I can say that certain things that I did related to personal finance have at times gotten tiring to me. Sometimes I sort of don't feel like making lunch in the mornings for work, or when it's the rainy season I wonder what it would be like to start driving to work instead of walking to the nearest bus stop and hoping I don't get to wet on the way to work. At times I have gotten tired of blogging. It's not necessarily the ideas, it's just all the work that goes with it like writing and organizing those thoughts and commenting on other blogs.

      Congrats on making it 3 months! I think around 6 months is usually the big make or break point for most people!

      -Zee

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  2. I really appreciate it that you like to experience the unusual things in life. Those weird trips can be very fun. As far as burnout, I have been in my current role for 6 years and with the same company for 23 years. I plan to work for another 6-8 years before retirement, and I am looking forward to owning my time. However, I can say it's difficult. Working 50 + hours each week certainly doesn't help. I guess knowing there is an end in sight helps with burnout. Vacation time is important too. Although, you also get behind at work which makes vacations painful upon return. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog and living vicariously through others. Enjoy your time away from work.

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    1. My key to not getting behind at work when it comes to vacations is to take long enough of vacations where they can't really "save" work for me, they have to do it before I get back. But that also means that my job is entirely replaceable if I can leave for long enough for them to fill in for it. But I'm okay with that, I don't view myself as indispensable nor do I really care to be in that position. A good company should be able to be flexible that it doesn't hinge in any place on a single person.

      Having a finish line in sight is very helpful, but for me 6-8 years is still a long ways away. I think I'm shooting for the 8-10 years away before I reach financial independence. Since the longest I've stayed at a job so far is 3 years I know a lot can happen in 8 to 10. Hopefully my current job will keep me entertained for at least another 5 though. We'll see.

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  3. Hi Zee
    Never been to Japan before but would love to go, to experience, like you've described, all the weird and wonderful stuff that the Japanese have and do!

    I've not suffered from burn out at work but I think I was close - I became an insomniac and when I could sleep, I dreamed about work and no matter how many hours I put in (50+), it was never enough and my workload never eased. I was getting to be like a zombie and my best friend said I needed a holiday.

    I was finally persuaded to take a break (just a week to a Greek island) and it made me feel so much better that I decided that I would always take my holidays every year and that I will only work the hours that I am paid for (unless there's an exceptional deadline).

    Seems to have worked - work is still tough but mostly enjoyable, not like the never-ending struggle that it felt like before.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your travels and look forward to reading more about it!

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    1. Hey Weenie,

      Drawing the line between what is acceptable for work and what is not is a difficult one. One of the things is that if you start always working more time than is required everyone starts to expect it out of you and suddenly it's the new normal. I think taking time off every year is something that is very necessary. I just have a hard time making it a full year between vacations! I should probably plan smaller trips every now and then just to get away.

      -Zee

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  4. So jealous! I'd love to visit Japan one day. I'm all for their crazy and weird habits. Also, the robot cabaret looks like it's the most awesome thing in the entire world.

    I'm sorry you suffered from a burn out at work, but at least you noticed it quite quickly and decided to do something about it. Many people I know just don't see the signs or don't feel like doing something abou it. Maybe they don't even have the means to.

    Here's to a refreshing start after you return from your vacation, but make sure to enjoy it first!
    Cheers,
    NMW

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    1. NMW,

      The robot cabaret was by far the most interesting part of this trip so far. I think I set the bar pretty high by doing that on the second night I was there!

      I've been burnt out before by work but not the same way that I was this time. Before I knew I was tired of my coworkers and the job itself, but this time I think I may have just been in a funk so I needed to change it up.

      I think that when I return I will be in a better mindset, thanks for the encouragement!

      -Zee

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  5. For me, I just have to change my environment. In some cases, it could be as little as just working in a different room in my house to actually going away for a few days to some other place. When I come back, I am usually refreshed and recharged.

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    1. Jon,

      I wish I could just move to a different room and it would change things up for me enough to feel differently about work! Actually that may have been a solution, I have recently been training a lot of new people at work and since I trained them I constantly got questions from them which interrupted all of my own work. I think if I could just do my own job and not theirs as well that would have been really nice. Perhaps that was all I needed, either way, an escape to Japan was a great change!

      -Zee

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