Ms ZiYou Dark and Lost

10 years ago I was lost in life – but I found my way

A decade is a long period of time. A lot can change in that time. Especially people. 10 years ago, I was not doing anything as exciting and ground-breaking as I was 20 years ago starting university.

But what was 27-year-old me like? Did she dream of FIRE? Had she started seriously investing? Was she happy? Sadly the answer to all three was no. 10 years ago I was lost in life.

Let me introduce 27-year-old meMs ZiYou Lost

Life wasn’t great. I had an ok job, a respectable yet average income of around £22k. A boyfriend I wasn’t sure I had a future with. My future plans as a whole were unclear. I was frustrated at work as a promised promotion kept getting delayed and never materialised. I was doing ok financially, but nothing special to write home about.

What do you get from that description? A whole lot of ok and mediocre? That lingering sense of disappointment, and wonders on what life could be? There is no doubt it was a dark time, with a cloud of disappointment hanging over my life.

And I write this to say, if you are there now don’t worry. Many of us have been there in our pasts. You can get through it. I know I did. The me of 10 years ago is unrecognisable – and bears little resemblance to present day me.

Comparing 27-year-old me vs 37-year-old me


As I detail in money vs happiness ponderings – today I feel so content and happy. My life is good and more importantly, I have much agency to change anything I want. But 10 years ago I was in a much different position – frustration and discontentment were much more common emotions than happiness. I was not great at articulating it, but life did not feel happy. And I truthfully had no real plan or path to get to happy.

Life Plan

Ms ZiYou LightHouse

27 year old me had no life plan. I was drifting through life, and unsure what steps to take next. Moreover, I desired a promotion and did not know how to get it.

I was getting comfortable in my ok job. The aspirations and enthusiasm the much younger me in my early twenties had were both fading. In reality, life was not going the way I wanted to and I had no purpose.

Compared to today when I have an on track plan to FIRE (retire early on my passive income) in 3 years before I hit 40. This plan is already a good few years old and has undergone a few tweaks and revisions. But the core content is the same – work a few more years until I hit my number. Then my time will truly be my own.

Fullness of Life

My life was not rich at 27. I worked, went home and partook in my hobby of the month. I did not have enduring interests and I discontentedly flicked through from one hobby to another.  Nothing was sticking in life or making me happy. My life was very one dimensional, and the idea of doing new things was scary. The idea of studying and learning was even more alien. Yet I felt unfulfilled and knew deep down I had more to offer.

Contrasting that with my life today is easy. I have so many enriching interests and hobbies. I love running and do at last two marathons a year. And yes, I am accidentally doing three marathons this year – oops. I seek out hard things to study – I did an MA for fun. Yes, just for my own personal enrichment, it has no career or business benefits. Moreover, I now actively help others as well. I volunteer a lot and share my skills and experience with the causes I care about.

Finding Work FulfillingMs ZiYou Light

At 27 I was frustrated with a job and didn’t know how to take the next step. The frustration and stalled-ness were powerful feelings weighing me down. I didn’t know if it was me that was the failure – was there something wrong with me myself? Or was it my expectations, was I expecting too much from life? Perhaps I did not deserve a better job?

Now I’m happily working contract jobs, and really enjoying them. I have found inner peace with work, and will happily do whatever the client desires as long as they pay me. In reality, my jobs are much better and pay much more. Nonetheless what has facilitated this change is my attitude and a change to a happier disposition. Stoicism has well and truly been embraced here and brought me many benefits.

Money and Wealth

There is no doubt that 37-year-old me is now rich income wise. I bring in a good income and would be considered a high earner. Moreover, as well as cracking the income side, I’ve been working on the wealth side. My net worth is over £750k and increasing. I have my money invested and working for me. And I know how to manage it myself.

I don’t have accurate records, but 27-year-old me didn’t have a lot of wealth. She owned a house with equity and had a pension but was still carrying a student loan that she wasn’t really putting a dent into. She must have had a net worth must have been around £50k?

Why am writing this?

I’m sure no-one really cares about 27-year-old me. I know I don’t. But she has an important story to tell us all.

I get lots of messages suggesting I am lucky as I am doing well now and people comparing themselves to me. And you know what? Most of these come from people over 10 years younger than me.

Moreover, they are not in such dissimilar situations than I was at that time. I’ve outlined where I was 10 years ago and how I have changed dramatically.

You too can make changes

Where do you really want to be in 10 years? Not the rehearsed answer you’d give at a job interview. The actual true answer. How do you see your life in the future? Are you actively working towards it? Have you taken yourself out of your comfort zone? Do you want to start making more opportunities and luck for yourself in the future?

This is a call to action. Be bold.

If I can do it – why can’t you?

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Where were you 10 years ago?
  • Did you go through a period of life feeling lost?
  • How did you get through dark times?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.


40 comments on “10 years ago I was lost in life – but I found my way

  1. Posts like these are why I read fi blogs as much as the numbers. I’m not even sure if I count as a fi convert really. More a fi groupie lol

    10 years ago I was earning 25k a year. I was getting married to the love of my life and we were thinking of moving to our forever house as my partners career had taken off . I was working really hard but not seeming to get anywhere. All I really wanted was a higher salary and figured going into management was the way to get it
    So was trying to get promoted

    10 years later I’m divorced still in that forever house but with a new partner. My ex has just moved to new york.
    My salary has more than tripled though I’m still in the same job for the same company and with retention bonuses I’ll be over the magic 6 figure Mark for the next 3 years

    Ive realised money in and of itself doesn’t bring you happiness. There’s bits i struggle with (car and house being the main – I’ve spent over 40000 on cars the last 6 years which makes me sick lol and I’d probably be better selling the house as we could be fine in a smaller one ) but I’m learning. I’ll probably still get a decent car but will buy outright 3 years old next time . I have always been a saver but only starting investing 5 years ago and only in a relatively small way. Luckily I’ve always put 10% to 12% in my pension every year plus employers contributions.

    I say fi groupie as I’m not as frugal as most of you and still like my luxury blow outs but I’m still saving over 30% of my gross salary every month. I have enough. I think that’s what a high income brings you. The ability to be less optimal and still reach independence early

    And I’m still in a massively better position financially than anyone I know even if they earn similar salaries. So I’m still deliberate on what I spend money on and I try and optimise what I use the difference for.

    Ive become braver let’s see if it works out i put about £30000 into the stock market two weeks ago from my inheritance right before its gone down 1.5% lol No worries yet time in the market and all that

    1. You so need to start your own blog, FBA – I’m sure there are many of us who have seen your comments on various blogs who would love to read more of your story.

    2. Hi FBA – I think you make an excellent FI groupie – and dare I say it – an FI convert? I don’t think you need to be super frugal to be on the FI path – I think it’s more an awareness of choices and making personal choices to line your spending with your values.

      And thanks for sharing your 10 years ago story too – indeed it seems similar to mine in many ways! Cool to hear you are still in the forever house and have massively increased your income – well done.

        1. Spain? That’s an old school choice. My Dad has done that as well, albeit part time. But I’m a bit of a snob and I just don’t love the bit of Spain where they are…

  2. funny you right this, it’s almost 10 years since my Expenses spreadsheet (v.1.1) started after I lost every record I had kept since 2001. So, I can look at how far I’ve come in that time and was going to write on it in a few weeks.
    In some ways just as we’ve become numbed by the war on terror/9/11 we’ve become numbed and worn down by the credit crunch/austerity/financial crisis. By that I mean that 10 years ago doesn’t seem like it was a terrible time and based on many factors, the last 10 years have been great.

    I think that the same as you in a number of ways. 10 years ago I was in a similar position and it’s funny how little sentimentality I have of that time. Maybe that’s the effects of a young career has on jading your enthusiasm for life – maybe it’s getting older but I don’t think I could name you any songs/bands were big in 2008 like I could for 1998 (don’t even ask about 2018 🙂

    On your questions of being lost. I think that one learning I had from 10 years ago to now is to care less about what others want and don’t conform to the expectations of others. Also, being friends with people because you work in the same company is not a recipe for deep and meaningful relationships – unless you are not that deep and meaningful to begin with.

  3. I was on the top of the world when I was 27. I was full of confidence and work was great. Life was going really well for me at that point. The dark part came a bit later when work started going bad. Work is such a big part of our life that you really need to be okay with it. Working in a job that you don’t like can really mess you up mentally. That was 18 years ago, though.

    Anyway, 10 years ago, I was in a very different place. By then, work has become a yoke on my shoulders and I really hated it. I just started blogging as a way to vent. It’s pretty amazing how life changed in 10 years. It really is a lifetime ago. I’m in a good situation again and I hope it stays this way for a long time.

  4. I’m glad you found your happy Ms ZiYou, and made the changes required to become content with your life.

    10 years ago I migrated to the UK with a couple of suitcases, a dependent spouse, and noisy energetic toddler who rarely slept. It is fair to say life is a lot more comfortable today!

    Thanks for another intriguing thought exercise

  5. I look up to you so much, this was just the post I needed. I am 27 year old you to a T. The fact that you had struggles, made a small salary, and had no ideas about the future, yet are now super successful, gives me hope. I have no firm hobbies, plans, or dreams. I keep thinking I’m missing a motivation chip, a happiness chip, or something.
    I hope in ten years, I’m as successful as you.

    1. Hi Steph – thanks so much for reading 🙂

      And yes, this was 27 year old me – and it really feels so long ago now. What I loved was reading the others responses here as well – of career deadlocks and failed relationships – that we’ve all gone through our own dark and unmotivated periods – they help sculpt what we are today.

      And yes – given how amazing and enthusiastic you are – you will be very successful in the future – but don’t worry you don’t need to have it all worked out already.

  6. great post ms ziyou. so it wasn’t a pivotal moment that changed it all. I’m kind of in this 5 year slump right now. hopefully I will find my way again because life was really good at one time. I would like to feel that joy again. i know getting rid of my debt would definitely help in the matter!

    1. Hi Jane – thanks for commenting – so sorry to hear you are in a slump – that’s no fun. But I do know you have an awesome plan to slay that debt and are making great progress. And you know what? I think that joy will come back for you too soon.

  7. Congrats on your progress and changing your life to a more fulfilling one! This is a great story to put things in perspective. I know sometimes I just get impatient and want things to change overnight ignoring that it also takes time.

    Ten years ago I was studying and I had no idea about my career options. Furthermore, I was not doing anything to help me get to the next step. I naively thought that I would just start a company and take it from there. I can spot so many mistakes that I was making but everything worked out well…sort of.

    Maybe in another 10 years I´ll look back and see all the stupid stuff I´m doing today.

    1. Hi Mr Lyn – thanks for reading and commenting. Indeed, I know in my experience everything really did take time.

      I love your enthusiastic younger self – sounds so fun just starting a company!

  8. Ten years ago, I was not in a very happy place. Funny, until I’d read your post, I hadn’t really thought about it.

    The financial crisis had hit the company I worked for hard, over 100 people were made redundant and my job was at risk. Although I ultimately escaped the axe then, since I had not yet paid off all my credit card debts (that wouldn’t happen for another year), it felt like it was the worse thing ever as I had no financial cushion whatsoever. I ended up losing my rag during my redundancy one-to-one (something I’d never done before at work or since) and job prospects in other financial companies looked grim and slim so there were lots of feelings of despair at the time for all involved.

    I had also recently walked away from a 15-year relationship and had discovered life as a singleton again. I was able to maintain a ‘normal’ life through the help of my friends.

    Was I lost back then? I don’t know if you could call it lost, except that I didn’t have any sort of plan for the future and was just taking things one day at a time. I’m certainly in a far better place now.

    1. Hi Weenie – sorry to hear 10 years ago you also weren’t in a great place – being at risk of redundancy must be so stressful. And add a relationship breakdown, it’s such a life change.

  9. What a great post. Makes you realise 10 years goes by in a flash.

    What was I doing 10 years ago? – We had just had little fus#5 and #6, so probably busy with nappies etc. and been busy working ever since!

  10. 10 years ago I had just started back to work part-time after being a full-time parent for 7 years. Since then, I have got divorced, my career took off, I embraced life as a permanent singleton, knocked my finances into shape and am now seeing perhaps the end of a career. I wish I could tell my younger self that everything passes. Time moves on, things change. Whatever you are worried about now will be insignificant in 10 years time. I certainly take that approach now and it helps hugely to deal with stress.

  11. Hi Ms ZiYou,

    I stumbled across your blog in March and have been following ever since. This post especially resonates with me as I feel like I’m in the same position now as you were 10 years ago! Similar age, similar circumstances; not necessarily enjoying my job, at the beginning of the FI mountain, no real life plan… What caused you to start making a change? What steps did you take to get from where you were then to where you are now?

    1. Hi Dr FIRE – thanks for reading and commenting.

      That’s a really good question – I knew I should make changes, but it took me a while to find the right changes and make them happen. I decided where to take my career and started applying for jobs that would take me there – and bracing myself for the rejections. As there were loads of rejections before I got the perfect stepping stone job. And then once I got that the next changes fell into place slowly, one by one.

      1. I can already relate somewhat to receiving rejections when applying for something new. I’ve had pretty good luck when applying for jobs within my field, but whenever I’ve tried to change careers it all becomes much harder! Guess I just need to brace myself, as you said, and then start applying for them once again. First step though, is deciding what it is exactly that I want to do! Thanks for your response, it is good to know that change is possible, if you work for it!

What do you think?