How I Learned to Love My Long Commute (and How You Can Too!)

I have been commuting to my job which is about 1 hour and half away from my house since I was 21 years old. I interned at the location the year before I entered into my senior year of college. When I began working full time at 22, I kept on with my commute. At first, 12 years ago, my commute was only about 1 hour, but since then, I have moved further away from my job and traffic patterns/road work have actually increased my commute. Adding to this, in a few months, my company is moving into a new building 10 minutes FURTHER away!

So without further ado, here are the top reasons why I “Love” my commute (and job):

I’m A Really Good Driver

I’ve become (in my humble opinion) a really good driver. With all those hours in my car, I am really in tune with my driving senses and the road. I am careful to not be too overconfident as that will cause accidents but in general I am very alert when I drive and am constantly making a dozen calculations in my head at any given moment, ie. What the driver in the left lane may do , etc. etc.

Constantly Learning To Let It Go

I can’t tell you how many times I am on the road and another driver does something to annoy or upset me. In these moments, I have a choice to either let it go and practice patience or get mad. I consciously try to breathe and recognize these moments where I am getting impatient or upset. I don’t always react like a nun but being on the road so often forces me to slow down and just breathe.

Inspiration & Learning on the Road

I listen to variety of podcasts and audio books to help soothe my patience and inspire me on my journey to Financial Independence. It makes the driving time go by even faster; even when I am sitting in traffic. Before I discovered the magic of audio books, podcasts I felt that a lot of time was lost in my car. Now I am filling up my commuting time with educational and inspirational experiences.

Catching Up With Friends/Family

Again, since I have such a long commute and workday, I like to devote my time to my family when I get home. In this instance, I find the time valuable to catch up with friends and family when driving home (hands free calls of course!)

Flexible Work Hours

Because of my long commute, my job is pretty flexible on when I come in and leave. Right now, I am able to get in around 8/8:30 (lately it’s been closer to 8:30) and I leave at 4. On a really good traffic day, I am able to get home around 5:15. On average, I get home around 5:30. This gives me around 2 hours of quality time that I spend with my son in the evening. I also can work from home if I or my son has a doctor’s appointment or emergency at home, so that is great. When it comes to snow storms or bad weather, I am usually not expected to make the long trek commute in whereas my coworkers, who live closer to the office, don’t have living in Brooklyn as an “excuse”.

 

The following two reasons are more reasons I don’t mind my job rather than my commute. I believe they sort of go hand in hand since I would have a harder time staying at my job if they didn’t offer the following perks:

I Can Workout At Work 

Before having my first son, I was an avid cross fitter. I took 7am classes before work or 7pm classes after work. Those were the days. I had no children to get home to or care for, so fitness outside of work was a luxury. Nowadays, I don’t have the time or energy to get up before work or go to a gym after work. I would much rather spend that time with my family and rest! My job is awesome because it has a decent gym with group classes ranging from Spin, Weightlifting, Zumba & Yoga. Classes are held throughout the day but I usually end up taking classes a couple times a week during my lunch break. After getting over the initial weirdness of working out with coworkers (the head of my department takes the Spin class with me), I no longer have no qualms about working out alongside my work buddies. This is perfect, because do I not have to take time out of my mornings or evenings to workout.

Up to 6 Months Off For Maternity Leave

While it’s no vacation with two kids at home and recovering from delivery, being able to take 6 months (up to 5 months of it will be at full pay) after birth is essential. This gives me a great mental and physical break from the rat race grind. With my first son, I took the full 6 months off. With my 2nd due in a few weeks, I am planning to take 5 months.  I also strategically “plan” to have Spring/Summer babies (of course this is not really under my control, I just plan as much as I can to have delivery dates during those months) so that I can take the best time of the year off. In the Spring/Summer months, I can enjoy much more outside activities with my family while on maternity leave. I am not confined to the house in the winter where it gets dark at 5pm. My husband is also off for the most part on summer break in July & August which helps immensely with managing being home with the kids. While my maternity leave is no cake walk, it is a great way to test the waters of early retirement and freedom while having a steady job to fall back on. If we have one more child (hopefully in 2 years), I will take another 5-6 months off. This makes my 7 year launch journey not so bleak since I know there are these few pockets of job breaks available to me.

 

Many of my colleagues live in NJ and have a shorter commute. Sometimes, their commute is just as long but they are in suburban NJ and not the far away land of Brooklyn.  I get asked often by the folks I work with, how I do it. The truth is I don’t dwell on the commute or how I do it. I focus on the positives of my long commute because to do anything different would make me completely miserable.

I am a firm believer in accepting what you can’t or won’t change, in my case, I am not moving closer to my job. I also like to look for the silver lining in situations. How more miserable would I be on my 7 year launch journey if I complained or focused on the drudgery and cost of my commute? Instead, I make the best out of it as I continue to accomplish my goals.

Oh and as of today, I have only 4 more days to make this lovely commute before I go out on maternity leave!

What are the things in your life that you actively choose to look at in a positive manner rather than focusing on the negatives?

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11 thoughts on “How I Learned to Love My Long Commute (and How You Can Too!)”

  1. Before moving to Charlotte I was a true blue (native) jersey girl. I had a similar commute and different points and did not mind it for the same reasons you listed! Oddly enough, when I moved to Charlotte, where the commute wasn’t AS bad, but I HATED my job….I was miserable. Girl I was so miserable! But you’re totally right on the points about perspective

    1. Yes it’s such a “love/hate” relationship. If I disliked the people at my job or my job itself there is no way I would be able to do it! Thx for reading and commenting

  2. Love how you are reframing this and looking at the positives. My commute is on the bus (about 5 hours a week total) and I use that time to read and comment on other blogs – as I am doing now! I often listen to podcasts too, currently working through The Voluntary Life. Great you get so much paid maternity leave too.

  3. LOL. What a world of difference depending on the area of the country we each live in (small town ID). My husband has a 2.5 mile “commute” and often bikes it in good weather. I love your bright side of things perspective and the idea of so many uninterrupted listening minutes sounds AMAZING! When I saw the title of the post I literally thought, EW! but I so can see the joy in the journey here. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I honestly have to look at the positives of it all or else I would be depressed. Luckily, I only have 1day left to do this commute for a few months! I would love to be able to bike work, that sounds amazing.

  4. I love listening to podcasts and inspirational messages on my way too and from work. My commute is not as long as yours but it definitely does make the time go faster and helps start the day off well. Wow 5 months of full pay while on mat leave that’s nice. We have it pretty good here in Canada as well. You get 50 weeks of maternity leave but only 55% of your pay up to a maximum. Congrats on your growing family. That is super exciting.

    1. my company really provides us to 2 months of full pay, I then use my accrued vacation days to make up the rest. 50 weeks of maternity leave at 55% is not a bad deal either! Thx for reading and commenting 🙂

  5. Interesting that you actually like driving. I much prefer my commute on the train, my brain truly gets to rest. I can read books if I want to, close my eyes etc. At the moment I use it to write blog posts on our iPad mini, this saves me a lot of time in other parts of my day 🙂

    Tristan

    1. JourneyToLaunch

      I like driving because it’s my only option. If I could take the train to work, I would in a heartbeat for the same reasons you mentioned above. I choose to like it and have learned to “love it” because otherwise I would be miserable thinking about all the negatives lol.

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