To this point, Dr. Katz has focused on asking short questions to probe around different areas of my life and I’ve done my best to answer them.
This session is different. He starts to assert control and talk more. I find it’s a vast improvement to become engaged in real conversation instead of mostly monologuing like the previous sessions.
He starts off by asking me what I spend most of my time at work doing.
Uh, work? Well, the first six months were pretty busy. But now it’s slow.
Okay. Well, do you like that? What do you do there?
Well, yeah, I think I like it better than being busy all of the time like I used to be. I guess. I exercise in the morning and then I try to come up with a few things to do that will easily justify my existence for the day.
So you don’t have a lot to do?
No, not right now.
But you’re used to being busy. Most of your other jobs were high intensity, right?
Yes, you have it right. Every day used to feel like a fight for survival.
Have you been busy for the last six to twelve months?
Well. No, now that you mention it, not really. Since my first major project wound down, I’d say I probably only do maybe 10-15 real hours of work any given week. Sometimes I get a stretch week at 30 or 35, but it’s not common.
Mhhm. So where does the remaining time go?
I thought about it and realized I spent quite a few hours doing what I think of as ‘internetting’ — the new millennium’s version of channel flipping. This is the act of mindlessly moving from website to website and seeing where it leads you. News sites, youtube, that sort of thing. It’s addictive, and largely brainless.
That’s normal. What else?
I told him I think about retiring. Not coming to work. I am not sure why I’m still working. I don’t want to work anymore.
When you say you think about retiring, what do you really mean? There must be more to this.
Well, I also do stuff like check account balances and run retirement calculators but that doesn’t take too long and I don’t do these things more than once or twice a month. Sometimes I cruise early retirement websites and forums.
I also email friends and family here and there. Whatever. It’s not important.
What do you mean? What’s not important?
What I do is not important.
Oh. Well, still, if you want to talk about it, I’d like to hear it. And you know, it’s completely okay to feel that way. Like your job doesn’t matter. Many people do.
Really? How about you? Are you part of many people?
Dr. Katz laughs and a genuine smile bursts suddenly upon his face. He says he has bad days just like everyone else, but yes, fortunately he does feel as though his job matters. Therapy helps people, and I like that, he says. He asks if I want to talk some more about my relationship to my work.
No, not really. I think I’m just worried about retiring. I mean, it’s this big change, you know? I wanted the ability to leave work so badly, and for such a long time. Now it’s here, and I strangely don’t know how to deal with it. So I imagine scenarios where I retire and things don’t work out.
Maybe my wife leaves me. Or I’m unhappy without structure in my life. All sorts of crap. I think about these things a lot. Especially at work.
So, tell me, why haven’t you done it yet?
That’s just it: I don’t know. I honestly have no fucking idea. Some days it drives me crazy. Others, I think: I should just stop thinking about this and work forever. It’d be easier in some ways.
Interesting. How does your wife feel about all of this?
Eh. I think she’ll go along with it, but she’s mentioned that she will probably keep working herself, even though she doesn’t have to. We don’t see completely eye to eye here.
I wonder if you might be thinking about this too much. Have you noticed an increase in thoughts related to quitting and embarking on your ‘retire early’ plan over the last year?
Well, yeah. Definitely. No doubt.
That’s going to be part of the issue, then. You’re probably engaged in what I call ruminatory thoughts, where you think about a short list of things over and over again. These patterns can contribute to depression.
Ok, yeah, that makes sense.
We need to work on breaking you out of this. I’m the type of analyst who is going to make firm suggestions on what to do — I want you to know that I’m not content to simply listen to my patients.
Fine by me.
So here’s your homework. I want you to think about exactly what it is that’s changed. What’s happened in your life? Is it really just that you don’t have to work anymore? Or is there more to it? Let me know next week.
Because I want to know: What is it exactly that you’re thinking about?
Somewhat terrified by his request, I nevertheless commit to answering these questions.
I have enjoyed the hell out of your blog start to finish. I’m super happy for you and I’m cracking a real-life smile even as a sit in my own job, pining for a similar outcome. Well done!
Thanks for the note. You’ll be there soon enough yourself, I’m sure. Good luck.
Wow! As a twenty-five year old who is just starting on this FI journey, this blog has been an incredible ride. Thank you. I no longer feel so alone or discouraged as I chart out my own course. Its good to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way about office work. You have already “given back” to me and many others, I’m sure.
I wish you the best of luck with your retirement! Live long and prosper 🙂
Most people dislike office work (although the intensity of the emotion varies quite a bit.) At any rate, you’re definitely not alone in the way you see things. The good news is that over time most people adjust to the grind somewhat and it tends to become better. (Really!) Not saying you won’t still want to leave it, though.
Peace and long life. 🙂
So glad to have you back writing a few blog posts, we missed you during the fall.
I really appreciate you getting into some of the emotional aspects of RE. I think it’s easy for the RE crowd (who tend to be programmers, high tech workers, and enginerds in general) to get excited about numbers and compound interest and savings rates and Trinity Studies and everything else, but it leaves out a big part of the picture: why are we doing it and what are we using it for? I’ve struggled with these questions the past few months as I’ve transitioned from the RE epiphany phase (“OH WOW! There’s a completely different way to live life and all my problems will be cured!!!”) into the actual accumulation phase (My savings are on autopilot and according to my retirement calculator, I have 9.3 years until a 4% SWR is achieved *pushes glasses on nose/snorts*.)
Even though I’m a ways out, some of these same questions are already cropping into my head: “what will I do next? what will I do without structure in my life? how will my relationships change?” etc, etc. It’s comforting to hear that this may be one of those things where we can’t “plan” our way out of it. Sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith and see what happens.
Your description of calculating your time to FI made me laugh, nicely done. Yes, I’ve come to agree with Dr. Katz’s central point, which was: most people just cannot properly fathom what they’ll do without work, until they’re without work. There are some powerful exceptions, of course — Pete over at Mr. Money Mustache, for example, absolutely knew he’d be doing some landlording, some construction, and a lot of parenting. But not everybody has such a clear vision of the future, and there’s only so much you can work on it in advance.
Thanks for the kind words, btw. I’m happy to be blogging again, to be sure.
the depression part hit a little too close to home. It is tough to talk about when people would switch places with you in a sec. It always seems silly to thing being FI could cause such bad thoughts but they definitely do. Since the bubble in 2000 when i had more money then brains I have always hated the question – I have enough money – what next. Then the bubble taketh away. 15 years later and I’m back to that question and it’s tough.
Thank you for letting others watch your journey and heres to more of your thought post job to see you figure it out
Fact: I almost didn’t post this entry because it’s such a first world whiny problem — completely Anti-Stoic.
Still, I’d been messing around on the entry since early December, just mulling it over. It seemed as though there was an unwritten rule that you can’t openly discuss any negative aspects of FI. Finally I decided I needed to break that rule and put my experiences out there.
Look, being FI forces you to, at a very early age — earlier than most — confront the “what am I doing with my life?” question head-on, because you’re no longer content to just continue to earn money — you’ve moved up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and are searching for the next rung.
The positive part of this is that I do think that we’ll all figure it out. I think most peoples’ FI drive is rooted in the need to have freedom and be themselves. That same drive will quickly switch over to powering you toward the answers you need once the time is right.
It’s also important to acknowledge that your answers will continue to change as you move through life.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example, thought for decades that meaning comes from lifelong learning and discovery. Recently, though, things shifted and he started to feel that mentoring was equally important to answering the ‘meaning’ question. It’s just a sure sign that he’s getting older and wants to give back; learning alone is no longer sufficiently satisfying.
This was such an awesome read. Your insights into the emotional aspects of of work/money/life (in this and other posts) really make me think. Whatever else the future holds, I hope writing for an audience continues.
That is very interesting post. I can relate to many of your concerns especially the giant VOID that will be created in my life once I leave my day job. One of my buddies recently advised me to write down ten nouns that describe me…for example volunter, runner, educator, YOUR OCCUPATION, astronomer, musician, etc. I found it very difficult after about I listed 3 or 4 nouns. It was a scary revelation and am glad he brought the subject up. I am going to do my best over the next few years to come up with a solid 10 before I unplug. Unfortunately, like so many, my life has been defined by my career. Another worry I have is how will my wife and I get along with all the extra time together…..I really need to find some hobbies or things might get ugly. 🙂
Also thanks for allowing me to “therapy hack” as now I feel like I can bypass the expense of seeing a therapist. I’ll just reread your post whenever I feel the need for FI counseling.
Therapy hacking: Great new term. I wonder if anyone has created a Therapist Bot, where you can pose questions or talk about problems and it will nod approvingly and occasionally produce suggestions, like “Try spending more time outdoors to decompress.” I’ve got to look into that, could be a game changer in the psych field.
Neat exercise, listing out self-identifying nouns, btw, thanks for sharing.
Yep, Paul Ford (genius) developed a therapy hack. He talks about it on Episode 8 of the podcast ‘Reply All’: http://gimletmedia.com/episode/the-anxiety-box/
And the Anxiety Box itself: http://anxietybox.com/
Thanks. Great read.
Thanks to your therapy and writing I understand a lot of what i am going thru in the last year or two before retirement.
Please do continue to write after retirement. We would all appreciate finding out how the transition goes.
Appreciate the kind words. I have committed to posting for most, if not all, of 2015, as I progress through this phase.
Thank you for writing, it is great that you have decided to keep the blog going for now. Even though you now know you don’t have to “give back” you already are through your writing and we really appreciate it. Your dream is my dream even though they will have different endings and we are at different stages I can relate to your story.
>> even though they will have different endings and we are at different stages
Neat way of putting it. The trip to FI is clearly different for every person on it – lots of variation in personalities and specific goals, but you’re right: In the end, we’re all striving for the same fundamental things: freedom, and increased life satisfaction.
One of the best posts on the mental/emotional side of ER. I particularly identified with the whole giving back expectations. We put all these expectation and pressures on ourselves and to be honest we don’t even know where they come from. I started to really explore these expectation and see that it’s mostly societal and very hard to separate from ones own. I still have some of these expectations but I recognize their origin and will not allow myself to be pressured into fulfilling them.
For what it’s worth just sharing your story is helping a lot of people help come to terms with their own hesitations and fears about leaving the workforce.
Re: giving back, I decided to increase my number just a bit to allow some charitable giving as an annual expense. I agree, with your basic point, though, which is that there’s no obligation to do anything at all. Thanks for the comment.
I really liked this. Thanks for having the courage to talk about your experience – it will surely help a lot of us in our own transitions to FIRE.
Appreciate the warm remarks. Good luck with your own journey.
I am blown away by your writing style. Beautifully written, incredible flow. I am just gobsmacked at how fun and education this was to read. Thank you. I think this site covers your “giving back” desire.
Glad you’ve enjoyed the post. I don’t consider my writing to be good, so much as truthful, to the extent that I can manage, but still, thanks for the support 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing all of this. I really enjoyed hearing your experiences even if it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I’m glad you figured it all out at the end. I’m a little opposite of you since I am pursuing early retirement because of how many things I want to do but don’t have time to do well with a full time job. I also love the idea of having unstructured time to myself to do what I’d like. I feel like I know what I would like to do during my post retirement years, but I’ve been a little afraid that it wouldn’t work out how I’m hoping. Also I’m 25 and plan on retiring during my 30s, and I was always kinda worried about running out of things I wanted to do. The other concern I have is getting a SO on board with it. I’d love to hear more about the discussions you had with your wife about retiring early.
Interesting. So here’s the weird thing. When I started my FIRE journey, 12 years ago, I felt the same way: I wanted to, uh, “DO ALL THE THINGS,” you know? I still have a fair number of activities that give me pleasure — hobbies and goals that I’m looking forward to spending increased amounts of time on. So I was surprised to find the fears articulated in this post (and others on this blog) creeping up as the years went along. I’m glad to have most of them in the rear-view mirror now.
I will eventually publish an SO-related post. I don’t have all the answers but I will at least document how we tackled these challenges together.
Hmm interesting response. I will have to keep this post in mind as I get closer to FI even though it won’t be for many years. Hopefully I will remember to reread this as I get closer. Thanks again for the post, you’ve given me something to think about.
I was surprised then my browser said there might be a new post, very happy to have happened upon it! I relate to a lot of what you said. That was a cool ‘plot twist’ that Katz was on the cusp of retirement. I think, when people hit that point where retirement is ‘inevitable’, it becomes the clear path and nothing else makes sense. I’m 100% happy to hear you are there and really appreciate all of the sharing. It is a frustrating (albeit it very 1st world) problem, that time between FI and RE, especially when you hit it so young. I still don’t get it, but the younger you are, the more likely you are to have ‘problems’, which I’m glad you worked through constructively – although your blog would be awesome if you turned into ‘Anna Blast’ too :). Sorry, bad joke, I’ve been spending too much time on the internet lately, need to get back to ‘human’ interaction. All the best!
EV, always nice to see you drop by. For the record, that sneaky bastard Katz twisted the plot on me — I merely documented what happened.
>>the younger you are, the more likely you are to have ‘problems’,
Right. A wise man named something-Velocity2020 once said to me: when you hit your initial (barebones 4%) FIRE number, it’s a great time to retire. But it’s also a great time to engage in stash-padding and perhaps a bit of lifestyle creep as well, especially if it seems as though you’re currently cutting expenses too close to the bone. And for many extremely early retirees, well, you’ll be in your 30’s at this point, at the height of your earning potential, meaning: Every additional year you put into the system gives you non-linear returns on your time investment; Year 1 might have bumped your NW by 30K, but year 11 bumps it 130K. These sorts of realizations feed heavily into OMY syndrome.
I had to look up Anna Blasts. That’s some dark — and awesome — humor there. Thanks for that.
Doom, I’m glad you posted this rather than keeping it to yourself. Very well done. Am I the only one here that thinks Dr. Katz took you on as a patient to cement his own retirement plans? To work through his last emotional and psychological fears?
Hah! It’s a funny idea, but honestly I’m pretty sure Katz would have executed his plan just fine without me.
Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems as though someone in their 50s has an easier time (emotionally) pulling the plug than someone in their 30s. One reason: It’s just not nearly as abnormal to RE at that point because, older. Another: Closer to SS benefits (read: closer future is probably more accurately predictable.)
And perhaps most importantly is the fact that older people have fewer fucks to give about things — they’re frequently more confident. For this, I envy them. OTOH, I appear to have too many. Gotta start thinking about spending this precious resource in other ways.
As someone who is 50 and struggling to pull the trigger, I think the piece you’re missing is another 15 years of being institutionalized as a corporate drone. I was way more fearless in my 20s & 30s than I am now. The other thing is if a 50 year old high earner quits and realizes in 5 years that they might not have enough, it’s going to be really tough to a) find a job and b) find a job that pays anywhere near what he gave up.
Hey Bob. I received email from you on the contact form, and you mentioned maybe you knew me from my time in Denver. A simple question should resolve this: Did you work for BEA?
Yeah, as I’m getting older, I understand the reduction in fearlessness, or, conversely, the desire to increase safety. I completely get your concerns. I think the key to getting over this is to either over-save by some amount (getting to a 3% WR rate should do it) or come to terms with what it might look like if you have to return to work.
Most helpful post I have read in ages. Thank you!
Thank you so much for this and the previous post – they have been pretty eye-opening for me. I’ve had several discussions with the husband over the last couple of days using your posts as talking points and it’s been amazing to really dig in and understand what is happening (and better able to explain to the husband as well) since you’re articulating things soooo much better than I am able to right now.
I’m mired in the stalling tactics right now, and keep shifting my quit day out a few weeks farther and just another month… so frustrating.
I really really appreciate and enjoy your writing and insights. And I do hope you keep writing because your path and how you’ve navigated it so far have been like a road map for me (and many others) to follow – not to mention you are damned entertaining to read!
FG, thanks so much for the comment. I’m struck by how challenging it has been to work through the last year or two on my own journey. I have no doubt that for a certain personality type that it really is as easy as 4% and done, but unfortunately that just hasn’t been the case for myself and DW. We’re close, though, and doing this additional work and evaluation has made us feel more ready than ever to finish things up this year.
I’m more certain now that the new life will be a vast improvement over the old, and I’m sure this will be the case for you and your husband as well.
Re: moving your quit date, please remember: It’s not stalling if you’re making progress and addressing issues; you are still moving forward even though you’re still employed!
I think I’ve said this to you before – “get out of my head!” After finding MMM I realized I was FI. I had been frustrated in my job for several years, and had the sudden joy that I. Could. Retire. So close to 55 that it was worth hanging on until I hit the magic number in order to capture the added “benefits” of retirement. Now, here I am a scant 11-12 weeks from hitting 55 and I have already started considering working at least half the year + 1 day (supposedly some added benefit to doing this). This post really hits home, it is like I am so used to delaying gratification, that it feels wrong to FINALLY grab my fucking marshmallows and run. Or, feeling that if you hit this artificial goal, you didn’t set a challenging enough goal, so set a tougher goal and then, maybe, when you hit that it will be OK to call it a win. I have been in the ‘infinite do loop’ of ‘maybe just one more…..’ all this year (24 days), and it is making me crazy. This post helped damp down some crazy for now.
I still think we need an ‘FI class of 2015 ‘ event of some kind!
>> I have been in the ‘infinite do loop’ of ‘maybe just one more…..’ all this year (24 days), and it is making me crazy.
I know what you mean – that was me until I set the April date for myself. Having the fixed target helped to settle those thoughts down.
>>This post helped damp down some crazy for now.
Back at you — thanks for the sharing.
I am now targeting ~ July 3 of this year, just over half of the year (some alleged benefits that I plan to verify next week). MyCo is a wholly owned subsidiary of GiantCorp – and they have decided to screw us out of our bonus – yep, 00000.00000 this year. Thanks GiantCorp for making this decision easier!
Sorry to hear about your bonus, G. But congrats on having a date set. So good to have something solid to work toward. Speaking of that, we’re coming up on the end of January — I’m only 2 months away. Totally surreal.
Great to see you’ve managed to get all this together so early in your life.
That was the best damn thing I have read all day!
I FIREd on 5OCT2012 a couple months after my 40th birthday. I went through some of what you did because I changed roles at work towards the end and spent about 9 months where I had at best 5 hours of actual work a week. And they got on my case about keeping myself busy with the internet so I would open the clock app on Windows and count the spins of the second dial fifteen times, then go get a drink a water; wash, rinse, repeat. For NINE MONTHS!!! It was miserable to not have a sense of purpose.
But I had no fear of pulling the trigger. I had the opposite problem that I wasn’t really ready financially and engaged in some risk financial shenanigans to get to my number. I ultimately retired with my entire portfolio running a third leverage (that is, I borrowed 50 cents for every dollar in liquidation value) and loaded up on high yield stocks. I used the near certain asset inflation of QE to justify writing naked calls on the volatility tracking indexes on top of that to fund extinguishing the margin debt. It was stupid but it worked. (Sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart.)
Anyway, yeah 6 months is about right. You find a new sense of purpose. Your friends and family look at you like “BULLSHIT, YOU DIDN’T!!!” and then get over it.
Gratz! Loved the emotionally honest story. It takes stones to be publicly emotionally naked like that. You are awesome.
Eh, I’m anon, no stones required. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the new life, that’s terrific. BTW, just reading about your trading makes me a bit nervous. I clearly have a lower risk tolerance than you. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for letting me know the treatment of options isn’t being done properly to show people that the risk is actually mathematically less than buy/hold. I’ll tweak.
And honestly, I’ve covered mostly options because I’m writing an ebook on options. Most of my actual portfolio is buy/hold high yield or dividend growth, plus some insurance companies. It’s not like I turn the whole portfolio over every 3rd Friday when expiry hits.
Thanks for answering to my inner OCD 🙂
This is, you are, incredibly insightful. I used to spend it all. It was all so haphazard, thoughtless. I don’t even know what I bought. Then people in my family started dropping like flies–two brothers and a father in eleven months. I stopped spending, started saving like a maniac. I’m way behind, at 51. But I’m a lawyer, so I can catch up pretty quickly. I should be done in no more than five years. Hopefully less. Because every single day of my life, I do not want to go to the office. How in the hell I’m going to do this for five more years is beyond me. I’ll keep paring down my spending, and saving like a motherf&$er, and get the hell out as fast as possible.
But then what? I’ll keep reading to see if you got past the ennui. To see if you figured out who you want to be when you grow up. I keep writing my blog, hoping to write my way there. Somehow, some way, my salvation lies in the written word. Just not of the legal persuasion. Screw that.
Awesome comment. You can make it. Believe it. High savings rate will cover your spendy tracks like freshly fallen snow, and pave the way for an exit. Five years seems like forever, but it’s better than the alternative, which is work-until-you-can’t, literally can not get out of bed, answer that phone call, what-have-you. You’ll be 56, still 9 years ahead of the U.S. standard age, a good chunk of healthy years in front of you.
My big advice is to stay plugged into the online communities, as it’s incredibly important to get validation re: this new life, this healthy, conscious-spending, mentally awake, eyes-wide-open life of FI. It (validation) doesn’t seem to exist in the regular-old world, so you’ve got to go rogue to get support. And keep writing, don’t stop letting the thoughts out. Unbottle frequently, as much as it takes to gain mastery over your world.
re: Then What? It’s ongoing — there’s no answer, so much as exploration. At this point I’m very confident that I’ll be all right post-work. Better than all right. There will be some re-training of my mind, to remind myself that I am capable of doing more than just work and family obligations. But I’m looking forward to the experience.
Thanks for the kind encouragement. Five years is a long time. But I could still be sleep-walking, so there’s that. I shall keep reading and learning. I’m behind the curve and I want to do everything I can to speed this up and learn what I need to know to get done and get out. I may be shooting for too high a figure. Luckily, I have time to figure out exactly what I need. In the meantime, watching how the lawyers around me live their lives is plenty of motivation. It’s like they’re all brainwashed. Just like I was. I found out today a NY lawyer I worked with on a case a couple of years back dropped dead last week. He was in his 40s. Such a shame.
I read more of your posts after I left this comment. You got lucky with that shrink. What terrific advice. Get out and decompress, and then with a clear head, the next phase of life will unfold before you. That makes perfect sense. I’m really looking forward to following your adventure. And I’ve got a lot of old posts to catch up on. Thanks for offering your wisdom to the masses.
>> I may be shooting for too high a figure.
The more you need to escape, the lower your number should be, and lower numbers cut years off of working. Consider moving if you need to. Live in a van down by the river. I’m really only half-joking. I binged a chunk of your blog yesterday and feel for you. Since you’re single, as your username implies, you have a lot of ways to cut costs without impacting anyone else in your life, making the decision making process quite easy. You can do this.
BTW, my favorite post about biglaw is this: A Bucket of Cockroaches. Don’t know if you’ve seen it but I found it to be entertaining, and very enlightening. Not an easy career.
Thanks for pointing me to that post. I am indeed gagging on cockroaches. But one million dollars!
Wow, I wish I would have been smart enough to figure out this was a multi-page post before I made my first comment on your blog a while back. This post explains a lot about the mental journey of a soon-to-be early retiree. I’ve been feeling grouchy lately with anything work related so I think what you went through might be what I’m currently experiencing. Thanks for a great post!
These nine posts have helped me immeasurably, two pages so much that I cried with unexpected self recognition when I read them. Thank you. I have had a very hard time at work since knowing that we achieved financial independence: my head’s just not in the game, I’ve been listless, I don’t have much to do most of the time and could probably just continue to collect a handsome paycheck for nothing. But, I can’t. Giving myself permission to leave at 38, when I’m from a place where all you do is work like a slave until you die (Polish family, Detroit) and never, ever quit a steady job is much, much harder. Thank you for taking the time to write and share all of this.
Wow, this is hitting my current issues pretty hard. I remember telling a coworker I trusted that I had just hit the crossover point (where investment income = current spending) at 2.5 years in the corporate world (after years of low pay in academia, so frugal habits ingrained) in December of 2007, so you can guess what happened to that financial place. I wasnt remotely trying to leave, because I wanted money for kids and thought that being employed made me more datable. Anyway I ended up childless thanks in part to work stress and relocation, and the corporate bs became much less meaningful.
Have you seen any of mad men? I feel like don goes through a lot of the same “I need to work but I don’t need money and I want independence which I can’t get”.
I feel like I’m still struggling with the question of meaning. You seem to see academia through rose tint, so you might go through that career. I taught math, at the college and later high school level, which sounds like the easiest thing to justify, and mostly to wealthy/ disciplined elites. But its the opposite of Jaime escalante giving poor kids a leg up. These kids were a bundle of stress and entitlement, with helicopter parents who wanted top grades. And if I’m training them for that corporate world, word problems and calculus aren’t going to help them much. It feels worse to teach them something that should be practical but has gotten far removed from day to day life. Kids complain about being trained seals jumping through hoops and I tend to agree. The education system requires drinking some strong kool aid.
>>I taught math, at the college and later high school level, which sounds like the easiest thing to justify, and mostly to wealthy/ disciplined elites.
It’s still a strong contribution to society, regardless of how you felt about these particular children or their ‘coptering parents.
>>Have you seen any of mad men? I feel like don goes through a lot of the same “I need to work but I don’t need money and I want independence which I can’t get”.
I haven’t seen it but I have a general awareness of the structure and quality of it. Why can’t Don achieve independence if he’s loaded?
My SIL teaches math (department chair actually) at public, no kidding. It’s challenging and wears her out but she does get a lift when she connects with a student.
Basically Don needed to work for a larger organization to get business. I felt the same in my corporate career (retirement/ insurance actuary). You have to balance being a cog in a machine (academia is one huge machine) vs lacking leverage as a consultant, I think. You seem to have better systems insight so you might know.
Yeah, I can see the sense of reward in teaching. My overall feeling was that there were students who needed nothing from me (a textbook and a syllabus, neither of which I provided) and students who hated being there. Its sort of infuriating to be teaching people calculus when they need financial literacy or statistics or numeracy. I’d love to reach courses on retirement planning and maybe that will be my Joe Dominguez route to fame and meaning.
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I’ve being going through your Midlife FI-sis and a lot of it is really resonating with me. I went through a lot of this earlier in the year. They were dark times and I’m still trying to cope with it. It’s been a struggle for sure, but I’m in a better place than I was. Good on you for talking about what you went through. Thank you for it.
This was really a fantastic article. I’m in almost exactly the same boat. Had been striving for FIRE for 20 years (I’m 42), but always found myself delaying the gratification and continuing to stock pile $ I didn’t really need. Well, my company helped me out by laying me off in Feb. of 2015. I found myself being confronted with ER and receiving my reward of delayed gratification.
Honestly, I can’t say it’s been easy. Many of the issues you have addressed in this article are ones that I struggle with on a daily basis (what’s next, was this a worthwhile goal in the first place, etc). But this article nailed it for me – I’ve been so conditioned in practicing delayed gratification that finally receiving the reward just didn’t feel appropriate.
Anyway, I’m starting to adjust my outlook and making progress. The ER community of blogs has really helped out – knowing there’s people out there with similar goals and facing some of the same challenges. Thanks for your blog and your thoughts – you continue to address the emotional sides of FIRE that aren’t addressed in other blogs or writings – and I for one, appreciate it. Thank You
I really appreciate your posting this. I am in FI no man’s land, because my wife swears she’ll work forever, and if she works even another 5-10 years, we’re set. As I started thinking about whether to pull the plug soon, or just accrue money for 5 more years to be sure, I realized that the non-financial issues were the much tougher ones to process. All the questions you asked I have thought about, and it’s nice to see someone else reflecting on the same issues. You’ve put together a great blog.
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I’m so thankful you left this blog public even after you’ve moved on from it. My work lunches are so much more enjoyable reading your blogposts, and I especially love the Doom art captions you include! 2 more years of grind for us to get to FIRE & start the next phase of our lives! 🙂
One of the best series of posts I have ever read. Thank you for taking the time to write this!
Can’t believe I can access the entire therapy sessions in such great detail (and for free!). So honest too. You inspired me to write about my Midlife FI-sis. Should put my thoughts down and publish something concrete.
I wish you well, sir, and hope you give a snapshot of your new life at some point. Like, at least once every 5 years like ERE does. Cmon!
I’m 32 and my fiance and I plan to shift a simple living next year, and my job is killing me with boredom; his is killing him with physical pain. I also struggle with depression. I’m so glad to hear you conquered yours, with the help of your therapist.
Your article gave me hope for both my depression and transition to simple living, where I work a part-time fulfilling job (ESL teacher) and travel half the year. Thank you so much! I learned a lot, and will be going back to this article and recommending it to friends.
It’s interesting reading this page in light of the 2021 retirement update post…
Thanks for leaving this blogg up! I read it in 2018 and again now in 2022 when I am closing in on my own FIRE. I will pad the stash for a little while longer and then work 20% in 2023 to ease myself gently into retirement.
Yo I just want to say, I’m going through the exact same shit.