Over the week I scoured websites, read the Trinity Study a couple of times, discovered the Roth Pipeline idea (thanks, Mad Fientist, for the timely article), and created a skeletal plan.
During my research, I also read an awful lot of forum posts on early-retirement.org. As a general observation, it seemed to me that a whole lot of people who make the leap to ER over-save. I realized that I’d also over-saved, but not to a completely ridiculous extent. Many people decide to target 2% withdrawal rates, etc, which is patently absurd. I figured I was currently around 3.5% or a bit higher which I felt fairly comfortable with.
Note: I personally believe if you’re angling for something lower than 3%, money is not the issue preventing you from retiring. It’s not logical to want to spend less than this amount — you must have some emotional hangup that is preventing you from leaving your job. But I digress.
Look. Most people in the FI/RE crowd tend to be achievers. We’re good at postponing things. We want the ultimate payoff: Self actualization — without fear of having to suddenly have to de-self-actualize, i.e. go back to work on anything other than our own terms.
The issue is that if you wait too long, you may not have as much left in the tank. You might lack the same sense of energy and drive you had when you were younger. Perhaps you’ve forgotten your dreams — your sense of possibility has been reduced. Along the way, you may also have begun to confuse the pursuit of money with the pursuit of happiness, because you’ve been at it too long. By then, if you try to self-actualize, there may not be much left of the self to actualize, making it more difficult to find genuine contentment.
But now I’m talking like Dr. Katz. I’ll get back to primary narrative.
Back and Forth
In my next session, I immediately informed Dr. Katz that I’d done most of my homework. Only a few details remained to sort out.
I didn’t go into the specifics, figuring he wouldn’t be interested. But I told him I worked things out and had a framework to follow — a framework that I could fully flesh out over the coming months.
Bottom line: I’m well on my way to addressing Problem #8, Finances.
But now he wants to talk about the other issues. Specifically, he returns to the idea that I’m obsessing on early retirement.
Depression, he says, frequently comes about because people feel a lack of progress in their own lives. They feel powerless to move things forward. They ruminate on their current situation instead of finding a way to power themselves forward. This accurately describes my mindset at the time.
He tells me that I need to continue to keep my thoughts focused on moving ahead toward the ultimate goal to escape the rumination. I must continue to make progress on these outstanding issues. Ultimately I’ll be able to finalize the transition plans which will allow me to stop delaying gratification and pull the plug.
I’m incredulous. To my surprise, I find myself growing irrationally hostile: I tell him that he’s full of it.
I did what you wanted already. I have the financial picture partially clarified. It’s progress, like you said.
Yes, it seems that you do. But is it clarified for your wife? Does she agree? You mentioned your wife is not completely sold on these plans. And there are many other pending issues: you seem to have myriad blockers. We talked about this last week.
Why can’t I keep working on the financial picture? There’s still more work to be done there.
Yes, there is. But I’m confident you’ll work that out, now that you’ve gotten started. Looking at my notes, I see there are at least five problems remaining.
Maybe so, but I think the finances are the most important and want to completely finish that item first.
Breathe. I know that this is the hardest part, especially for guys like you. The money stuff is ‘safe’ for you to deal with. You can lock yourself in a room and make plans with numbers. The other items are emotional and may involve other people, so there’s potential for conflict there.
Guys “like me?” What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
Don’t take offense, it wasn’t meant that way. My observation is that most people striving to retire focus too heavily on the finances and neglect to acknowledge and fix other items which are just as important. And it’s those other problems that have made you depressed, in my opinion.
My flash of irritation is starting to subside as I see his point.
Let’s talk about the “what comes next” problem, instead.
I’ve counseled dozens of office laborers as they’ve made the transition between working and retirement. They all have the same concern. What will I do? A small percentage of them know exactly how they’ll spend their time. But most don’t. They just want to get away from working.
Makes sense. I’m basically in that boat.
What I’ve found is that it isn’t necessary to find the answers prior to retiring. It might even be impossible.
The thing is, when you are working, most of your life is devoted to thinking about obligations to the job, and your scant free time is then spent navigating the logistics surrounding fulfilling your requirements as an adult – paying bills, child rearing, cleaning, landscaping, home and auto maintenance, maintaining family ties, and so on.
Yes, that sounds about right.
The only way to find accurate answers for yourself is to actually stop working. You can of course create your own answers right now, but chances are good that once you stop working, these will not prove to be relevant. In other words, self-created answers at this point may well be fantasy. It’s only in the absence of constant obligation that you will discover what it is that you want to be doing. If you want to be doing anything at all.
What do you mean by that? Surely everyone wants to do something — has some major goal outside of working.
You might be surprised. A lot of people are okay letting time pass, not that there’s anything wrong with that. And in my experience, it takes about six months away from work to decide what it is that you really want to do, if anything at all. People either fall into retirement and are happy — or they’re not, and they need to go back to work.
Wait, so some people don’t like retirement?
Absolutely. The idleness is too much for a certain type of person. They want to go back to routines they’re familiar with. They discover that working provided a sense of purpose that is lacking once they quit work.
Shit. That sounds nuts.
Not at all. There are a wide variety of personalities out there. I should know.
But the bottom line is that it’s OK to retire without having a clearly defined agenda. It takes time to decompress, detox, and determine how you feel about the new surroundings.
And I can say that the majority of people, at least that I’ve coached through this phase, discover new things to keep them engaged and interested in life. They end up happier than they were when they were working.
Well, that’s good to hear.
What I’m really saying is that it’s OK for you to quit without figuring it all out in advance.
I wasn’t aware I was asking for permission.
That’s funny. Because it’s clear to me that you need it.
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.