Author Topic: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?  (Read 6012 times)

freeatlast

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I love this forum and value so much the information found here.  I wanted to get the thoughts of my fellow mustachians.

I think I am close to FI.

mortgage on my residence ($240k) shared with husband so I owe $1000 per month.
rental income clears $2000 per month (houses worth $440k together - owned free and clear)
$350k in 401(k)
$30k savings outside 401(k) and houses
Spousal support $2000 a month that ends in three years
Current expenses apprx $3500 including mortgage (HCOL area - can't move due to shared custody - daughter going to college in three years - we have some savings reserved for that)

I will need to earn income in three years because of the support ending and the mortgage but I can get by for 3 years with no job.  My current job pays well (low 100's). I work in the legal field and have a JD.

The problem is that my I am prone to anxiety and my job is highly stressful. I am diagnosed with OCD and anxiety and I have recently started getting frozen with anxiety at work. I get heart palpitations on Sunday nights due to returning to my job on Monday. My performance has gone way down because I am scared to open emails and take calls. I have been working this job and holding on for years just for the money and the stress has grown worse. I started seeing a therapist to treat the anxiety, but I don't want to have to go on medication just to go to work, so I have turned that down so far. I don't think I am a complainypants - anxiety and depression run deep in my family and I have been a hard worker in a tough field for over 20 years.

My dream job is to repair and make jewelry. I have taken short classes and I am good at it. My plan would be to train and hopefully be able to make money in jewelry repair/design by the time my support runs out. I think would need to earn about $36,000 a year.

I am going to be 47 and I am starting to feel like life is too short not to give my dream a try, but if I could work just two more years, I could probably erase that mortgage. However, I really don't think I would make it that long. Any input and suggestions would be so welcome! Anyone know how much can be made in the jewelry industry? Thanks!!!!

MDM

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2015, 06:57:57 PM »
mortgage on my residence ($240k) shared with husband so I owe $1000 per month. - Is $240K the remaining, or the orginal, principal?  In other words, how long until this is fully paid, what is the current interest rate, etc.?

rental income clears $2000 per month (houses worth $440k together - owned free and clear) - You own them, or you and your ex own them together?  What occupancy rate does the $2K/month assume?

$30k savings outside 401(k) and houses - For estimation purposes, you could add $24K/1.05 + $24K/(1.05)^2 + $24K/(1.05)^3 = $65K (or use whatever discount rate you prefer) to account for the spousal support

Spousal support $2000 a month that ends in three years - See line item above

Current expenses apprx $3500 including mortgage (HCOL area - can't move due to shared custody - daughter going to college in three years - we have some savings reserved for that) - Rather than looking at this as a monthly expense, add the remaining principal due to the "stash required" you get by dividing (annual expenses minus guaranteed income) by whatever Safe Withdrawal Rate (e.g., 4%) you choose.  What do you get when you do this calculation?

swick

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2015, 07:04:26 PM »
My SIL is in the process of going full time into her Jewlery Biz. She does have the training and her background is in graphic design and web development - both really useful skills to have if you are going to be striking out on your own.

All of the caveats about being a small business owner apply here: You are solely responsible for dealing with customers and clients and drumming up business. You need to have a certain level of sales ability as well.

Having a niche space to work in also really helps. My SIL does gamer/geek jewelery. She has found a typically rabid fan base with large disposable income. It works really well for her - the major downside she says - is dealing with American customers who constantly bitch that shipping from Canada is so high.  Hopefully you won't have the same issue :)

It would be worth connecting with SwordGuy - he has an old thread you can see some of his work:http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mustachian-marketplace/hand-made-jewelry-at-material-shipping-and-insurance-cost/ but he might be able to answer a lot of your specific questions and get into the "how-to" side of things

Ziggurat

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2015, 07:16:23 PM »

The problem is that my I am prone to anxiety and my job is highly stressful. I am diagnosed with OCD and anxiety and I have recently started getting frozen with anxiety at work. I get heart palpitations on Sunday nights due to returning to my job on Monday. My performance has gone way down because I am scared to open emails and take calls. I have been working this job and holding on for years just for the money and the stress has grown worse. I started seeing a therapist to treat the anxiety, but I don't want to have to go on medication just to go to work, so I have turned that down so far. I don't think I am a complainypants - anxiety and depression run deep in my family and I have been a hard worker in a tough field for over 20 years.

The bit quoted above jumps out to me as the core message in all you said.  Even if you leave and/or do something else, unless you leave tomorrow, this level of anxiety still needs attention right away.

Is there a chance of going on disability or getting a medical leave of some kind (or even unpaid leave if absolutely necessary)?  Some time to get these issues under control will help you make better decisions.

Anxiety and depression run deep in my family (and many friends) too, so I can really sympathize.   I would encourage you to reconsider medication. It can work very well, even short term to help bring you out of the worst of what you have been going through.

You mention you've managed to work for many years, so have you had times like this before, or is this much worse?

freeatlast

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2015, 07:18:38 PM »
Thanks! $240k on mortgage remaining - total payoff far off without extra payments - more than 20 years :( but I want to chip away at it. 3.625 interest rate :)

I own the rentals myself alone. I am assuming 100% occupancy (I know, but I have long term tenants and in Seattle market which is good for LL)

Multiplying 42k yearly expenses by 25 to get to FI - I need just over $1M. So I am short of that as I have about $800k in net assets. Which is why I think I am close but not there.

Thank you so much!

freeatlast

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2015, 07:24:55 PM »
Thanks!

I have had episodes before but this is worse. I would doubt I could get disability because I am scared of the medication (the anxiety talking maybe?) and I hear it is really hard to get disability for this kind of issue. I have thought about FMLA leave (unpaid) v. quitting - but I might be able to get unemployment (maybe) if I quit for a medical issue and if I leave I do not think I could go back..... Doing things with my hands (like jewelry) seems to give some relief...

Ricky

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2015, 07:45:11 PM »
Even in jewelry repair you're going to be dealing with clients whether you work for someone or you're at it alone. I wouldn't necessarily assume that this is going to be a less stressful environment. There will be some customers complain for no reason even if you do everything as promised.

okits

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2015, 08:01:21 PM »
I encourage you to try medication and therapy simultaneously. This seems a much less drastic solution than quitting your decades-long career. 

If you need a break from work can you take a long vacation, a sabbatical, or work a reduced schedule for a while?  If there are common life-problems in your field (divorce stress, drinking/substance abuse problems, money woes, etc.), you could cite one of those and the need for a lighter schedule to address your issues. (I suggest this as it would be entirely acceptable - socially and professionally - for me to tell work I need time off for drug or alcohol rehab.  I find that fact both sad and vaguely hilarious.)

A reduced schedule may help a lot.  I used to put in 60 hours a week and have downshifted to less than 45 hours a week.  The difference is noticeable.  I feel like I have so many more non-work hours a day.

Finally, it sounds like you're looking at a one-way ticket out of the legal field, so you have the luxury of not really caring what your company and colleagues think of you (why give a F if you're never going back?) If you're ready to quit anyway go in every day and only do as much as you feel able and willing to do.  Ask yourself every day if you're okay to put in another day or if you need to walk out this second. Calculate exactly how much you are earning each day, hour, minute and remind yourself that's why you're doing what you're doing.  Even if you don't make it another two full years every day you squeeze out of this well-paid situation will make your post-quit life more secure and you'll feel more able to pursue your jewelry-making passion.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2015, 08:07:04 PM »
Try 5 HTP for OCD , natural precursor to serotonin. Check your thyroid (low or high can cause anxiety). Try eating a Paleo diet for a month and take a good probiotic.

firewalker

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2015, 08:45:12 PM »
I can vouch for my 50 mg sertraline prescription. Cheap (like $10 a month) and helps loads with anxiety without any spacy-ness.

mozar

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2015, 09:02:19 PM »
I recommend the book "Feeling Good, the new mood therapy" it teaches you how to get in control of your thoughts. You're going to want to do this whether you stay in law or not. What helped me was getting in control of my insomnia and then having the mental energy to do breathing exercises when I felt panic attacks coming on.

partgypsy

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2015, 09:17:55 PM »
I have always dealt with anxiety on some level, for a long time. I also didn't want to go on meds.
there was 2 things that really helped. One, taking aswaganda, basically taking it a few times the week before my period (where my anxiety/stress seem the worst). I also took a crossfit course. In the first week I was doing it, this underlying chest pain I always have, other than when I exercise, went away, and never came back! It was only an 8 week course, but it somehow reset my body, where the way I deal with stress it is much less intense. 
For me, much of my anxiety is related to financial insecurity. You may be in a spot where you just feel like escaping work, and you are almost at the point you are willing to gnaw your leg off to make it happen, but exiting the workspace before you are financially ready, in order to start your own business and all the responsibilities of that may actually increase your anxiety. It's not just doing things with your hands. It's developing a web presence or renting a bricks and mortar place, figuring out how to sell your stuff, advertising and being a salesperson for your work and businees, promotion. My sister was a very talented artist, but she was not good at the other aspects that would go into being a successful artist, and so wasn't able to do it as a living.   

So I would look into ways to help with the underlying issue than to shed the job. I also think time off, or leave of absence is also not a bad idea.

A third thought, being a high pressure attorney, and making jewelry, are extremes. I'm sure you have skills that can allow you to transition to a job that uses your many skills, that makes 40K or more a year, but is much less stressful or possibly part time. It may be easier to do that and do jewelry part time or as a hobby, than try to jump into that as a full time career.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 09:20:33 PM by partgypsy »

freeatlast

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2015, 10:13:18 PM »
Thank you all for the advice.  Perhaps the leave of absence is the way to go after all, to try either exercise, breathing and some of the meds mentioned.... The lower stress but still salaried work is also something to seriously consider. I am scared that if I go on leave the performance problems due to the anxiety will be found out, but I guess that would just hasten my search for a lower stress option. Thank you all! And, of course, to even have options is due to frugal living and saving a large part of my salary for many years :)

Letj

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2015, 07:16:20 PM »
Thanks!

I have had episodes before but this is worse. I would doubt I could get disability because I am scared of the medication (the anxiety talking maybe?) and I hear it is really hard to get disability for this kind of issue. I have thought about FMLA leave (unpaid) v. quitting - but I might be able to get unemployment (maybe) if I quit for a medical issue and if I leave I do not think I could go back..... Doing things with my hands (like jewelry) seems to give some relief...

You may be perimenopausal or menopausal. Anxiety tends to go way up during this transition. Just started a bit or harmone replacement could work wonders.

pbkmaine

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2015, 07:28:58 PM »
Not an MD, but my best friend is. I think the advice she would give here is to get a complete physical, telling your MD about these symptoms. There are many things that could be causing this response. It is very important to rule certain things out before coming up with a diagnosis and treatment.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2015, 08:32:21 PM »
Consider taking a look at the book (small book, I think) "How to Engineer Your Layoff" - it's for situations where you are going to leave your job, but you want to have them pay you a big juicy severance package.  You might be surprised how good the options you have are!  I don't have any relation to the seller, http://www.financialsamurai.com/ ... it just seems like that might get you part of the remaining funds you're after. 

FWIW, you have most of the money you need already, so you have a lot of flexibility - the world doesn't end whatever you do. Financial independence isn't a binary on/off switch where you're powerless until you reach an exact number.  You already have a lot of power in that you can live for years on what you have.  My suggestion would be to just keep the investment cost low if you start a "joy" business, especially one like jewelry that lots of people want to do. 

For an empowering perspective on how strong your position is, check out the blog of jcollinsnh, MMM's friend and the guru of "FU" money...which you already seem to have.

In any case, value yourself and get the help you need; good comments on the emotional side by prior posters.  You don't have to be at FI to have good mental health, or to function well.  You're worth that much whether you are at FI or not!!

That said, an emotional crisis may not be the best time to jump from one business to another if you can avoid it.  Would you be interested in working fewer hours and doing the jewelry business on the side at first?  Maybe rather than make all the decisions at once, you can go step by step for a while.

Best of luck whichever path you choose.  The sun really will come out tomorrow, all you're deciding is where you'll be when it does.

freeatlast

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2015, 09:13:54 PM »
Thanks! The point about perimenopause resonates with me..... perhaps I will see an M.D. in addition to the therapist...All this advice is so helpful!  Does the anxiety go down after awhile???

I asked today for FMLA as I still cannot function well. Wednesday I see my therapist and I am hoping she agrees to take me our long enough to figure things out. I am glad I did not resign as now I have time to sort things out. I almost had too much anxiety to ask for anxiety leave - but my company hires out the FMLA/claims stuff so I didn't even have to explain to my boss. That was a relief!

One more day til Wednesday til I can go out hopefully.

pbkmaine

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Re: Almost to FI but Anxiety overwhelming - OK to pursue passion now?
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2015, 09:23:54 AM »
Jewelry: I make beaded necklaces. I don't do it as a business, but if I did, I would start off by getting a table at a crafts fair, putting out stuff I made, and asking for feedback. Consumer research. I would also go into small gift shops and ask for feedback from the store buyers. That way I would learn what people are looking for.