Author Topic: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door  (Read 2842 times)

Jayjayem

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Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« on: November 20, 2020, 05:02:47 PM »
Hey folks,

After stashing away $2M and change in investments and another $1M or so in real estate equity, I'm calling it quits in a few weeks. 

This Thanksgiving, I am thanking the universe, all gods and all people for the incredible luck and privilege that FIRE is - from being born in the right place to the right people, the work ethic and values that my folks, teachers, workplace have instilled in me that made this possible even from a humble family.   

Now to my insecurities. I'm 34 and stepping out of the pressure cooker that has been my tech career.  Like many, there's a part of me that I can't ignore that tells me I'm making a huge mistake.  I have no plans right now after I quit.  I haven't had the head space to plan out my FIRE life, and that's my short-term plan.  But I am afraid that I will chill out for Y years and come to regret this, at which point I won't be able to get back in.  Not the type of top companies I was at before.  I'll then be knocking on doors with my head lowered and tail between my legs and beg people to give me another chance.  I will have no good answer to "explain the gap in your resume".  I'll take a demotion or worse, report to the people I manage now.  My peers will use me as a cautionary tale and spare me no empathy because they stuck it out but I didn't, and look at me now. 

That's the inner voice and it's getting louder and louder.  I can quit and explain up to 1 year away as a sabbatical.  I feel like I'm either back in or permanently out after that point.  Has anyone gone through something similar in a highly competitive field?  Has anyone managed to keep doors open?  What the hell do I put on my LinkedIn to keep options open down the line? 

Yours anxiously,
JM


NotJen

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2020, 05:36:59 PM »
First, I was not in a high-powered career.  I was a bored engineer with a cushy job and good salary, and I walked away from that almost a year ago.

I have no plans right now after I quit.  I haven't had the head space to plan out my FIRE life, and that's my short-term plan.

I did not either - my plan was to not have a plan.  2020 was supposed to be about building social capital (with increased activities with friends and searching out volunteer opportunities), but the pandemic put a stop to most of that.  I was also supposed to figure out what I wanted to do next, but no breakthroughs there.  So I'm doing a lot of nothing this year.  I'm feeling sad for the loss of **activity** to keep me busy, but I have absolutely no regrets about quitting my job.

What is your relationship with your current employer?  I ended my career amicably, with the plea (from them) that I could always come back if I changed my mind.  In fact, they reached out to me to help with one of my old projects, and I accepted.  It's been pretty lame and did not take up much of my time - currently on month 2 of waiting on the customer to decide if they want us to do what they initially hired us for.  I declined additional work on a new task - no thanks.

My plan is to get some kind of job in the future - hopefully never full-time again - but I'm very sure I don't want to be in engineering anymore, so it's easy to walk away.  Though, for what it's worth, it was REALLY hard the last few weeks before my end date.  I was cleaning out my office, remembering the good times, saying goodbye to people I actually like.  But NONE of that stuck once I was out.

You are quitting for a reason.  If you do go back to work, do you really want to work for the top companies?  Or will some other kind of work that you find meaningful fit the bill?

Mr. Green

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2020, 12:52:59 AM »
I think the biggest consideration is whether you liked your career, which you haven't said. Sounds like maybe there's a little burnout going on even if you do like it. There is no rule that says FIRE has to stick. You are welcome to use your new freedom to take a year off and then realize you liked working and want to go back.

I came from a very high paying tech career as well. But I pretty much hated my job by the end. I've been free for almost four years now and I've realized it was probably being cooped up in an office full-time that I hated more than anything. However, I was anxious when I quit too. I even went back to work after three months off, but I quickly realized that was a mistake.

If you enjoyed your job and no longer need the money, is a possible demotion upon return to work really an issue other than the hit to your ego? It sounds like you'd probably work your way back up pretty quickly once they realized you had higher management skills. Perhaps that experience would influence your skills for the better? Hard to say but if money doesn't matter then a return path to work is easy if you find that's what you want.

For what it's worth, I think all people should have the opportunity to question their career choice after they've become financially independent. It's healthy to wonder if you still want to be doing something after a while. Our work culture isn't great at accepting this yet but the ability to change can have profound impacts on our long term happiness. In the end, happiness is about all the matters, so don't beat yourself up too much about taking some time to evaluate what you want now that money has ceased to become a driving factor in your work decisions.

2sk22

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2020, 03:39:17 AM »
I am in my fifties and just quit recently (from a high paying tech job) in early October. All I can say is that the feeling of wanting to keep "one foot in the door" does not seem to abate even with age.

Regarding what to do next in the very short term, I do have a suggestion: Do something as different as possible from your tech job and don't worry about planning. Give your subconscious a chance to do its thing. In my case, I spent a month cleaning out twenty years of accumulated junk in my basement and it was exactly what I needed to do. I mostly stayed away from my computer. At the end of the month, I was in the right frame of mind to figure out what I wanted to do.

blue_green_sparks

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2020, 08:38:20 AM »
Once I closed that door behind me it was only around six months later that I concluded I had waited too long.

Omy

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2020, 08:59:33 AM »
I OMYed for 5 years for similar reasons. When you leave, you can do anything. Decompress, start new hobbies, volunteer, start a business, or get a job that interests you. We quit 15 months ago, and I wish we'd done it sooner. We had 6 months of goofing off and travel before covid hit. Since then we've chosen to lock down and are currently focused on getting ourselves organized. Our net worth has increased since we FIREd...and our expenses are much less than we had projected.

Your mustachian nature will allow you to optimize and analyze when you get out of the daily grind. It's a process, and it's not all unicorns and rainbows. But every morning you will get to decide how to live your best life without being obligated to create profit for someone else.

I was given a lot of great advice in this thread if you're interested: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/serious-'one-more-year'-syndrome-advice-appreciated/

« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 09:03:19 AM by Omy »

xbdb

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2020, 11:20:21 AM »
I FIREd at 52 from a high-tech job on August 2019 and had an absolute blast traveling and really enjoying life until the pandemic hit. These are not great times for any of us, but being retired has made it a lot less stressful than it would have been had I kept working. I count my blessings every day and that helps too. Like just about everyone else you will ask here, I wish I had done it sooner. Time is the only currency we have. But, Nobody here can tell you what is right for you. You need to decide if you want to pull the trigger or maybe take a sabbatical or maybe something else? I recommend the book "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" by Ernie Zelinski. There are some excellent exercises in it that may help you gain clarity.


P.S. As far as your concern about any gap in your resume goes, you can always say you took time off to work on a personal project.

Trifele

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2020, 03:51:16 AM »
I FIREd last year at 51 from a specialized legal field.  Like pretty much everyone else here, I wish I could have done it sooner.  As soon as I quit I deleted my LinkedIn profile and went speeding off into the retirement sunset.  I have had zero interest in returning to paid work -- my current freedom is glorious. 

(Despite all that, I kept getting work offers.  So I wouldn't worry too much about losing your connections over the course of a year -- if you want to, just keep your LinkedIn account active and set to "seeking employment."  You can always fall back on the "Self Employed" description if you feel the need to make it look like you're working.)

Highly recommend the Dr. Doom blog series "Living a FI" if you haven't read it.  In this post he builds on Ernie Zelinski's book that @xbdb mentioned below:   https://livingafi.com/2015/03/09/building-a-vision-of-life-without-work/

If you're hesitant, there's absolutely nothing wrong with pulling the plug and calling it a "Sabbatical."  Take a year, see how you feel.   

Rdy2Fire

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2020, 05:50:34 AM »
My story is similar to those above me.. under 50 left my tech gig 18 months ago and I still even question if I am FIRE'd or not. Not because I don't want to work necessarily, I just don't want to do what I did and not sure what's next if anything. I have enjoyed not working which is odd, I thought I'd go crazy.  I had no plan and wasn't 'planning' to FIRE I just got fed up and had enough and here I am

Give it some time, see how it goes, relax, decompress and you may realize you want to go back or don't but as someone said above, if it's an EGO thing about a possible demotion (or reporting to those that work for you now) than that's something you can work on as well.

Sounds like you've done very well, go enjoy it for a while and don't worry about what's next

BikeFanatic

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2020, 07:29:18 AM »
You are so young still, but you also have a ton of money! I would take a year off, yIf you decide to go back to work, you can say you had your own business but did not want the headaches anymore. I f I were you I would never work full time again.

I am 55, slogging out OMY and have less than you do for 2 people, but I fell confident, based on my spending and downsizing, that I could go 20 years or more. Yet I still hesitate to jump ship. If I were younger I would hesitate to commit to total retirement, but a Sabatical, Hell Ya.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 10:04:53 AM »
I'm a little past 8 years into FIRE.  I was in a somewhat high profile area of accounting (close and consolidation supporting the SEC reporting effort.)  My skills are considered outdated.  I couldn't reasonably go back at the same level I left without having a list of certificates an arm's length long to prove I stayed current on my industry and accounting knowledge. 

I'm over it.  I'll say this, the 6 month decompression window is real.  It won't feel normal and you won't know if you made the right decision after just a few weeks.  I started with a six week long video game and junk food bender where I didn't see the son for weeks at a time.  Around the end of week 6, I had the realization I had killed "enough" dragons.  I game less than once a week now.  The next several months were a period of second guessing myself and soul searching.

My current thoughts on "going back" are to apply my skills  at a much lower level of pay and stress to a nonprofit I can believe in.  I had a few interviews early this year but COVID put an end to my return to part time work.  My goal, if I have one is to get more socialization, give back, and enjoy some of the feeling of "mastering" something.  Basically, get back the tiny little parts of work I actually liked but on my own terms. 

You are in a spot (~3MM bones) to start your own company or consultancy.  Work on tech projects that interest you for the length of time you want to do it. Your resume "gap" would then be filled with years of "consulting".   It's nobodies' business if that means you worked 4 weeks a year only on the most fun and interesting work you could find (pay clearly a trivial concern for you). 

But back to decompression.  Give yourself a good solid 6 months to explore your inner space.  It takes that long for your paradigm to shift.  I'm available by PM if you want to ask something non publicly.

shuffler

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2020, 12:14:42 PM »
I started with a six week long video game and junk food bender where I didn't see the son for weeks at a time.
It tickles me to imagine you neglecting your children as a necessary step in decompression.  ;^)

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2020, 04:29:27 PM »
I started with a six week long video game and junk food bender where I didn't see the son for weeks at a time.
It tickles me to imagine you neglecting your children as a necessary step in decompression.  ;^)

I'm sure children were part of the compression step.

FireLane

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2020, 07:20:45 PM »
Now to my insecurities. I'm 34 and stepping out of the pressure cooker that has been my tech career.  Like many, there's a part of me that I can't ignore that tells me I'm making a huge mistake.  I have no plans right now after I quit.  I haven't had the head space to plan out my FIRE life, and that's my short-term plan.  But I am afraid that I will chill out for Y years and come to regret this, at which point I won't be able to get back in.  Not the type of top companies I was at before.  I'll then be knocking on doors with my head lowered and tail between my legs and beg people to give me another chance.  I will have no good answer to "explain the gap in your resume".  I'll take a demotion or worse, report to the people I manage now.  My peers will use me as a cautionary tale and spare me no empathy because they stuck it out but I didn't, and look at me now. 

This post sounds like my inner monologue! I'm 38, coming up on $2M in investments, and approaching FIRE very soon. It was supposed to be this year, but I'll probably OMY into 2021, just because I figure I might as well wait for a COVID vaccine to be deployed so I can travel in retirement like I wanted to. But as my date gets nearer, I've been grappling with these same thoughts.

Ironically, my biggest problem is that I don't hate my job. I've been at the same company long enough, and built up enough of a good reputation, that I have a fair degree of autonomy in setting my schedule and choosing my projects. I've been part-time since 2018, which has made it even more bearable.

If my boss was an asshole or the stress was unbearable or I hated my coworkers' guts, I'd have quit already. As it is, I don't really have anything prodding me to take the leap - other than the knowledge that sooner or later I have to, or else I'll wind up old and grey with a bigger pile of money than I'll ever be able to enjoy spending.

But counterbalancing that, like you, is that little whisper of anxiety that I'm unlikely to find another job where I make this much money for this little effort. If I quit now, will I regret it for the rest of my life? Why not grind it out for six more months or another year or another two years, just to pad my stash some more and make sure I'm definitely set for life?

This kind of thinking is hard to resist, but it's insidious, because there's no limit to it. No matter how much money you have, you can always come up with a scenario where you would have needed more.

If I could give you the advice I'm trying to give myself, it's that your stash is big enough that you'll never suddenly wake up and find you're broke. With the 4% rule, you'll see a portfolio failure coming a long way off - and if that happens, it doesn't matter if you're unable to get another job at a top-flight company, because you don't need one. You'd just need a job that's enough to cover your expenses while you wait a few years for the market to recover. I saw it said on a FIRE blog: Our worst-case scenario is everyone else's normal scenario.

Something else that might help is making a bucket list. You said yourself that you don't have much of a plan for FIRE life, and that may be feeding your anxiety. It's hard to mentally compare a "something" (your current job) to a "nothing" (your unplanned future life). If you have something specific to look forward to, something you want to do and currently can't, that might be the little bump of motivation you need to get over the hill of worry.

Have you seen the Rich, Broke or Dead calculator? It was helpful to me because it drives home that, at some point, running out of time is a bigger risk than running out of money.

bmjohnson35

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2020, 07:32:33 PM »

You haven't clearly stated why you are thinking about leaving.  You appear to be FI, so it comes down to why you are thinking about leaving.  If you love what you do and are thinking about leaving just because you can, it may not be the right decision.  If you are burned out, taking a sabbatical or simply reducing your hours by negotiating reduced hours are further options.  If you hate your boss, look for options to get out from under him/her.  The fact that you have options is such a wonderful thing. 

Goanywhere

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2020, 08:50:34 PM »
Now to my insecurities. I'm 34 and stepping out of the pressure cooker that has been my tech career.  Like many, there's a part of me that I can't ignore that tells me I'm making a huge mistake.  I have no plans right now after I quit.  I haven't had the head space to plan out my FIRE life, and that's my short-term plan.  But I am afraid that I will chill out for Y years and come to regret this, at which point I won't be able to get back in.  Not the type of top companies I was at before.  I'll then be knocking on doors with my head lowered and tail between my legs and beg people to give me another chance.  I will have no good answer to "explain the gap in your resume".  I'll take a demotion or worse, report to the people I manage now.  My peers will use me as a cautionary tale and spare me no empathy because they stuck it out but I didn't, and look at me now. 

This post sounds like my inner monologue! I'm 38, coming up on $2M in investments, and approaching FIRE very soon. It was supposed to be this year, but I'll probably OMY into 2021, just because I figure I might as well wait for a COVID vaccine to be deployed so I can travel in retirement like I wanted to. But as my date gets nearer, I've been grappling with these same thoughts.

Ironically, my biggest problem is that I don't hate my job. I've been at the same company long enough, and built up enough of a good reputation, that I have a fair degree of autonomy in setting my schedule and choosing my projects. I've been part-time since 2018, which has made it even more bearable.

If my boss was an asshole or the stress was unbearable or I hated my coworkers' guts, I'd have quit already. As it is, I don't really have anything prodding me to take the leap - other than the knowledge that sooner or later I have to, or else I'll wind up old and grey with a bigger pile of money than I'll ever be able to enjoy spending.

But counterbalancing that, like you, is that little whisper of anxiety that I'm unlikely to find another job where I make this much money for this little effort. If I quit now, will I regret it for the rest of my life? Why not grind it out for six more months or another year or another two years, just to pad my stash some more and make sure I'm definitely set for life?

This kind of thinking is hard to resist, but it's insidious, because there's no limit to it. No matter how much money you have, you can always come up with a scenario where you would have needed more.

If I could give you the advice I'm trying to give myself, it's that your stash is big enough that you'll never suddenly wake up and find you're broke. With the 4% rule, you'll see a portfolio failure coming a long way off - and if that happens, it doesn't matter if you're unable to get another job at a top-flight company, because you don't need one. You'd just need a job that's enough to cover your expenses while you wait a few years for the market to recover. I saw it said on a FIRE blog: Our worst-case scenario is everyone else's normal scenario.

Something else that might help is making a bucket list. You said yourself that you don't have much of a plan for FIRE life, and that may be feeding your anxiety. It's hard to mentally compare a "something" (your current job) to a "nothing" (your unplanned future life). If you have something specific to look forward to, something you want to do and currently can't, that might be the little bump of motivation you need to get over the hill of worry.

Have you seen the Rich, Broke or Dead calculator? It was helpful to me because it drives home that, at some point, running out of time is a bigger risk than running out of money.

Great post.  I love the quote too.  We are 3 years away from FIRE but it will be very tempting to work a few extra years to build the stash...or be able to help family etc.

frugalor

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2020, 10:59:51 PM »
Like many, there's a part of me that I can't ignore that tells me I'm making a huge mistake.

First of all, congrats on building such big Net Worth at your age!

What is your target withdrawal rate?  How likely do you see your FIRE fail?

Also, if you don't hate your job, why not work until COVID is over?  But if you find yourself having more meaningful things to do over your work, then it makes sense to quit.

I am a bit conservative.  I will go through a "simulation" before I actually do FIRE.  I am going to set up my investment portfolio, and live on a low withdrawal rate and see how it works out.

I am actually getting more and more tired of my software engineer job.  So I do look forward to FIRE once I gain enough confidence.

There are many things to learn, many things to do with family and kids, many things to create using our high tech skills.  I believe all these things will be more fun without consideration of money/pay-check.

Abe Froman

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2020, 06:23:35 AM »
For the OP - are you married with a family or flying solo? I suspect the responsibility for your family may add weight to your decision.

Car Jack

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2020, 09:14:30 AM »
You're in tech, but are you an engineer?  If you are (I'm one), do the maths.  Build yourself a year by year spread sheet to document what you have, how it will theoretically grow, where you expenses are and keep track of what you could dump everything for and take the cash.  I did this when I realized that college costs aren't a periodic, forever expense.  And I know that the house periodically needs a roof and to be painted and heck....a new Porsche ain't gonna be free.

I do this and put in a percentage box for growth so that when the economy is slow, I can change up any future year or years to get a "what if" for what's left for the wife when I fall over dead (that date is on my spread sheet, by the way).  Every year start, I replace the predicted numbers with actual.  I've been using 5% growth for years and every year, I've beaten that number.

Once you have numbers to look at, you can certainly have a better idea what's ahead.  If you decide you want to work at a gas station, there's income to add to the income box.

I would hope you have a really good idea of where your expenses are at this point.  Do they support a 2% withdrawal rate forever?  (I'm ultra conservative, so that's what I use, but I'm almost double your age).  4% is NOT appropriate for you unless you're ok running out of money at 64.  Where's social security going to be when you hit the age to take it?  My spread sheet has those payments dropping 25% in 2034, which I expect will be sooner now that Covid has tanked the intake from SS.

Do the maths.

Dicey

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2020, 09:44:13 AM »
It sounds like your inner Eeyore is strong indeed. Paging @PhilB for help in taming him. Also, @Exflyboy has some experience on this topic...

This gem guided me in my quest for FIRE, before it was even called that. "Retiring too early is a mistake that can be recovered from. Too late and there is no recovery."

Eight years into FIRE, I have zero regrets. Had I been able to achieve it at your age, I think it would have been even sweeter, but things are so great now, I'm not complaining.

I agree that waiting until the pandemic abates is a perhaps a reasonable course of action.

Finally, I have two of Ernie D's books on my bookshelf. I've never cracked either of them. No need to. Fortunately, I only paid $1 each for them at library book sales. Now there's something I miss!

PhilB

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2020, 03:46:32 PM »
Firstly, congratulations on reaching FI at such an early age.  Now you have that awkward problem of working out how you want to spend the rest of your life!

There is clearly, and understandably, a part of you worrying about what you will lose by quitting, but what exactly is it you worry about losing?  Is it the money?  Money doesn't buy happiness, but neither does FIREing.  What is it you think you might want the money for?  Is it the status?  The identity?  The having so many decisions about how to spend your time made for you?

I think we need to know a lot more about you to really know how to help, but in the meantime all we can offer is what has helped us in the hope it may help you.

From the financial side there are three things that have really helped me:
  • When I got close to FIRE, each year I tried living on the budget of 'what if I FIREd now'  I quickly realised that I was happy on my early budget and didn't feel a need to increase spending
  • My budget has enough fat in it that I could cut back if needed.  I asked myself the question 'If I need $x for something would I rather keep working for it, or just spend a few weeks living very simply and cheaply to save up for it?'  That told me when it was time to quit
  • I have a budget designed to allow for increased spending in later years.  I don't expect to actually spend much more then, but it does help stop me worrying about regretting not working longer

From the work and lifestyle side, it doesn't sound like you are in the right place mentally to just stop.  What you really need is a way to keep your options open whilst freeing up the head space to learn what you actually want to do with your life.  The obvious routes are either part time work or short term contracts.  I accidentally went the part time route - my one-day-a-week to help out with the transition is still ongoing after 2 years.  It works for me in my situation.  Something similar might for you, or it might not.

Short term contracts might be a better option for you and give you time to work out how you want to spend the rest of your life.  Say take 3 months off to decompress and come up with some plans, then maybe alternate periods of work with periods of travel or whatever else floats your boat.  You're FI so you can afford to be picky about the contracts and just do things that interest you and keep your skills and employability up.  If you did decide that working full time in your field is actually something you want to do then that should give you a good route back.  And if you find you are having so much fun in your breaks you don't ever want to go back then don't.

The bottom line is that you have clearly spent the last few years in the pursuit of wealth, building your stash.  You now need to spend the next few years in the pursuit of happiness.


FIRE 20/20

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2020, 08:36:07 PM »
I FIREd about 18 months ago at age 42 and while I didn't earn a Silicon Valley paycheck, I was highly compensated as an engineer in flyover country.  I was very concerned about similar things.  In my case, my engineering role required regular recertification, and that process required active work to be eligible.  So within 2-3 years or so I knew that the door would essentially be closed for good on me going back to a high paying career.  In order to mitigate that risk, I oversaved (about 30x planned annual expenses + some extra) but more importantly I set up a consulting opportunity that would both keep my contacts and my certifications. 

Within 2 months I tossed all of the consulting plans and FIREd for good.

You may be different, but I found that even though I didn't retire to anything in particular and I despite the fact that I have no hobbies that have any chance of being turned into a side hustle, I know I'm never going back.  FIREd life is so much better than I thought it would be, and I had pretty high hopes.  I realize that everyone's different, but I strongly recommend giving it a try.  In my case, I know that even if I had to cut way way back on my spending I'd much rather do that than ever go back to work, and I had a really good job. 


yachi

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2020, 03:12:53 PM »
I'm going to put this here.  I've shared it before because I think it's impactful coming from someone high up in a tech company.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2015/03/11/this-retirement-letter-from-googles-cfo-is-like-few-youll-ever-read/

In his letter, Pichette shared how last year, on a trip to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, his wife, Tamar, suggested they "just keep on going" -- exploring Africa, India, the Himalayas, Bali, even Antarctica. After he listed all his responsibilities at home, "she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air."

Tail between your legs, begging for another chance?  Fuck that! You're going back to a tech career, if you choose to go back at all, with a head held high knowing you can sustain yourself for as long as necessary on your own money because you did.  You'll be beholden to no company's stupidity for a salary, you're looking to match your skills with their needs because you want:
to be part of something bigger than yourself
access to cutting edge software to develop things you can't on your own
to mentor the younger generation of tech people
or whatever you think is missing after your time being FIRED.
Why do you have a gap in your resume?
Because you realized after a successful career it was time for you


Seriously, when asking about a gap in your resume, they'll just be glad you weren't serving prison time, working somewhere embarrassing, or getting fired every 2 months from a string of bottom-tier companies.

frugalor

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2020, 05:04:09 PM »
I FIREd about 18 months ago at age 42 and while I didn't earn a Silicon Valley paycheck, I was highly compensated as an engineer in flyover country.  I was very concerned about similar things.  In my case, my engineering role required regular recertification, and that process required active work to be eligible.  So within 2-3 years or so I knew that the door would essentially be closed for good on me going back to a high paying career.  In order to mitigate that risk, I oversaved (about 30x planned annual expenses + some extra) but more importantly I set up a consulting opportunity that would both keep my contacts and my certifications. 

Within 2 months I tossed all of the consulting plans and FIREd for good.

You may be different, but I found that even though I didn't retire to anything in particular and I despite the fact that I have no hobbies that have any chance of being turned into a side hustle, I know I'm never going back.  FIREd life is so much better than I thought it would be, and I had pretty high hopes.  I realize that everyone's different, but I strongly recommend giving it a try.  In my case, I know that even if I had to cut way way back on my spending I'd much rather do that than ever go back to work, and I had a really good job.

Interesting.  Why did you choose to FIRE so early if you liked your job a lot?

Mr. Green

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2020, 11:07:38 AM »
Felt too appropriate not to share. LOL!

foghorn

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2020, 12:24:13 PM »
What  a terrific thread.

OP - I could have written your post - with a few exceptions.  I am 53, have a NW of about $3.8M.  Zero debt.  Live very comfortably on less than $30,000 per year.  Compensation package in the $180,000 range.  I am still working for MegaCorp and am fearful about FIRE'ing.  It really is fear and nothing more that stops me.  Like you, the decision feels so irreversible.  If I step away, I will almost certainly not be able to go back.  The thought of being an old man who runs out of money scares the shit out of me.  I do not want to be the big dummy who could have worked a bit longer and padded the stash a bit more. 

I am not sure if I am helping you here - other than to let you know you are not the only one who feels this way.  You have company.  Best of luck in your decision making journey.

Omy

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2020, 01:40:23 PM »
Foghorn...are you expecting to live until you're 120? Do you have a number in your head that will be enough?
« Last Edit: November 25, 2020, 01:42:22 PM by Omy »

foghorn

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2020, 01:59:47 PM »
Foghorn...are you expecting to live until you're 120? Do you have a number in your head that will be enough?

Hahah - No, I really do not expect to make it to 120.  I fully admit that my situation is driven by fear.  Almost certainly illogical - but fear based nonetheless.  I suspect that some day at work I will finally have "had enough" and walk out the door.  I even hope to be laid off someday so that the decision to leave was not mine - but something I could point to and say "well, I got laid off - so here I am - unemployed/retired". 

Like the OP - this is really an issue for me and has been for several years.  If I was on the outside looking in at someone just like me - my advice to them would be "FIRE, do what you want, you earned this".  I spend a lot of time ruminating on this issue.  It is not healthy. 

2sk22

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2020, 03:43:57 PM »

Hahah - No, I really do not expect to make it to 120.  I fully admit that my situation is driven by fear.  Almost certainly illogical - but fear based nonetheless.  I suspect that some day at work I will finally have "had enough" and walk out the door.  I even hope to be laid off someday so that the decision to leave was not mine - but something I could point to and say "well, I got laid off - so here I am - unemployed/retired". 

Like the OP - this is really an issue for me and has been for several years.  If I was on the outside looking in at someone just like me - my advice to them would be "FIRE, do what you want, you earned this".  I spend a lot of time ruminating on this issue.  It is not healthy.

One thing that's probably (paradoxically) causing your fear is that your wealth has grown slowly. If you were dirt poor and someone handed you $3.8M, you'd probably retire immediately.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2020, 03:48:33 PM »
Felt too appropriate not to share. LOL!

LOL indeed.

BikeFanatic

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2020, 03:54:34 PM »
2sk22 said it well. If I was dirt  poor and someone handed me 1.8 million I would quit on the spot!

The fear is real especially in uncertain times like now. Still, 3.8 m is above and beyond what anyone needs. Plus I assume social security in 10 to 16 years?.

AlanStache

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2020, 04:20:14 PM »
Hahah - No, I really do not expect to make it to 120.  I fully admit that my situation is driven by fear.  Almost certainly illogical - but fear based nonetheless.  I suspect that some day at work I will finally have "had enough" and walk out the door.  I even hope to be laid off someday so that the decision to leave was not mine - but something I could point to and say "well, I got laid off - so here I am - unemployed/retired". 

That is bullshit, far better to go out on your own terms over something interesting.  Imagine yourself sitting at some tiki bar in paradise and are asked how you came to not have job. 
Response one: "There was a corporate restructuring and I took a buy out package; actually it was a good thing as I was to institutionalized to quit on my own."
Response two: "My truthful answers to Bob & Bob got back to Lumbergh and well the office got a little to toxic so I gave a 10 minute notice, packed up my stapler and walked out."

But in all honesty good for you that you can know yourself. 

Personally I am nearing a more barebones FI number and can feel the OMY creeping in. 

Omy

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2020, 04:41:21 PM »
Foghorn, have you played with the Rich, Broke, Dead calculator? It's an awesome visual that helped me break through my fear.

If you are living on $30k, that's less than a 1% SWR. You're going to have oodles of money when you die. I have a similar net worth with 2 people, and we spend almost twice what you spend. I'm super proud of our less than 2% withdrawal rate. And all of our spread sheet calculations indicate that we will die with more money than we have now.

You have pretty much unlimited money at your spend rate. The commodity that you are short on is time.

xbdb

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2020, 08:59:29 PM »
What  a terrific thread.

OP - I could have written your post - with a few exceptions.  I am 53, have a NW of about $3.8M.  Zero debt.  Live very comfortably on less than $30,000 per year.  Compensation package in the $180,000 range.  I am still working for MegaCorp and am fearful about FIRE'ing.  It really is fear and nothing more that stops me.  Like you, the decision feels so irreversible.  If I step away, I will almost certainly not be able to go back.  The thought of being an old man who runs out of money scares the shit out of me.  I do not want to be the big dummy who could have worked a bit longer and padded the stash a bit more. 

I am not sure if I am helping you here - other than to let you know you are not the only one who feels this way.  You have company.  Best of luck in your decision making journey.

Dude, I am literally you. Same age and similar net worth and job salary. I have ran all the calculators and even did a "dry run" a year before I retired where I put $50K into my checking account and moved all other income that won't be there when I FIRE into my savings (salary mainly) and lived off that 50K for a year. I meticulously tracked that in a google spreadsheet. I even subtracted my anticipated travel and health care costs month by transferring it from my checking to my savings. Guess what? I had plenty of money left over at the end of the year. What this did is give me confidence that I could FIRE and I would be fine. I FIRED August 2019 and found that my expenses actually went DOWN since I wasn't going out to lunch and coffee (3x a day) with co-workers. I had a blast with an extended stay at Key West too. In addition, my portfolio (despite my withdrawal for the years expenses) is is actually larger than when I retired.

So, what I am telling you, is that you will be fine FIRING. In fact you'll be more than fine. You don't have to worry about going back to work, because you won't have to. What you will hear from everyone who has done it is this: I wish I had done it earlier. How many yours do you have?  At 53, you have 31.4 years left according to http://personal.fidelity.com/products/retirement/inheritedira/lifeexptable.html.  How many of those years are ones where you can travel and aren't in a diaper?

TIME IS THE ONLY CURRENCY YOU HAVE

Time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2020, 09:05:04 PM »
Interesting.  Why did you choose to FIRE so early if you liked your job a lot?


@frugalor - I'll just link to what I wrote in the 2019 Cohort thread a few weeks before I FIREd.  All I can say is, as optimistic as I was when I wrote the post below, FIREd life is much better than I expected.  Even with all the crappiness of 2020, I've still lived a vastly better life over the past 18 months since FIREing than I would have had I continued to add to my 'stache.


Thanks guys (gals?), I tried to be firm with myself to ER at 45 but canít help but wonder if Iím not just picking some arbitrary number.  I think most folks that post about the wonderful retirement lifestyle really did not enjoy going to work or no longer got anything new out of it.  Iím still challenged by the work and getting larger perks.

This is awesome.  I'm genuinely very happy for you that you're in this position (despite what's coming next, I really mean that!).  I do take issue with the framing of most folks who post about their wonderful retirement, however.  I'm not there yet (about 25 more working days!), but I have a great job that pays very well.  I have great management, excellent peers, and a fantastic team who works for me.  I think the work I've done throughout my career really matters, and I feel like I've made significant contributions.  However, I realize that the next year of my life is the youngest and probably the healthiest, most potential-filled year I have left on this planet.  I can't imagine *any* job that would give me as much happiness, fulfillment, or satisfaction as I'll be able to get from choosing the best possible thing to do with the next day/week/month/year.  When I ask myself - is this or any job the best possible use of my short time remaining on this planet?  Will my family and friends be thankful that I spent my time in this cubicle, this office, or this conference room instead of with them?  Will I look back on this business decision - no matter how great it is - with as much happiness as I will look back on any of a hundred other things I could do today?  I've posted a lot about how terrified I am of shutting off the firehose of money they're spraying at me, but even stronger than that terror is the knowledge that I have a limited time to do the things I want to do in life and *this year* could be the best or maybe even the only year I have left.  I'm not FIRE'ing because I "did not enjoy going to work or no longer got anything new out of it", but because I don't believe this or any job is the best possible use of my life.

frugalor

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #35 on: November 26, 2020, 12:33:53 PM »
@FIRE 20/20, I really admire you and your ability to make the decisions as described in your post.

I am actually a bit tired of my software engineer job.  In a way, that makes it hard to FIRE because I don't know if am using FIRE as an excuse to exit or do I truly want to spend my best years for something more meaningful in life.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2020, 01:26:42 PM »
Congrats, youíll be fine. Anyone that can accumulate $3m by 34 will always be fine. The confidence that got you this far, is the confidence you need to see you through it. Avoid gambling, cocaine and emails asking for money and all will be well. Oh, if you get married, get a pre-nup. And do your will and estate planning!

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #37 on: November 30, 2020, 07:03:49 PM »
That's the inner voice and it's getting louder and louder.  I can quit and explain up to 1 year away as a sabbatical.  I feel like I'm either back in or permanently out after that point.  Has anyone gone through something similar in a highly competitive field?

Kinda.  When I was your age I left my pressure-cooker tech job.  I was confident I could get back into my field after a sabbatical, so I set myself a challenge.

Either find a new way to live or get back to the grind while I still could.  I gave myself a time limit and a budget and set off. 

It was the best decision I could have made.  Just do it.

In the end, I reached my time limit (I was away longer than a year).  I loved where I was living and I saw a future in that lifestyle, but I also knew I was going to want the option to be FIRE at home.  Sadly this meant I was going to need to increase my 'stache.  I started applying for jobs in my field while I was abroad, taking some interviews online and doing in-person interviews by the time I was back home.  I've been role/job-hopping ever since with a focused determination to get to that number.

I blew past that number a few years ago.  I've been OMYing my way through the uncertainty of US politics and the economy and health insurance and skyrocketing housing costs.  It is likely that I've wasted several valuable years of my life.  I am at or over my physical and mental peak by many measures.  That has been lost to the workplace.  I tried to do good and meaningful work over the last few years, so I don't entirely regret it, but I kind of do.  This is my cautionary advice against waffling.

I see no downside to taking a year off for someone in your position.  Tell your colleagues that you're going to develop your underwater basketweaving skills until you get vaccinated and then you're going to accomplish your lifelong goal of weaving a basket in Lake Titicaca.  Most of them will be jealous.  You will dine out on the stories of your basket weaving sabbatical for years to come.

Your employer might even call it a leave of absence where you don't even have to resign until your leave period is up.

xbdb

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Re: Pre-fire cold feet and keeping one foot in the door
« Reply #38 on: November 30, 2020, 09:08:41 PM »

I blew past that number a few years ago.  I've been OMYing my way through the uncertainty of US politics and the economy and health insurance and skyrocketing housing costs.  It is likely that I've wasted several valuable years of my life.  I am at or over my physical and mental peak by many measures.  That has been lost to the workplace.  I tried to do good and meaningful work over the last few years, so I don't entirely regret it, but I kind of do.  This is my cautionary advice against waffling.

You do realize that the 4% model many of us have FIRED on accounts for stock market crashes and the like don't you? You say you reached the magic number a few years ago and you have wasted several valuable years of your life. You are right. You have, and you can't have them back. Nobody knows how much time they have left. If you want to keep working because that makes you happy then that's one thing, but to deny yourself the opportunity to live your best life -- when you clearly can -- because you are afraid is another. Sorry to be blunt, but uncertainty never goes away and you need to just do it as you advised Jayjayem.