Author Topic: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race  (Read 1896 times)


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choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« on: June 03, 2018, 04:31:33 AM »
Hi everyone

I'm making this post because I'm proud of myself (with a title that has been slightly inspired by Choose FI).

I am an Australian corporate lawyer who sincerely dislikes my job. I hate the long hours, I find the work meaningless (even though it can be intellectually interesting), and I can't deal with the management with the particular personalities that are left by the time their cohort reaches Partner level.

After a particularly long 15 hour day and then finding myself crying in the shower, I've decided to leave the corporate world for community law.

My undergraduate degree was social work. The only reason I initially did the corporate graduate program was to get the experience to be able to then move into a solid community lawyer position. However once I was doing the grad program, I started looking at my future corporate pay prospects and for the pure aim of FIRE, was planning on just forging through for the next 8-10 years before going part-time (or even, depending on the markets, perhaps being FIRE).

But after reaching a certain point of misery, my view and relationship to FIRE has shifted. Instead of pursuing FIRE to the sacrifice of all else, I'm going to pursue FIRE as a background goal. In other words, I want FIRE to be a bi-product of living a life that is efficient in its pursuit of joy and happiness (which as we all know, doesn't actually cost that much).

It's also important to note that community lawyers are still paid relatively well. I will still be able to save a significant percentage of my wage. Depending on where I go, I'm probably looking at bare-bones FIRE in 12 years (rather than the 8).

Has anyone else experienced a similar shift and gone for the journey, or is anyone going for the race? If going for the race, do you think it's really worth it?

For those who are FIRE, did you go for the journey or the race, and are you happy with your decision?
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 04:15:24 AM by aGracefulStomp »


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2018, 07:10:54 AM »
I'm definitely on a journey. I recently left my job as a full-time veterinarian to go part-time, only 15 hrs/wk. That income, plus my husband's income as a pastor, will cover all of our living expenses. I've been doing freelance medical writing as a side hustle for the last couple of years, so I'll continue that in order to allow us to keep contributing to savings... but my goal is never to return to FT veterinary medicine again.


  • Stubble
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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 10:30:53 AM »
Thank you for sharing your experience. I have chosen to downshift a little for the summer while the kids are out of school. This was after realizing that my long hours and pursuit of high savings by working overtime was affecting my relationships.

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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2018, 07:36:13 PM »
Journey here too. Over a career of 30 years in tech, in various types of roles that are relatively low-paid by tech standards but still well-paid by normal human standards, I've taken a lot of time off: from summers to years at a time.

In my last few years before FIRE, I was adamant about working only part-time, and I was lucky to find some opportunities where managers saw the benefits of reduced costs instead of the drawback of using an entire headcount for a PT position.

I don't personally feel there's a point in living only for the future, in part because the future is not guaranteed, and even if it arrives for you, it may look nothing like what you expected or wanted.

Could I have FIREd sooner? Of course. But I would have been miserable along the way. So no regrets at all.

FIRE is only one goal. Happiness, whatever that means to you, is another related goal.

Choose the journey. Life is now.

Dances With Fire

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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 05:11:46 AM »
Years ago I was on the corporate ladder. (Hamster wheel.) Working crazy hours as you are experiencing and it was a sure-fire road to burnout.
Corporate politics along with upper management that didn't seem to have a clue forced me to step-down.

I downshifted as well and actually ended up earning more in a new position with far less stress. No more stupid e-mails, voice mail, emergency pages, unobtainable deadlines, weekend "work", holiday "work" etc. Much, much happier today even though it took longer.

 Best of Luck to You.


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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 07:58:10 AM »
For me it's a race.  I am eager to leave the world of working, not downshift into "more enjoyable/meaningful" work.  All work is (to me) pretty much equally distasteful.

Brother Esau

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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2018, 09:12:19 AM »
Totally Journey. I'm too slow to be in a race anyway.


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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2018, 10:04:24 AM »
DW and I are grappling with this now, although we are far closer to FIRE than you.

Currently I earn a high salary working in the Middle East.

I donít hate my job, but am not as motivated as I could be, and could never claim to love my job. Itís meh. I could do better if I cared more.

DW would like to pack up and head back to Oz. Weíd both have to resign our jobs and find new jobs when we get back home, or reduce our post FIRE budget if we donít work, or canít find jobs.

I think that the best case is that we would earn about 60-70% post tax compared to now. Doing the same work but getting paid 2/3 is not exciting math. Weíd also have less vacation days (currently I get 6 weeks a year) and Iíd probably have to work longer hours.

Heading home would really slow down our savings. We would also pay tax on investment returns, which we generally donít now, so this would add to the gap in wealth creation.

Itís a dilemma because if not for the $🤑$ I would be 100% behind resigning and repatriating. Iíd love to be close to family once more, and out of this sandpit and back in a place with trees and grass and birds.

I have been losing sleep about the decision, so have set myself a deadline for a final decision before I return to work after our August vacation. I think it will be easier to make the right decision when I am not dealing with the day to day emotions of work.

Right at this moment I feel that the right answer is that life should be approached as a journey and not a race.

Focussing on one thing at the expense of all others is likely to end bad. There has to be some balance in life. Everything is good in moderation etc etc.

We will most likely walk away from the dollars.


  • Stubble
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Re: choosing to go on a journey rather than a race
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2018, 08:31:04 AM »
I opted for the semi-retirement route at age 30 with likely another 10 years of side hustles and part time contract work, as opposed to 4-5 years of full time corporate work. The decision was partially made for me with a layoff, which I opted to make a permanent arrangement. My reasoning was that my real estate investments covered what I consider to be a bare bones lifestyle and that I was young enough and resourceful enough to find opportunities to continue earning and saving without anfull time job. I also figured that if I decide I need to go back to full time in the next couple of years, explaining a gap in employment is a lot more understandable coming from a single, adoptive mom.  Itís working out well for me, and definitely enhancing the journey. I get to spend more time with my daughter, and never stress or worry about how to be available for her activities, sick days, pre-school vacations or doctor appointments. I get a lot of free time (even as a single mom) to pursue my own interests, and I still have enough profession contacts that thereís honestly more contract work available than I even want. I feel truly grateful for my life, for the journey. And while itís definitely requiring me to make a (at times uncomfortable) transition away from my life long, future oriented, over achieving mindset, I feel like thatís one of the most important aspects. Being forced to quiet my mind and find contentment in the merits of each day, instead of filling my day with a series of tasks that only leave enough time at the end of each day to fantasize about future happiness. To be fair, for me, that transition began about 5 years before semi-FIRE.

To the OP - it sounds like your making the absolute right decision. Youíre beginning your mental and emotional transition to FIRE by choosing a meaningful and enjoyable life over maximizing earnings. Which is kind of the entire point of frugal early retirement.  I really hope the next chapter of your career brings you a lot of happiness. And I firmly believe when the time comes youíll be more emotionally and mentally prepared for full FIRE than you would have been if you continued to let your soul get sucked out by your toxic corporate job.

The way I look at it - we prioritize free time in retirement over our earning potential post FIRE in this community. And we probably need to also prioritize our current and future sanity and health over our earning potential right now. Find the convergence between maximizing earning/saving, minimizing career length, and never sacrificing our current wellbeing.