Author Topic: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?  (Read 1893 times)

TempusFugit

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Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« on: October 07, 2017, 09:40:39 AM »
I know that many of us are looking forward to FIRE because we've grown bored with or exhausted by our current jobs or fields.  As we get closer to FI, I think many of us start to think about the option of transitioning out of our current jobs and into something either less demanding or more interesting, without the concerns of maintaining our high income and benefits. 

I've thought about going part time at my current employer as a way to transition into full RE, but that option may not be available and I would face the dilemma of either continuing in my current role or jumping ship and doing something completely different for a year or two.  The idea being that I could support myself with much less income and wouldn't have to start drawing from the stash.  It might also be a fun experience, depending on the circumstances. 

Has anyone done this and care to share your experience?  I wonder if it was psychologically difficult to move from a professional, highly compensated role where you have experience and a degree of seniority into something where maybe you're a complete noob or in a job that isn't considered to be very 'good', etc.   Seems that rationally those things wouldn't matter to someone using this as part of a FIRE strategy, but we aren't all that rational when it comes down to it. 



ender

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 10:09:26 AM »
My eventual goal is shifting int parttime work.

RedmondStash

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2017, 10:24:36 AM »
I did. I went from working full-time in the tech industry to working part-time in the games industry. Similar work, different environment and culture. Way less money, way more happiness.

The thing is, though, that "downgrading" to part-time or to something more fun still lands you in a work environment where you have obligations, bosses, coworkers, deadlines, politics, and other work stressors. I've taken months and even years off during my career, and there's an expansiveness of spirit that you get to after a few months of not being accountable to anyone that just doesn't set in even in fun, part-time work. You're still basically in an institutionalized mindset, even if you enjoy it more. So it doesn't smooth the transition as much as you might think.

I enjoy what I do, and I like that it gets me up and moving each day. I've got it pretty cushy, and the constant problem-solving is good for my brain. But I know when I do retire, it will be as much of a shock to the system as if I'd been working full-time.

Personally, I think a better way to ease into FIRE would be freelance work where you take chunks of time off. I used to freelance fall through spring and then take summers off. That more closely approximates FIRE. But it also brings more uncertainty, more hustling to find work, fewer employment benefits, and, often, much lower pay.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 07:56:15 PM by RedmondStash »

TempusFugit

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2017, 10:44:00 AM »
That's an interesting take RedmondStash.  I've done quite a bit of freelance work in the past, and it was enriching in both senses of the word, but if I were in any way relying on being able to find customers for that work I think it would have been quite stressful.  I've also always had a bit of 'impostor syndrome' in regard to presuming that my work is good enough to actually market to customers.  I sometimes feel like I've just managed to get away with something in my current job.  For 20 years. With multiple awards and always high ratings. But still.  Psychology. 



Blissful Biker

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 10:55:54 AM »
TempusFugit, believe in yourself.  You got this.  The world is your oyster, abundant with opportunity.  Choose the one that brings you the most joy.

I had a similar debate and was successful in going part time (20hrs/week) in my original career, and thus retain my healthy hourly salary.  I enjoy the work more than I did when I was full time.  Interesting challenges that I can mull over when I am out on the trails with my dog in the afternoons.  If I were to lose this position I could do something else for a lower salary and still be fine, but right now I am pretty content.

Best of luck. 

Erica

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 11:43:37 PM »
We have a few employees who did it. Reduced their hours and Supervisor positions to work part time -20 hrs/wk
This is for the medical, dental & vision benefits. Cost is $10 per mo. They will quit at age 65


Davids

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2017, 06:34:50 AM »
I definitely see my goal as shifting into a part time or consulting role when I hit the FI mark with a buffer.

SpareChange

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2017, 09:29:06 AM »
I posted elsewhere that I think this is the way I'll go. I can live on 16hrs/wk comfortably now, but I want to save up a nice stache before I drop down to that. Aiming for minimum 300k. I'll still qualify for benefits, and should have about half a year's worth of pto saved by then. Guesstimating roughly 18 months from now. I don't really have much desire to work FT till RE, both because my job is very flexible, and because I think I'd burn myself out long before then lol.

Brother Esau

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 09:35:38 AM »
I did just that 2 months ago. Switched from a private industry job to a municipal town job. Shorter work day, shorter commute, better benefits and a pension. Only negative is approximately a 10% pay reduction which is no worry since the DW and I are on track for RE in 5 to 10 years. Totally chill vibe at the new job as well. I think of this job change as part of my "Exit Strategy".

retired?

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2017, 10:42:04 AM »
I've had a hard time with it.  "It" being accepting a role with much less pay and no status.  Too large a part of how I set my personal worth was income and seniority. 

I've taken 2+ years off and have been extremely bored.  I have a wife who still works and kids that have 5+ years left in school, so I can't truly do what I'd like (travel and be 'absent' 50+% of the time).  The excess time after a certain point became a negative.

I finally took a half-time job to get out of the funk.  It uses my mind, so that is a bonus.  Although, it pays about what I earned 20+ years ago just out of college and a fraction of what I left in industry, it will provide some structure, is only a few miles away, and will be low stress.  Later, I may go back full-time until kids are out of school. 

I didn't have the option to go half-time at my last employer, but if that is an option, I'd take it. 

Psychologically, I need a job until my family life allows more freedom.

RedmondStash

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2017, 10:45:47 AM »
I've also always had a bit of 'impostor syndrome' in regard to presuming that my work is good enough to actually market to customers.  I sometimes feel like I've just managed to get away with something in my current job.  For 20 years. With multiple awards and always high ratings. But still.  Psychology.

This is so common. I don't think many people are immune, myself included. And yeah, 20+ years for me too. That's part of why the change from full-time to part-time doesn't approximate a FIRE transition for me: I still have to deal with work anxiety, even though I am lauded and appreciated by my company & customers, and generally treated quite well. When other people help define your daily environment, and you worry that someone's going to figure out that you don't know what the hell you're doing, it's hard to feel really free.

Yeah, psychology sometimes really sucks.

Hargrove

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2017, 01:38:37 PM »
I plan to downgrade. I work in a field where everyone I know (my age) with any measure of success works 60+ hours for slightly more than median pay, and business in the area has been fleeing for more than a decade. My industry will downsize massively in the next 2-5 years. That 60+ stint is not appreciated, either, it's thought of as "welcome to the working world." Anyone who thinks family life is supposed to have any priority is basically met with "but how will you advance your career?"

Ultimately, no one will care how hard you worked for Widgets Inc or Service Plus. If I have a career to advance, it will be when I'm FI and can take pay as an afterthought to doing something meaningful. So I saved up almost enough to buy a condo free and clear, which I won't - I'll put in the down to get the best rates, invest the rest, enjoy my rent being an investment in my own property, and start looking anew without the weight of the rat race.

A good friend of mine has a lot of his identity in work and doesn't understand - he knows I'm not free of ambition, but "getting ahead in work" is not one of the ambitions anymore. I told him that young people don't prefer disloyalty - they just only know the story of "someone goes to work hard for Xco and gets laid off after 3 years."

Linda_Norway

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2017, 01:48:45 PM »
If we have saved enough for FIRE from 2020, but are in 2018, we would need more stash to cover an extra year with FIRE. In that case we might apply for wokrking 50% in our normal jobs until start FIRE. As we live off 40% or our current nett income, this should go well. We will also be in lower tax brackets at 50% job. My DH is a bit worried about quitting full time. He thinks it is good to keep some job beside it. I don't agree for my part, but we'll see.

EmFrugal

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2017, 01:51:13 PM »
Psychology is real. I'm battling it right now as I build out my small business.

My husband and I both semi-retired in a sense. I chose to leave my corporate career at 28 and become an at-home mom. I did not have any desire to continue my career path and wanted to parent full-time. Three children later, I decided I was ready to work again doing something I was passionate about, so I launched my own business on a small scale. I really enjoy it and have plans to grow it over the years as my children are in school more and more. I never imagined that I would use my college degree for this, but it's something I love and I'm excited to see what it turns into. 

My husband began his career in the private sector working brutal 80 hour weeks. He had his heart set on eventually "semi-retiring" by moving to a federal government position. We saved enough money from both of our careers to buy a house, and then right after the purchase he switched to the government. His job is still full-time, but he loves it. The work-life balance is 1000x better. He has job security and no longer paces the floor at night, concerned about being a cost at a private company. We survived the layoffs thankfully during the recession when we lived in NYC, so I think some of his concern about losing his private-sector job stemmed from that. Overall though, he is far less stressed, has much better hours, and enjoys what he does. And now he has time to pursue passions like guitar and spending quality time with our kids.

dresden

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2017, 07:14:30 PM »
I am easing into by switching from 40 to 24 hours.  It's not so much by choice though - injuries from an auto accident are kind of forcing my hand, but it might end up being the best decision ever made for me.  I get a pension in 9 years which should cover all/most of my expenses until social security starts.   I would have to draw about 6-8% to cover my expenses until then so part-time seems like the best compromise to avoid draining my resources.

TempusFugit

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2017, 07:43:12 PM »
I've had a hard time with it.  "It" being accepting a role with much less pay and no status.  Too large a part of how I set my personal worth was income and seniority. 


This is what I was getting at with the original question.  I wonder how I would feel if I left a more "prestigious" job and took something that would subjectively be a step down even after money per se was no longer an issue.  I fear that my own pride would make me defensive about it.   Like I'd have to explain to everyone that I was really quite well off and I'm just doing this for something to do with my days.   

I just fantasize sometimes about 'the path not taken' and wonder if I might tackle something else just to see if I could do it, without the danger of being financially dependent on succeeding. 

I wrote in my journal about the phases of our lives, and how it seems to me that for our youth we have these 'next things' that we look forward to and that helps us to keep trudging along through whatever difficulties we are currently experiencing.   And other than retirement, which in and of itself is an absence of something rather than a 'something', I think I'm looking for a 'next thing'.  I suppose this is what triggers 'mid-life crises' where we start to realize that maybe we've accomplished all that we're going to accomplish, that this is it. Which is silly, of course. It's only 'it' when we're on our deathbed.   

Thanks for your input. 

gerardc

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2017, 07:49:04 PM »
One underrated option I thought about would be keeping the same full-time job, but stop advancing. It becomes easier with time, plus you go by reputation, and you have more knowledge. You can just start coasting, working less, you'll get less comp via bonuses but that's still better than going 4 days a week. Just food for thought

gerardc

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2017, 07:52:56 PM »
That's an interesting take RedmondStash.  I've done quite a bit of freelance work in the past, and it was enriching in both senses of the word, but if I were in any way relying on being able to find customers for that work I think it would have been quite stressful.  I've also always had a bit of 'impostor syndrome' in regard to presuming that my work is good enough to actually market to customers.  I sometimes feel like I've just managed to get away with something in my current job.  For 20 years. With multiple awards and always high ratings. But still.  Psychology.

I find it funny that people claim to have imposter syndrome then try to justify with facts how they must be good enough actually. Are you an imposter or are you not? You're not a real imposter if you don't truly feed bad :D

Besides, what if everyone is an imposter?
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 07:55:00 PM by gerardc »

gerardc

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2017, 08:08:25 PM »
I've had a hard time with it.  "It" being accepting a role with much less pay and no status.  Too large a part of how I set my personal worth was income and seniority. 

This is what I was getting at with the original question.  I wonder how I would feel if I left a more "prestigious" job and took something that would subjectively be a step down even after money per se was no longer an issue.  I fear that my own pride would make me defensive about it.   Like I'd have to explain to everyone that I was really quite well off and I'm just doing this for something to do with my days.   


If you care about status and prestige, start a business or consultancy. This way, you can still boast about your hourly rate, and success is 'hidden', i.e. depends on how much money you have (which you do have, right?), so you'll be fine.

retired?

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2017, 12:11:02 AM »
Time Flees......If you are new to MMM, I will note that many here are not sympathetic to the idea of not having enough to do or missing your income (more precisely, the status that comes with the income).

There is a very broad range of people on the forum.  At one point, I can recall several posts about 'not knowing how to fill time' receiving very negative responses.  "come on man, just get in ur kayak and enjoy the Pacific NW.  You must be a loser if you don't know what to do with your free time".  Not realizing that many of us have familial obligations and do not live in locations that are a step from outdoor activity.

Anyhow, I understand.  And, I expect many others do as well. 

Funny thing is that, while I have been struggling with the options of 1) being retired/unemployed 2) semi retirement, lesser pay work, and 3) heading back into the game, my wife has been telling people that I am retired and they say "that's awesome". 

But, while it's been a struggle, I cannot see myself going back into that corporate mold, so I am taking option 2 for now.  Things may change, but I'll be somewhat busy and happier.

jacquespluto

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2017, 01:19:51 AM »
Following since I'm looking to do something similar in the near future.  I'll be looking for a part-time (20-30 hrs/wk.) and work from home.  Although in my field (finance), this might be tough to find.  Seems most of these types of roles are for sales, tech or customer service.
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spokey doke

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2017, 08:31:51 AM »
I quit my cushy academic post to open a business and much of it has been great...no more having to deal with all the BS of the former job, being appreciated regularly by my customers who very enthusiastically support what I do now.

The challenges for me include what was mentioned above...not having the freedom to fully take time off due to family expectations/commitments.  So I work, full time.  That will need to change and I think I know how to make it happen, but fighting the (mostly self-imposed) expectations of pulling my own weight will be challenging.

Low pay...like really low, is a bummer, but that was my decision, and I'm making as much or more than the business plan projected, so I'm OK with that.

As for low status...I really like not being in a position to care, as the status wars of academia are a complete joke.  I never was one to put my PhD on my wall or refer to myself as 'Dr. Spokey Doke'...kind of like stealth wealth.  I like telling people what I do now, and actually do so with more satisfaction than before.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 08:38:11 AM by spokey doke »
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John Doe

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2017, 01:47:29 PM »
I did this in April.  While I am still in the same role, my commitment is now 50%. I now show up at the office two days a week and then handle whatever else may come up via the phone or email. In my case I have a younger person that is not quite ready to take over for me and needs about another two years of mentoring to get sufficiently capable to be at the point where my employer is less likely to have a skills gap should I have simply left.

To date my observations on this change are:

- I have had no problem filling my time but admittedly am concerned on what I will do now that the weather is turning and winter is fast approaching.  This is not a big concern at the moment, but I do think it will be more challenging

- I have been a little surprised at how quickly my work environment has changed ie I have become little forgotten at work - all queries go to the younger person and they are acting more independently than I had anticipated. This has been a minor shot to the ego as I did not anticipate it happening so quickly

- Despite the above I am still valued as all of the big issues still come to me first

All in all I think  it has been a successful transition. I think I had a little bit of a belief that my skill set was very difficult to replace and while that has proven partly true, perhaps not to the extent I envisioned.  Donít get me wrong, I have no regrets and am fortunate to be FI at age 50 to be able to do something like this, but as noted I was a little surprised that my ego took a little bruising when my professional world seemed to move on relatively seamlessly. 

Would I do it again??  In a heartbeat!


TempusFugit

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2017, 02:33:07 PM »
I'm definitely thinking about transitioning to part time in a few years at my current company but I have a couple of concerns about it. First, it isn't a given that I would be able to do it at all.  While the company does have a policy / procedure to make this transition, I think it also has to be something that the department approves on a case-by-case basis. 

Second, I wonder how it would really work in practice, since, as a FT worker, I've certainly worked my share of nights and weekends and on call rotations, etc as the demands of the business required.  If I'm technically classified (and paid) as a PT worker, I just wonder what the expectations would be vis-a-vis these sorts of things if it was crunch time on a project.  I wouldn't want to be working FT hours for PT pay. 

Of course, over the years I've seen close up how some people have "retired in place" successfully.  I have no idea why it's been allowed to happen, but it sure has, and it looks like a sweet deal.  I think I'd have a hard time living with myself though, as I see that as  bit of a moral / ethical issue.  What I mean is when people somehow keep their jobs for years but don't actually do any work or even keep typical hours at the office. 


Mika M

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2017, 04:11:33 PM »
This is exactly how I've been feeling lately. I haven't gotten to the point of taking the plunge, yet, but inching closer every day. DH and I had originally been planning to stick it out here in the DC area with our cush jobs and his relaxed Reserves unit for the next 6-8 years to get our net worth up to 1.6 mil and let him finish up his 20 cause his unit is really close to where we live...

BUT... as our number grows surprisingly well every year and pushes up ever higher... it gets harder and harder to keep punching the card and watching the clock and the calendar tick by.

Our dream is to relocate clear across the country to Bend, Oregon. My ideal is in 2 years, in time for kiddo to start first grade, because I feel like that would be the optimal window for making such a big transition with a small child. DH and I would take some time off work and decompress a bit, and we'd trek back here on school breaks for him to knock out reserves time (since there's a good chance his unit would allow him to do that which is a nice bonus)... we start drawing down on savings, and if we want or need some extra cash maybe he'd pick up part time work as a Lyft driver and I'd maybe join a staffing agency and ask for temp-only work... or just enjoy the time off and see if other inspiration comes to us.

It would be easier to just keep pushing out here while he finishes up Reserves, piling up more savings through our cush jobs all the while... But within the next couple of years our number should be approaching 1mil, maybe well passed if you include equity (which I may because we're seriously thinking of switching from mortgaging/owning to renting)...

But even just looking at where our number is now; it's already starting to feel like we've got a winning lottery ticket, and that we're just keeping it tucked in the drawer, not cashed out, for some possible date in the mid- to long-term future.

DH always says 6-8 years is certainly better than 20+, which is true. And our situation is quite cush, I really have nothing to complain about that doesn't count as 'first world problems'... But I've started reaching the point where just pushing out in this routine another few months has started to feel oppressively soul crushing. And the trade-offs of taking that plunge into semi or even full retirement before we reach our original number seem ever more worth the risk.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 04:13:54 PM by Mika M »
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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2017, 02:10:18 AM »
- I have been a little surprised at how quickly my work environment has changed ie I have become little forgotten at work - all queries go to the younger person and they are acting more independently than I had anticipated. This has been a minor shot to the ego as I did not anticipate it happening so quickly

There is a Dutch expression: out of the eye, out of the heart.
If you are only in the office 2 days a week, you are no longer the person they think of first. There will be others who are available more often, who are building up knowledge at high speed. What you experience doesn't surprise me. I understand that it is difficult for the ego.
You get the same feeling when you quit your job and you hear a year later that someone else has taken over your position and is doing a very good job. Obviously you weren't to critical to the company after all.

TempusFugit

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2017, 09:48:12 AM »
There is a Dutch expression: out of the eye, out of the heart.

Here we say "Out of sight, out of mind."

Polish_Hammer

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #27 on: October 11, 2017, 08:46:35 AM »
I am there as well.  Working for Evil Megabank has both impacted health (heart attack last year), and sucked my soul. Part time is not an option so trying to find a downshift career change job for 5 years and then FIRE.  Less pay seems easy to find but fun and less stress is the challenge

Larsg

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2017, 05:41:35 PM »
Time Flees......If you are new to MMM, I will note that many here are not sympathetic to the idea of not having enough to do or missing your income (more precisely, the status that comes with the income).
  "come on man, just get in ur kayak and enjoy the Pacific NW. 

Agree, 3M's experience the joy of just being alive, enjoying the rhythms of the day, and exercising imagination to explore all of the possibilities. Once you have that realization, many come to regret not retiring much sooner.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2017, 03:27:37 PM »
I did this in April.  While I am still in the same role, my commitment is now 50%. I now show up at the office two days a week and then handle whatever else may come up via the phone or email. In my case I have a younger person that is not quite ready to take over for me and needs about another two years of mentoring to get sufficiently capable to be at the point where my employer is less likely to have a skills gap should I have simply left.

To date my observations on this change are:

- I have had no problem filling my time but admittedly am concerned on what I will do now that the weather is turning and winter is fast approaching.  This is not a big concern at the moment, but I do think it will be more challenging

- I have been a little surprised at how quickly my work environment has changed ie I have become little forgotten at work - all queries go to the younger person and they are acting more independently than I had anticipated. This has been a minor shot to the ego as I did not anticipate it happening so quickly

- Despite the above I am still valued as all of the big issues still come to me first

All in all I think  it has been a successful transition. I think I had a little bit of a belief that my skill set was very difficult to replace and while that has proven partly true, perhaps not to the extent I envisioned.  Donít get me wrong, I have no regrets and am fortunate to be FI at age 50 to be able to do something like this, but as noted I was a little surprised that my ego took a little bruising when my professional world seemed to move on relatively seamlessly. 

Would I do it again??  In a heartbeat!

This is good info.  This is exactly what I'm hoping to do over the next couple years, train the person under me to do more and more of my job, and go down to 4, then 3 days, then to as-needed contract.  No idea what to expect on how it'll play out.

Rhoon

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #30 on: October 14, 2017, 09:16:30 PM »
Since I plan on sailing away on a catamaran, I'm going to spend a year and get certified in maintaining diesel engines. I plan to use this to generate some side income while traveling the world's oceans and when my kid(s) become college age, I'll take my wife to Canada and help her get her dual citizenship.

TempusFugit

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Re: Downgrade or change your job to ease into FIRE?
« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2017, 09:31:30 PM »
Since I plan on sailing away on a catamaran, I'm going to spend a year and get certified in maintaining diesel engines. I plan to use this to generate some side income while traveling the world's oceans and when my kid(s) become college age, I'll take my wife to Canada and help her get her dual citizenship.

Are you already an experienced sailor?   This is something I am considering as part of my post employment life.  Mono hulls not cats, but same idea.  I do tend to think that the idea of living on a sailboat is likely better than the reality of it for most, but it does have a certain appeal.    I got my keelboat certification a couple of years ago and plan to do some live aboard cruising courses in the next couple of years to see how I like it.