Author Topic: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing  (Read 19576 times)

sol

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FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« on: January 03, 2014, 12:03:14 AM »
Updating all of my spreadsheets at the end of the year has clarified for me just how close to financial independence we suddenly find ourselves.  Barring a catastrophic market crash, our jobs will be optional sometime in 2016, before any of our three kids even start high school.

I've really nerded out on the early retirement spreadsheet math, trying to figure out exactly how to best optimize this process and claim our financial freedom.  The problem is that this nut is now cracked.  I feel like I've solved it, the end is in sight, and it no longer feels like the lofty aspiration that it once did.  It isn't this amazing life accomplishment I had envisioned it would be, it's just an excuse to bail on my career.  And I like my career.
 
With the financial constraints of my life suddenly removed, I've had time to ponder our family values and try to envision what kind of lives we really want to lead.  What mark do I want to leave on the world?  Retiring after spending less time working than I spent in school isn't it.  Abandoning work that I find meaningful and fulfilling isn't it.  It's almost like now that I don't need to have a job anymore, having a job has suddenly become much more important to me. 

If I mopped floors for a living it might be different.  Some jobs are just jobs, but if you like what you do and it provides purpose in your life, what's so great about early retirement? 

Maybe I've just lost my enthusiasm for the whole concept.   MMM took up the FIRE torch and pitched it as an interesting and motivating goal, but like many goals it seems like the seeking is more fun than the having.  Now that financial independence is nearly upon us, I've begun to wonder if it's really all that great. 

To wit, how many children of billionaires wander aimlessly through life snorting cocaine off of Lamborghinis?  What's the point of a life with abundant money, if it has no meaning, leaves no mark?

Does anyone here have a plan for their post-FIRE time that they hope will tie a bow on their short and brutish life?  I'm open to suggestions here.  Please?
 
 
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 12:11:50 AM by sol »

arebelspy

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 12:08:29 AM »
Each of us has to find our own path to fulfillment.

FI opens up options to allow you to seek out and walk that path.

If your work is that path, terrific.  The FI then gives you the FU money to be able to do it the way you want, without compromising yourself.

FIRE isn't a solution to life fulfillment, it's a way to help you achieve it.

In other words, you've been approaching it as an end itself, rather than a means to an end.  It just may happen that for you, the end is already what you've been working on already; that's terrific, no wasted years.
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Junior667

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 12:16:13 AM »
You aren't required to quit when you reach FI. I think the idea is that it gives you the ability to act on what you find to be worthwhile. If you have the means and you decide to go fishing instead of work, so be it. I would probably do a lot of local volunteer work myself.

HappierAtHome

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 12:32:15 AM »
You need purpose to be happy. For a lot of us, work interferes with our ability to pursue the 'purpose' we feel we have (whether to be full time parents, undertake creative endeavours, or whatever your individual special thing is).

If work provides you with a purpose that you're happy with - awesome! Good stuff! I don't really see a problem there :-) keep doing what you're doing, keep being happy, if it ever stops making you happy / fulfilling your purpose then you'll be able to quit and do what it is that WILL make you happy.

Adventine

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 01:52:55 AM »
Hello sol, I envy your dilemma!

If you want to continue at your job because it fulfills you, then by all means, stay at your job. But when the work stops being so fulfilling/interesting/fun, well, starting in 2016 you're going to have the complete freedom to quit on the spot and do whatever you want.

Congratulations in advance!

Rural

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 03:47:32 AM »
Suddenly, come 2016, you will not have any reasons to consider playing the politics. Just do it right, since it matters. I bet you find yourself winning at a lot of the politics that way; people will see a shift in attitude (even if you mostly avoid the politics now, which I'm sure you do) and respond to that with a level of respect that's largely unconscious. Be sure you think through your positions carefully, because you will have more influence. You need to be right.

It's a good position to be in. I won't be quitting right away myself, but I already don't want the promotions that I'm being groomed for, so it's a balancing act. Consider how you can best make a difference in the work that matters to you, and do that. You won't have to consider anything else anymore.

Jack

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 04:57:33 AM »
If you're looking for something to do that's expensive and potentially meaningful, there's always philanthropy or politics.

ender

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2014, 06:28:41 AM »
I fully expect I will work some until I am in my mid-50s and potentially even 60s (assuming I live that long, I guess). I also fully expect work will become optional well before then.

But if I get to a point where I am close to FI or past it, my lifestyle will allow me to have immense freedom with my resources - whether working and giving crazy amounts financially or giving my time, choosing a more satisfying or less stressful career, or taking a 3 month sabbatical/vacation JUST CUZ or spending much more time with my hopeful children.

This is what pursuit of FI and MMM lifestyle is for me. It's not a "hurry up and quit working and do nothing" thing for me. It's a pursuit of a state where I can "live life how I want to live it and live it to the full." FI and anti-materialism fit perfectly with that goal. But when I'm at that point, who knows where I'll be. Maybe I'll be making $150k a year at a job I love and will be able to give away $5,000 a month to charities I support. Maybe I could fully fund a new one myself. Maybe I request to work 32 hours a week. Who knows. But what I do know is I want the freedom to make those choices.

Pursuing FI lets me dream of this. These dreams are not going to change if I actually hit there but will become reality. Maybe I'll continue working and nothing will really change. I don't know.

If you look at MMM he still works, too. Just on his terms completely and with no "I need a paycheck" incentive whatsoever.

adam

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2014, 07:57:55 AM »
I like my job enough on some days that I'd be willing to stay long enough to 'officially' retire from it.  Other days, not so much.  I think if I was about to go FI, I would probably keep working, but on more of a part time basis.  Maybe just enough to keep some heath insurance?

Otherwise, I'd go fishing.  A lot.

Russ

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 08:04:04 AM »
The problem is that this nut is now cracked.  I feel like I've solved it, the end is in sight, and it no longer feels like the lofty aspiration that it once did.

I think this is the way it is with most big goals people have. Not to go all zen on you, but that's the difference between the focus being the journey vs. the destination.

MooseOutFront

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2014, 08:36:47 AM »
We have specific plans for when we reach FI.  It involves moving a couple hours away and each working for ourselves without the pressure of that having to be immediately profitable.  That envisioned lifestyle is the destination and it just so happens to also be another journey.  I suppose if the goal was only to quit job or not quit job then I could see a lack of enthusiasm as the goal approaches, especially if one likes their job.

wing117

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2014, 08:57:39 AM »
I can only offer advise/reasons based upon my own experience and outlook at this time. When you asked "What mark do I want to leave on the world?"I believe this is where financial independence can really help and allow us to truly pursue that question.

For myself, being financially independent will allow me to focus on what I wish to pursue - which is the sciences. I want to further the understanding of the human species without worry if a prime opportunity has an appropriate salary sticker attached to it. Going to school myself will become easier and more dedicated, I can take opportunities that pay little to no money and not care. I can pursue truly meaningful work regardless of the benefits. When I'm financially independent, I don't mind volunteering at a lab if it means I am contributing to advancements for our species and planet. (Granted, I'd hope people aren't so cheap, but that's not the point here).

I have no desire to lead a life that does not contribute to society - and it sounds like you don't either. My FI goals are to free me up from the worry of sustaining myself, so I can focus on making a mark, whatever or where ever that mark may be.

Since you've completed this one lofty aspiration (FI), perhaps it's time to set another?

Allen

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2014, 09:11:33 AM »
The end result is still fantastic. 

You are now realizing you are choosing to work because you WANT to not because you HAVE to.  That is a huge realization.  At any time you can change your mind and walk away without being beholden to anyone.  You now have freedom to direct your own life.  You choose to keep working.  That's fine because it is your choice not your overlords choice.

matchewed

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2014, 09:12:43 AM »
All FIRE has been about for me is options. I'm still farther away but the journey has allowed me to already change my mind about what I want and how to achieve it. It has allowed me to want things on my terms and not on other peoples (unless I value and want their participation). Whether I work come FIRE or not I'll still have the options and freedoms with a foundation below me to pursue them.

So alongside what other people have said, when I first started this FIRE was "THE GOAL". Now it is just "A PATH". While I go down the path I'll become FIRE, but it is not the end of the path anymore just a highlight along the way.

RootofGood

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2014, 09:15:17 AM »
I started a thread not long ago that kind of asks the same question.  https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/money-mind-health-family-friends-happiness  What's important in life?  I took the empirical path of determining what's important by focusing on how I actually spend my time (or at least intend to spend my time). 

For me, the important things are money, mind, health, family, friends, and happiness (in no particular order).  Money is primarily of instrumental value to enable the other five things that are important.  Others in the thread suggested that "spirituality" or "purpose" could be added to the list.  I kind of feel like the six things I mentioned all equate to purpose in my own life (as in I don't really feel I'm missing something in life). 

Maybe I'm too pragmatic in a sense.  The vast majority of us alive today won't make any lasting impact in the annals of history.  I'm not saying "don't change the world", but pursuing something just to earn a place in history is probably a fruitless pursuit.  If it's important, go for it, make history, change the world. 

Just don't waste your life away searching for some higher purpose when the things that are really important to you are right in front of you begging for attention.  Maybe some day I'll find some purpose and put more energy toward fulfilling that purpose, but for now the six things on my list keep me plenty busy and engaged. 


jrhampt

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2014, 09:38:04 AM »
Maybe I'm too pragmatic in a sense.  The vast majority of us alive today won't make any lasting impact in the annals of history.  I'm not saying "don't change the world", but pursuing something just to earn a place in history is probably a fruitless pursuit.  If it's important, go for it, make history, change the world. 

Just don't waste your life away searching for some higher purpose when the things that are really important to you are right in front of you begging for attention.  Maybe some day I'll find some purpose and put more energy toward fulfilling that purpose, but for now the six things on my list keep me plenty busy and engaged.

Agreed.  One of the things which recently drove this home for me was standing in the ruins of ancient Rome.  The quote which came to mind was "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair..." from Shelley's Ozymandias. 

Free_at_50

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2014, 09:52:37 AM »
All I can say is that I have enjoyed my current career much better since realizing I am FI and can leave on my own terms whenever I want.  I have also been able to shift some of my focus onto other things I enjoy without worrying about the impact it might have on my career.  All around a much better way to live life.  :)

Tyler

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2014, 09:58:23 AM »

With the financial constraints of my life suddenly removed, I've had time to ponder our family values and try to envision what kind of lives we really want to lead.  What mark do I want to leave on the world?  Retiring after spending less time working than I spent in school isn't it.  Abandoning work that I find meaningful and fulfilling isn't it.  It's almost like now that I don't need to have a job anymore, having a job has suddenly become much more important to me. 

If I mopped floors for a living it might be different.  Some jobs are just jobs, but if you like what you do and it provides purpose in your life, what's so great about early retirement? 

Maybe I've just lost my enthusiasm for the whole concept.   MMM took up the FIRE torch and pitched it as an interesting and motivating goal, but like many goals it seems like the seeking is more fun than the having.  Now that financial independence is nearly upon us, I've begun to wonder if it's really all that great. 

I'm also near the FI threshold (this year if things go well), and I understand how you feel.  In my experience your feelings about work will flip flop a few times as you approach your goal.

The reasons for this (for me at least) are:

1) Work is always a mixed bag and even the best jobs have painful tradeoffs
2) People change, and the thing you find fulfilling now may lose its magic next year.  This can also happen in reverse.
3) Loving your job is part reality and part fantasy you tell yourself to provide meaning to your own life.
4) You tend to find joy in the things you're good at.  You're good at your job because that's what you've always done.  But what if you fell into a different path and became good at something else?  You may have found it equally or even more fulfilling!
5) Change is scary.  So keeping your current work routine is reassuring.  But challenging yourself to learn and do something new can be extremely rewarding as well.

Life is a journey, and there is more than one joyful path.  Keep an open mind.  FI is simply a tool for removing barriers to your multitude of options. 

Eric

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2014, 10:33:30 AM »
4) You tend to find joy in the things you're good at.  You're good at your job because that's what you've always done.  But what if you fell into a different path and became good at something else?  You may have found it equally or even more fulfilling!

That's a really good point.  I've never thought of it like that before.

oldtoyota

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2014, 01:17:48 PM »
 
Maybe I've just lost my enthusiasm for the whole concept.   MMM took up the FIRE torch and pitched it as an interesting and motivating goal, but like many goals it seems like the seeking is more fun than the having.  Now that financial independence is nearly upon us, I've begun to wonder if it's really all that great. 

To wit, how many children of billionaires wander aimlessly through life snorting cocaine off of Lamborghinis?  What's the point of a life with abundant money, if it has no meaning, leaves no mark?

FWIW, I always snorted my cocaine off of a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe, but to each his own.

Since you know you're going to get to FI, consider what it would be like to you to stay at the job vs doing something else. What do you find meaningful outside of work? This could be:

Working with youth
Volunteering in disasters
Working with animals
Helping at-risk kids
Feeding people who are hungry
Teaching financial skills to someone
Volunteering at a historical place (Mount Vernon comes to mind) that is a national landmark.

Pick one of the above or one you find more meaningful and weigh it against your career and job. What do you personally want to accomplish in your life, and how best can you go about it?

Once you reflect on that, you might find yourself closer to an answer.

Also, don't expect a quick answer. Let yourself think for months if you must. You have time.

I am a few years behind you, yet I am giving thought now to what I want to do in retirement. I might write more books or work as a disaster volunteer--or both. I don't know! I am considering a lot of possibilities at the moment and nothing is off the table in this brainstorming stage.

Be well!

No Name Guy

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2014, 01:53:58 PM »
Quote
Does anyone here have a plan for their post-FIRE time that they hope will tie a bow on their short and brutish life?

Yup.  FI / ER / IW is merely the means to the end.  I envision spending a LOT more time at various activities I engage in currently, but can't really devote myself to fully since I still have to work. 

Quote
With the financial constraints of my life suddenly removed, I've had time to ponder our family values and try to envision what kind of lives we really want to lead.  What mark do I want to leave on the world?  Retiring after spending less time working than I spent in school isn't it.  Abandoning work that I find meaningful and fulfilling isn't it.  It's almost like now that I don't need to have a job anymore, having a job has suddenly become much more important to me. 

I guess I view work the differently than you Sol - working for money, for me at least, isn't the meaningful aspect of life.  Its a way to produce the resources I need to do what I want.  The other activities I'd rather do, in my case volunteer work for causes I care about and epic Wilderness journeys, are what is meaningful - to me personally, and at least to the volunteer work, to the world.  I can do more "worthwhile" things there than I can at the money making job. 

I don't know what you do for a living, but one option would be to do your job, but as / for a charity.  I could see a physician, dentist, nurse, etc for example, doing charity work with their profession, in lieu of paid work.  Similarly, a skilled plumber, electrician or the other trades could volunteer at Habitat for Humanity once FI / ER / IW, as another example.  This would probably apply to nearly any job - some organization somewhere would like to have you helping out them and their cause with your skill set. 

Transitioning from paid to volunteer / charity work upon hitting FI / ER / IW wouldn't be "abandoning" work so much as shifting the focus of the material benefits of the work from "me" to "thee".

Best of luck in finding your path Sol. 

Guizmo

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2014, 02:10:25 PM »
I like my job a lot. It is very fulfilling. But to be honest there are other things I would like doing more that I can't do now because of my job. Heck, once I am FI, I would see if I could cut back working to maybe 1 day a week and continue to do the things that bring more enjoyment in my life.

If your job is the thing that you wish you could do, even if no one paid you to do it, there is nothing wrong with that. We all like what we like.

ShavinItForLater

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2014, 02:46:34 PM »
Sol, I think what you're experiencing is likely quite common for the situation.  When you work for years devoting most of your waking hours to a goal, with no end in sight, and suddenly you've achieved it and reach the end--now what?  So much of life and identity has been focused around work.  So much of our culture and society is built around the assumption that you will work for a living for most of your life.  From what I can glean from your posts, there may also be an element of guilt or feeling of excess when you have more than enough (maybe not, just a bit of speculation).

As a general recommendation, if you have not already done so, I'd recommend you read some of the better material out there about the purpose of life--books like Man's Search for Meaning and The Denial of Death would be some initial suggestions.  Only you can decide your life's purpose of course, but you've already started by saying that you'd like to leave a mark--the next question is what kind of mark you want to leave.  Is your current work it?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'd say for most people likely not, but certainly there are many exceptions. 

Enjoying your job may or may not come with mark-leaving potential, by your own standards.  You've implied you find it meaningful and fulfilling--is that enough for you?  Or would there be a better way to leave your mark?

Depending on how things go this year I may also be at/past the FI point.  Personally I feel like I've sacrificed a lot, probably too much, for my work, especially in terms of time and relationships with my family and friends.  I'd like to put a stop to that.  In my case, I feel my work has been valuable to those I've served in it, and I've enjoyed a fair amount of it, but fulfilling my life's purpose?  Definitely not.  I can't say that I have a grand plan for fulfilling my life's purpose fully formed in my mind, but I do have ideas on which directions I'd like to head, at least in the short term.  In my mind, having a path is probably one of the more important things--even if you don't have the destination fixed at the outset.


[Mod Edit: Underline Tag Fixed.]
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 08:24:45 PM by arebelspy »

ChoicesChoices

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2014, 02:50:00 PM »
I am in a similar position, Sol.  AND I wish I could have become FI sooner, because what I am finding (with one child in 6th grade and the other in 10th) is that there are so many things I could do to enrich my kids learning if I had the time.  I do a lot more than most parents even now while working full time.  And I want to do so much more.  I will be leaving my job before my 6th grader enters high school and just as the other enters college.  They are very active in so many things and there's much to do to  support those interests in terms of me giving my time (helping with marching band, fundraisers, science projects, college visits, arranging job shadowing, summer camps, and on and on).  You are lucky that you will be in a position to be there for each of your kids' junior high and high school years and into college with no time constraints (if you so choose).

After that, I envision myself doing 2 things that are meaningful to me:  taking random classes at a university (my local one or one in my travels)...I love learning, I love the camaraderie of university learning, it is so fun!, and second, traveling the US, engaging with people.  Many yearn to travel internationally, and I may also do that someday, but traveling the US and truly experiencing people and places right here, is very appealing.  I am willing to trust that engaging in those two things will lead to countless opportunities for me to make a difference in other peoples' lives as well as find fulfillment in my own.

I also want to add that 2 things have surfaced for me since realizing (within the last few months) that FI is just around the corner (if not here already): 1. I'm bummed that there's not a whole lot for me to do in my spreadsheet....everything is pretty much humming along. 2. I am now very interested in understanding/running scenarios for actual income generation/tax implications...so NEW SPREADSHEET!!  yay!


mjs111

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2014, 03:09:41 PM »
I became financially independent several years ago (living expenses these days are about 2% of net worth) but I keep working because I love what I do.  The problem for me is that what I do (digital visual effects) is a very volatile field.  Companies go in and out of business all the time.  Having the ability to choose my projects, only move when I really want to for a job, being able to walk away if I want, and always feeling secure that I know where my next meal is coming from is priceless. 

If you love what you do, great!  Celebrate that. Few people can say that.  If you love what you do AND you're financial independent, wow!  You're in an even smaller category.  Relish that!  Don't be disappointed in it.


Mike


sol

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #25 on: January 03, 2014, 10:43:31 PM »
Suddenly, come 2016, you will not have any reasons to consider playing the politics.

I realize that every job has some bad politics, and I typically find those easy to avoid.  What's harder to avoid is the drudge work, the repetitive paperwork filing or meetings or reporting details or annual recertification trainings that everyone dreads.  Those are harder to get away from, and to simply stop doing them would have significant negative consequences.


If you're looking for something to do that's expensive and potentially meaningful, there's always philanthropy or politics.

Philanthropy requires working longer, to do "correctly".  Elected office sounds like all of the worst parts of my job without any of the highlights, but I might consider unelected positions like a seat on the city planning commission.

I think if I was about to go FI, I would probably keep working, but on more of a part time basis. 

Some jobs are harder to do part time than others.  I'm not sure mine is amenable to downsizing, without taking a demotion.  Which might be a good way to go, actually.

One of the things which recently drove this home for me was standing in the ruins of ancient Rome.  The quote which came to mind was "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair..." from Shelley's Ozymandias. 

I think that poem is too often cited as an excuse for not trying.  I accept that my life is small and insignificant before the sands of time.  That does not imply I should commit suicide, or become a hedonistic drug addict.  Even a fleetingly mortal visitor to our universe can aspire to something, and find value in the pursuit of it, knowing it is ultimately fruitless.

Besides, Percy found a kind of immortality in the sonnet itself, which was kind of the point.  It's hipster irony in the Napoleonic era.

3) Loving your job is part reality and part fantasy you tell yourself to provide meaning to your own life.

I'm still debating how much 3) applies to me.  I feel like my job provides me an opportunity to do good in the world, a platform from which to enact change that would not be available to me as a private citizen.  I'm not sure how much I derive meaning from the position vs how much I think of the position as a tool to help realize change.

in my case volunteer work for causes I care about and epic Wilderness journeys, are what is meaningful - to me personally, and at least to the volunteer work, to the world.  I can do more "worthwhile" things there than I can at the money making job. 

I don't know what you do for a living, but one option would be to do your job, but as / for a charity.

My job IS a cause I care about, and it pays me to go on epic wilderness journeys!  Without providing too much detail, suffice it to say that working for the federal government allows me to accomplish things that would be much more difficult to do while working for an NGO.

As a general recommendation, if you have not already done so, I'd recommend you read some of the better material out there about the purpose of life--books like Man's Search for Meaning and The Denial of Death would be some initial suggestions.

I'll look them up.  Thanks for the suggestion.


If you love what you do AND you're financial independent, wow!  You're in an even smaller category.  Relish that!  Don't be disappointed in it.

I'm hoping to find myself comfortably in that position.  It does highlight, however, the difficulty in finding meaning in that situation.  As I mentioned earlier, consider the thousands and thousands of trust fund kids, energetic young children of the super rich, who will never need to earn a paycheck in their entire lives.  Some of them become layabouts or playboys, but a significant portion seek meaningful work not for the money but for the influence, for the betterment of it.  They support PETA or crusade against child labor laws or found startup companies, but the point is that some of them do it really poorly and only a few manage to make a difference, even with their nigh unlimited resources.  This is the stratospheric zone in which I am trying to envision myself living, making decisions about how to live that have nothing to do with money.  It's a very different sort of calculus than worrying about whether to max your 401k or prepay your mortgage, and my competitive spirit struggles with understanding the metric by which success in that realm is measured.

chasesfish

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2014, 05:03:37 AM »
Sol -Don't begin to compare yourself to "trust fund" kids or what I like to call 3rd generation wealth.  You earned your way to FI and will never have those issues (more below)

I am a firm believer that meaningful work creates fulfillment - for some people like MMM, that meaningful work is building things, educating people about money, and raising a child.   Meaningful work can come in many forms, you will have the freedom to pick what meaningful work is to you.  I've found that most decent professional jobs are a combination of meaningful work and BS.  If you can move yours over to a high level of meaningful work and a low level of BS, then go for it.

I am in a similar dilemma as you, thanks to the market gains this past year after 10 hard years of saving, it looks like I can also pull off FI by 2016 and be extremely comfortable if I wait until 2018 (at the ripe old age of 36).  I've started asking people what they would do and its amazing how many still want to work.  One of my mentors shared with me yesterday that he could have walked away 3 years ago, but just enjoyed half of his job too much.  He recently took a "demotion" to cut out 75% of the BS he had to deal with and have a comfortable job he enjoys for the next 15 years.

There's also a blog that Brandon Turner wrote on MMM, I don't have the link, but I'd suggest reading that.  He really articulates what you're thinking about after he quit his job.



On a side note regarding "trust fund kids", one of the things that makes this country great is wealth mobility.  In the US we typically see the 1st generation get wealthy, the 2nd manage to keep it, and the 3rd blow it.  I think the far extremes at both ends of the spectrum really blind people to just how mobile wealth is in this country.  At the very top, there's enough assets and fancy trusts and lawyers to protect dumbass kids from themselves, and at the very bottom, there's horrible family situations, drugs, violence, an a culture that resists education that creates the cycle of enabling poverty.   In between, there is a ton of opportunity.  Most people on this board who will achieve FI will be considered wealthy, even if they've never done blow off a Lamborghini.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2014, 06:00:45 AM »
Just because you're in the same category of financial freedom as some trust fund kid doesn't mean you'll have the same lack of impact with your drives (projects, charities, and the like). You've had the advantage of building your skills to do those sorts of things. Working towards financial freedom has given you skill sets they will never comprehend let alone posses.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2014, 06:40:05 AM »
Interesting dilemma.

I'll probably be in the same boat as you. My fiancee and I are both very mission-driven -- she is currently working on a PhD with the goal of designing more culturally-relevant resources for domestic violence victims. I'm a programmer in Silicon Valley. I used to work at a cause-driven startup, though now I'm in a better-paying but less altruistic job.

She asked me: "so, what will you do after you retire?"
I replied: "Apply my talents to whatever problem I want. That probably means working, in some capacity. But I won't have to."


calcsam

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2014, 06:53:15 AM »
I think the End/Means distinction is relevant.

MMM End: Retire early
MMM Means: Reduce spending, earn side income

You've done the MMM Means, but you're questioning whether you want the MMM End. That makes sense. Means don't dictate the end.

Other people have used the MMM Means to: donate 70% of their income to highly effective charities, raise large families (common in my religious community), become a writer, etc.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 07:15:39 AM by calcsam »

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2014, 08:57:40 AM »
I plan on transferring my skills from the "non-profit" health industry to non-profit disaster relief groups. If one is good at something, there's no reason to stop doing it, and being freed of financial conflicts of interest can help one exceed. That being said, I'm not in a big hurry to retire because I do like my job and find it meaningful.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2014, 09:14:25 AM »

With the financial constraints of my life suddenly removed, I've had time to ponder our family values and try to envision what kind of lives we really want to lead.  What mark do I want to leave on the world? 


To me, this is a great opportunity. Probably better to ponder and grapple with your own choices/vision, even if it's uncomfortable, than to grab onto someone else's (though it may be interesting or valuable to consider others' experiences).


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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2014, 09:38:41 AM »
If you're looking for something to do that's expensive and potentially meaningful, there's always philanthropy or politics.

Philanthropy requires working longer, to do "correctly".  Elected office sounds like all of the worst parts of my job without any of the highlights, but I might consider unelected positions like a seat on the city planning commission.

I've thought about getting a seat on the planning commission or stormwater commission.  It plays well into my background (I used to present to those guys all the time) and it's an interest of mine.  A seat came open in my district and a neighbor was the one leaving that seat.  I passed on it at the time, but might pursue it in the future.  It's a good way to have small but meaningful positive impacts on the community you live in.  Surprisingly ( ;) ) there's still a fair amount of politics in the planning councils I've dealt with.

 

Quote
in my case volunteer work for causes I care about and epic Wilderness journeys, are what is meaningful - to me personally, and at least to the volunteer work, to the world.  I can do more "worthwhile" things there than I can at the money making job. 

I don't know what you do for a living, but one option would be to do your job, but as / for a charity.

My job IS a cause I care about, and it pays me to go on epic wilderness journeys!  Without providing too much detail, suffice it to say that working for the federal government allows me to accomplish things that would be much more difficult to do while working for an NGO.

I'm not sure exactly what your job is, but consider if there is a private consulting parallel to what you do.  You might be able to find a consulting or research firm that gets government grants to complete the kind of work you do, and you might be able to work for that firm part time or on an intermittent basis (ie pick up a month or two contract when they need you, then sit back and relax for a few weeks or months till the phone rings again).  Or start your own firm on the cheap to pursue these opportunities yourself (maybe with a partner or two). 

If this route interests you, can you interact with private industry counterparts to get leads for these types of opportunities now?  You might have a great network of these private consulting resources while working or the ability to attend symposiums, seminars, and professional meetings to mingle with them. 

I've worked with a lot of engineers, geologists, biologists, environmental scientists, etc. that worked in government then switched to the private side (with a firm or their own venture) and managed to continue doing plenty of field work. 

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2014, 10:16:11 AM »
I wouldn't consider it a disappointment to realize that you're already doing something meaningful and fulfilling.  In your shoes, I wouldn't make any immediate plans to quit work, but once 2016 rolls around, pay close attention to how you feel about the job.  As others have noted, you'll be able to stop playing most of the politics that people who *need* to work have to go along with.  Like you, I really do enjoy my job and most days I feel it is pretty meaningful.  But there is a certain amount of BS stuff involved too, and I'd be even happier if I felt freer to take a pass on participating in more of the stuff that (as far as I'm concerned) has limited value.

Also, one thing I've learned from observing older workers is that job satisfaction is not always lasting.  My father is in his early 60s, still working.  For most of his career, he has been one of those guys who loves his job, finds meaning in it, etc.  A few years ago he got transferred to a new work group with an awful new boss.  He's been trying to make it work, but things just keep going downhill.  His job satisfaction has plummeted and I think if he was FI, he would have quit within a few months.  He is retiring next year and I am SO happy for him--I just wish he'd been able to do it 2-3 years earlier.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2014, 10:51:29 AM »
Great thread and something we all need to think about.

If your job really does contribute to the betterment of the world in some way, then by all means embrace that. But be critical in your thinking. I've told myself how meaningful my job was many times over a 35 year working life and four different careers, and in almost all cases it was pure BS. I was good at the job and worked hard, so I found ways to convince myself that there was more meaning than there actually was.

More importantly, I'd look for meaning much closer to home where you can have an actual impact. Want to help the world? Raise some good kids, take care of your family, and contribute to your local community. Only you can decide if working for you company for 40 or 50 hours a week in pursuit of the company's cause is more important and fulfilling than being there when your kids get home from school every day, helping them with homework, taking a month-long trip in the summer, and staying close and connected to your spouse.

Being FI gives you the option to control your time be more involved in your own life and with your family. Don't discount that.

You won't be young and healthy forever, your kids will grow up and move away, your parents will age and need your help, your siblings and friends may fall on hard times. There are plenty of ways to have a real, not imagined, impact without venturing very far from home.

As Dorothy said, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard."

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2014, 11:38:47 AM »
So in 2016 you'll be a "SWAMI" -  nothing wrong with that!

I'm several years behind you but with a little effort I'll also be FI in less time than it took to get through grad school and I get a lot of satisfaction from my work (although I think I'll want to change industries in a few years).

For me, the biggest concern with reaching FI will be figuring out what to do with 50% of my paycheck that I'm used to sticking into savings. I don't want to just amass oodles of wealth just because I can. If I'm not mistaken, you've posted before about already donating money to causes you care about but it might be worth taking a more big picture approach to that by setting up a charitable foundation. http://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/02/08/how-to-give-like-a-billionaire/
For me, there are lots of research topics, academic institutions, and local projects that I would be interested in helping. I don't have kids yet but I won't want to leave them millions of dollars to snort cocaine with - I'd much rather leave a small mark on the world through well-planned giving.

And, as everyone else has pointed out, FI gives you the freedom to rethink how much you love your job in 5, 10, or 15 years.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #36 on: January 04, 2014, 01:15:29 PM »
I had two experiences similar this.  Within a few months of each other, I went over the $1M mark, and completed 20 years in the military, which is the point at which a person can retire.  My attitude went downhill.  Later, just recently, I've fully realized I could retire when I want to.

First, nobody else really cares about my investing success.  Other people want me to be present in the terms of the moment.  And there is not a sudden epiphany about the meaning of life or what to do with one's future.  That develops relatively slowly over time, and, in fact, I would be suspicious of any sudden flashes of insight. 

Capsu78

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2014, 01:45:48 PM »
Sol

On a side note regarding "trust fund kids", one of the things that makes this country great is wealth mobility.  In the US we typically see the 1st generation get wealthy, the 2nd manage to keep it, and the 3rd blow it. 

The only thing worse than "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in 2 generations" (another was of expressing what Sol said) is shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in one generation.  I have a childhood aquaintence whose parents escaped from Germany in the 30's, leaving their family business behind without much more than a suitcase and a couple hundred dollars.  They opened a new business that was successful enough to allow them the own everything outright- plant, land, a couple of ajoining properties- and send both kids to private colleges and grad school.  Just enough wealth mind you to cause a sibling dispute upon the death of the surviving parent, and 2 children who will never speak again.  Throw in a "blow" problem, an anger management problem and the family business failure, you end up with an expensive divorce and your own kids who avoid you.  It doesn't take a trust fund kid to undo what was once considered a model family.

The Money Monk

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2014, 02:14:37 PM »
With the financial constraints of my life suddenly removed, I've had time to ponder our family values and try to envision what kind of lives we really want to lead. 

Well that's what it's all about, isn't it?

The reason most of us use the term 'Financial Independence' instead of "early retirement' is because there is no requirement to stop working. But the good part is that continuing work isn't a requirement either. You get to do what you want.

So, do what you want. If that's working, awesome.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2014, 02:29:33 PM »
Also, one thing I've learned from observing older workers is that job satisfaction is not always lasting.  My father is in his early 60s, still working.  For most of his career, he has been one of those guys who loves his job, finds meaning in it, etc.  A few years ago he got transferred to a new work group with an awful new boss.  He's been trying to make it work, but things just keep going downhill.  His job satisfaction has plummeted and I think if he was FI, he would have quit within a few months.  He is retiring next year and I am SO happy for him--I just wish he'd been able to do it 2-3 years earlier.

The problem here, though, seems not to be the work itself, but the particular people he happens to be working with at the moment.  That's one of the advantages to being FI while working: if the conditions - people, hours, commute, whatever - really suck, you've got an awfully big lever for changing them when you don't absolutely have that paycheck at the end of the week.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2014, 02:43:08 PM »
I just wanted to say that I can relate. 

If you are like me, you really enjoy practical problem-solving and FI is a completely engaging and motivating way to spend your time.  There are not very many challenges in life that are as incrementally rewarding as the daily FI journey.  I expect it will be a bit of a let-down to reach it for me as it is going to be tough to find something else as fun. 

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2014, 04:06:20 PM »
Sol, thanks for posting this.  The thread i started on the mixed emotions and the anticlimax of reaching FI was not as eloquent as yours.  Also, now that it is possible, it is actually a bit scary to leave a job that is quite comfortable and intellectually interesting 50% of the time, even if I know exactly what I woukd like to be doing once I cut the cord.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #42 on: January 05, 2014, 10:20:39 AM »
Also, one thing I've learned from observing older workers is that job satisfaction is not always lasting.  My father is in his early 60s, still working.  For most of his career, he has been one of those guys who loves his job, finds meaning in it, etc.  A few years ago he got transferred to a new work group with an awful new boss.  He's been trying to make it work, but things just keep going downhill.  His job satisfaction has plummeted and I think if he was FI, he would have quit within a few months.  He is retiring next year and I am SO happy for him--I just wish he'd been able to do it 2-3 years earlier.

The problem here, though, seems not to be the work itself, but the particular people he happens to be working with at the moment.  That's one of the advantages to being FI while working: if the conditions - people, hours, commute, whatever - really suck, you've got an awfully big lever for changing them when you don't absolutely have that paycheck at the end of the week.

For a certain segment of people I think they could use that lever of change--however I think there's also a pretty large segment of people who wouldn't want to rock the boat and possibly even be fired from the company where you may have been working for a long time and might consider many of your co-workers friends.  On the flipside, for the more "politically driven" people and organizations, they may very deliberately look to eliminate people they cannot control--i.e., people who don't need that paycheck and aren't willing to go along quietly with the boss' wishes.  I can see that for many people with a strong work identity, retirement without "burning bridges" is a preferable option to trying to change a bad situation.

chasesfish

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #43 on: January 05, 2014, 10:44:07 AM »
Sol, thanks for posting this.  The thread i started on the mixed emotions and the anticlimax of reaching FI was not as eloquent as yours.  Also, now that it is possible, it is actually a bit scary to leave a job that is quite comfortable and intellectually interesting 50% of the time, even if I know exactly what I woukd like to be doing once I cut the cord.

Not to mention if its extremely well paying relative to the work you do and stress level it generates

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #44 on: January 05, 2014, 03:48:42 PM »
You know, it might also just be that you anticipate missing the challenge of having a big project (in this case, the project of achieving FI).  Perhaps setting some new big goal (climb Mt.Whitney? Learn to play an instrument?) is what you need.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #45 on: January 05, 2014, 05:38:10 PM »
When I went to my school's big retirement seminar, we were told that the biggest issue retirees face is psychological, not financial.  We (university people) had interesting fulfilling jobs, and when we retired that major aspect of our  lives would be gone.
Being able to retire earlier than expected means taking an even clearer look at what you want out of your life, and what things matter to you.  It doesn't mean you have to retire.  I could have retired 3 years ago - instead I took a leap into a new job, a new environment, and a new city, on a 3 year contract.  Exciting and scary.
Now I am retired, and am doing a lot of volunteer/community work, plus indulging hobbies I never had much time for when I was working, commuting, being a wife and mother, and doing a bit of volunteering. 
If you do decide to retire or partly retire, you can devote more time to your family.  You can do things in your community - so many community services that used to be done by stay-at-home mothers are now only being done by retirees, so the demand for them is greater than the people able to do them.  Society has not really adapted to this (and I am writing from Canada, where there seem to be more social services than in the US, although that is just my impression).  And of course there are lots of good causes that can use any extra money you happen to generate if you keep working.
As others have said, being FI means that your paid work is a choice, not a necessity, and if that work is something you want to continue to do, more power to you!

aclarridge

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #46 on: January 06, 2014, 02:35:10 PM »
Ahem... let me be the first one to say: First World Problems.

Joking aside I have thought about this and was somewhat concerned for a while, but now I'm not. There must be some parts of your life that you want to change now that you are FI, even if it's just giving away your money in fun ways. Just find other challenges, ways to maximize your happiness with your extra money and/or time. It always was the underlying purpose in life, and now you simply have more resources to help you with it.

sol

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2014, 11:17:34 AM »
Just because you're in the same category of financial freedom as some trust fund kid doesn't mean you'll have the same lack of impact with your drives (projects, charities, and the like).

I didn't mean to say that I would become a layabout in retirement.  Quite the opposite, I meant to say that some of those trust fund kids are bright and motivated and also fabulously wealthy, and they still fail to accomplish anything.  Most ordinary people have so completely conflated the ideas of wealth and success that the thought of measuring success in any other terms is hard for them to grasp; how do define success if you're born a billionaire and never need to worry about money?  Is it the same way that an FI individual defines success?  What's the difference?

I'm not sure exactly what your job is, but consider if there is a private consulting parallel to what you do.

Some skills transfer to the nonprofit sector better than others.  If you're a CIA spy or a military fighter pilot, the private sector doesn't really offer you meaningfully comparable options.  If you work in HR or IT then sure, you can do that about anywhere.   My job wouldn't transition so well, hence my reluctance to let go of it.

I wouldn't consider it a disappointment to realize that you're already doing something meaningful and fulfilling.

The disappointment isn't because of my first world problem, but because the FIRE process itself has lost its luster, it's excitment.  After all that learning and all those spreadsheets, figuring out how to retire in less than 10 years of working turns out to be not that hard.  I thought it would feel liberating to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know I have the option to do anything, and instead it's kind of a let down.  I don't feel free, there is no great burden lifted from my shoulders.  Maybe it's different for people who despise their jobs, but even then getting out of a bad situation isn't really a cause for celebration.  It's just a chance to look for a better situation.

If you are like me, you really enjoy practical problem-solving and FI is a completely engaging and motivating way to spend your time.  There are not very many challenges in life that are as incrementally rewarding as the daily FI journey.  I expect it will be a bit of a let-down to reach it for me as it is going to be tough to find something else as fun.

Exactly.  And right now, that new thing that is as incrementally rewarding as my FI journey is... drumroll please... my job!  As soon as the FI journey draws to a close and my job becomes optional, that desire to find and solve interesting problems is turning back towards the work that FI was distracting me from.  In some respects, I might have been better off just being fully focused on my work, and the finances would have taken care of themselves.

You know, it might also just be that you anticipate missing the challenge of having a big project (in this case, the project of achieving FI).  Perhaps setting some new big goal (climb Mt.Whitney? Learn to play an instrument?) is what you need.

It's funny you should say that.  Not only do I think you're spot on with the seeking challenges bit, but I took up a new instrument at age 31 (which I now play almost every day), and I've been climbing big mountains for years, including Whitney.  And then just as our lives were beginning to feel a little too familiar, we decided to have another baby (now 1 yr old).  If that's not a distracting challenge, I don't know what is.

Just find other challenges, ways to maximize your happiness with your extra money and/or time. It always was the underlying purpose in life, and now you simply have more resources to help you with it.

I'm not sure that the pursuit of my own happiness is fully sufficient.  Some of us want to give more than we take. 

I could certainly retire to a life of leisure.  Take my kids to Disneyland, read a lot of books, have a lot of sex.  I was hoping that FI would open other doors, though, the possibility of living a life larger than average.  It's those larger goals I'm having trouble defining.

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2014, 11:44:41 AM »
It's those larger goals I'm having trouble defining.

Sounds like you need some navel gazing time.

Let us know, if anything, what you discover.
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matchewed

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Re: FI, suddenly achievable and disappointing
« Reply #49 on: January 07, 2014, 12:32:46 PM »
Just because you're in the same category of financial freedom as some trust fund kid doesn't mean you'll have the same lack of impact with your drives (projects, charities, and the like).

I didn't mean to say that I would become a layabout in retirement.  Quite the opposite, I meant to say that some of those trust fund kids are bright and motivated and also fabulously wealthy, and they still fail to accomplish anything.  Most ordinary people have so completely conflated the ideas of wealth and success that the thought of measuring success in any other terms is hard for them to grasp; how do define success if you're born a billionaire and never need to worry about money?  Is it the same way that an FI individual defines success?  What's the difference?

I don't think I'm saying you'll be a layabout. Just that your skill sets as a person who has worked to achieve FI vs. a person who has had that handed to them will probably be better for any sort of meaningful work you choose to pursue in the future given your FI status.

You definitely hit the nail on the head with an inability to conceptualize success without having to work for it. You don't have that blind spot and will be able to achieve greater things than they ever could with their mounds of money.

A person who has achieved FI has a better concept of success and is just working with an entirely different framework. As to what the specifics are I could only hazard some guesses, the psychology and drives of the inherited rich hold very little weight or interest with me. My point is to not compare yourself with them, you are an altogether different sort of person due to what you've accomplished. And I have full confidence that someone who has achieved FI as one of their goals can continue to accomplish more because of it.

*Edit* And I agree with arebelspy, you may just need some time to sit down and figure out what's next, if it is your job so be it.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 12:36:27 PM by matchewed »