Author Topic: this first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest of my life  (Read 2703 times)

Oatmeal Stout

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I find it hard to believe no one has posted this one.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-first-year-of-early-retirement-has-been-one-of-the-hardest-of-my-life-2018-12-26

This is clearly a person who should not have retired.

"on my last day of work," - "a piece of me died" -  "I drove the whole way home with tears rolling down my cheeks"

"We moved cross country from Pennsylvania to Utah" - "saying goodbye to family and friends"


and everyone's biggest fear of early retirement:

"Everything we knew was gone. The simple act of going to the grocery now took an entire morning of wandering aimlessly around an unfamiliar space."


bluebelle

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blogger seems overly negative and drammatic about change.  We will be in a similar situation when we FIRE in 1.5 years.  We are moving to lakefront rural from a very large city.  We're looking forward to it.  Yes, lots of change, lots of unknowns, but we're moving to something as well as away from something (neither of us like the traffic of a big city).
I really like my job, and I'm quite good at, but I can't imagine balling my eyes out when quiting....I worry a little about too much of my self worth is tied up in my job, but I'm pretty sure I can get over that.
I'm really looking forward to getting involved in the small town life we're moving to.

Dabnasty

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Not a bad article by the end of it, but it sounds like the greatest difficulty for the author was change. They would have been dealing with similar difficulties if they had changed jobs and continued working or if they had moved far away from family and friends regardless of their work status.

Many people move away from family to get a higher paying job and will have the option to move back once they no longer need the income.

eljefe-speaks

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The author seems like a bad candidate for FIRE. If he loved his job that much he should have stayed. I think most folks on this forum will whistle Zipity Doo Dah when they leave the office for the last time. My main motivator for FIRE is because my career estranges me from my authentic self. This was not the case for him. He described his coworkers as "family."

Also, if he and his wife are disenchanted with their move to Utah, move back. That freedom is exactly the point.

I like his article, however, as a warning that it might not be happily-ever-after for everyone. Major life changes are always going to be a challenge.

wordnerd

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Seemed like a thoughtful piece to me. Though the headline is dramatic (or author has led a pretty nice life), the actual experiences seemed to be the type of stuff people pursuing FIRE would want to hear about as they plan their own transitions/post-FIRE life. There have been plenty of posts around here over the years decrying that FIREd people don't stick around to tell everyone else what it's like. This guy did. As always, it's just one experience, but perhaps an illustrative one.

Dicey

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Okay, I actually skimmed the article and peeked at his blog. Thoughts as follows:

1. His career is totally portable. He can go back to work as much or as little as he wants, whenever he wants. Even if new licensing is required, with his experience, it should be a cakewalk.

2. Who moves to an entirely new place without doing any research?
 
3. I have a number of LDS friends and a deep, abiding respect for the way they live their lives. Utah is the center of their universe. They have big families. No, huge families. Their families have known each other for generations. Everyone knows everyone. I'm not saying they're unfriendly or unwelcoming, but they have busy, active, involved, committed lives. The LDS church is a central part of their existence, particularly in Utah. Expecting to go there and be embraced is a huge stretch. HUGE!

4. The best way to make new friends in a new place is to move to a place where a greater percentage of the people you interact with is also new. They are looking to make new friends and put down new roots, too. My parents moved into a brand-new Senior Community and their social life exploded.

5. Don't FIRE without a plan. Retire to something. I read the article and darned if I know what his plan was, other than to stop working. He seems to have forgotten (or overlooked for the purpose of selling an article) just what motivated him. Blaming the FIRE movement is disingenuous at best.

FYI - I'm six years post-FIRE and my life looks nothing like I planned, but I know how to make the best of things, count my blessings, enjoy life, and bloom where I'm fucking planted. Any and all of which skills would be helpful for him to master.

I agree that he didn't seem completely clueless, however his message was pretty well buried at the end. I strongly suspect a click-driven editor.

Malkynn

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Okay, I actually skimmed the article and peeked at his blog. Thoughts as follows:

1. His career is totally portable. He can go back to work as much or as little as he wants, whenever he wants. Even if new licensing is required, with his experience, it should be a cakewalk.

2. Who moves to an entirely new place without doing any research?
 
3. I have a number of LDS friends and a deep, abiding respect for the way they live their lives. Utah is the center of their universe. They have big families. No, huge families. Their families have known each other for generations. Everyone knows everyone. I'm not saying they're unfriendly or unwelcoming, but they have busy, active, involved, committed lives. The LDS church is a central part of their existence, particularly in Utah. Expecting to go there and be embraced is a huge stretch. HUGE!

4. The best way to make new friends in a new place is to move to a place where a greater percentage of the people you interact with is also new. They are looking to make new friends and put down new roots, too. My parents moved into a brand-new Senior Community and their social life exploded.

5. Don't FIRE without a plan. Retire to something. I read the article and darned if I know what his plan was, other than to stop working. He seems to have forgotten (or overlooked for the purpose of selling an article) just what motivated him. Blaming the FIRE movement is disingenuous at best.

FYI - I'm six years post-FIRE and my life looks nothing like I planned, but I know how to make the best of things, count my blessings, enjoy life, and bloom where I'm fucking planted. Any and all of which skills would be helpful for him to master.

I agree that he didn't seem completely clueless, however his message was pretty well buried at the end. I strongly suspect a click-driven editor.

Agreed.
I suspect it was edited to be framed in a confrontational way.

Change the lense though and there is a valuable commentary there on how FIRE isn't actually a source of happiness or a plan in and of itself.

If you aren't happy to begin with, FIRE won't make you happy, but it can facilitate an environment within which it's possible to build a happy life in the absence of financial and time barriers. The work to be happy still needs to be done.

Happiness is so much more than just the absence of suffering.

He left his job for a reason, he chose to make a drastic move for a reason... except, he never explained what those reasons are, which makes the writing completely incomprehensible since it has ZERO context.

However, if we make the assumption that he was not satisfied with his life and that's why he chose MAJOR changes, depite his attachment to his work, then the whole story starts making more sense.

We can reasonably assume that's the case because he says he "envisioned living a life of freedom, purpose and happiness", implying that his working life was lacking in some critical areas. 

If he was not living a life that was fulfilling him, then running away from it and expecting sudden "carefree bliss" was bound to backfire.

Instead of FIRE and the move being a huge adventure, he ended up losing the few things in his old life that made him feel secure and fulfilled to a degree, his emotional anchors.

What I read was the emotional outpouring of someone completely inexperienced and unprepared to live a happy and full life. His reactions to leaving work and to change are not those of an emotionally secure, confident and grounded person who knows what they want from life and isn't afraid to seek it out. He sounds vaguely petrified of life and is responding reactively instead of proactively.

It's not easy to be happy, it's not something that just happens in the absence of obligatory work. Living well is actually tremendously challenging if you don't have years of experience behind you learning how to do it.

Expecting to be happy because you FIREd is like expecting to be fit because you joined a gym. It doesn't work that way.

I felt I was reading the words of someone who needs to do a lot of work on themselves in order to better understand their own needs, their own drives, and to basically start from scratch on figuring out just what the hell their best life actually looks like.

What I read was "I thought FIRE was supposed to make me happy, but instead I'm even more stressed out than I was in my old life! Why isn't this working for me? This isn't what I was promised!"

There is a theme in the FI sphere that happiness is something that comes post-FIRE and that can leave a lot of people feeling like it's okay/normal to be unhappy during their working years.

Sure, that's an option, but it comes with serious consequences that FIRE will NOT fix, and that is worth discussing. This article just didn't really do that.

Cassie

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Yes who makes all those life changes without a lot of planning and research.

Malkynn

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Yes who makes all those life changes without a lot of planning and research.

Some people do and are fine with it, but they are very situationally confident people who are comfortable with change and the unknown.

This guy obviously isn't and completely lacked the self knowledge to anticipate how he would react to the changes and prepare for the predictable challenges.

He seemed to think that FIRE would magically take care of all of it, as if somehow work is the only challenge in life??? and without it everything is just easy...?????

Uh....no.

dcheesi

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Honestly, a lot of the the complaints here seem to be common to the experience of moving. The author mentioned that they worked in the same clinic for their entire career, which presumably means that they hadn't experienced the disruption of an out-of-town move before, at least not since establishing their married-adult lifestyle.

As someone who spent 20 years working in one town, and only recently moved out of state, I can say that it can be very stressful, and lonely, and above all disruptive. Combining one's first experience of that with another major life change (retirement) probably made it a bit overwhelming for the author.

Car Jack

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Re: this first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest of my life
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 01:22:36 PM »
If you define your self worth by the security of those cubical walls and define yourself by your relationship with your stapler, then perhaps you should not be retiring, but instead whistling all day long as you get the TPS reports all spanky clean.

Linda_Norway

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Re: this first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest of my life
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2019, 12:22:24 AM »
It was interesting to read, because it shows some of the possible backsides of early retirement. Most bligs show only the happy life aspects, like everyones facebook postings.

We emigrated to another country with another language when we 24 and 27, so we are used to change and starting over again.

But it does make me realize that moving across country without good preparation is not a good idea. DH wants to spend one winter in the high north, but maybe we don't need to do that immediately after FIREing. Or at all... the high north is definately more pleasant in the summer.

faithless

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Re: this first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest of my life
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2019, 02:45:52 AM »
I also found it a fairly thoughtful piece, sensationalist headlines/editing aside.

Not everything works out exactly as you expect, and you don't necessarily respond to things in the way you think you would. One thing that I've seen here and in my own life is a tendency to make decisions by carefully weighing up the practical pros and cons, but not anticipating or giving enough weight to how I would FEEL about something, which has a far greater impact on your happiness and the 'success' of the decision than a lot of things!
I'm a bit more self aware than I was when I was younger, but can't say I'll never make that mistake again.

If you define your self worth by the security of those cubical walls and define yourself by your relationship with your stapler, then perhaps you should not be retiring, but instead whistling all day long as you get the TPS reports all spanky clean.

He was a physical therapist, it's fair to assume most of them find some level of meaning in rehab and helping people, it's not really pointless paper pushing.

If you're unhappy with certain aspects of your job, it's easy to overlook the good aspects of it, as you might be so used to them you take them for granted. In his case perhaps he recognised the monotony or paperwork or stress or whatever he didn't like about his job, but overlooked the sense of family or community he got from working with his co-workers for such a long time, and maybe the sense of personal satisfaction and achievement from helping people?

Some people assume that weight loss, or moving country, or travel or FIRE will solve all of their problems. Then they do it and discover that they're the same person the other side.
 "Wherever you go, there you are"

Maenad

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Re: this first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest of my life
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2019, 04:19:34 PM »
There is a theme in the FI sphere that happiness is something that comes post-FIRE and that can leave a lot of people feeling like it's okay/normal to be unhappy during their working years.

That's why one of the most common refrains on the FI subreddit is, "Build the life you want, then save for it." Both to start enjoying life NOW, and to know what you're moving to.

Cautionary tales are useful as learning tools for all of us. It's good to know that sometimes we don't like certain things as much as we thought we would, and that it's not the end of the world when that happens, just a reality that needs some adjustment.