Author Topic: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?  (Read 3608 times)

Bird In Hand

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Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« on: February 09, 2020, 02:38:57 PM »
Apologies for the melodramatic title.  My wife and I have been saving diligently since our early 20's, with the thought of FIRE-ing in our 40's.  We've saved quite a bit -- enough to fund somewhere between barebones and full FI (once the kids are launched) using 4% SWR.  Now that we've made it to our 40's, we find that we still like our jobs and would like to continue working at least part-time, indefinitely.

A few years ago I realized I could switch to an 80% work schedule, dial back the savings, and (per FIRECalc), our portfolio would likely grow more than big enough to support a comfortable retirement.  Almost three years later, my wife is working PT, the market went gangbusters, and our pre-tax accounts are ahead of projections.  Our mortgage is paid off ~6 months earlier than planned (as of yesterday!).  In short, our financial picture is better than we had ever imagined it would be.

According to FIRECalc, we could contribute the bare minimum to achieve employer matching in our pre-tax accounts, which would let me downshift to a 60% work schedule...and our portfolio would throw off a ridiculous $110k+/yr starting when we might actually start drawing from it after another decade or so of part time work.  That's probably 40% higher than the high end of what we might spend in a year with particularly high expenses.

And yet here I am, still cautiously flirting with an 80% work schedule -- which would still leave us $15k/yr richer than in our mortgage-paying days, while still maxing pre-tax contributions -- and I still haven't taken any concrete steps toward making it happen.  I'm paralyzed in a state of perpetual ambivalence: leaving so much in pre-tax contributions on the table; the desire to work a little less and live a little more; a vague fear of the uncertain future; the near-certain belief that we'll be more than OK financially.

I realize my situation isn't unique.  The underlying psychology is more or less the same as OMY syndrome.  I'm starting to become really disgusted with myself for my inability to take even a small step in the direction that I know damn well is where I want to go.  And even typing that out, I hate how weak and whiny it sounds.

How do I get past these mental gymnastics and just make it happen already?  Examples please.  :D

nereo

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2020, 03:19:21 PM »
Weíre planning out own glide-path, but havenít executed it as we arenít as far along as you.  So Iím interested in hearing what other people have to say.

FWIW, we basically stumbled onto this idea when state government budget cuts forced our entire department to go to an 80% schedule.  At the time our director made the best of it and was fond of saying itís a 20% reduction in your work but a 50% increase in your weekend
It was amazing how much of a difference having 3 days off each week were.  Totally life-changing. 

My only recommendation i to just give it a try.  Will your work let you Ďtest-driveí an 80% work week for a few months before making a firm commitment?

iris lily

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2020, 03:28:58 PM »
There is nothing wrong with liking your job, working at the jobs, and stashing away.

You  want to have freedom to leap out of employment the day that you start hating your job. Pretty likely that day  will come. You donít know when it will come. Be prepared for it.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2020, 03:32:07 PM »
Thanks for the reply @nereo .

FWIW, we basically stumbled onto this idea when state government budget cuts forced our entire department to go to an 80% schedule.  At the time our director made the best of it and was fond of saying itís a 20% reduction in your work but a 50% increase in your weekend
It was amazing how much of a difference having 3 days off each week were.  Totally life-changing.

Hah, it's even better than that: it is indeed a 50% increase in your weekend, but it's quite a bit less than a 20% reduction in pay.  I'm guessing the majority of Mustachians have a marginal tax rate of at least 22%.  Add in close to 8% FICA and it's ~30% in federal taxes alone.  State/local taxes are highly variable, but 5% is probably a conservative average.  So in reality a 20% reduction in work will result in more like a 13% reduction in pay.  Granted, you may lose a bit in employer retirement contributions and other benefits as well.

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My only recommendation i to just give it a try.  Will your work let you Ďtest-driveí an 80% work week for a few months before making a firm commitment?

It sounds so simple!  In fact that is my plan.  I've given myself ~6 months to build up a big enough savings buffer to handle replacement of all the major systems around the house, and then my intent is to start an 80% schedule.  I will have to talk it over with my employer before then, and I expect they'll be OK with it at least on a trial basis.

The only problem is that I realized the same thing a few years ago, and I haven't done anything about it since then.  I guess being aware of my own tendencies to avoid taking action is probably a good first step in figuring out how to correct that.

jfer_rose

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2020, 03:36:01 PM »
It sounds like you are certainly in great shape to start coasting. I'm fairly recent coaster and think it is marvelous-- I couldn't recommend it more!

So in an attempt to entice you to the coast-side, I am channeling a life coach I know...

It seems that you have some fears behind your reluctance to make a change, so maybe it's worth thinking about the other side of it. Give some deep thought to what you will miss out on if you don't downshift. What would a day or week of your coast like look like? What will you gain if you make the change? Of course, these gains are in reality losses if you decide to keep the status quo out of fear.

Likewise, what exactly are you afraid of that makes you resist the change? Maybe you could list some of the fears, and for each one you identify try to come up with a few ideas for what you could do if those fears came to pass. You might find this reassuring-- I would be surprised if you weren't able to devise a solution or four to whichever scary scenario that you can dream up.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2020, 03:37:45 PM »
There is nothing wrong with liking your job, working at the jobs, and stashing away.

NOT HELPING!  Sort of jk...but seriously, don't encourage me.  :D

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You  want to have freedom to leap out of employment the day that you start hating your job. Pretty likely that day  will come. You donít know when it will come. Be prepared for it.

Ok, this is a really great point.  I've gone 20+ years liking my job.  Not that there weren't a few hiccups along the way, but overall it's really been low stress, fulfilling work with limited drama.  But now that you mentioned it, I did briefly (for a ~6 mo period) have an interim manager that made things significantly less enjoyable.  I guess because I knew it was temporary, I didn't let it get to me too much.  If there were no end in sight, I'm sure my attitude could shift pretty quickly and I might want out.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2020, 03:46:35 PM »
It sounds like you are certainly in great shape to start coasting. I'm fairly recent coaster and think it is marvelous-- I couldn't recommend it more!

Ok, a good endorsement doesn't hurt.  :)  Do you have a thread somewhere in the forums where you describe some of what makes your coasting awesome?

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It seems that you have some fears behind your reluctance to make a change, so maybe it's worth thinking about the other side of it. Give some deep thought to what you will miss out on if you don't downshift. What would a day or week of your coast like look like? What will you gain if you make the change? Of course, these gains are in reality losses if you decide to keep the status quo out of fear.

Likewise, what exactly are you afraid of that makes you resist the change? Maybe you could list some of the fears, and for each one you identify try to come up with a few ideas for what you could do if those fears came to pass. You might find this reassuring-- I would be surprised if you weren't able to devise a solution or four to whichever scary scenario that you can dream up.

Thank you -- this sounds like a more useful and thoughtful approach than the simple pros/cons list that I've been using so far.  I'll have to give this some thought.

iris lily

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2020, 03:48:24 PM »
There is nothing wrong with liking your job, working at the jobs, and stashing away.

NOT HELPING!  Sort of jk...but seriously, don't encourage me.  :D

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You  want to have freedom to leap out of employment the day that you start hating your job. Pretty likely that day  will come. You donít know when it will come. Be prepared for it.

Ok, this is a really great point.  I've gone 20+ years liking my job.  Not that there weren't a few hiccups along the way, but overall it's really been low stress, fulfilling work with limited drama.  But now that you mentioned it, I did briefly (for a ~6 mo period) have an interim manager that made things significantly less enjoyable.  I guess because I knew it was temporary, I didn't let it get to me too much.  If there were no end in sight, I'm sure my attitude could shift pretty quickly and I might want out.

I saved money like a fiend so that either DH or I could jump the ship of employment when one of us needed to get out.

That day came sooner for him than for me, and I had to encourage him to get out. We had no financial reasons why he had to continue in that situation. We were fine. He quit that job, started his own little business, and rode that business 12-15 years to retirement.

We both retired because I came to hate my job (that I loved for 35+ years) and I had to convince him then to close down his biz because I didnít want to be the only one retired in our household.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2020, 09:58:05 PM »
What would you do if you werenít afraid?

Lucky13

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2020, 12:56:55 AM »
How about just quitting altogether, would that work for you financially? asking because I'm sort of an all-or-nothing person and downshifting / coasting / going PT would probably stress me out more than working full-time.  If the changes you're considering are leaving you paralyzed, try brainstorming other changes that seem more appealing. For example, taking a lower-paying job instead of going 60% at your current job, or taking a month unpaid leave to try out the "I'm not working!" lifestyle.

Or just wait until you get a new boss that you hate (or employee if you're the boss), an annoying coworker, demanding client, deadline forcing you to work overtime, changes in traffic patterns or public transit schedules extending your commute, etc. etc. and then maybe you wont' be so keen on staying at your job. (I'm sort of kidding here but not really)

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2020, 06:26:57 AM »
What would you do if you werenít afraid?

I suppose I would just do what I've been mulling over for the last few years: switch to an 80% schedule sometime this year, with the intent of eventually downshifting to 60% or 50%.  There I would remain as long as I still like my job.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2020, 06:44:12 AM »
How about just quitting altogether, would that work for you financially? asking because I'm sort of an all-or-nothing person and downshifting / coasting / going PT would probably stress me out more than working full-time.  If the changes you're considering are leaving you paralyzed, try brainstorming other changes that seem more appealing. For example, taking a lower-paying job instead of going 60% at your current job, or taking a month unpaid leave to try out the "I'm not working!" lifestyle.

Financially it wouldn't work in the short term.  Our expenses are substantially higher now than we anticipate they will be after the kids are launched in about 10 years.  I'm also not interested in quitting my current job, which I like quite a lot.  While it's possible that I could find something I like doing even better, with a similar low-stress environment, that pays anywhere close to what I'm making now...the odds seem pretty low.

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Or just wait until you get a new boss that you hate (or employee if you're the boss), an annoying coworker, demanding client, deadline forcing you to work overtime, changes in traffic patterns or public transit schedules extending your commute, etc. etc. and then maybe you wont' be so keen on staying at your job. (I'm sort of kidding here but not really)

I do think this would be a much easier decision if the work environment changed for the worse.  Because I like my job (and it pays well), it makes it harder for me to justify doing anything that would reduce our income, or *gasp* our pre-tax savings.

It's a constant push-pull in my mind: "Just keep doing the status quo -- everything's going great!" vs "You know this sedentary job is slowly killing your health, right?  You know how nice it would be to get all the chores done on Fridays so you can just enjoy your weekends?"

ender

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2020, 06:56:19 AM »
You would be incredibly naive to not realize the immense social pressure against something like this, too.

As humans, we are not very good at being "that guy/gal" who does something totally different.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2020, 07:30:30 AM »
I realize my situation isn't unique.  The underlying psychology is more or less the same as OMY syndrome.  I'm starting to become really disgusted with myself for my inability to take even a small step in the direction that I know damn well is where I want to go.  And even typing that out, I hate how weak and whiny it sounds.

How do I get past these mental gymnastics and just make it happen already?  Examples please.  :D

Big life changes are tough. I think that for most of us saving up money for FIRE is the easy part. Quitting working and all the shit that goes with it is the real challenge. Hence the popularity of OMYing and all the BS excuses people make to stay on the safe comfortable hamster wheel.

I guess my first thought would be to say kudos for at least recognizing the situation for what it is and not being self-deluding. That is a huge and important step in the process.

My next suggestion would be to just go for the 60%FT downshift and start enjoying your life/free time. You've won the money game so stop playing it seriously. Your really finite resource is time not money now so treat it with the respect it deserves. You've got a wife and kids that could benefit from your extra free time so don't give it to your job in exchange for money you don't need.

If you don't do that than at least be honest with yourself as you go to work everyday and acknowledge you chose more money you don't need over more time with your family. Hopefully at some point the insanity of that choice will sink in and you'll make the move.

Malkynn

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2020, 07:38:19 AM »
Apologies in advance for my tone, I'm not being mean, I'm just really direct and think you need a shake, so here goes.

Fear in the context of minimal risk is an idiotic motivator.
What are you even afraid of?
Seriously, what are you actually afraid of?

Is your only fear walking away from a marginal amount of income that you don't actually need?
Let's put it this way, would you start working Saturdays just to make marginally more money? If no, then you have absolutely no logical reason to continue working Fridays.

Is your life already perfectly balanced?
Do you already do EVERYTHING that you want to be able to do in every given week?
Do you already have enough time for:
-Exercise
-Cooking
-Friends
-Family
-Reading
-Quality time with kids
-Learning new skills
-Sex
-Meditation
-Giving attention to pets
-Cleaning/organizing/maintaining your house
-etc, etc/ whatever you wish you could do???

I'm going to go ahead and assume NO, because I downshifted a lot more than 20% and still don't have the time to do everything in life I want to do. The list of languages I wish I could learn is longer than I can manage in a single lifetime.

As someone who has dropped incrementally from 100hrs/week to 10hrs/week over several years, each drop felt intimidating at first, but after just a few weeks, it just felt normal and my free time filled with just as interesting things.

I just learned to ignore the stupid agonizing. It's a human instinct, but it's about as useful as being petrified of spiders.

Truthfully, I've never really noticed the drop in income. The human brain just kind of adjusts to whatever the new normal is. It doesn't really feel like a loss. I can intellectually recognize it, but I adapt pretty quickly to getting what I get and move on.

Also, I've really come to focus on my pay in hourly or daily terms. Why would I work an additional day if I have to take a tax-based pay cut to do it? Why would I undervalue my precious time that way??? I'd literally rather spend my Friday doing volunteer work than go back to the office and do the same thing I did on Thursday, but make less money.

The world is fucking FILLED with incredible things to do, try, learn, etc. Are you really, REALLY going to sell yourself short, working an extra day or two each week at a pay cut just because you can't think creatively enough about what you could be doing with your time???

Can you really not think of anything better to do with your Fridays than to go to work for less pay? If that's the case, you might as well sign up for Saturdays, and maybe even Sundays as well.

I doubt you're even afraid of cutting back, I'm guessing this is more run-of-the-mill fear of change, which is SOOOOOOO BORING, and honestly, so done to death.

Come on, you're a Mustachian, it's all about voluntary discomfort and disproportionate benefits.

If you can't bring yourself to break the inertia over a blatantly obvious, virtually zero risk, essentially guaranteed to improve your life change, THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW YOU WANT TO DO...well...then what else in life are you missing out on because you aren't willing to challenge your comfort zone???

Seriously, think about that. Think about every single possibility in your life that you might be denying yourself out of fear of the unknown.

Staying at your job for 5 days a week even if you don't need to financially just because you like the work is like eating the exact same meal for dinner every day and never trying anything else because you like that meal enough.

Btw, I absolutely love my work. Like, not enjoy, but capital "L" Love it, and it makes me feel alive. I have had to downshift for medical reasons. I trained for 11 years to do this, which cost me a few hundred thousand dollars.

I definitely did not want to downshift, but even then, it hasn't been a bad thing. There are things I enjoy just as much as my job. There are projects I've been just as passionate about. And most importantly, I've really thrived from branching out and diversifying my life, challenging my own expectations, and getting extremely comfortable with messing up my comfort zone.

So if someone like me who LOVES their job, only got to do it full time for 3 years, and didn't get even close to FI, can embrace downshifting and be grateful for the amazing opportunities it opens up for me, then I think you can handle maybe taking Fridays off.

Again, not being mean, this is a truly friendly "what the fuck is wrong with you?" shoulder shake from someone who thinks you are missing out on your own life.

mistymoney

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2020, 07:45:59 AM »
What would you do if you werenít afraid?

I suppose I would just do what I've been mulling over for the last few years: switch to an 80% schedule sometime this year, with the intent of eventually downshifting to 60% or 50%.  There I would remain as long as I still like my job.

What is your time line to RE under 100% employment, 80%, 50%?

If you like your job and are low stress right now, what are you hoping to gain from downshifting? One concern is if downshifting might in and of itself lead to lower satisfaction - depending on what you like about, how boss/coworker might change in the way they interact with you, if you are no longer thought of as the goto on things or thought of as "100% member of the team" or not committed, etc., or however things might change if you downgrade.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2020, 08:11:47 AM »
You would be incredibly naive to not realize the immense social pressure against something like this, too.

As humans, we are not very good at being "that guy/gal" who does something totally different.

You're right -- it can be tough to go against the grain.  Fortunately that is the one thing that I feel isn't holding me back in this case.  I'm not sure if it's because I've built up a lot of social capital at work over the years, or because I was the first in my department to ask for telework (and get approved), or because our 'stache is large enough to say "FU"...but I am not afraid to ask for what I want a work.  And I feel like I'm a valued enough cog that I'll get what I ask for, within reason.

My real battle is with me.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2020, 08:20:14 AM »
Big life changes are tough. I think that for most of us saving up money for FIRE is the easy part. Quitting working and all the shit that goes with it is the real challenge. Hence the popularity of OMYing and all the BS excuses people make to stay on the safe comfortable hamster wheel.

You said it.  I thought I was such a badass for saving so much and for so long, but it turns out that this was the easy part.  :/

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Your really finite resource is time not money now so treat it with the respect it deserves. You've got a wife and kids that could benefit from your extra free time so don't give it to your job in exchange for money you don't need.

If you don't do that than at least be honest with yourself as you go to work everyday and acknowledge you chose more money you don't need over more time with your family. Hopefully at some point the insanity of that choice will sink in and you'll make the move.

Ouch.  That's nothing I didn't already know, but it's a good gut check hearing it in those stark terms.  Thank you!

Laura33

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2020, 08:40:23 AM »
@jfer_rose beat me to it.  What I find in myself is that if I continue to avoid actually doing something that I should do, or even nominally want to do, it's because there's some underlying reason I'm not addressing.  And here's a hint:  it's not about the money.  In fact, it's almost never about the money.  The money is just something that is concrete and easy to grab on to -- and sooooo much easier than facing the real issue, the one that cuts very close to home.

So, based on what you've written, I'm going to make a total WAG here:  I think you're afraid of losing the sense of accomplishment and belonging and friendships and meaning and purpose that you get from your job, and you're envisioning days filled with nothing that really feels like it matters, just hanging out and enjoying yourself and being lazy and puttering around the house or whatever -- nothing that replaces that sense of purpose and accomplishment your job gives you.  Look at all your language:  you're treating going to 80% as a one-way trip to the grave, where you just "coast" to obsolescence.  Speaking as someone who has been everything from less than half-time to more than full-time, it's not.  You can try it tomorrow and change your mind next week.  So the fact that you are focusing on this as step one down a long path that you can't deviate from suggests that it's the path itself that scares the shit out of you.

The thing is, what @Malkynn said is right:  there are many other wonderful things that can fill your free time -- but you're not going to find them while you're still filling all your time with paid work.  So you have to find some way to make a change to free up some time -- and, yes, deal with the fear and even possibly some boredom -- to find those other things that suit you. 

So why not stop thinking of this as a long-term, permanent step, and make it a trial run at 80% that you can stop any time you want to?  Why not go to your manager and say you'd like to try 80% for family reasons, and you'd like to try it for 6 months to see if it is working for both you and the company, and that you will both reconsider then?  Then at 6 months you can decide to stay, to drop to 60% or more, or to go back full-time.  Does framing it up in a way that leaves your options more open make it less scary?

Another option is just to take vacation days every Friday for as long as you can and see how that feels before you move to something even semi-permanent.

But don't listen to me.  I'm FI, much older than you, and still working at 60%-80%, because staring into the void scares the hell out of me, and I haven't found my "thing" yet.  ;-)


Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2020, 09:25:45 AM »
@Malkynn, based on other posts you've made, I was hoping/expecting you'd chime in.  I appreciate your direct tone, your clarity, and your karate-chop-to-the-throat tough love advice.

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Is your only fear walking away from a marginal amount of income that you don't actually need?
...
Is your life already perfectly balanced?
Do you already do EVERYTHING that you want to be able to do in every given week?

To be brutally honest (with myself and the community here), I've become very lazy.  My job -- while enjoyable -- isn't as challenging as it used to be.  I find myself doing pleasant work requiring moderate cognitive effort, and zero physical effort.  The money rolls in, the retirement accounts get fatter.  It's easy, comfortable, and insidious.  After sitting on my butt working all day, I increasingly find myself sitting on my butt watching Netflix or reading forums in the evenings and weekends.

Being this lazy -- both in physical and intellectual pursuits -- is not where I used to be, not where I thought I'd end up, and not where I want to be.  Even if I came to some acceptance that my motivation and ambition have waned, I know that being so sedentary is slowly killing me physically.  And being this comfortable is boring as hell, which is probably making my brain weaker.

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If you can't bring yourself to break the inertia over a blatantly obvious, virtually zero risk, essentially guaranteed to improve your life change, THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW YOU WANT TO DO...well...then what else in life are you missing out on because you aren't willing to challenge your comfort zone???

Seriously, think about that. Think about every single possibility in your life that you might be denying yourself out of fear of the unknown.

This is awesome.  I think it will help me to compare what I'm giving up (comfortable, lazy, unneeded income, and slowly dying from a sedentary job) to what I'm missing out on (spending more time outdoors where I feel more alive, spending more quality time with my wife and kids, finding something I'm passionate about).

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And most importantly, I've really thrived from branching out and diversifying my life, challenging my own expectations, and getting extremely comfortable with messing up my comfort zone.

I think this is what I want.  I'm way too comfortable, and it has made me extremely complacent.

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Again, not being mean, this is a truly friendly "what the fuck is wrong with you?" shoulder shake from someone who thinks you are missing out on your own life.

You more than lived up to my expectations with your post.  Thank you.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2020, 09:58:18 AM »
@Laura33, I was hoping you'd chime in as well.  If the forum had a 'like' button on posts, your posts would have a lot of likes from me.  :)

So, based on what you've written, I'm going to make a total WAG here:  I think you're afraid of losing the sense of accomplishment and belonging and friendships and meaning and purpose that you get from your job, and you're envisioning days filled with nothing that really feels like it matters, just hanging out and enjoying yourself and being lazy and puttering around the house or whatever -- nothing that replaces that sense of purpose and accomplishment your job gives you.

I do think that I would miss the sense of purpose I get from my job.  I know I downplayed my job in my previous post with all the (accurate) talk of it being relatively easy and comfortable.  But I've become a niche expert where I work, and what I do is highly valued by the organization.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I enjoy the accolades, and I have no doubt that I would feel less valuable without them, and without knowing my contributions matter to someone else.

Because I do derive this satisfaction from my work, I intend to keep on working PT indefinitely, well beyond my youthful dreams of early retirement.  If switching to a PT role took away my niche expert status, I think the job would become a lot less attractive.  And consequently I can imagine just quitting to make FIRE work somehow, or rebooting my career to something that pays less but offers more satisfaction in other areas.  In sort, I think you're right.

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The thing is, what @Malkynn said is right:  there are many other wonderful things that can fill your free time -- but you're not going to find them while you're still filling all your time with paid work.  So you have to find some way to make a change to free up some time -- and, yes, deal with the fear and even possibly some boredom -- to find those other things that suit you.

Arg, this does cut to the heart of my fear: it's hard to imagine that whatever I might fill up my free time with would be more valuable than the easy $$ I'd get otherwise.  I think that's rational, but gosh it sounds dumb.

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Why not go to your manager and say you'd like to try 80% for family reasons, and you'd like to try it for 6 months to see if it is working for both you and the company, and that you will both reconsider then?  Then at 6 months you can decide to stay, to drop to 60% or more, or to go back full-time.  Does framing it up in a way that leaves your options more open make it less scary?

It does, and this is what I intend to do.  I'm kind of embarrassed that I'm crying to a bunch of internet strangers when I know exactly what to do.

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But don't listen to me.  I'm FI, much older than you, and still working at 60%-80%, because staring into the void scares the hell out of me, and I haven't found my "thing" yet.  ;-)

Hahah, I kind of wish I hadn't read that part.  On the other hand, I feel like if I end up at working ~60% and spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what to do with the other 40%, it's not the worst outcome.

Laura33

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2020, 12:31:45 PM »
On the other hand, I feel like if I end up at working ~60% and spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what to do with the other 40%, it's not the worst outcome.

Well, it's certainly better than if you end up working at 100% and spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what to do with the other 0%, right?

Malkynn

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2020, 12:52:24 PM »
On the other hand, I feel like if I end up at working ~60% and spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what to do with the other 40%, it's not the worst outcome.

Well, it's certainly better than if you end up working at 100% and spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what to do with the other 0%, right?

Agreed.

I'm actually going back to school so that I can work more in a profession that my body can handle.
There's nothing wrong with working if it really is part of your best life and something that you decided on mindfully in contrast to literally EVERY OTHER OPTION that you can possibly think of or try.

I've chosen work that thrills me, that I can do in professional or volunteer capacity all over the world. That I can do completely alone or in a large organization, and where I can either work for myself or for any of the hundreds upon hundreds of businesses in my immediate area where I could get a part time job within a matter of days.

There's a big difference between me choosing to do work that is challenging, exciting and meaningful in ways that are flexible and dynamic, vs staying at a day job because it's comfortable and I can't imagine what I would do with my time otherwise.

This isn't about giving up work, it's about expanding your horizons and being open to even something just a little bit different.

Also, I just got back from a 3 hour lunch with my father, who is a fascinating and brilliant man whom I've struggled my entire adult life to have a solid relationship.

Why? Because everything he does is on his terms (frustrating stubborn ox that he is), and the only time he feels like socializing is midday on weekdays. He hates messing with his dinner routine and he volunteers all weekend.

Literally, a lifetime of trying to crack the nut of how to connect with my father, and it turned out that all I needed to do was be available between the hours of 11-3 during the week. Friggin amazing.

My point is, I couldn't have predicted this, so don't let the fact that you can't see the benefits of this added free time convince you that there aren't huge benefits.

Beach_Bound

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2020, 07:30:12 PM »
This post came at a great time for me! Iím 30, and have saved 50% of my target FI number. Right now, my plan is to gradually downshift work, hopefully to 32 hours per week starting later this year. Iím not eager to quit entirely. I like most of the people I work with, my bosses are great, I enjoy the challenge of the work when Iím not too busy, and I sometimes get to travel to fun places on the companyís dime. On the unhealthy side, I probably rely a little too much on work for validation and social engagement. Iím hoping that downshifting will let me enjoy the positive parts more, while building a more fulfilling life outside of work.

I went through the exercise of thinking of all the downsides and risks. Weirdly (or maybe not weirdly), the ones that make me most uncomfortable are all about my relationship with work, and how my coworkers will perceive me. It took a couple iterations to identify that theme in the following questions:

  • Will people think Iím uncommitted? Maybe, but Iím ok with that. I doubt if many people outside my immediate team will even notice
  • Will they be jealous? Ditto
  • Will I feel less like part of the team? 4 days a week is still a lot of time to spend with a group of people
  • Will I be able to manage expectations so that I'm not trying to squeeze 40 hours of work in 32 hours of paid time? Or so that I'm not seen as a slacker if I only do 32 hours work of work? This may be a challenge at first, but Iím good at setting realistic goals and communicating them. I can handle it.
  • This is a really uncommon request. The only part time employees that I know are parents of young kids and people over traditional retirement age. How will my boss react? Will it cause her a bunch of work? It may be unusual, but if it can work for parents and older workers, there's no reason it shouldn't work for me. It may require some extra paperwork, but I'm sure HR has guidelines in place. I'm an exceptionally easy employee to manage. It's ok to ask for something that I want.

The financial side, reducing the fire hose of money, doesnít phase me. Granted, Iíll still be making well over median income, fully funding my 401K, and saving money after-tax each month. Realizing my fears center around my coworkersí opinion of me is helping me to pull the trigger. I like them and all, but that's not a good reason to spend 8 unnecessary hours a week at a desk.

Maybe some part of this navel-gazing resonates with you. Hopefully it helps keep me accountable to send in my part-time request (waiting for boss to come back from vacation). The idea of 3 day weekends forever sounds incredible!

AccidentialMustache

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2020, 09:26:40 PM »
I recently started a new gig which is a 4x8 schedule. It is amazing. I'm not doing a heck of a lot with the spare time to be honest, but DW says I'm less stressed and a better dad, so there's that. It has interesting psychological effects at work because there's this added sense of urgency to get things done. I don't know if I'm personally more productive or not, but the studies of this that have been done tend to point to higher overall productivity -- so if the staff as a whole does better, I'm not sure it matters if I personally do worse.

In terms of bored at work and sitting on your butt -- get a walking treadmill and a standing desk. Problem (half) solved! Don't overdo it, you use different muscles balancing yourself when you walk at ~1 mph so you can still use the computer. Can be kinda expensive, but so can being sedentary.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2020, 06:48:52 AM »
On the other hand, I feel like if I end up at working ~60% and spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what to do with the other 40%, it's not the worst outcome.

Well, it's certainly better than if you end up working at 100% and spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what to do with the other 0%, right?

Yes!

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2020, 06:57:52 AM »
There's a big difference between me choosing to do work that is challenging, exciting and meaningful in ways that are flexible and dynamic, vs staying at a day job because it's comfortable and I can't imagine what I would do with my time otherwise.

I understand your point and I don't disagree, but I also don't think the two are necessarily on opposite ends of the spectrum.  My comfortable job is sometimes challenging, occasionally exciting, and the meaningfulness is variable depending on my attitude.  I've often thought "I have it made!  I'd be an idiot to leave this job!".  But I need to remind myself that my stupid little baby-step of shifting to 80% time is not the same as leaving the job, and it's not a permanent, one-way decision.  It's more like an opportunity to find something even more awesome, and if I don't, then my default situation is still pretty awesome.

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This isn't about giving up work, it's about expanding your horizons and being open to even something just a little bit different.
...
My point is, I couldn't have predicted this, so don't let the fact that you can't see the benefits of this added free time convince you that there aren't huge benefits.

Yay, I love this.  I think I need to print some of these statements out and tape them to my monitor (which I'm always staring at).  Maybe it will start to sink in.  :D

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2020, 07:16:24 AM »
Maybe some part of this navel-gazing resonates with you.

Hey, I'm a big fan of omphaloskepsis -- always have been.  :)

It does sound like most of your concerns are very different than mine.  While I think my ego would take a hit of PT work meant lesser assignments and less esteem from my peers, I otherwise don't have any concerns that work peers/managers will think less of me for downshifting.  In fact, I expect them to be amazed when I continue to crank out the same amount and quality of work in fewer hours.  :D

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Hopefully it helps keep me accountable to send in my part-time request (waiting for boss to come back from vacation). The idea of 3 day weekends forever sounds incredible!

Maybe we can keep each other accountable.  I have a regularly-scheduled meeting with my boss next week, and I'm thinking of pitching the 80% schedule then.

DadJokes

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2020, 07:18:44 AM »
If you love your job, you don't have to quit or coast.

Could you make some "stretch goals" for your retirement savings? Paying for a child's college or house perhaps? What about a favorite charity that you would like to bequeath a lot of money to? Or setting up a scholarship fund that is funded indefinitely using a portion of that extra stash?

Also, you could give coasting a trial run. I'm not quite in the same position, but I do have a three day weekend (I work my 40 hours in 4 days). And I have to say that I don't think I could go back to a two day weekend. You could talk it over with your employer and see about testing it for a month.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #29 on: February 11, 2020, 07:53:26 AM »
I recently started a new gig which is a 4x8 schedule. It is amazing.

I love hearing this.  You (and others) can feel free to wax on about how amazing it is, and all the reasons that make it so.  This stuff really motivates me.
 
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I'm not doing a heck of a lot with the spare time to be honest, but DW says I'm less stressed and a better dad, so there's that.

Nice!  I do hope that it has a similar effect on me.  Even though my job isn't stressful, I think it contributes to being more irritable around the house, especially with the kids.  Being a great husband and dad is really important to me, and ideally PT will make that easier to do.

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It has interesting psychological effects at work because there's this added sense of urgency to get things done.

OMG I hope this happens for me.  I've become really good at my job, and the unfortunate side effect is that it's often too easy.  Because I'm lazy, this means that I just procrastinate and then hurry to finish tasks at the last second.  So for a good chunk of time I feel bored and unmotivated.  That last 10% before something is due -- that's the thrilling part.  My hope is that having less time to get things done will put a little more pressure on me, and a relatively larger portion of my week will be thrilling.

And yes, I realize that I could probably resolve a lot of dissatisfaction in my life if I simply learned how to not procrastinate.  But procrastination is like a drug to me, one that I've been addicted to for decades.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2020, 07:57:16 AM »
If you love your job, you don't have to quit or coast.

I do like my job quite a bit.  I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to say I love it.  But even if I did, the sedentary aspect makes it a (slow) death sentence.  Despite my perpetual waffling on the issue, that's the one thing that I can always fall back on as a rock solid reason to cut back my hours.

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Also, you could give coasting a trial run. I'm not quite in the same position, but I do have a three day weekend (I work my 40 hours in 4 days). And I have to say that I don't think I could go back to a two day weekend. You could talk it over with your employer and see about testing it for a month.

Yes, a trial run is great advice.  I think that will help both me and my employer get used to the idea.

Malkynn

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2020, 08:04:25 AM »
There's a big difference between me choosing to do work that is challenging, exciting and meaningful in ways that are flexible and dynamic, vs staying at a day job because it's comfortable and I can't imagine what I would do with my time otherwise.

I understand your point and I don't disagree, but I also don't think the two are necessarily on opposite ends of the spectrum.  My comfortable job is sometimes challenging, occasionally exciting, and the meaningfulness is variable depending on my attitude.  I've often thought "I have it made!  I'd be an idiot to leave this job!".  But I need to remind myself that my stupid little baby-step of shifting to 80% time is not the same as leaving the job, and it's not a permanent, one-way decision.  It's more like an opportunity to find something even more awesome, and if I don't, then my default situation is still pretty awesome.

Valid point, but I do want to clarify that I never meant to imply that anything was on two opposite ends of a spectrum.

If someone loves their job and loves it full time, and knows that they want to do that 5 days a week more than any other possible option, then go nuts.

What I was contrasting was staying put due to inertia vs choosing to work due to deep personal contemplation of what you want your life to look like.

In the context of the initial post, it specifically said that you want to downshift. That's not a case of someone who knows for certain that being at work is absolutely where they want to be 5 days a week.

I only brought that up to clarify that I'm not one of these Mustachians who is fundamentally against paid work if it isn't financially necessary.


Quote
This isn't about giving up work, it's about expanding your horizons and being open to even something just a little bit different.
...
My point is, I couldn't have predicted this, so don't let the fact that you can't see the benefits of this added free time convince you that there aren't huge benefits.

Yay, I love this.  I think I need to print some of these statements out and tape them to my monitor (which I'm always staring at).  Maybe it will start to sink in.  :D


Malkynn

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2020, 08:11:29 AM »
If you love your job, you don't have to quit or coast.

I do like my job quite a bit.  I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to say I love it.  But even if I did, the sedentary aspect makes it a (slow) death sentence.  Despite my perpetual waffling on the issue, that's the one thing that I can always fall back on as a rock solid reason to cut back my hours.

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Also, you could give coasting a trial run. I'm not quite in the same position, but I do have a three day weekend (I work my 40 hours in 4 days). And I have to say that I don't think I could go back to a two day weekend. You could talk it over with your employer and see about testing it for a month.

Yes, a trial run is great advice.  I think that will help both me and my employer get used to the idea.

Think about this carefully. Really.

You have mentioned multiple times that your amount of work is preventing you from engaging in healthy behaviours.

Simple fact: you are prioritizing money you don't need over your long-term health.

How does that fact make you feel?

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #33 on: February 11, 2020, 08:51:29 AM »
I understand your point and I don't disagree, but I also don't think the two are necessarily on opposite ends of the spectrum. 

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Valid point, but I do want to clarify that I never meant to imply that anything was on two opposite ends of a spectrum.
...
What I was contrasting was staying put due to inertia vs choosing to work due to deep personal contemplation of what you want your life to look like.
...
I only brought that up to clarify that I'm not one of these Mustachians who is fundamentally against paid work if it isn't financially necessary.

Gotcha.  I didn't mean to imply that you were setting up a false dichotomy.  I was more just articulating my realization that it's more of a continuum than two opposing choices.

As an aside, I have indeed noticed that some Mustachians are almost hostile to the idea of paid work if it isn't financially necessary.  I've never understood that perspective, though it makes a little more sense if we assume that everyone hates their paid jobs.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #34 on: February 11, 2020, 08:53:40 AM »
You have mentioned multiple times that your amount of work is preventing you from engaging in healthy behaviours.

Simple fact: you are prioritizing money you don't need over your long-term health.

How does that fact make you feel?

Sort of like I'm drinking a cognitive-dissonance/self-loathing cocktail, with a splash of cowardice.  :D

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #35 on: February 11, 2020, 10:03:06 AM »
What would you do if you werenít afraid?

I suppose I would just do what I've been mulling over for the last few years: switch to an 80% schedule sometime this year, with the intent of eventually downshifting to 60% or 50%.  There I would remain as long as I still like my job.

Whatís motivating you to prioritize a path driven by fear that takes you away from what you truly want, over a path that aligns with your desires, which benefits you and your family the most?

Malkynn

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2020, 10:22:37 AM »
You have mentioned multiple times that your amount of work is preventing you from engaging in healthy behaviours.

Simple fact: you are prioritizing money you don't need over your long-term health.

How does that fact make you feel?

Sort of like I'm drinking a cognitive-dissonance/self-loathing cocktail, with a splash of cowardice.  :D

Then it's time to take a hard look at what your priorities actually are.

People have a misconception that "making something a priority" means trying to cram it into their existing lifestyle through sheer will power.

In reality, when something is truly a top priority, it takes no will power to do it and everything else takes a back seat to making sure the priority is met.

If the whole point of making the money you have made is to have a happy and healthy retirement, then why the hell are you compromising the one thing that's so much more important than money to make that future a reality?

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2020, 10:24:08 AM »
Whatís motivating you to prioritize a path driven by fear that takes you away from what you truly want, over a path that aligns with your desires, which benefits you and your family the most?

I don't know, exactly.  I guess fear is pretty strong magic for my reptile brain (nevermind that the possible negative outcomes seem extremely unlikely).  I think it would be easier to overcome if I had a clear idea what I wanted to do other than working, and if I felt very strongly about that.  Right now it's more like, "Yeah, I think it would be really nice to have that time off and use it to improve my life."  But I have few concrete ideas on what I'll actually do.  "Having Fridays free to go grocery shopping and work out" sounds really pleasant, but it doesn't exactly inspire a passionate response in me.

The health aspect is the one thing that I can most use as an intellectual argument to persuade myself to overcome fear, since I believe wholeheartedly that sitting all day will end up shortening my life.  Hopefully I'll get over this hump before some sedentary-related health issue nudges me to action.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2020, 10:41:15 AM »
Whatís motivating you to prioritize a path driven by fear that takes you away from what you truly want, over a path that aligns with your desires, which benefits you and your family the most?

I don't know, exactly.  I guess fear is pretty strong magic for my reptile brain (nevermind that the possible negative outcomes seem extremely unlikely).  I think it would be easier to overcome if I had a clear idea what I wanted to do other than working, and if I felt very strongly about that.  Right now it's more like, "Yeah, I think it would be really nice to have that time off and use it to improve my life."  But I have few concrete ideas on what I'll actually do.  "Having Fridays free to go grocery shopping and work out" sounds really pleasant, but it doesn't exactly inspire a passionate response in me.

The health aspect is the one thing that I can most use as an intellectual argument to persuade myself to overcome fear, since I believe wholeheartedly that sitting all day will end up shortening my life.  Hopefully I'll get over this hump before some sedentary-related health issue nudges me to action.

Your reptilian brain would be activated if it was under threat, itís not. Youíre surrounded by comfort, to the degree that you described yourself as ďlazyĒ at work, I believe. So youíre not terribly engaged at work in anything meaningful or purposeful. Itís just a routine. Right now it may be a challenge to know what you want to do, yet if you give yourself that space, you may push yourself to figure it out. Maybe you spend weeks bored out of your mind? Maybe you then go, thats enough, Iím going to learn Mandarin, or cooking or becoming a soccer coach, improve your health or writing the novel inside you!?! Who knows? Your worst case scenario is, 6 months later you go back to work and say, jack my hours back up please. Iím sure they will. You have everything to gain by choosing to be brave, daring and experimental. You only get one life, and your family only gets this short time with in the center. How would life be different for you and your family if you made decisions not guided by your intellectual fears?

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2020, 12:03:04 PM »


And yet here I am, still cautiously flirting with an 80% work schedule -- which would still leave us $15k/yr richer than in our mortgage-paying days, while still maxing pre-tax contributions -- and I still haven't taken any concrete steps toward making it happen.  I'm paralyzed in a state of perpetual ambivalence: leaving so much in pre-tax contributions on the table; the desire to work a little less and live a little more; a vague fear of the uncertain future; the near-certain belief that we'll be more than OK financially.

I realize my situation isn't unique.  The underlying psychology is more or less the same as OMY syndrome.  I'm starting to become really disgusted with myself for my inability to take even a small step in the direction that I know damn well is where I want to go.  And even typing that out, I hate how weak and whiny it sounds.

How do I get past these mental gymnastics and just make it happen already?  Examples please.  :D

  Realize that making a final decision about life-changing matters  is often cathartic.

Actually and metaphorically, isn't coasting more enjoyable than pedaling?

You are pretty well prepared to open a new chapter in your life.

Stop worrying.

ericbonabike

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #40 on: February 11, 2020, 12:09:38 PM »
Sounds like we have a similar situation.
I'm 43.  My wife is 30.  Have enough money to FIRE right now, and "chunky FIRE" in about 5 years after my oldest children leave the house. 

When our son was born two years ago, we both decided to reduce from full time (40+ hours per week) to "full time part time", i.e. 75% (30 hrs per week).  It's been amazing.  And one perk of obamacare is that employer has to provide benefits about 30 hours per week in the US.  Below 30 hours per week, is up to employer. 

So, for me personally, reducing my hours below the 75% will be a huge drop in benefits, and since it's a cliff, I have a hard time rationalizing it.  Not sure if you've considered that.   The 25% reduction in hours is actually a 25%.  But the 26% reduction in hours is more like a 35% given that I'll lose my health care, lose my 401k match, and lose my PTO.



norajean

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #41 on: February 11, 2020, 12:19:57 PM »
Being un- or under-employed brings a lot of challenges which can be hard to fill elsewhere.   In particular, 1) structure/schedule, 2) recognition for achievements, 3)interaction with colleagues on a shared mission, 4) sense of accomplishment and 5) contribution to a cause can be hard to replicate.  Some people try to approximate this with volunteer work or other stuff but most find it's not quite the same. Many return to work!

Laura33

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #42 on: February 11, 2020, 12:53:20 PM »
You have mentioned multiple times that your amount of work is preventing you from engaging in healthy behaviours.

Simple fact: you are prioritizing money you don't need over your long-term health.

How does that fact make you feel?

Sort of like I'm drinking a cognitive-dissonance/self-loathing cocktail, with a splash of cowardice.  :D

Then it's time to take a hard look at what your priorities actually are.

People have a misconception that "making something a priority" means trying to cram it into their existing lifestyle through sheer will power.

In reality, when something is truly a top priority, it takes no will power to do it and everything else takes a back seat to making sure the priority is met.

If the whole point of making the money you have made is to have a happy and healthy retirement, then why the hell are you compromising the one thing that's so much more important than money to make that future a reality?

I'm going to say this a different way:  your priorities are what you do, not what you say

Right now, sounds like your priorities are continuing on doing what you're doing -- it's comfortable enough, it's stimulating enough, it pays well enough, you have enough down time for the stuff you actually want to do (vs. feel like you "should" do), etc.

The question is whether your current priorities are actually getting you where you want to be in life.  If you look at the picture that paints, are you happy enough where you are?  If so, then acknowledge to yourself that you're not ready to go part-time yet and keep doing what you're doing.  If you're not happy with where this is going, then change something.  Yes, it takes some courage, but as Malkynn mentioned, if those actions are aligned with your real priorities (not what you tell yourself your priorities are/should be), then it won't really be that hard to pull the trigger once you realize your current path is taking you in a different direction.

Whatever you do, don't let yourself wind up in a cycle where you sit and spin for days/weeks/months/years while you waffle over whether you really want to do it or not.  At that point, all the talking and self-analyzing is really just an excuse not to change anything -- it allows you to feel like you're making progress by evaluating and re-evaluating, which eases some of the pressure of the dissatisfaction/ennui, and therefore decreases the sense of urgency that would otherwise push you to actually do something different. 

Malkynn

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #43 on: February 11, 2020, 01:15:36 PM »
Being un- or under-employed brings a lot of challenges which can be hard to fill elsewhere.   In particular, 1) structure/schedule, 2) recognition for achievements, 3)interaction with colleagues on a shared mission, 4) sense of accomplishment and 5) contribution to a cause can be hard to replicate.  Some people try to approximate this with volunteer work or other stuff but most find it's not quite the same. Many return to work!

So the answer is to stay stuck in a pattern that OP has already said they don't want, because of a fear that they cannot define and cannot know in advance, and on top of that, the option to go back to work is always available???

FTR, every risk in retirement that you've mentioned has absolutely not been the case for anyone in my extended family, nor anyone in my social and professional circles.

On the contrary, most people in my world have accomplished their most impressive feats when they let go of their day jobs, just like MMM himself.

There are just too many incredible things out there to do. The world is absolutely packed to the damn rafters with opportunities to thrive, accomplish, learn, etc.

Besides, as you said, there's always the option of going back to work if someone truly lacks the capacity to enjoy their life without a full time job.

Let's not forget too, OP is agonizing about taking one measly day off per week. That's it. He's not packing up to go back packing in Asia for the next 5 years...although that sounds pretty fun actually...

SEdude

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #44 on: February 11, 2020, 01:26:45 PM »
Here's my trick for making a decision when fear is a big part of the equation: Write out a list of every fear you have. Every single thing that could possibly go wrong if you made the decision (and yes, you actually have to write it out, don't just think about it). In my experience, when you examine problems in concrete terms it's much easier for your brain to reason about them and come up with solutions.

As an example, here is how I would go about doing it for your current decision (with made up fears, of course):

Should I change from FT to 80%? If I said yes, here's what I'm afraid of:
- My expenses rise and I no longer make enough money to cover them
- I'll wish I was making money instead of sitting at home
- I decide I don't like being part time after all
- I love my extra time off so much that I want to quit my job
- etc etc etc

I thought it sounded kind of silly before I did it the first time, but I implore you to give it a shot and see if it helps with your decision.

Lucky13

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #45 on: February 11, 2020, 01:38:46 PM »
Your reptilian brain would be activated if it was under threat, itís not. Youíre surrounded by comfort, to the degree that you described yourself as ďlazyĒ at work, I believe. So youíre not terribly engaged at work in anything meaningful or purposeful. Itís just a routine.
Interesting point, I wonder if many of the people who say "I enjoy my job" really mean "I'm comfortable at my job" which is pretty different. I definitely have met people for whom losing the "routine" of work would be the biggest challenge. Fear of the unknown is a real thing.

I'm sort of enjoying the idea that I don't know what exactly my life will look like after retirement, and I'm a person who likes routines and doesn't deal with change especially well. I guess I'm more confident in my ability to make my own routines, and find my own projects and fun, so I don't have any fears that I'll be bored. Everyone is different but I'd expect this has to be an internal shift, someone telling you "don't be afraid!" might not help.  Well people telling me to do things in general doesn't sit with me very well. Which is a big reason I want to be job-free! I'm willing to trade the routine and comfort for having more control over how I spend my time, not having a boss looking over my shoulder (figuratively).

SEdude

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #46 on: February 11, 2020, 01:41:55 PM »
As a slight aside, allow me to offer you some unsolicited and unmustachian advice. Based on how much you've mentioned being lazy / sedentary in this thread (and it seems like it's something you wish you could change), I highly recommend working out with a personal trainer. Will it be expensive? By most peoples' standards yes, but it seems like financially you're already doing very well. It will measurably improve your physical health, and in my personal experience I found it very beneficial to my motivation and mental health as well. If you tell any trainer that you work a sedentary job and just want to stay healthy so you can live a long fulfilling life, I guarantee they will be able to help. I wouldn't fret about which trainer to start with, it's much more important to just start doing it (and you can always switch to a different trainer down the line, if you decide you don't like the person you start with).

Bird In Hand

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #47 on: February 11, 2020, 01:57:41 PM »
  Realize that making a final decision about life-changing matters  is often cathartic.

Heck yeah, especially after agonizing over said changes for a long time.  I mentioned upthread how I did that in the past for another major life change, and you're absolutely right -- I felt such relief after finally taking action.

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Actually and metaphorically, isn't coasting more enjoyable than pedaling?

Eh, only for the lazy.  :D

mm1970

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #48 on: February 11, 2020, 02:41:24 PM »
You would be incredibly naive to not realize the immense social pressure against something like this, too.

As humans, we are not very good at being "that guy/gal" who does something totally different.

Yup

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I'm going to say this a different way:  your priorities are what you do, not what you say.

Right now, sounds like your priorities are continuing on doing what you're doing -- it's comfortable enough, it's stimulating enough, it pays well enough, you have enough down time for the stuff you actually want to do (vs. feel like you "should" do), etc.

The question is whether your current priorities are actually getting you where you want to be in life.  If you look at the picture that paints, are you happy enough where you are?  If so, then acknowledge to yourself that you're not ready to go part-time yet and keep doing what you're doing.  If you're not happy with where this is going, then change something.  Yes, it takes some courage, but as Malkynn mentioned, if those actions are aligned with your real priorities (not what you tell yourself your priorities are/should be), then it won't really be that hard to pull the trigger once you realize your current path is taking you in a different direction.

Whatever you do, don't let yourself wind up in a cycle where you sit and spin for days/weeks/months/years while you waffle over whether you really want to do it or not.  At that point, all the talking and self-analyzing is really just an excuse not to change anything -- it allows you to feel like you're making progress by evaluating and re-evaluating, which eases some of the pressure of the dissatisfaction/ennui, and therefore decreases the sense of urgency that would otherwise push you to actually do something different.
As usual, awesome stuff from Laura and Malkynn.  I feel like I don't need to add anything.

It can be very very hard to go against the grain.  Not only pushback from management, but also coworkers.  The only times that I've successfully worked less than full time was after I had my children, when it was "acceptable".  And even with kid #1, I couldn't do it until my boss quit, because he was all set to demote me in exchange for a 30 hour work week.  (That boss later hired me after kid #2, when I was specifically looking for part time work).  Still, the expectation was that I'd go back full time and the pressure was relentless until I did.

Even now, it's not very accepted at my company.  I have *one* coworker nearing retirement who opted for PT work.  He'd like to cut way back but is keeping it at the level where he can have health insurance for him and his wife.  The grumblings from a few other 60+ year olds were very telling. "Must be nice."  I just confronted these guys directly.  What is your problem?  Well, I get paid full time for 50+ hours of work and he gets paid 75% for 30 hours of work and he has it easy!  My point was always: you could do the same.  The difference is in  how you have chosen to live your life.

I get it.  I don't like change either.  I'd love to work PT, but to be honest, after years of zero or crappy raises, our mgt has given us a lot of flexibility.  My last 2 bosses have straight up said that if someone writes down 2 hours of PTO on a day, they'll erase it.  So, that means it's like getting PT work occasionally.

I can say with a FT job and 2 kids and a dog...honestly I'd rather be working 6 hours.  When my husband travels?  It's a shit show.  Something in my regular job has to give, and usually it's exercise and work.  I do manage to get regular exercise and eat healthfully and spend time with my kids.  Maybe I could spend more time with them, but I'm not sure how that would go (getting the 7 yo to do homework is an exercise in frustration, and it's way easier to make him do half of it in after school care).

What aren't you getting done that you want to get done?

Cassie

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Re: Afraid of coasting. WTH is wrong with me?
« Reply #49 on: February 11, 2020, 03:11:07 PM »
I retired in my late 50ís and within a year got a opportunity for a new part time career which I still love 8 years later.