Author Topic: Financially probably ready to FIRE, but worries about the social/emotional part  (Read 1095 times)

Nona

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Hi Everyone!

I'm 49, DH is 57, we have amassed $3.2 million (of which $860K is in bank or brokerage accts and not including retirement funds, which likely we won't be able to touch until age 67) and currently live on ~$80K a year (which we expect to drop to ~$60K or less once the kids - aged 16.5 - 22 - are mostly or fully self-supporting, which we hope and expect to happen within the next decade. We live in Israel, so HCOL is part of the deal, not to mention a 25% capital gains tax. DH is planning to work at what is essentially his hobby-turned-profession until they don't want him anymore (he's an IT guy and the tech sector is rampant with ageism), whereas I would like to have a bit of R&R while still relatively healthy and sound of mind. Neither of my parents made it to age 70 (almost certainly due to chronic illnesses that thankfully, I do not possess, but still) and my mother's unexpected death 2 years ago really set me off on this train of thought. My job stress is exacerbating some (thankfully still minor, but chronic) health problems I do have.

So why don't I just put in my notice and break free?

Because as an MD (family physician working 2 jobs that total 31hr/week), we were indoctrinated since university that medicine is the most important thing and no other job or pastime could possibly reach that standard. I've always been ambiguous about this message myself, but find it very hard to escape its effect. My best friend (a family physician herself, we've been friends since med school) thinks I'm crazy and "what would you do all day that is more worthwhile than medicine?". I admit to having a hard time answering this.

I have some hobbies I might like to work on, but none that I really feel passionate about. I like travelling and would like to take longer and more trips abroad than my work schedule currently allows. Th few friends I have are still working, and almost all are in the medical industry themselves, so leaving medical practice would probably make me lose touch with their world and eventually, them; I'm an introvert and have a hard time making new friends. My DH (who knows me well, I have to admit) thinks the lack of structure and loneliness will predispose me to depression before long.

I can take an unpaid leave of absence for up to a year from one job (the one which pays 60% of my salary, but which I find kind of boring), and would probably have to resign my other job. The latter is more intense and emotionally fulfilling, but no guarantee they'll take me back to the same position, or even at all (though I suspect they might as I'm a known quantity with experience, my patients and co-workers like me, and the system is understaffed). 

So how do I get over the mental/emotional hump? Any former physicians to weigh in, perhaps?

Thanks for reading, if you got this far :)

jeroly

  • Bristles
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1.  Any opportunities for getting a grant to do medical research in an area of your choosing, instead of the boring job?
2.  Since you donít need the money, what about dropping the boring job and just working the fulfilling one?
3.  Meetups and other group activities / clubs in the areas of your choosing (e.g. travel, science) can be great ways to meet and hang out with folks that have common interests.

Nona

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1.+2. - Paid jobs are kind of incompatible with me going off on extended travelling jaunts whenever I feel like it. The interesting job is also the more stressful one, and my patients get antsy when I'm away even for one or two sessions. I don't rule out doing medical volunteer work at some point (say, in developing countries), but at this point I want to work on getting over the decades-long conditioning that I'm wasting my education and will turn into a boring, depressed lump of misery without medicine.

3. I already volunteer with a science/medical non-profit group (online and the occasional lecture to groups of professionals) and we have meetups several times a year. I would probably be able to make more of the face-to-face meetings if I had more time on my hands, that's true. You're right that I should look into meetups of groups that match my other interests.

le-weekend

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First of all, congratulations on your savings and discipline. That is truly awesome.

I'm not a doctor but I think your concerns could apply to lots of people. I have often worried that I would fall apart emotionally / intellectually / socially if I stopped working. So while I don't yet have any concrete advice to offer from experience, I wanted to lend my support.  :-)

Armchair advice: Keep the job you like, and/or look for a similar one with fewer hours, and don't worry about it!  Keep banking your coin and enjoying your career.

FIRE 20/20

  • Bristles
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My dad was a doctor, and retired about 3 years ago.  He really struggled with the same things.  Watching him, I think I have some understanding of what you're dealing with.  Doctors, more than most professions, get so much of their sense of identity from what they do.  In what other profession do people tell what they do whenever they give their name?  I wasn't "engineer FIRE 20/20" when I made a restaurant reservation, but my dad was always "Dr. ...". In addition, most doctors I know believe their work has real importance and that they help people directly on a daily basis.  He really struggled with my interest in FIRE when I first brought it up with him, asking how I would feel not making any contribution to society.  😧
He came around quickly to my early retirement, but he was very concerned about his.  But soon after he stopped working when I talked to him he absolutely loved it.  All the worries about identity, boredom, lack of direction - everything - was gone.  He was the happiest I've ever seen him. 
I can't promise the same for you, but at least I can offer a little hope.  I suggest taking to doctors you know who have already retired.  I suspect they'll have good advice.