Author Topic: Thinking of taking a 6 month career break / mini-FIRE, but scared in these times  (Read 713 times)

sizzlinkola

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I have enough liquid savings to cover my current lifestyle for 1.5 to 2 years including health insurance. I'm a tech product manager and been experiencing major burnout/stress since Feb of this year. I started seeing a therapist in July who has helped me manage my mental health during the pandemic and other personal stressors in my life. He's fantastic and helped me get through a lot of shit outside of work. Now, work is really the only stressor in my life.

I've been job searching for almost 6 months as well. I'm exhausted and drained in both my job search and my work. I find myself longing for the weekends and weeknights, where I can do things that fulfill me more. I don't like feeling this way. I'm the type of person that wants to enjoy their work, so I'm considering taking a 6 month career break or mini-FIRE to do that. My goal with FIRE is not to stop work entirely, but to have the freedom to work on anything I want to w/o worrying about the money. I'd want to volunteer my tech skills to charities and spend more time with family/friends and on my hobbies.

The grass sounds greener on the other side, but I'm scared of taking the jump because of COVID. I have a handful of friends who have been unemployed since the pandemic started and they've been job searching since then. I also worry that it'll be 5X harder to get a job after my 6 month break, especially during these times. I feel many people will say to me that "I should be grateful that I even have a job" and I get very mixed feelings hearing that. I'd rather not have this job and I would gladly give this job away to someone else who desperately needs it.

Any thoughts or advice people can give? I was unemployed for 5 months before although I was job searching the entire time. This time, I'd want to treat it as a mini-FIRE, so I'd stop the job search entirely to focus on how I'd live my life as if I achieved FIRE.

Paul der Krake

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As a compromise: find job, then push the start date as far out as they'll let you. Then quit current job. You might not get 6 months, but 2 or 3 should be easy to negotiate.

mistymoney

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As a compromise: find job, then push the start date as far out as they'll let you. Then quit current job. You might not get 6 months, but 2 or 3 should be easy to negotiate.

depends on a lot of factors at the new employer and I wouldn't count on this.

I'm in the same boat, OP, but at least you get your nights and weekends? I frequently have conference calls with stakeholder groups at 7 p.m. or later and day long meetings sat and sometimes sunday too.

Took a vacation day this past friday and I was really annoyed as I had already worked well over 40 hours, putting in a 13 hour day that thrusday alone. A very high stress work call ended at about 9:45p.m., and I couldn't wind down - had insomnia, and the whole 3 day weekend fell like dominoes, insomnia every night, groggy all day, tried some short naps, didn't get any chores or errands done, and now looking into monday and a stressful week.

Trying to not make any decisions/moves until 2021, hoping I can get some r and r in over the holidays, taking extra time off plus holiday days....



Paul der Krake

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Maybe I read too much into OP's job description, but for tech firms it's very common to have long hiring windows and being hired without a specific job in mind. Sometimes well over 6 months for people who require work visas.

If OP gets a competitive offer (even better, getting two or more!), the company has already spent thousands of dollars going through multiple rounds of interviews. Every situation is unique of course, but generally speaking they wouldn't walk away from a deal because of a 2-3 month delay.

YMMV.

cool7hand

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I was never comfortable with taking time off like this, but I know people who did. Many of them swear by a book called Vagobonding: https://www.amazon.com/Vagabonding-Uncommon-Guide-Long-Term-Travel/dp/0812992180. Hopefully it serves as a resource to help you with your decision.

bbqbonelesswing

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How about a short vacation? Do you have any time banked up? If not, then you will probably be ok taking a sabbatical. You're in a high demand field so may be able to return, or at least shift into another role if needed, without too much trouble.

I also work in tech, and can see many folks are bunt out right now. We are in a weird situation where people are telling us to be thankful to still be working, but it's busier and more stressful than ever. It sounds like you're on the right track- keep meeting with your therapist and eliminate stress wherever you can.

Rdy2Fire

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I was in a very similar boat, I think everyone has a difference sense of responsibility around work and life. At some point I decided that it was time to just embrace the fact that time is limited. You can always get a job and always make money, I don't know what you (or anyone) does, and it might not be the salary you make now or the dream job you have/want but ANY capable person can make some money.

In my case I decided to take the break, the only difference was/is, I was thinking I might be close enough to my FIRE numbers so my break turned into FIRE. I sometimes question it, or think I'd like to do something PT but now, given COVID, not even trying. However over the course of my 'career' I'd taken a couple of 4-6 month breaks and my suggestion is if you can afford to do it, go for it, it might give you a new found energy.

BlueHouse

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I say take the mini-FIRE.  When you're ready to return to normal working life, be ready to couch the charitable work you've done as "projects" and make sure you list it on your resume as something that rounds you out and grows your experiences, rather than as quitting the working world and needing a break. 

I did a 6 month mini-retirement about 15 years ago and it was the best thing ever.  I worked on a few projects (volunteer) and couching them as projects meant I could talk about that big gap in my employment without feeling guilty for not working.  It did more for my career than you can imagine because it gave me something interesting to talk about during my interview rather than just "working for the man".