Author Topic: Advice on shedding identity  (Read 6972 times)

4tify

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Advice on shedding identity
« on: July 16, 2020, 09:26:39 PM »
Iím planing to give notice at Megacorp in January. Iím grateful and fortunate to have reached Comfortable FI, but Iím having some trouble really imagining pulling the trigger.

I donít hate my job. In many ways itís entertaining and engaging. But itís also exhausting and takes up way too much time, leaving little energy for efforts/enjoyment beyond the job. Covid has made this even more-so ironically, though I canít blame anyone for that. The greedy nature of my industry doesnít really allow for some one at my level to part-time it.

I think at base Iím finding it more difficult than expected to shed the identity of ďhard worker, career-orientedĒ person thatís got me to FI. But I also know itís unhealthy/redundant/ridiculous to keep repeating things Iíve become an expert at.

For those of you who didnít ďhateĒ your career yet still pulled the trigger on quitting, what was your process for decoupling? Whatís your advice here?

I feel the pull to a new life but maybe Iím not courageous enough or of the same ilk as MMM. Am I alone here or have you also struggled with shedding the life long identity of ďworkingĒ?

Paul der Krake

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2020, 11:47:39 PM »
The first month is the hardest. You will find yourself thinking about work and wonder how this or that project is going. You will catch yourself looking at job postings on LinkedIn, and not remember how you ended up there. You will find yourself running all over town to do things, because it feels like you really should fill that free time with activities.

Then things will start to slow down. Instead of having 3 things to do that day, you will find yourself having 3 things to do that week, then 3 things to do that month.

At some point you will need to get up early for whatever reason, and struggle to remember how to set the alarm on your phone.

former player

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2020, 02:19:44 AM »
I had a job I really rather liked - but it was still a job. As Paul der Krake says, it gets easier and easier not to work.  I did do some consulting in the first year after retirement but fairly quickly decided it wasn't worth it: I didn't need the money and would basically have been repeating existing knowledge rather than learning anything new.

The consulting gig did have one big benefit which was that I didn't have to say "I'm retired" when anyone asked "what do you do"?   I did initially find saying "I'm retired" at a relatively young age (not by forum standards, obvs.) difficult to justify.  But that went away soon enough too.

I think if you are confident in who you are and where your life choice has brought you then adjusting to retirement takes a decompression period but is otherwise not a problem.  Adjusting the attitude of others to your retirement may be more difficult but there is always the option to duck away from that.

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2020, 10:09:36 AM »
It does feel edgy to let go of any way that we have defined ourselves - father, wife, successful attorney, loving person,.... It can even feel a little shaky when we learn to let go of the negative ideas weíve held about ourselves (Victim of...). It might help to let the air out of the tire slowly, while you allow who you really are to come forward without the (perhaps not really true) ways youíve used as a shorthand for ďwho you areĒ. A coach or therapist might ease the process, and you can do it between now and January.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2020, 06:54:55 PM »
Consider what it is that your identity is really tied to.  You may find you're not really required to shed it.

In my case, even though I have a job that is very exhausting and competitive, I have never really attached my identity to my role, or level, or paycheck*.  But I am required to pretend that I do.  This is also exhausting.  In any event, as I'm turning my attention to a FIRE future, I've had to contend with questions of identity and purpose, and what I've concluded is that my identity is tied to my values, not my career or whatever institution I'm a part of.  That means part of my identity is tied to being driven and ambitious (as well as rebellious and sometimes lazy, go figure). 

I can find lots of things to be driven and ambitious about in FIRE.  The list of personal projects, organizations I'd try to work with, adventures I'd like to take, people I'd like to reconnect with, etc would fill a dozen lifetimes.  I'm pretty sure I won't have to shed those aspects of my identity in FIRE.

* I've also been trying to find every reason I could think of not to quit, as chronicled in my OMY series, so take all this with a grain of salt :)

SwordGuy

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2020, 07:39:31 PM »
Everyone ties their ego to SOMETHING.

The key is to recognize what that is, decide whether that (probably unconscious choice) is still good for you, and then change it as needed.

For example, back in the dim mists of time I was a COBOL language programmer working in a COBOL-oriented programming department.  Our company decided to switch to Oracle and the SQL language.

One of my colleagues was a damn good COBOL programmer.   Her ego was attached to being a damn good COBOL programmer.   

The problem was that the company now needed damn good SQLprogrammers.   She had trouble adapting, not because she wasn't smart enough, but because her ego-attachment point added serious emotional barriers.   She didn't want to be a beginner SQL programmer.

Now, my ego attachment point was best described as "Improvise!  Adapt!   Overcome!"    So, for me, having to master a new language was what allowed me to look good, so I leapt to the challenge.

We were both damn good COBOL programmers.   I became a damn good SQL programmer pretty quickly, she didn't.

Now, it's really important to understand that in different circumstances, our ego attachment points would have had the exact opposite effect on our jobs.

If you put us both in a "maintain existing COBOL programs" job, she would excel and I would get bored and demotivated after a fairly short while.   No challenge for me to overcome!

So, take a good look at yourself and figure out where you stand on this.  Then change your ego attachment point to someplace that will lead you to make yourself happy.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2020, 01:32:52 AM »
Everyone ties their ego to SOMETHING.

The key is to recognize what that is, decide whether that (probably unconscious choice) is still good for you, and then change it as needed.

For example, back in the dim mists of time I was a COBOL language programmer working in a COBOL-oriented programming department.  Our company decided to switch to Oracle and the SQL language.

One of my colleagues was a damn good COBOL programmer.   Her ego was attached to being a damn good COBOL programmer.   

The problem was that the company now needed damn good SQLprogrammers.   She had trouble adapting, not because she wasn't smart enough, but because her ego-attachment point added serious emotional barriers.   She didn't want to be a beginner SQL programmer.

Now, my ego attachment point was best described as "Improvise!  Adapt!   Overcome!"    So, for me, having to master a new language was what allowed me to look good, so I leapt to the challenge.

We were both damn good COBOL programmers.   I became a damn good SQL programmer pretty quickly, she didn't.

Now, it's really important to understand that in different circumstances, our ego attachment points would have had the exact opposite effect on our jobs.

If you put us both in a "maintain existing COBOL programs" job, she would excel and I would get bored and demotivated after a fairly short while.   No challenge for me to overcome!

So, take a good look at yourself and figure out where you stand on this.  Then change your ego attachment point to someplace that will lead you to make yourself happy.

Sounds familiar. I used to be an experienced Progress programmer. Then my company switched to .Net. I didn't like at all to be a beginner in .Net. So when another function became available at the company, I switched to software testing.

In FIRE, I am very busy with my foraging hobby. I am also a member of a community that does this, which is active both on fb and in real life meetings.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 02:54:27 PM by Linea_Norway »

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2020, 07:25:14 AM »
Everyone ties their ego to SOMETHING.

The key is to recognize what that is, decide whether that (probably unconscious choice) is still good for you, and then change it as needed.

For example, back in the dim mists of time I was a COBOL language programmer working in a COBOL-oriented programming department.  Our company decided to switch to Oracle and the SQL language.

One of my colleagues was a damn good COBOL programmer.   Her ego was attached to being a damn good COBOL programmer.   

The problem was that the company now needed damn good SQLprogrammers.   She had trouble adapting, not because she wasn't smart enough, but because her ego-attachment point added serious emotional barriers.   She didn't want to be a beginner SQL programmer.

Now, my ego attachment point was best described as "Improvise!  Adapt!   Overcome!"    So, for me, having to master a new language was what allowed me to look good, so I leapt to the challenge.

We were both damn good COBOL programmers.   I became a damn good SQL programmer pretty quickly, she didn't.

Now, it's really important to understand that in different circumstances, our ego attachment points would have had the exact opposite effect on our jobs.

If you put us both in a "maintain existing COBOL programs" job, she would excel and I would get bored and demotivated after a fairly short while.   No challenge for me to overcome!

So, take a good look at yourself and figure out where you stand on this.  Then change your ego attachment point to someplace that will lead you to make yourself happy.

This is a really good perspective, thank you. I've worked for a company that is also a respected brand for coming up on a decade, and I can see how I've got an attachment to that, as well as an identification with the work I've done (similar to your friend who couldn't make the switch to SQL).

Sounds like broadening the scope to identify with a set of skills as opposed to the product/identity is what you're saying. And beyond that as @Linea_Norway points out, even to things beyond work (like foraging!--so cool). I'll give this some more thought.

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2020, 07:31:42 AM »
Consider what it is that your identity is really tied to.  You may find you're not really required to shed it.

In my case, even though I have a job that is very exhausting and competitive, I have never really attached my identity to my role, or level, or paycheck*.  But I am required to pretend that I do.  This is also exhausting.  In any event, as I'm turning my attention to a FIRE future, I've had to contend with questions of identity and purpose, and what I've concluded is that my identity is tied to my values, not my career or whatever institution I'm a part of.  That means part of my identity is tied to being driven and ambitious (as well as rebellious and sometimes lazy, go figure). 

I can find lots of things to be driven and ambitious about in FIRE.  The list of personal projects, organizations I'd try to work with, adventures I'd like to take, people I'd like to reconnect with, etc would fill a dozen lifetimes.  I'm pretty sure I won't have to shed those aspects of my identity in FIRE.

* I've also been trying to find every reason I could think of not to quit, as chronicled in my OMY series, so take all this with a grain of salt :)

It's amazing that you've been able to detach your identity from role/paycheck. I have to admit that I am still very attached to the paycheck (golden handcuffs!). I know that that's due to having been rather poor growing up and also a very rocky financial start in my 20's & early 30's. That paycheck was literally my life line for half of my adult life.

Now I don't need a paycheck, but the habit is there. I just got paid yesterday in fact, and I habitually went to my checking account and did all the math required to pay the bills and make sure everything was taken care of--despite the fact that it's a tiny amount of money compared to my total net worth! Amazing.

This is all really helpful to unpack. Thank you.

MadBikePoet

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2020, 01:30:27 PM »
You've done the outer work. Congratulations! Now it's time to do some inner work. For me, this is similar to the obstacle I had to overcome 3 years ago before FIREing. What happens when you do imagine pulling the trigger? What scenarios and feelings come up? Follow those feelings, especially ones of fear. Examine any fearful scenarios that might be holding you back and ask yourself what you could do to prevent the scenario from happening and also what you would do to help should that scenario arise.

You mentioned several ways your job serves you and several ways it does not serve you. So, no wonder you are ambivalent about leaving it.  This is very common. How much do you value those things on each side of the ledger. Every difficult decision in life is an exercise in clarifying values.

Is it actually unhealthy/redundant/ridiculous to keep repeating things you have become an expert at. Some people value mastery above all. Where is mastery in your priority of values? Perhaps it is unhealthy/redundant/ridiculous to keep working your job for possibly other reasons you have?

Tell us more about the "pull to a new life." What is it? How much do you want it? Why do you want it? How much are you willing to give up to get it?

Working is not an identity. Working is just something you are doing or not doing. Who are you if you are not working? Who does society or your friends and family say you are if you are not working?

Be careful of the assumption that you should stop working just because you reached your FI number. Mostly people here make that assumption because of the implicit goal orientation of this community, which is great for support. I love that about this community. But challenge yourself on if you want to quit working, quit this particular job, or quit doing certain things in this job.

Good luck, my friend!

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2020, 02:09:16 PM »
You've done the outer work. Congratulations! Now it's time to do some inner work. For me, this is similar to the obstacle I had to overcome 3 years ago before FIREing. What happens when you do imagine pulling the trigger? What scenarios and feelings come up? Follow those feelings, especially ones of fear. Examine any fearful scenarios that might be holding you back and ask yourself what you could do to prevent the scenario from happening and also what you would do to help should that scenario arise.

You mentioned several ways your job serves you and several ways it does not serve you. So, no wonder you are ambivalent about leaving it.  This is very common. How much do you value those things on each side of the ledger. Every difficult decision in life is an exercise in clarifying values.

Is it actually unhealthy/redundant/ridiculous to keep repeating things you have become an expert at. Some people value mastery above all. Where is mastery in your priority of values? Perhaps it is unhealthy/redundant/ridiculous to keep working your job for possibly other reasons you have?

Tell us more about the "pull to a new life." What is it? How much do you want it? Why do you want it? How much are you willing to give up to get it?

Working is not an identity. Working is just something you are doing or not doing. Who are you if you are not working? Who does society or your friends and family say you are if you are not working?

Be careful of the assumption that you should stop working just because you reached your FI number. Mostly people here make that assumption because of the implicit goal orientation of this community, which is great for support. I love that about this community. But challenge yourself on if you want to quit working, quit this particular job, or quit doing certain things in this job.

Good luck, my friend!

Thanks @MadBikePoet for posing these great questions! I'll attempt to lay out some responses.

Regarding fearful scenarios that come up when I consider pulling the trigger, there's "what if I'm making a HUGE mistake leaving a good job that I worked my ass off to get to?" There are some vague fears around not really trusting the math of RE, and some nerves around pulling off the 'stash vs. contributing to it. I also fear I'll let my colleagues down by leaving. I know that's a bit narcissistic, but it will have been 9 years when I pull the trigger so there's some element of "family" there. I'm also afraid they'll try really hard to convince me not to go, and end up caving into some other arrangement.

I do absolutely value mastery, but have come to a place where I'm no longer growing and feel the need to challenge myself if a new way. Although my job is complex, I can pretty much do it in my sleep at this point. In addition to mastery, "learning" is a key value that I'm just not getting anymore.

The "pull to a new life" is somewhat vague, but I feel like it's about independence and greater risk. There's a lot of safety in being an employee vs going it alone. I've had 2 new bosses in the past year, and I'm just at a place where I don't want a boss anymore. I feel like I'm too old to be explaining myself!  I know we all have to answer to some one, but I'd prefer it be a client rather than some corporate manager. I also have one big project outside of my job that I'm planning to throw myself into. It's risky and therefore kind of scary, but it could also end up being really fun. And if I fail, I won't have to worry about not making money off it.

I've got some work to do I "who I am/who does society/friends/family say I am when not working." I'm not sure I can answer that right now!!

I don't really want to stop working entirely, but I do want a nice long extended break so I can chart the next few years, do some extended traveling, and work on that big project I mentioned. It's entirely possible I'll do some consulting or take jobs on a project-by-project basis, rather than being tied to the hamster wheel.

Thanks again for these thoughts to ponder!

BreakBad

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2020, 09:39:54 AM »
You've had some great responses thus far (what MikeBike said especially). Let me just add a couple things. I'm 2 years post "retiring myself", and quit because I was burnt out, didn't relish another role at the megacorp, and had the money to leave. So I did, just before my 45th birthday.

My identity is still 98% tied with my vocation; I wouldn't say I'm great at many things in my life, but I was really good at my job. Nothing yet really fills that void (and I'm volunteering with 4 different groups).

Stare at Maslow's hierarchy and think about yourself and your needs (or your Ego's needs). But realize that everyone has a different balance of needs. My survey of all self-help / mindfulness literature thus far breaks the advice down to the following:

1) Find your purpose / calling and do it.
or 2) Transcend your ego and find a nice park bench.

I'd like to do a bit of both, but haven't quite figured out how. I've got an actual job interview tomorrow (first one since I quit), and I think (hope) it will give me a push one way or another. Keep us posted and wishing your luck.

BB.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2020, 11:38:12 AM »
It's amazing that you've been able to detach your identity from role/paycheck. I have to admit that I am still very attached to the paycheck (golden handcuffs!). I know that that's due to having been rather poor growing up and also a very rocky financial start in my 20's & early 30's. That paycheck was literally my life line for half of my adult life.
That resonates in a lot of ways, but I am also a bit of an oddball. I found the culture clash between my working-class values and those of the upper-middle knowledge-working class to be insurmountable. My industry also spends a ton of effort on internal marketing designed to cement the link between our careers and our identity. It makes me gag. As a consequence, I've been rejecting the identity elements of my industry for going on 20 years now.  And while I am incredibly grateful for the paycheck, I have always lived modestly and spent frugally.  I am somewhat known in my family as the person who can swoop in and solve a problem with money, and I'll miss that.  But when I really truly reflect on my identity and values, I find the core fundamental elements of who I am have almost nothing to do with my business card.  Maybe you'll find this too.  In any event, food for thought.

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2020, 08:46:11 AM »
Thanks for the input @RetireAbroadAt35 & @BreakBad.

I'm reading a couple books now to help with the purpose/calling and core values to help me make the shift. Seems like this is either going to be an on-going deal, or I'll eventually just have to pull the rip cord and that will force the evolution.

It's fascinating to see how difficult it is to shift my identity! Major mindf**k. But I guess no surprise given I'm 53 and have a lifetime of indoctrination.

verntc

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2020, 10:08:21 AM »
For me this was the biggest challenge. I loved my job (and work identity) for so long but started to open up to the idea of leaving once things started getting to be way too much after I had a child and my husband and I were struggling to find balance. So although I left on a positive note, it was after I stopped having fun there. I found that once the drama was gone from my life I had to go through a lot of mourning over the loss of my career identity and essentially the view of myself as a very hard and dedicated worker. I still struggle a bit with it a year later but know I am much happier, getting way better sleep, and most importantly a better parent now. It helped tremendously to read through the MMM blog which allowed me to develop more pride in being FI. I was feeling shame in the inherent laziness of not having a career. But I am working on switching that mentality to embrace what we have set up for ourselves.

It is a hard step to take and you have to be ready for the ups and downs to come, but in the end if you have worked so hard to get to this place it is the right thing to do. You are starting a process now that will lead you to a deeper place.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2020, 02:57:46 PM »
The greedy nature of my industry doesnít really allow for some one at my level to part-time it.

A first step could be to step back from your current level and become an expert working bee, working parttime. Would that he an option? This is what DH did during his last months working.

SachaFiscal

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2020, 10:33:44 AM »
I left work a little burnt out but there were things about my job that i missed when i left. My work identity was fairly strong and I didnt have much of a life outside of work so the transition was a bit jarring. Mostly I noticed that much of the confidence in myself had been reinforced or propped up by my job. My self esteem depended on my work project success. This was all revealed to me after I left. While the goal may be to develop a self esteem and purpose independant of corporate work, the reality can be challenging. In some ways it's an automatic process that you just have to go through and it just takes as long as it takes. But I think it would help to have a plan for your first year or two of retirement. Something to replace what good things you were getting out of your job. It should consist of things that you dont have to make long term committments though because it will likely change as you discover what you want your post retirement to look like. So volunteerwork that is flexible and doesnt require a commitment. Or social groups that you can participate at a frequency determined by you and also flexible. Projects that you can work on but dont have fast and hard deadlines. Travel plans that are flexible.

You want a group of activities to do that satisfy your needs for an adequate amoount of social interaction, some purpose, some sense of accomplishment, and some mental/physical challenge. Just enough so that you don't feel aimless or depressed. But not so much that you feel like you are locked into a lot of obligations and don't feel free. Ernie Zelinkski's book, How to Retire Happy Wild and Free is a good thing to read before you retire and will help you to come up with ideas.

For me personally, I do a little travel (before pandemic), some music lessons and some music classes at a local community college, expanding my cooking skills, some hiking and exercise classes on youtube, and some free mindfulness classes online.  That is plenty for me.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2020, 01:31:05 PM »

 Am I alone here or have you also struggled with shedding the life long identity of ďworkingĒ?

I have not.

The knowing of my own mind, that I am my mind,   has always formed the basis of  my endogenous identification of myself in the world in which we live.






John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2020, 01:56:47 PM »


Working is not an identity. Working is just something you are doing or not doing. Who are you if you are not working? Who does society or your friends and family say you are if you are not working?


What they say or think of me for not working is a particular that   has never caused me one single  whit of concern.

sui generis

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2020, 09:48:29 PM »
I was worried about this when I FIREd. Enough so that I did 6 sessions with a really great life coach (actually a therapist I had used during a tough period of illness and loss a few years prior) to work through ideas and framing and approach to my FIRE adventure. It was really great for me. I have a hard time changing my perspective once I've developed one but, having worked with her before, I knew how talented she was at helping me to reframe questions and concerns in a way that made them a pleasure to work on. As I FIREd I was super excited to work on the project of "who am I really?" An ongoing project that will keep my busy for a long time and has many, perhaps endless, answers. It's been a wonderful adventure so far!

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2021, 02:56:34 PM »
Still working on this. 2020 was a hell of a year and my job definitely wasn't more fun thanks to all the viral havoc!

I've come to realize that a lot of what's been holding me back from taking the leap is a general anxiety around poverty. For much of my early life I was, in fact, quite poor, and landing and maintaining a paycheck was literally life or death during some periods. Obviously things have gotten better, but the psychological habit around these fears runs deep. So deep that even though I understand the principle of time over money, my reptile brain just can't seem to reverse the story.

I'm setting some intentions for 2021 around this, and really trying to let it sink in that I don't actually NEED to work anymore. I don't need a paycheck. I don't need to rely on a job for security.

I think once I am able to accept this the other stuff around purpose & values will come easy.

sui generis

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2021, 03:13:27 PM »
I empathize on the psychological barriers, esp when they trigger those poverty anxieties.  I went through various stages of poverty as a child, with my families (divorced parents) getting poorer as I grew up, so that was pretty painful and definitely sticks with me.  Certain things I just associate with poverty and experiencing them again makes me feel poor again and really stresses me out, even if we do it by choice. 

I'll be interested to hear how and if you do manage to reverse the story over time.  It would be a valuable lesson!

bmjohnson35

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2021, 04:07:26 AM »
Still working on this. 2020 was a hell of a year and my job definitely wasn't more fun thanks to all the viral havoc!

I've come to realize that a lot of what's been holding me back from taking the leap is a general anxiety around poverty. For much of my early life I was, in fact, quite poor, and landing and maintaining a paycheck was literally life or death during some periods. Obviously things have gotten better, but the psychological habit around these fears runs deep. So deep that even though I understand the principle of time over money, my reptile brain just can't seem to reverse the story.

I'm setting some intentions for 2021 around this, and really trying to let it sink in that I don't actually NEED to work anymore. I don't need a paycheck. I don't need to rely on a job for security.

I think once I am able to accept this the other stuff around purpose & values will come easy.

Your post isn't about your financial situation, so I have to assume you have built up a net worth and created a financial plan that has accounted for living expenses, healthcare, etc....... for the remainder of your lifespan. 

It can be daunting to leave a successful career.  We are largely a product of our upbringing and life experiences, so it's no surprise that living through and surviving poverty left a strong impression.  Unless I missed it, you haven't mentioned your age or health. Assuming you are relatively young and healthy, remember that you can always switch to a part-time job or return to full-time. 

Have you considered requesting a leave of absence to test out the waters?

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2021, 08:22:31 AM »
Thanks @bmjohnson35

To answer your questions, I'm 53 and have indeed set myself up for the rest of my lifespan per the rules of the Simple Math :). So far I'm in good health and I do appreciate that that could change at any moment, which is part of my motivation for leaning into better control of my time and attention.

I have built a career in a highly competitive field, so it's a big question as to whether I'd be able to return to my current position/level. I'd say the odds are against it, and also very unlikely I'd be given a leave of absence. So quitting really will mean going whole hog.

Now, I could return later to the field and get some kind of job, or take on contract work. A few people have encouraged me to start my own business, but I'm not sure I want to take that on, though maybe after a year off or so that will emerge as an attractive idea. But from what I've read from all the early retirees that doesn't sound likely either!

Hence me being torn. I just want to make sure I'm not making a mistake I'll regret. It almost feels like leaving a marriage with some one I'm fond of due to our history/kids/etc, but don't really love anymore. And at 53 what are the chances I'll find true love? Tinder just doesn't sound fun at this age...;) Happily IRL I'm in a great relationship, but that's the best way I can describe the dilemma.

bmjohnson35

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2021, 04:50:19 PM »
Thanks @bmjohnson35

To answer your questions, I'm 53 and have indeed set myself up for the rest of my lifespan per the rules of the Simple Math :). So far I'm in good health and I do appreciate that that could change at any moment, which is part of my motivation for leaning into better control of my time and attention.

I have built a career in a highly competitive field, so it's a big question as to whether I'd be able to return to my current position/level. I'd say the odds are against it, and also very unlikely I'd be given a leave of absence. So quitting really will mean going whole hog.

Now, I could return later to the field and get some kind of job, or take on contract work. A few people have encouraged me to start my own business, but I'm not sure I want to take that on, though maybe after a year off or so that will emerge as an attractive idea. But from what I've read from all the early retirees that doesn't sound likely either!

Hence me being torn. I just want to make sure I'm not making a mistake I'll regret. It almost feels like leaving a marriage with some one I'm fond of due to our history/kids/etc, but don't really love anymore. And at 53 what are the chances I'll find true love? Tinder just doesn't sound fun at this age...;) Happily IRL I'm in a great relationship, but that's the best way I can describe the dilemma.

It sounds like you are in a relatively similar situation to myself 10 months ago.  I retired at the end of Feb @ 50.  I have to admit it has been adjustment and Covid screwed up our plans for my initial year out the gate.  I have no regrets so far.  Once you pull the trigger, you will go through YOUR process of decompression and eventually figure out what you want out of life beyond your career. 

If you do decide to take the leap, Congrats and Good Luck.   

stoaX

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2021, 05:51:26 AM »
My experience: I retired in July of 2018 at the age of 58 after working full time for 40 years, 36 of which were in the profession that I retired from. 
I had some worries that I hadn't planned things perfectly from a financial point of view. 

The first month it felt like I was on vacation. After that I got busy with home improvement projects and doing the things I wanted to do.  Maybe I am shallow but I never felt any identity issues... life just went on in a different sort of way when I retired.

Best of luck - I think you will love being retired!

Dicey

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2021, 07:11:32 AM »
Thanks @bmjohnson35

To answer your questions, I'm 53 and have indeed set myself up for the rest of my lifespan per the rules of the Simple Math :). So far I'm in good health and I do appreciate that that could change at any moment, which is part of my motivation for leaning into better control of my time and attention.

I have built a career in a highly competitive field, so it's a big question as to whether I'd be able to return to my current position/level. I'd say the odds are against it, and also very unlikely I'd be given a leave of absence. So quitting really will mean going whole hog.

Now, I could return later to the field and get some kind of job, or take on contract work. A few people have encouraged me to start my own business, but I'm not sure I want to take that on, though maybe after a year off or so that will emerge as an attractive idea. But from what I've read from all the early retirees that doesn't sound likely either!

Hence me being torn. I just want to make sure I'm not making a mistake I'll regret. It almost feels like leaving a marriage with some one I'm fond of due to our history/kids/etc, but don't really love anymore. And at 53 what are the chances I'll find true love? Tinder just doesn't sound fun at this age...;) Happily IRL I'm in a great relationship, but that's the best way I can describe the dilemma.
HeeHee, I didn't get married for the first (and hopefully only) time until I was 54. If it's what you want, don't give up on the idea just yet.

Rhinodad

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2021, 01:37:39 PM »
I think you've done a wonderful thing by asking the question already. So many people are defined by what they do for a living, and not by who they are (great neighbor, loving husband, involved father, community volunteer) outside of work. It's strange...when you are at a cocktail party or some such thing, a for sure question is "So, Joe, what do you do for a living?" As if that defines how wonderful, intelligent, or "successful" that person is. You are definitely on the right path of decoupling those things.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2021, 04:49:08 PM »
@4tify

I've recommended to many people struggling with near/at/post FIRE existential crises, to undergo a core values exercise.  There are lots of free ones for the finding on first page search of google for "core values exercise".  This one (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_85.htm) looks good.

To truly understand your personal needs here you need to understand what it is you value.  You probably have been force fed some "core values" by your work organization.  Maybe you even drank the Kool aid and adopted those core values.  But what are your very personal core values?  You can't build a contented life until you are living according to your own CV otherwise something will always seem off and incomplete. 

Once you have a couple dozen keywords that are meaningful to you, you can make the decision whether to change your work to conform or to  move on to entirely new life that meets your needs.   I'll also note, you need to re-do these exercises every couple years.  You certainly value different things now than when you were in High School (surely that is intuitive).  We change over time and that is a feature not a bug.  It is good to evolve as a person. 

We get bombarded with messages about choosing a career from a young age.  They usually start asking children what they "want to be when they grow up" in Kindergarten.  Better - ask them "who" do you want to be when you grow up.  What you do for a living is not who you are.  Happiness starts and ends with aligning the two.  We'd probably have fewer broken people if we guided the young into considering their values and building a life that is congruent than towards picking something to do for money.

4tify

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #29 on: January 05, 2021, 08:53:51 AM »
Thanks @Financial.Velociraptor. Digging out of all the conditioning/education is a real thing. I'll have do some reflecting on this. Just looking at the list on the link you provided is a lot to take in and sort through.

And @Rhinodad I'll be really interested to see in my (eventual) retirement how I answer that cocktail party question! I've seen discussions about that and find it really amusing to imagine people's reactions. My favorite is when folks say "I won the game and retired early."

@Dicey congrats at finding love in your 50's!

Rhinodad

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Re: Advice on shedding identity
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2021, 07:37:40 AM »
Thanks @Financial.Velociraptor. Digging out of all the conditioning/education is a real thing. I'll have do some reflecting on this. Just looking at the list on the link you provided is a lot to take in and sort through.

And @Rhinodad I'll be really interested to see in my (eventual) retirement how I answer that cocktail party question! I've seen discussions about that and find it really amusing to imagine people's reactions. My favorite is when folks say "I won the game and retired early."

@Dicey congrats at finding love in your 50's!

It will be interesting. My sense is that people automatically jump to the conclusion that you either inherited a bunch of money, or won the lottery. I started this journey late, have 5 kids, and a divorce, and am still going to be able to retire comfortably by 55...which on this board is elderly, but to most folks, seems crazy young. I just want to scream "There's no magic, it's not that F'in hard!"