Author Topic: In Fits and Starts  (Read 1398 times)

WalkaboutStache

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In Fits and Starts
« on: March 22, 2021, 02:43:12 AM »
What with the proliferation of FIRE flavors (fat, lean, coast, barrista, etc.), I now consider myself FIRED-ish.  Not quite FIRE, not quite in the rat race.  This could be a journal entry if I had one, but I thought that there may some value in posting it here because I think it shows that things don't always quite go to plan, that it is good to be flexible and that optimism is a good thing to hang on to.

This all started at the last quarter of 2019, when I stopped a project I had been doing for several years and told my employer that I was going to take a long break.  I don't get paid if I am not in a project and have been with them for years and years, so they were cool with it.  I stopped desk work and got a gig doing what I love to do, getting paid to engage in my hobby.  It went reasonably well, and when that concluded at the end of the year I decided to travel.  The plan was to bumble about for some 6 months and then come back and take another project and keep doing the work-travel-work cycle until I hit my magic number, but only taking short projects (PLAN A).

Astute readers will notice the timing... 

In any event, travel I did, and while I was tucked away in my vacation house in the forest the Covid shit hit the fan.  My flight back got cancelled, then delayed, then I decided I might as well stay a little longer since I was not worried about money.  I was just going to get a new project when I got back anyway.

I got back home and told people I was ready to work again, but Covid made projects scarce.  No problem, I'm flexible, so I go back to the passion project and wait.  And wait. And wait. Six months on, I am still waiting, so I figure that I can just keep doing the passion project indefinitely and that I can support myself with that income and about 2% of my stash, so I am just on a slow barrista-Fire kind of path.  All good, PLAN B it is.

Then the passion project starts becoming a J.O.B.  No matter how much you love ice-cream, if you have to eat ice-cream everyday it gets old, so I start thinking about moving to a nifty LCOL location I like and retiring there.  I just needed to wait a few more months to become vested in some additional benefits of my current situation and then I can move. Hello, PLAN C.  I started thinking that no work projects were going to come up until then, so I reframe the passion project so I do less of what I am not enjoying and more of what I am.

As any mouse will tell you, the there is a problem even with the best laid plans (though I think Burns is a bit pessimistic about mice and men).  PLAN C is moving along when my company offers me a project.  I sort of feel like I have to take it to ensure that they'll be there when I need them, and also because they sponsor my visa.  I really do not miss desk work, but it is supposed to be for just 3-6 months and the money isn't bad, so I take it.  Back to PLAN A, but now thinking I'll want to shift to PLAN C after this year anyway.  To be honest, I don't know because the world is on fire with Covid but I am in an exceedingly safe spot, living a pretty decent life.  I am itching to travel, but that is both a first world problem and one that I would have no matter where I were, given that borders are closed everywhere.

And what do you know?  I am actually enjoying this gig.  People are nice, they appreciate my work and I actually feel helpful because a bunch of stuff that was stalled before I started is now moving again. I work from home, so my commute time is 0, can still play around with my passion project (at a smaller scale because I don't want to work all the time), and I even get to take a power nap after work so afternoons don't suck anymore.

I think the takeaway here is that once your 'stache is in decent shape you can take risks with your retirement plan if you are willing to be flexible.  Things do tend to work out if you prepare (and we tend to be a preparation-obsessed crowd). For those of you who are out there fretting, I hope this little tale helps give you a little push to go do the thing you want.  If your dream is to take a sabbatical, I highly recommend it.  If you have OMY syndrome and are not enjoying work, stop torturing yourself.  If you could retire but enjoy your current job, more power to you and there is nothing wrong with that.

Go grab the bull by the horns and life by the balls. Don't reverse that order, as I think the bull will get mighty displeased.

Malcat

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2021, 05:36:56 AM »
As I often say: plans are there to guide decisions in the present, they don't in any way predict the future. So if you're present changes, then there's a good chance that your plans should as well.

Getting to attached to a plan can really mess people up. Good job recognizing that you needed to keep nimble in an ever changing, and novel situation.

stoaX

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2021, 12:39:40 PM »


Then the passion project starts becoming a J.O.B.  No matter how much you love ice-cream, if you have to eat ice-cream everyday it gets old,

Good insight.  I retired almost 2 years ago and last week I had a 1 hour call with my former employer on a consultancy basis. It was great and I second guessed my decision to retire.  Then I reminded myself that 40+ hours a week of consulting would not be great at all.   

So you're right, ice cream every once in a while is great, but not so much a steady diet of it. 

GreenToTheCore

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2021, 01:30:20 PM »
Many thanks for taking the time to write this all out, personal experiences are super impactful to hear about.
Congrats on rolling with the punches and putting yourself in a great place!

fraylock

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2021, 05:37:19 PM »
@WalkaboutStache Thank you for sharing this.  I think this is the most motivating and uplifting post I have read thus far on this site!

ysette9

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2021, 02:34:21 PM »
I FIREd three days before full Covid lockdown went into effect. Clearly that was not part of my plan. I feel like my plan is still on the back burner, hiding out in a spreadsheet, waiting for regular life to return. Until then we are taking it one week at a time, not committing ourselves to anything. It is a weird way to go through life for a couple of engineers who are used to planning everything, but what else can you do when the world is so unpredictable at the moment? Maybe it is a good lesson in something. I havenít figured that part out yet because I am just trying to survive day to day.

soccerluvof4

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2021, 05:00:55 AM »
I agree with everything you said except about the Ice cream comment!

Flexibility or as I always tell my kids have as many options in life as you can.

Malcat

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Re: In Fits and Starts
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2021, 08:35:29 AM »
I FIREd three days before full Covid lockdown went into effect. Clearly that was not part of my plan. I feel like my plan is still on the back burner, hiding out in a spreadsheet, waiting for regular life to return. Until then we are taking it one week at a time, not committing ourselves to anything. It is a weird way to go through life for a couple of engineers who are used to planning everything, but what else can you do when the world is so unpredictable at the moment? Maybe it is a good lesson in something. I havenít figured that part out yet because I am just trying to survive day to day.

I also retired 3 days before lockdown, but I haven't felt at all like my life is on hold. I think because all I wanted to do was hunker down at home and read for a year. I had registered for a year long intensive online masters to keep me busy. That was actually my plan well before I knew about covid, so all covid did was make everyone else join my plan.