Author Topic: Midlife Gap Year?  (Read 14274 times)

sfbriansmith

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Midlife Gap Year?
« on: February 24, 2015, 01:21:58 PM »
Well, I finally jumped.

Not into full retirement, but into a Midlife Gap Year at 49.
20 years of work in political communications, over.

I will likely return to school teaching in a year or so.

But as of Feb 1, I am without a job. A house husband. And it feels amazing.

I'm keeping a diary over at Medium about my experience if you have ever considered a self-sponsored Sabbatical from the bullshit.

Wish me luck!
https://medium.com/@sfbriansmith/diary-genx-50-989c4b883efe

spokey doke

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2015, 10:18:01 AM »
Nice blog...a lot of parallels to my own state (48 yrs old, burnt on a productive career that has grown increasingly demoralizing).

Two of the central things I'm looking to ditch with my job are: too many things going on at once that beg for my attention, and related to that, the constant feeling that I need to be doing something for work.  This double-whammy really diminishes my ability to be fully present and engaged in non-work activities.

But I'm looking to pull the plug and fully FIRE in the next few years.  Good luck with the 4th graders...

mm1970

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2015, 04:36:51 PM »
great blog.  Look forward to reading more.

It looks like I might get a mid-life gap year.  The state of the company (start up) is not looking good.

I was chatting with my office mate - I mean, you don't actually apply for unemployment if you don't plan on working, right?

And I'm not sure anyone would consider it a "gap year", more like a "stay at home mom" year.

Eh, who knows. I'm turning 45 this year, been working full time (except for a total of 3 years at 30-35 hours a week due to kiddos) since 1992.

Gray Matter

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2015, 04:39:44 PM »
I love it!  I think everyone should have one.  I'm too fiscally conservative to quit one job without having another lined up until I don't need to go back to work ever, but I love the concept. 

mandy_2002

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2015, 06:21:26 PM »
I'm working towards FIRE by 33, but I'm unsure if it will actually be a full retirement.  Since I'm single, a husband and little people can change the FIRE outlook.  I think when I do finally get there, I'll call it an extended sabbatical and see what happens.

Retired To Win

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2015, 08:52:36 PM »
Well, I finally jumped.

Not into full retirement, but into a Midlife Gap Year at 49.
20 years of work in political communications, over.

I will likely return to school teaching in a year or so...


Boy, you brought back some memories for me.  I too had a gap year, though mine was at 39.  Fifteen-plus years of corporate marketing done.  Came out the other side of that gap year headed for a second career in marine conservation.  Who knew!!

Good luck with your switch.

Bob W

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2015, 12:12:29 PM »
Good for you!  Although 49 might be stretching the "Midlife" term.  lol.   (I'm 55 by the way)

sfbriansmith

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2015, 04:39:33 PM »
Well, my "Gap Year" ended after just 4 months. But that's not a bad thing. I got out of it what I needed. Now I will be launching my own business, doing what I love and making good money doing it. So taking a gap was definitely worth it. It gave me the courage to change my life.

Hope you all get a chance to unplug for a few months at some point in your career, it will change you.

You can read the final chapters of the essay, posted now.
https://medium.com/@sfbriansmith/diary-genx-50-989c4b883efe

sfbriansmith

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2015, 10:46:48 AM »
The photo in the blog is some scary Dutch guy who comes up when you search "Midlife Crisis."

Thankfully, I avoided that. ; )

frugalecon

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2015, 11:20:46 AM »
I have totally been thinking about a gap year or self-designed sabbatical from work. I am responding so that I can easily follow conversation in this thread.

sfbriansmith

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2015, 07:41:22 PM »
Do it, Frugalcon. But make sure you save enough to not kill your future FI.

With a trip backpacking across Europe (super-un-mustachian) I burned through 6 months of savings in 4 months.

When a great work opportunity was presented I jumped.

As I launch, my spreadsheet says I have 12.7 months of living expenses in my Emergency Fund, healthcare covered by my wife's high-paid gig, and no longer have commute or fancy dress expenses, so my living expenses will go down at least 15%.

If you have a built a secure safety net first, jump.

Wilson Hall

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2015, 11:57:26 AM »
What is it about this age (mid-late 40s) that makes people start reassessing their lives and careers?  I know I've been doing this job long enough that I'm wondering how much longer I should stay.  No immediate plans to jump, but my mind is racing 2-3 years down the road.

I took a six-month gap term almost a decade ago. Stayed with friends overseas for 3 weeks, then puttered around the house and yard, did some freelance work followed by a temp job, which led to the career I have now. This remains one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Gretamom

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2015, 09:45:10 PM »
Well, I finally jumped.

Not into full retirement, but into a Midlife Gap Year at 49.
20 years of work in political communications, over.

I will likely return to school teaching in a year or so.

But as of Feb 1, I am without a job. A house husband. And it feels amazing.

I'm keeping a diary over at Medium about my experience if you have ever considered a self-sponsored Sabbatical from the bullshit.

Wish me luck!
https://medium.com/@sfbriansmith/diary-genx-50-989c4b883efe

Just read your diary on Medium & I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

crujonez

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2015, 05:56:58 AM »
I am 39 and just started a gap "time period to be determined". Busted ass for the last 15 years and now am cruising by. Sold my house and most of my stuff and have no debt or kids and we are living with my inlaws rent free for however long we want. Not the ideal situation but it gives us time to travel and figure out what we really want to do. I am only one week in and my body and mind feel better than ever

Grimey

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2015, 09:36:58 PM »
What is it about this age (mid-late 40s) that makes people start reassessing their lives and careers?  I know I've been doing this job long enough that I'm wondering how much longer I should stay.  No immediate plans to jump, but my mind is racing 2-3 years down the road.

I took a six-month gap term almost a decade ago. Stayed with friends overseas for 3 weeks, then puttered around the house and yard, did some freelance work followed by a temp job, which led to the career I have now. This remains one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I'm not certain, but for me it happened at 36... I think the combination of aging (no longer being the 19yr old immortal who has no - and feels no pain) and being in a static (maybe content?) place in your life where there isn't much changing, that causes this feeling.  I believe we need to be challenged to grow or learn every day.

In my case I planned a 5 month Personal Leave Of Absence (PLOA) from my work to hike the Appalachian trail.  Being a tightwad and risk adverse, this worked out well as my expenses were low(hiking doesn't cost much) and I had a job waiting for me when I returned.

 In far enough hindsight, probably one of the best decisions I could've made... It totally changed my life.  I'm still with the same company (they pay me too much to leave), but I have a much better woman, and a more secure and predictable financial situation while still being able to seek the adventure that I NEED.  (JMT hike starts next week in Yosemite)


cashistrash

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2015, 10:23:27 AM »
I'm 34 and I've been considering this lately to go back to school for a Masters degree and do some other self-study.  I have a fairly good paying job though and a small child at home.  On the other hand I have a lot of savings, and I could convert my before tax retirement accounts to Roths paying little tax on my time off.

Wilson Hall

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2015, 12:50:15 PM »
What is it about this age (mid-late 40s) that makes people start reassessing their lives and careers?  I know I've been doing this job long enough that I'm wondering how much longer I should stay.  No immediate plans to jump, but my mind is racing 2-3 years down the road.

I took a six-month gap term almost a decade ago. Stayed with friends overseas for 3 weeks, then puttered around the house and yard, did some freelance work followed by a temp job, which led to the career I have now. This remains one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I'm not certain, but for me it happened at 36... I think the combination of aging (no longer being the 19yr old immortal who has no - and feels no pain) and being in a static (maybe content?) place in your life where there isn't much changing, that causes this feeling.  I believe we need to be challenged to grow or learn every day.

In my case I planned a 5 month Personal Leave Of Absence (PLOA) from my work to hike the Appalachian trail.  Being a tightwad and risk adverse, this worked out well as my expenses were low(hiking doesn't cost much) and I had a job waiting for me when I returned.

 In far enough hindsight, probably one of the best decisions I could've made... It totally changed my life.  I'm still with the same company (they pay me too much to leave), but I have a much better woman, and a more secure and predictable financial situation while still being able to seek the adventure that I NEED.  (JMT hike starts next week in Yosemite)

Well put, Grimey. It's thrilling to see that taking these breaks has worked out well for so many people. Have fun on your Yosemite hike!

arebelspy

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2015, 01:17:10 PM »
I'm not yet sure if my current ER will turn into a gap year or three, but it's a possibility. Enjoying these stories from those who have been there before!
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Longwaytogo

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2015, 09:41:47 PM »
I'm not yet sure if my current ER will turn into a gap year or three, but it's a possibility. Enjoying these stories from those who have been there before!

Say it isn't so; 3 weeks in and your going to have the Internet Retirement police all over you already!!  JK



Seriously though I'm dreaming/planning for a mid-life crisis gap year around age 40 (6 years from now). Super early MMM retirement is not happening for me and I want to do some stuff that's more physically challenging before my 52/53 retirement target.

Specifically I want to spend a winter "ski bumming" in either Colorado or Utah with probably some side trips south to mountain bike/hike with some friends that don't ski. I'm self employed so for me it's just save the funds and schedule the time. Wife's a bit harder as shes a teacher (with all our benefits, pension, etc.)

She can take a 1 school year sabbatical at half pay and full benefits if she can prove shes doing something that will "improve her teaching upon her return" She already has her Masters and almost her Masters + 30 so not sure what the hell this could be? If it was as easy as enrolling in a few night classes at Colorado state or something that would be sweet!

Have to do more research if/when the time comes. She's loosely given me permission to go from Xmas to Easter by myself and her and the kids fly out for MLK, presidents day, etc. But would be cheaper/more fun if we could all just drive out for the whole time.

Susiip

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2015, 11:38:05 AM »
I am four months along in my mid-life gap year (at 36). DH and I are trialling travelling on a $40k (AUD) budget to see whether it's realistic to travel on this budget, and how much longer we want to work before FIRE. I have really noticed how much less I am inclined to spend when my days are my own. It makes me all the more excited to go home and save hard for another 3-4 years before we can FIRE for good.

Given we are quite close to FIRE, it was a hard decision to take the time off, but I was feeling burned out and exhausted, and ultimately we thought it was better to take a break and regain energy and focus than limp into FIRE in 4 years time.

I'm definitely happy we made this choice. It's been an incredible experience so far. I was able to take a year's leave of absence which means I can go back to my job. DH will look for something when we return.

SticktothePlan

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2015, 09:57:53 PM »
This is great! I've been thinking about this for some time.  Probably putting it off for another year, but want to keep following this thread and hearing about any and all successful (and even not successful) experiences.


Taran Wanderer

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2015, 02:16:10 AM »
Has anyone done a gap year with multiple kids?  How did it go?  What did you do?

parkette

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2015, 05:16:29 AM »

Has anyone done a gap year with multiple kids?  How did it go?  What did you do?

I'm also interested in this. My boys are just 6 mos but we've planned to take them out of a school for a year to travel/homeschool when they're somewhere between 9-11. We will be 40 & 45-ish. I'm hoping it won't derail our plans to FIRE at 45 & 50 but I think it will be worth it.

Thinkum

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2015, 05:00:20 PM »
This is so awesome because I too quit my job in February. My intent was to take a year off, travel, work on the house, and do a test run for being FI. I got a PT job about 3 months into it, just for kicks. I quit it though since it wasn't worth it. Now I'm wondering if I should get back to a FT gig to stack the cash or just cruise on PT. I might make a post about this later.

Hamster

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2015, 06:22:09 PM »
Has anyone done a gap year with multiple kids?  How did it go?  What did you do?
Today is my last day of a 6 month personal leave (gap 6 months). I am 40 and have 2 school-age kids.

We lived in Korea for most of that time, where the kids attended public school (they are on a completely different calendar than the U.S.). They loved it, but already had some language background and tend to be easy travelers. We mostly chose Korea for their sake, for learning the language.

In Korea, I honestly didn't 'do' much, other than housework and getting the kids to school and activities. We walked a lot, I did a fair amount of hiking and web surfing, and my wife spent most of her time helping her family in various ways. That decompression was a great thing for me. Decreased stress levels, 12 pound weight loss without really trying, and a more relaxed sense of being.

Halfway through my time off, I had a volunteer opportunity fall in my lap.  I spent a bit more than a month in Laos, and that was the best 'work experience' in my life. Proves that when you do something out of personal interest, and not for money, it is much more fulfilling.

As for our family, the experience was great for my relationship with my kids, and their relationship with each other. It has strained my relationship with my wife somewhat, and we are still working on how to learn and move forward from the issues that were amplified by spending much more time together in a small space, with fewer outside obligations.

I am very glad I took the time off, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. As far as lessons for me about eventual ER, I think I will want some structured commitment outside of the house - volunteer or paid - maybe 16 hours a week. I think it will also be important for my wife to feel we are both contributing to something in some meaningful way so we have some outward direction for our energy, as well as inward direction.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2015, 09:01:32 PM »
Hamster - Thank you for the thoughtful response.  Sorry to hear about the strain you discovered.  Thank you for the insight about structured activity outside the house.

AZDude

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2015, 10:35:42 AM »
About 6 months last year I moved to working basically part time from home, versus going into the office. Did this for about 6 months. Not totally unplugged, but it was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I got to spend much more time with my little one, who was barely two at the time. After barely seeing her for the first two years of her life, suddenly being around her all the time was an eye opening experience. I learned how to be a better father and got lots of good bonding time with both my child and my wife. After two harrowing stressful years post-birth, where we both worked and our child was watched by grandparents or a public daycare, this was a very nice, relaxing time to grow together as a family.

I would highly recommend taking a sabbatical if you have a decent 'stache and a small child.

Gerard

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2015, 07:38:49 AM »
For people wondering about doing this with kids, Nan Jeffrey has a book or two. I remember reading one way back when and being reassured by it (although I never did such a long trip).

<edit: sorry, spelled her name wrong>

Nancy

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2015, 03:20:03 PM »
I've really wanted to take a gap year to travel and see what other countries I might want to live in once FI. The fear that we won't be able to get our high paying jobs back (delayed FIRE) has been preventing me from fully committing. It's heartening to hear that these gap years were so beneficial to your lives/careers.

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2015, 03:43:30 PM »
I'm ready for a gap year right now.  Unfortunately, we're just starting a business that we do rely on and its going well-ish.  Not nearly as much money as I want to be making, but more than we were before.  I think if we dropped out now, it'd be hard to rebuild our customer base.  We are taking a two week vacation back home to see my family, so hopefully that will rejuvenate me.

Somehow I'm in this state of being poor, but instead of living it up at the beach or in the hammock, I spend all my time thinking about how to boost our income or save a dime. 

:( Hopefully this too shall pass.

Wilson Hall

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2015, 06:27:25 PM »
I've really wanted to take a gap year to travel and see what other countries I might want to live in once FI. The fear that we won't be able to get our high paying jobs back (delayed FIRE) has been preventing me from fully committing. It's heartening to hear that these gap years were so beneficial to your lives/careers.

This is my worry as well. When I took a gap year almost a decade ago, my husband was working full-time, I had plenty of liquidity in my savings, and the job market was better than it is at this time. My stache is much bigger now, but the closer I get to 50, age discrimination and employment gaps become a greater concern.

My goal is to ride out my currently mostly-good job until it's no longer any good or goes away, then take another year off before my (hopefully) final stretch of full-time employment before FIRE.

crujonez

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Re: Midlife Gap Year?
« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2015, 08:18:42 AM »
I am 39 and just started a gap "time period to be determined". Busted ass for the last 15 years and now am cruising by. Sold my house and most of my stuff and have no debt or kids and we are living with my inlaws rent free for however long we want. Not the ideal situation but it gives us time to travel and figure out what we really want to do. I am only one week in and my body and mind feel better than ever

So just wanted to get others feedback on their GAP times. I have been doing great mentally and physically since I started my GAP but my problem has been the spending/budget. While I was working I didn't do a lot because of a terrible schedule and part of that is what prompted a GAP plan. Now I am off and am doing everything I wanted to do for years and having a great time but I am way over my budget I allotted myself. Anyone else have this problem when they took a break?