Author Topic: Staying the Course  (Read 884 times)

Edwards

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Staying the Course
« on: January 13, 2021, 10:32:12 AM »
I am one of those people that hates working. It does not matter how great the job is, the constraints it places on every other aspect of my life is terrible. Besides the fact that it monopolizes the best hours of my day (most days) it also controls my sleep schedule, foods I eat, and time outside of work (because I’m either thinking about work, preparing for work, or too tired to do other activities at times).

For this reason, I am attempting to “retire” as soon as possible. More precisely, I would not be completely retiring but quitting my main job and continuing to work part-time at my second job (honestly, this would probably feel like retirement to me at this point).

While I have made the calculations and cut my quit date down to as soon as possible, I am unsure I can hold out another 2.5-3 years. The path for what I need to do seems clear but I have no motivation to trudge along and continue on it.

It as though I was trying to complete a maze from a puzzle book. After mentally finishing it with my eyes, I see no reason to take a pen out of my pocket and physically draw in the line.

How do you stay the course when the end seems near but so far away? 
I lack the motivation and would love any tips/advice on how others complete the slow and boring march to the finish line.

rockeTree

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 11:43:03 AM »
Start taking small but concrete steps towards the way you want to live when the job is gone. Build the garden bed, set up the weight room, learn to work on your own bike, take the cooking class, whatever your deal is.

Look for improvements you can make at your job so that their transition will be easier when you are gone - document your records and processes that you run that others might have to pick up so your coworkers have it easy and appreciate your efforts. This can take a good while and is productive but not stressful.

Similarly, making an effort to mentor junior colleagues can be rewarding and a change of pace if you haven't done it much so far.

Try to make friends or become closer with some of your work people so you look forward to hanging out with them on work days even if the work is dull.

crimp

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 12:15:26 PM »
Start taking small but concrete steps towards the way you want to live when the job is gone. Build the garden bed, set up the weight room, learn to work on your own bike, take the cooking class, whatever your deal is.

The advice above is just generally good, whether or not you're retiring.



(not that you'll never retire)

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 12:29:48 PM »
I am one of those people that hates working. It does not matter how great the job is, the constraints it places on every other aspect of my life is terrible. Besides the fact that it monopolizes the best hours of my day (most days) it also controls my sleep schedule, foods I eat, and time outside of work (because I’m either thinking about work, preparing for work, or too tired to do other activities at times).

For this reason, I am attempting to “retire” as soon as possible. More precisely, I would not be completely retiring but quitting my main job and continuing to work part-time at my second job (honestly, this would probably feel like retirement to me at this point).

While I have made the calculations and cut my quit date down to as soon as possible, I am unsure I can hold out another 2.5-3 years. The path for what I need to do seems clear but I have no motivation to trudge along and continue on it.

It as though I was trying to complete a maze from a puzzle book. After mentally finishing it with my eyes, I see no reason to take a pen out of my pocket and physically draw in the line.

How do you stay the course when the end seems near but so far away? 
I lack the motivation and would love any tips/advice on how others complete the slow and boring march to the finish line.


On those occasions when "the end seems near but so far away"    indulge in a reverie in which you  project myself into the future when as a FIREee you will be doing something enjoyable.

In that projection  look back at your present, lack of motivation  and say to yourself "The unpleasantness and ennui of those boring days at work  years ago was an unavoidable trade-off to obtain the happiness and contentment I now enjoy as a FIREee."

OP, to motivate yourself to "complete the slow and boring march to the finish line" project yourself into your future life as a contented FIREee when the days of your boring job are gone forever.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 12:42:19 PM by John Galt incarnate! »

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 02:15:36 PM »
Can you add some detail?  What percentage of your income comes from your second job?  Could you increase that?  Have you accounted for the fact that you'll have income coming in after you quit your primary job?  Could you quit now and coast on your second job?  Or do you need the 2.5-3 years to get to the point you could coast? 
Also, what do you mean by, " I am unsure I can hold out another 2.5-3 years. "  I assume you're speaking metaphorically here, but if your life, health, or mental well-being are really at risk then there must be ways to fix that.  If you really feel you can't hold out, then maybe you could change jobs to save your sanity.  Are you in a job that has lots of local openings so you could move or are you stuck in a small industry that pays a lot more than anything else would?
Do you have a partner who works?  Do you have dependents?

I will offer one piece of advice that I've posted many times.  The best thing I did as I got ready to FIRE was to move within my company to a low stress job for my last year.  I used hundreds of hours of PTO to essentially work part-time.  My partner actually changed to a part-time (32 hours a week) role.  The biggest mistake we made pre-FIRE was in moving to our part-time roles too late.  The income hit was minor, but the mental health benefits were fantastic.  If you're close to FIRE then you must have FU money, so asking for or demanding a part-time role might be an option.  My partner and I were both engineers, and I worked with a lot of other engineers who worked part-time throughout my career.  There are downsides in terms of promotions and leadership roles when working part-time, but that shouldn't be much of a concern if you're nearly FIRE. 

CodingHare

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 03:03:57 PM »
I've been in your shoes OP, only my FIRE date is still 10+ years out.  To be honest, what helped me was therapy.  It helped me realize that I was devoting an unhealthy amount of my self worth to my job and being good at it.  Whenever things went wrong or got stressful I'd cope by imaging my wonderful retired life and obsessively staring at Fidelity.  The therapy showed me that the accumulation phase doesn't have to feel that way.  Ultimately I did quit my job and get a different, lower pressure job that significantly improved my happiness while working to retire.

Maybe for you that's quitting your main job and just doing your second.  Maybe it's new coping strategies that let you reclaim more of your personal time from work.

Edwards

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 03:52:17 PM »
These are all good questions. Thanks for bringing them up.
Hopefully, my clarification of some of these questions may help with any additional responses.

What percentage of your income comes from your second job?  Could you increase that? 
I live off of the income from my second/part-time job and invest the entirety of my paycheck from my main job. I could increase the earnings from my second job by working more. However, I used to work the second job full-time (for 8+ years) and found it incredibly stressful. This is because it is a self-employed job in an art field. It's very nerve racking to never have a guaranteed paycheck each week and eventually why I settled on picking up a more traditional job (high school teacher) now.
I could attempt to rebuild my clientele base so that my second job became more profitable but in the end this would result in needing to work full-time in that field for a lot longer than 3 years.


Have you accounted for the fact that you'll have income coming in after you quit your primary job?  Could you quit now and coast on your second job?  Or do you need the 2.5-3 years to get to the point you could coast? 
I have factored in that I will still have some income once quitting the main job in 2.5-3 years. Continuing the part-time work is the only reason I would be able to begin coasting so early in my life. I have a $$ amount in my head that would allow me to feel comfortable with coasting (as my nest egg grows), and that requires 2.5-3 years of continuing what I am currently doing.
I can, of course quit earlier. However, this would force me to work part-time even longer into the future. This may not be an issue but I worry about the relying on it for that long since it has a lack of pay consistency.

Also, what do you mean by, " I am unsure I can hold out another 2.5-3 years. "  I assume you're speaking metaphorically here, but if your life, health, or mental well-being are really at risk then there must be ways to fix that.  If you really feel you can't hold out, then maybe you could change jobs to save your sanity.  Are you in a job that has lots of local openings so you could move or are you stuck in a small industry that pays a lot more than anything else would?
I was mostly speaking metaphorically when I said I was unsure I could hold out (but it has started taking a toll on my happiness). Switching to another school (again, I am a teacher) could help and is something that I have considered and looked at. However, the school I am working at is only 2 blocks away, so the savings in time/gas every day cannot be beat.

Do you have a partner who works?  Do you have dependents?
No dependents (and don't plan on having any/ another reason I can hopefully retire early).
I have a girlfriend and I'd like to factor her into my plans but at this time it would not be wise to add her potential earnings into the equation.


WSUCoug1994

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 04:28:18 PM »
Although I am likely not going to be helpful, I will tell you that you are not alone.  I started this journey in 2013 and I will be ready to pull the cord at the end of 2022.  I have obsessed about this goal for the last eight years and there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  The first few years were fun and I learned a lot and dramatically improved my position but I still have two more full years to go.  The downside is I feel I have learned and optimized as much as I can - so the aggressive learning curve has flattened out and I don't find it all that interesting anymore which makes it worse.  Now I feel I just have to wait.

The additional bummer is that I have hit some of the goals (such as 4%) but I am conservative and shooting for a lower percentage withdrawal.  So by the books I could leave now but we are also at the market peak (which seems like ever year for the last 10 years) which makes me nervous in terms of SOR.  I am also likely to receive a reasonable inheritance at some point that would essentially blow me past my target but I refuse to consider that or social security as part of my plan.

So I could easily justify staying or going - which is a little frustrating overall but its ok.  I actually like 70% of my job and I love the people I work with so fighting it out for the next two years is really not that big of deal but I continue to obsess about it.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Staying the Course
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2021, 12:15:58 PM »
It sounds like you've thought this through pretty well and none of the obvious and simple approaches that I would have recommended sound likely to solve the problem.  There are a few generic things to mention, although I suspect you've thought of most of them.
First, I'd reiterate that staying with a job that's seriously impacting your mental or physical health is a bad idea unless you either have no other option or only worse options. 
Second, I think most people have a lot more options to make their current jobs better or at least less terrible than they think.  I was an engineering manager for about 15 years, and I was always surprised at how little my employees asked for or negotiated.  I tried very hard to make my employees' jobs as rewarding as I could, but I only had a few chips I could call in so I had to use them in the most critical situations, but I did have those chips. For example of what I mean by a "chip", I might have some cool R&D work to assign that most of my engineers would enjoy, but might only be able to offer it to one person each year.  Of course if someone was going to leave, all of a sudden management would allow me to offer raises, time off, changes to assignments, or whatever we could think of.  It cost a tremendous amount of time and money to get people trained, so we really wanted to keep people.  If your school is having trouble staffing their teaching positions, they may be more willing to work with you than you think.  I don't know what that would entail.  You're in a better position to think of options (teaching 6 classes a day instead of 7?) that might help improve the situation than I would be, but I'd really think about what you could ask for that might improve your working life.  That was not very well written, but hopefully the point came through the random stream of thoughts.
Third, if your current school won't do anything to help I'd consider other options to use the skills and connections you have to find a better job.  For instance, maybe you're 2.5-3 years away in your current job and they won't offer any part-time options or work to improve your situation.  In that case, are there any professional tutoring companies you could work for?  Could you do private tutoring?  Even if the pay is 1/2 what you get now, you might get more flexibility, fewer hours, and less stress.  So it might stretch your FIRE date out to 5-6 years, but living a better life during those years might make it worth it. 
Finally, I often see people post here that they have just option A and option B while ignoring the in between options.  It sounds like you are facing down 2.5-3 years of work while you want to quit NOW.  If you don't feel you have any other options, tell yourself you just need to get through this school year and the next, so a little under 1.5 years.  At the end of that time, you might be able to quit if you add in some substitute teaching work, teaching just summer school for a couple of years, or doing some private tutoring either on your own or with a company.  Or you might be able to scale up your 2nd job just a little bit.  When you're within 1 year of FIRE, so many options open up.  At that point just an extra $5k for a few years can get you through to the end.  Or you might get to the end of the 1.5 years and decide that you can do another year.  Or if you look for other options you may find that you could quit at the end of this school year and substitute teaching/tutoring/increasing the 2nd job just a little might be enough. 

As I already mentioned, the biggest mistake I made before I FIREd was that I transitioned to part-time too late.  If I had known how little it would impact my finances and how substantial the mental and physical health benefits were I would have done it much earlier.  The 'stache was doing the heavy lifting at that point, marginal tax rates reduced the financial impact of going to part-time, and the extra day of "free" time was better than expected.  I think the last couple of years should be the best working years of your life if you use the power of FU money to design those years to your benefit. 

Good luck!