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At a crossroads
Old 01-25-2012, 03:42 PM   #1
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At a crossroads

Single and in my mid 30s, I have been working nonstop straight out of university, in a field I have little interest for.

I was in the middle of seeking for a change in employment, and "accidentally" googled "retire young." Okay I admit, it wasn't by accident. The truth is I am suffering from employment fatigue and want to be set free. The child in me wants to do more rewarding things, like volunteer work such as teaching immigrants English, helping out in animal shelters, and learning via travelling. Clearly I am not the career driven type.

My savings are over $1M, and my family is relatively wealthy, so this is not a constraint. Yet I am apprehensive taking this step, because for some reason I care too much what other people will think of me.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:16 PM   #2
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Remember.... nothing is forever.

If money is not a constraint, then take some time off and explore the possibilities. At your age, you will have options open to you and can always go back to work if you find something rewarding.

You may find that what seems really great from the outside very quickly becomes boring (or worse) once you are doing it.

I did everything you want to do: I quit my job and went to work for Club Med in the Caribbean: great from the outside but working there was one of the hardest jobs of my life! Constantly "on", never any privacy, long hours. I learned a lot about myself - not least of which is that I'm not a people person.

I also worked for an animal rescue group: also great, loved the cats but got tired really fast with the internal politics and the attitude that volunteers were one step removed from slavery.

Teaching immigrants English: it's great when they practice and have an interest in learning. Not so much when they refuse to practice and/or think that showing up will give them a certificate.

I don't want to put you off - these things are great and can be a lot of fun. On the other hand, it's good to go in with eyes wide open.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:42 PM   #3
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I don't know how to convince you of this, but what others think can not be your motivation for living your life in a certain way. Now, if what they think affects you financially, you have to at least consider their opinions. It sounds as if you are already "financially independent" or close to it. You may have to live a more frugal life to be "free" - especially if your family's backing is at issue. Only you can decide if making sacrifices (especially financially) is worth the freedom to explore "life". It sounds like your life was more-or-less laid out for you and now you don't particularly enjoy it. Remember, you only get one life (at least that we can be sure of) so it's your choice what you do with it.

Climbing down off my soap box now. Good luck and don't forget, YMMV.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:49 PM   #4
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Single and in my mid 30s...
At your tender age maybe you should be thinking of "taking some time off to find yourself" rather than retiring. That might help you get your head around your concerns about what others may think. Nothing says you can't decide to make it permanent if you find you like it, or return to work if you so choose.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:12 PM   #5
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Thank you for your perspectives. I guess spending over 10 years in a profession that is financially rewarding but one that is only about financial rewards, and being around people who are only about financial rewards, has taken its toll. I have forgotten what is the true meaning of life, and want to discover it.

Nuiloa, koolau, rewahoo, you are all right. Things are not always what they appear. We want what we don't have. Like you said, I may not like the "retirement" life. The uncertainty of the unknown has been one factor stopping me from "retiring." Trying to conform with my peers is another. You ask why I care what they think. It's because they and their ways are all I know.

Or perhaps these are merely excuses.

The truth is I am scared.

The path I will mostly likely take is to return to school full time. But then again I have been saying this for the past five years...

Is change really that scary?
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:25 PM   #6
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Is change really that scary?
Yes, if you allow it to be. Sounds to me like what you need to be afraid of is rotting away doing something you don't enjoy when you don't have to do so.

If you are single you have no one depending on your income, right? If you have a nice nest egg, you don't have to worry about keeping a roof over your head or food on your table, correct? What are you frightened of?
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #7
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Or perhaps these are merely excuses.

The truth is I am scared.

The path I will mostly likely take is to return to school full time. But then again I have been saying this for the past five years...

Is change really that scary?
Nothing unusual, or wrong, with not enjoying the situation you are in, or being uncertain about what to do about it. The fact you are aware of this is an advantage. Your issue seems to be you are not sure what motivates you. How will school help this? If you have the savings, why not just go do something different? You don't need to make a new career choice here, just work for free in a few different areas and see if any light a spark. There is no lack of need for qualified people to help.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:16 PM   #8
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....The truth is I am scared.

The path I will mostly likely take is to return to school full time. But then again I have been saying this for the past five years...

Is change really that scary?
Yup, it is - uncertainty makes us uncomfortable. They don't call us creatures of habit for nuttin'.

Sounds like you need to take some time off, travel and do some volunteer work and decide what your passion is and what you want to do with the rest of your life. You can always then go back to school or work (or not).
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:14 AM   #9
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I remember as a scared teenager living in Ireland, having a poster on my wall that said:

"A ship in a harbor is safe. But that is not what ships are built for."

It was kind of corny for sure, but that little saying helped me so much in life. I have no regrets and got to do a lot of fun and challenging things. I joke that I've had five lives and have four left to go. Some have been more financially rewarding (the tech industry) but the most personally rewarding included playing in a rock band right out of school, and now trying to retire as an artist.

You only have one life to live, and you certainly shouldn't be "living someone else's life." If you haven't watched Steve Job's address at Stanford to the graduates, now would be a good time. If you have, watch it again - and this time pay attention.
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Old 01-26-2012, 02:51 AM   #10
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The road less traveled always looks like the one that is less safe...

How about taking/negotiating a year off and call that "sabbatical". Then use some of it to travel, volunteer and explore your options.

Some of the people who took a sabbatical never cared to return, others found it a valuable experience at least - but nobody I talked to had regrets.

Start living on the budget that you would have without your day job or on a 3% withdrawal rate.

All the best!
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:57 PM   #11
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Yes, if you allow it to be. Sounds to me like what you need to be afraid of is rotting away doing something you don't enjoy when you don't have to do so.

If you are single you have no one depending on your income, right? If you have a nice nest egg, you don't have to worry about keeping a roof over your head or food on your table, correct? What are you frightened of?
I am frightened of not conforming in the only world that I know. Who retires at my age?

My father was always a work hard businessperson/investor, never took a rest day, and with no education, he accumulated substantial wealth. I never wanted people, especially him, to think I am piggybacking on his wealth, so I became self sufficient. He will be appalled if I tell him I am quitting my job to "retire" or to take a break to travel. He is the type to think that no amount of money is enough, and not working is lazy...

I am an adult, and yet I still care what my father and others think of me. It shows how feeble I really am.
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Old 01-26-2012, 04:07 PM   #12
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Well, then suck it up and get to work.
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Old 01-26-2012, 04:25 PM   #13
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I understand the need for parental approval - I doubt anyone ever loses that. Have you considered talking to your father about this? You may find that he was having the same thoughts you are having at your age, but because of his circumstances he couldn't act on them. Give him the benefit of the doubt - he may be very supportive. If nothing else, he'll at least hear your point of view.

And if he's not supportive? Well, it's your life. Live it your way.

One story that I keep going back to was from an old episode of "Remington Steele": A merchant had spent all his life saving to buy his own cargo boat. He figured it would make his business thrive and his family would be much richer. He worked day and night, for years, but finally saved the money. On the day the boat is to be delivered, it explodes and sinks in the harbour. Everyone is aghast, thinking the man has given his life's blood for nothing. But the merchant starts to laugh and with a twinkle in his eye he says "Now everything is new again!"

Sometimes it's good to shake things up.
Is change scary.... you bet. But you have to get an adrenaline rush from something, right?
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:38 PM   #14
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You have many things to worry about.

You can relieve anxiety about cash flow by making a plan that will give you a reliable income stream. If you can live on $35k/yr, with an intelligent asset allocation, your stash can be expected to last as long as you do. There are a few threads in our FAQs that can help, like this one:
What drawdown method do you use?
And play with FireCalc.

Do not think of it as retiring. You will be Financially Independent. You can define yourself by your new occupation if you like. And if you want to do something that pays ("work"), you will find that financial independence changes your feelings. I am a contractor. The difference between that and employee made a huge difference in my job happiness. You will not be handcuffed to a job. Don't do one thing, do many things, one after the other. Be a volunteer worker on fossil digs. Install wells in backwoods Peru. Build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Teach English to immigrants in Chicago. Or in Chile. No one in any of these places will give you any flak for being 'retired'. If anyone even asks how you can manage it, tell them you are taking a year off. E-Z.

Now go out and do what you would like to do.

Set up your cash flow and balance your expenses to it. Then quit and sit and think about things for a while.

It's OK.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:27 AM   #15
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With your nest egg you have all rights to call yourself an "Investor" if you need to give a name to it.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:52 PM   #16
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Yet I am apprehensive taking this step, because for some reason I care too much what other people will think of me.
You are skewing the possible benefit of any advice by rigging your question in such a way as to generate the answer that you want. Asking the FIRE crowd about conforming is pretty much like asking a priest if he can recommend adultery.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:16 PM   #17
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With your nest egg you have all rights to call yourself an "Investor" if you need to give a name to it.
Not recommended. People will start asking for handouts.

Another poster a few months ago was in the same situation and found that it was better to conceal his actual situation. For some reason, there is hostility towards younger people who are 'retired'.

The operative word is "independent". In all ways.

If you think other people will think critically of you, don't tell them the truth. 'Taking a year [or ten] off' is a good story and you keep your flexibility. You are worrying too much about the wrong stuff.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:25 PM   #18
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I am frightened of not conforming in the only world that I know. Who retires at my age?

My father was always a work hard businessperson/investor, never took a rest day, and with no education, he accumulated substantial wealth. I never wanted people, especially him, to think I am piggybacking on his wealth, so I became self sufficient. He will be appalled if I tell him I am quitting my job to "retire" or to take a break to travel. He is the type to think that no amount of money is enough, and not working is lazy...

I am an adult, and yet I still care what my father and others think of me. It shows how feeble I really am.

I have been where you are and cared the most about what my parents thought about leaving my job and going back to school and starting over. They had a 100 reasons as to why I should not do it. My one reason was that I did not want to die asking "what if?" That was two years ago and my parents are my biggest supporters in my profession now. I am semi-retired and am able to live a really good life. You have everything you need to start on this new venture. I also found a really good life coach and did a few personality tests to find out what I was really suited for....it was the best $700 I have ever spent in my life!
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