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Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 09:57 AM   #1
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Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

I'm really torn about what to do, so thought I'd post and see what you guys would do / have done...I'm sure many of you can relate, but how are you dealing with it?

We're 2 years to FIRE. I work a lot right now (50 - 60 hours a week) and get paid well for what I do. I am the head of the recruiting department for my company and have 6 people reporting to me. I have an opportunity to take on more responsibilities and start a head hunting business within my company and make more money. I am torn...

Do I take it on? This means that I will have more stress (with the added responsibility of running a profitable business); a little more hours (we'll hire someone to do the work, but I still need to supervise); but have the opportunity to make 50% more....it might allow us to FIRE a year earlier.

OR

Do I pass? This means I still need to help make it work, maybe get a slight bump on my bonus, but not much, and deal with the headaches of working with a new 'equal' on integrating the two. Nice thing, is that I won't have the added 'responsibilities' and pressure. I should still be able to FIRE in 2 years...

I've always been a high achiever, always working my way up the corp ladder. The reason we want to FIRE (under 40) is that we want to enjoy life before it's too late. If I don't take it, I can 'slow down' a bit and continue to work towards the FIRE lifestyle (enjoy the boat more, relaxing more, etc). This also means that I am taking a step back -- my ego isn't liking that very much....help!
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 10:06 AM   #2
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearkeley
Do I take it on? This means that I will have more stress (with the added responsibility of running a profitable business); a little more hours (we'll hire someone to do the work, but I still need to supervise); but have the opportunity to make 50% more....it might allow us to FIRE a year earlier.

OR

Do I pass?
I've always been a high achiever, always working my way up the corp ladder. The reason we want to FIRE (under 40) is that we want to enjoy life before it's too late. If I don't take it, I can 'slow down' a bit and continue to work towards the FIRE lifestyle (enjoy the boat more, relaxing more, etc). This also means that I am taking a step back -- my ego isn't liking that very much....help!
I'd like to join on to your question, but from a slightly different angle. I am being asked to get involved in major research and other projects by my colleagues and many of these have 4-5 year horizons. I will FIRE in about 3 years. It's very hard to keep bowing out with some vague excuse, but I don't want my plans known in the institution (way too soon).

So far I've accepted one or two with some reluctance, deferred a couple of others but it's getting harder. I ultimately decided that if I bow out early from some of them, they'll get over it real quick or -- just maybe -- one of them will turn out to be my part-time semi-retirement job. But it is hard trying to juggle secret exit strategies with a forward-looking culture.

Sorry - don't mean to ambush the your post, just adding a wrinkle about handling long term commitments when you have a shorter half-life but are not yet out of the FIRE closet .
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 10:16 AM   #3
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

Bearkley, since you will be able to fire in a year or two anyway, I think it comes down to whether you want to take on one last challenge to cap off your career. If you are too burnt to do it, hey, no biggie. But if you think you have the stamina and interest, I think it would be foolish to walk away from this opportunity.
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 11:25 AM   #4
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

I can appreciate what you’re going through. While I wasn’t given the opportunity to decide what I wanted to do – Here, you are now in charge of this division – it was similar in that I liked having my ego stroked but my responsibilities quadrupled. The upside was that I learned a lot while making some very positive changes that had been crippling operations, and at the same time I was boosting my future retirement income while moving my RE date several years closer.

The downside may have been unique to my situation (large municipal agency where my bosses were all elected officials or political appointees), but I found that I really disliked a lot of the exogenous crap that came with the job.

In the end it was what you envisioned your tradeoffs are – I got to check off another box in the list of professional goals, I greatly added to my FI and moved toward RE much earlier, but I also worked my tail off and increased my stress level. There were days I really didn’t want to be there, but I would just pull up my spreadsheet and contemplate how much I was adding to the post-retirement phase of my life and I was able to gut it out a little longer. Also, as you said, the transition from working to RE’ing was not a smooth phasing down from one to the other – and that was a little difficult to handle. Taking a year out of my life sucked, but I would have had to work 6 or 7 years to equate what I added to my DB pension and I see it as having left at the top of my game. For me, it was worth it.

You situation is a little different in that you would be trading two years of doing the same work you have been doing (and a smoother transition into RE) for a year of more work and some increased hassle factor to get an extra year in RE. It comes down to what Brewer said - how much do you want that last success? I too suffer from the high achiever disease and I understand the attraction of walking off the field after hitting one last out-of-the-park homer. Plus, if (God forbid) you ever have to/want to go back to work again, that year of higher level experience might be a big plus.

It sounds like all the downside is on your degree of comfort and the upside is all in the ego department. I find myself agreeing with Brewer. If you can put up with the negatives, I think you should go for it.
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 11:40 AM   #5
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

I think it makes a difference if you are like Leonidas... being in a government job (at least here in most of Texas).. your pension is based on your last 3 or 5 year salary.. It makes a LOT of sense to get that higher paying job as your pension will increase for the rest of you life... my sister was a teacher and after 38 years started to teach summer school, tutor etc. to get that official salary up.. always saying it is a raise for the rest of her life..

BUT, if you do plan to retire in two years... why take on added stress now I would assume you are on the glide path to retirement... keep gliding to the safe landing.. who cares if it is ONE more year... your stress level will be a LOT lower and you can enjoy you life now... taking on a job that adds that much more stress is counter productive IMO..

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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 01:11 PM   #6
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas
There were days I really didn’t want to be there, but I would just pull up my spreadsheet and contemplate how much I was adding to the post-retirement phase of my life and I was able to gut it out a little longer.
Whenever I get frustrated at work, I pull out my home-grown retirement calculator and add support for another minor feature. Then I run it to see all the numbers again. Makes me feel like I have accomplished something during the day

Back to the OP's question. It seems to be a highly personal decision. Will the extra stress be bad enough to materially affect your health? One of the big events in my life that got me thinking about ER seriosuly was when I landed in ER (as in "Emergency Room") a couple of years ago. The only reason it happened was that I was stressed out and working 100+ hour weeks.

On the other hand, will you enjoy the work more? Will you enjoy it so much that it will feel like... well, "fun"? Too many variables that we are in no position to judge, I am afraid.
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 01:16 PM   #7
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearkeley
The reason we want to FIRE (under 40) is that we want to enjoy life before it's too late.* *If I don't take it, I can 'slow down' a bit and continue to work towards the FIRE lifestyle (enjoy the boat more, relaxing more, etc).* * This also means that I am taking a step back -- my ego isn't liking that very much....help!
Lemme get personal on this question-- if you're serious about enjoying life then why are you looking for more work?

Are you supposed to suffer in some self-imposed hell until God rings the "Fun" bell, or do you think it's OK to start enjoying life a little even without being fully FIRE'd?

As a member of the "compress 40 years' work into 20" club I'd strongly endorse just about any other approach than life membership.*

You mention that you're two years from FIRE and that effectively doubling your workload might cut the timetable in half.* (It may cut a few other things in half, too, but we'll ignore that aspect for now.)* But instead of focusing on the size of your ego income, what if you took another look at your expenses?* If you tweaked your lifestyle or your spending a little, could you achieve FIRE just as quickly as you would if you worked twice as hard?

In other words there may be other ways to achieve your FIRE goals without having to work your assets off...
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 02:02 PM   #8
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

Hmm. They way I would look at it is, "I'm already under stress and this is just a bit more for more money. I will be here a while anyway, why not go for it. It might end up being fun in any event." The other question I would ask is does my employer know I am bailing in two years? If not, will I be letting the cat out of the bag when I pass on the new job? That could be a good think if people just let up on you since you are a short timer.
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 02:32 PM   #9
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

I would go for it! You know you are up to it and you will miss being in charge. The added responsibility gives you the chance to delegate authority and mentor your direct reports. Cut back on your hours once you have them operating to your staisfaction. Then when the time is right announce to your employer that things are going so well that you have become redundant.

(Then start your part-time recruiting company! Just kidding...)

My wife is a retired recruiter.
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE
Old 07-28-2006, 03:26 PM   #10
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Re: Career decisions / conflict before FIRE

Quote:
...a wrinkle about handling long term commitments when you have a shorter half-life but are not yet out of the FIRE closet
I know exactly what you mean.* What I've told them was '5' years if all goes well with the Real Estate market (they know about our RE investments.* *I have always hired people who have the potential to eventually 'replace me' and have managed openly with that in mind...they just don't know how serious I am about retiring in 2 years (even if it means living in an RV and moving outside to US to do it!)*

Quote:
Taking a year out of my life sucked
.* *That's really one of the main things I'm worried about.* *Right now, I'm struggling with having to wait 2 more years to be FIRE.* * * *

Quote:
BUT, if you do plan to retire in two years... why take on added stress now* I would assume you are on the glide path to retirement...* keep gliding to the safe landing.. who cares if it is ONE more year... your stress level will be a LOT lower and you can enjoy you life now... taking on a job that adds that much more stress is counter productive IMO..
* *Another good point -- last night, as I stressed about this, I failed to enjoy a simple pleasure that I lately have been fortunate enough to enjoy...sitting in the hot tub listening to the crickets at night...I wasted last night thinking about what to do!

Quote:
I think it comes down to whether you want to take on one last challenge to cap off your career
* Good point.* *I actually looked at job openings outside my company today, just to help me figure out what I want....interestingly, I talked to a head hunter today who was really pushing me to 'get to know' the EVP of HR at a large company who would be very interested in talking to me about a great job overhauling their whole recruiting process--- this would definitely be a 'cap off your career' type of job.* * I basically turned her down and am hoping that the Red Cross would respond to the resume I just submitted today....even if it would be less pay!* *I guess the hope of a 40 hour week / give back to society thing is really more apealing to me than the whole rat race, huh?

Quote:
Will you enjoy it so much that it will feel like... well, "fun"?
.
Quote:
It might end up being fun in any event
* *
Quote:
Are you supposed to suffer in some self-imposed hell until God rings the "Fun" bell, or do you think it's OK to start enjoying life a little even without being fully FIRE'd?
You guys are really great! Head hunting will be awful!* But...can I design a role for me that could be a win-win, where I don't have the stress but just the 'fun' part of the job?* *Maybe I should start thinking of this in a more positive way and have fun with it!

Quote:
Then start your part-time recruiting company
* Funny - this was actually our back-up plan should things not go as planned after we FIRE.* * I hate the concept of head hunting, but if I only need to make 1 placement a year ($25k!) to help supplement any 'miscalculations' that we have on our spreadsheet or to augment our travel budget, then it wouldn't be so bad.* *

So I guess I can get good experience from this...I still like the idea of just quitting and not working anymore, but....Thank you all for your comments!* *Wish me luck to find a win-win.* *Until then, know of any Accountants who wouldn't mind having their 'heads' hunted?*
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