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Considering re-retiring
Old 09-07-2018, 03:51 PM   #1
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Considering re-retiring

I am an computer scientist by training, who happened to get lucky with some stock options, which enabled me to retire at age 50, with some retirement benefits from my company. I was (and am) happily married, and the kids had left home for college, so for a couple of years, my wife and I traveled the world and did all the things I dreamt of doing post-retirement. I was happy; on top of the world, actually. No politics; no deadlines; no boring meetings. However, it didnít seem to last. After about 2 years, I seemed to be not much happier than when I was working. Iím generally a reasonably happy, content guy, so this level of happiness wasnít bad, but it wasnít what I had given up my fat salary for. I expected more.

I think I succumbed to the phenomenon that psychologists call ďHedonic AdaptationĒ, or a return to a baseline of happiness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill). In a classic study, lottery winners were seen to return to their baseline level of happiness, and it wasnít because they squandered their wealth, it was more because of this phenomenon. In another study, if I remember correctly, happiness seemed to be tied to income only up to $100K or so per year. More than that didnít result in greater happiness.

Anyway, two years into my first retirement, at age 52, I was approached by a friend and colleague, and offered a great job with a fantastic compensation package. I un-retired and took the job. Iím now 57 years old, 5 years into that job, and once again dreaming of what it might be like on the other side, the FIRE side. I still have the fat salary, but I now, along with the deadlines and the boring meetings, I also have huge responsibilities, which I fear might take a toll on my health. Maybe itís just a case of the grass looking greener on the other side, but Iím thinking of retiring again.

Iíve read the books that stress that one needs to retire ďtoĒ something, not just ďfromĒ something. That makes a lot of sense. So, I have my list of hobbies and rewarding non-profit endeavors. Things that I am quite passionate about. Perhaps even some opportunities to be on corporate boards, which might provide a good balance of professional involvement with low stress, and a feeling of being useful.

My question is: If Iím not going to be much happier than I am now, then is it worth giving up the paycheck? I realize that this is a very personal journey, and everyone is different, but Iím wondering if anyone in this experienced group would care to share their own journey through early retirement, especially as it pertains to the happiness spectrum. Did you experience this euphoria, but then was it followed by a return to your own baseline? What did you do about it? What have you learned about what makes you happy now vs what you thought when you FIREíd?

Maybe my questions are too philosophical and may not be appropriate for this forum. If so, I apologize for this long-winded introduction. Most of all I just wanted to drop a note and say "Hi!". I have read several insightful threads on the different forums, and I look forward to interacting with folks there.
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Old 09-07-2018, 04:49 PM   #2
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If I’m not going to be much happier than I am now, then is it worth giving up the paycheck?
Welcome!

If the job is impacting your health, or your desire to travel, or to accomplish anything you haven't, then I say, hang it up! Are any of the hobbies in your list something you're passionate about, or just ways to kill time? I golfed in San Diego when I wanted to be doing something else. It passed time, but I was not passionate about it.

Some quotes from the forum (sorry, no attribution, I did not take notes):
  • Time>$.
  • Life is short. Dead is Forever.
  • You'll never be younger than you are today, and possibly not as healthy, either.
  • You never know how long you've got!
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:09 PM   #3
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I think I may suffer from your fate if I try to completely retire in 3 years. I can't stand not having a purpose in my life. So I plan to execute my plan to save animals. I have been lining up donors and volunteers over the years and have a business plan that I have wanted to pitch but haven't had the time due to work. So retirement will be 2 years of traveling the world and then the rest of my life changing it.

Maybe you could find something that you are passionate about that can change the world.
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:11 PM   #4
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My question is: If Iím not going to be much happier than I am now, then is it worth giving up the paycheck?
Might I suggest looking at your question from the other side: If working isn't necessary and - clearly - isn't making your happier, then why keep doing it just to see your bank account get bigger? Is working providing you some happiness?

For me I don't think ER was about being happy so much as being free. I never expected euphoria. But I am happy that my time is my own. I don't have to answer to someone else about what I'm going to do today, or worry I've missed a deadline or have to meet with someone I dislike. I don't have the stress of trying to meet some silly goals, or pretend this next project will be awesome, etc. I never get that awful sick feeling late at night of something I forgot to get ready for the next day, or face a 12 hour day where I know I won't get everything done. Or the burden of coming back from vacation to 1000 emails.

Taking all that off my back is good enough - even if it doesn't mean I'm skipping with glee every minute.
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:29 PM   #5
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I was elated the first year of retirement, I got to sleep late and all that. But after 2 years, I admit I did get bored. I did find something to do and be passionate about, art. But honestly if the commute was not long, I wouldnt mind be back to work, even if I don’t need any money. Back to the kind of job I had 6 years before I retired. That particular job was not stressful and high pay.

We do have lots of activities to do now, we’re busy repainting our kitchen and redoing our wood floor. I’m half happy that I’m retired and I’m glad money is not an issue.

But my brother knows a lot of retired couple who ended up in a divorce. Maybe boredom did them in. Husband’s home all the time without bring a paycheck. Hey that can be stressful for some couple.

How about taking a job that pays decent without any stress? I know my brother threatened his boss he would quit if they promote him.
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:43 PM   #6
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Since money isn’t an issue for you, I say do what you feel makes you happiest. If your next phase is re-retiring then do it if it makes you happy. If 2 years down the road, you feel you want to give back to the community, do that. If you get bored and find meaning with a job, ease back into that.

Life is all about doing things that make you happy.
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:55 PM   #7
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  • You'll never be younger than you are today, and possibly not as healthy, either.
I really like that one. Thanks.
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Old 09-07-2018, 06:07 PM   #8
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I'm only 1 week in, and do worry about this a bit. I feel no euphoria, just relief.

My plan is to retire to multiple things. I really got tired of the same old grind at the computer. After 35 years as a code jockey, I had seen the same patterns repeat too many times.

Volunteering is in my plans. It will be multiple things, not just one. I have retiree friends who warn that you can get sucked into volunteer gigs that are more work and more politics than work was. I will watch for that.

One more thing... Remember, we only have so many trips around the sun. So you've done the travel thing. OK, but there's a lot out there in the world. Do you want to fill them with "deadlines" and "boring meetings?" Or fill them with time to explore the new you? Maybe even things you never imagined would interest you? For me, that's art. I may just give it a shot. Why not?
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Old 09-07-2018, 07:53 PM   #9
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OP, like you I am a computer scientist by training. After I retired, I forced myself to take a year off before deciding what to do next. I eventually looked into and found a part-time gig teaching computer science at a local college. After a few years, a full time position opened up and I went for it.

Is it a job? Yes and no. First, I have the summers off which allows me to do a ton more things. Secondly, a lot of classes are on-line now, which means my in-the-classroom time is limited. This gives me great flexibility, e.g. this term I have physical classes only M-W. [Editorial note, this is both pro and con in that I *like* being in the classroom.] Third, while the pay sucks (base pay is less than one third of what I made before bonus), I am very happy with my job...I get to help others learn what it means to write software and to embrace new applications with every crank of the technology wheel. It isn't perfect, for instance grading sucks especially at the end of the term (trying to get things wrapped up).

You have figured out some things that are important. For some of us, once you have a certain amount of money, it is pretty much irrelevant. If I lost 1/3 to 1/2 of what I have, my lifestyle would be almost unchanged. Yeah, maybe I wouldn't buy that new car/truck...but then again I don't buy a new car/truck often anyway. Maybe I wouldn't take that fancy vacation to Fiji...oh, that's right I don't really care about going there anyway. I would still have a roof over my head in bad weather, still have food in my belly, and still be able to spend TIME with my child.

I don't know you, but I do know that most people need a purpose. Sitting around isn't one of them. (Saying this is almost blasphemy here.)
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Old 09-07-2018, 07:59 PM   #10
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I agree-there are only so many trips around the sun. We started my retirement traveling with a vengeance. Out last trip to Russia was a killer- 11 time zones and 15 hours travel. That did it for us.
However, we have adopted a kinder gentler mode of travel. either by car, or this year, to celebrate our 11th anniversary, a cruise to Hawaii.

I have been retired for 10 years, and do not feel that angst. I fill some of my days with volunteer work, and other times, I sit on our porch and read.
Life is good.
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Old 09-08-2018, 12:19 AM   #11
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If I went back to a "real job", I would be trading my freedom for money. I do some work now (hobby business, very PT), but it is on my schedule and only if I feel like doing it (most days I do, some I slack off).

I am not willing to give up that freedom.
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Old 09-08-2018, 04:15 AM   #12
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I would say that you seem to have plenty of $ and to retire again would remove significant negatives. Don't overthink the happiness reversion issue.
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Old 09-08-2018, 04:43 AM   #13
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..., but I now, along with the deadlines and the boring meetings, I also have huge responsibilities, which I fear might take a toll on my health.

Decision made. Walk in on Monday morning and give your notice.

What is the value of living stress-free? PRICELESS!
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Old 09-08-2018, 05:19 AM   #14
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Maybe the OP's experiencing "the U-curve?"

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...crisis/382235/
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Old 09-08-2018, 06:34 AM   #15
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For me the decision to retire was easy. I was bored with work. Some of my colleagues made the job a little more tolerable as they were fun to be around, but the work itself was boring.

If you are happy working, nothing wrong with continuing on. But the trade off is for every year you continue working, that is one less year to enjoy life outside of work. Only you can decide what is best for you.
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:18 AM   #16
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I left the w*rkplace because of idiots and politics. I was in IT and my VP was afraid of the CIO, making my life miserable. You know, stupid things like threatening to fire anyone who changed a system before their change control was approved. VP, do you want us to fix the production outage first, or fill out paperwork? "Both, do them both at the same time!"

It's certainly easy to see why anything is better than insanity, but it didn't create euphoria. The euphoria set in a couple years after I left. At first it was great not to put up with BS, but I was not happy, something was missing. Finally I found what I needed. DW and I focused on health and lost 110 combined pounds. Now we regularly go to the gym, hike, and stay very active. I've watched her catch big trout, spot deer and game. We're planning on doing a 7 mile hike today starting at 9000'.

I frequently tell people, who ask what being retired is like, it's the greatest summer vacation ever, but better. You have money to do whatever you want.
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:34 AM   #17
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Maybe the OP's experiencing "the U-curve?"

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...crisis/382235/
Thanks for sharing the "U-curve" article, ncbill. I was definitely in the low part of my "U" before I retired the first time. I was doing extremely well in my career and in most aspects of life, but the question "Is this all there is?" was often on my mind. I was lucky to recognize it at the time and, actually it was one of the reasons I retired the first time at 50. Then the euphoria I experienced in the first year or two of my first retirement made me think my happiness curve could be a "J" instead of a "U". However, I had no such luck. Now I'm getting ready to a second time and I'll gladly take a "U", since I'm definitely past one phase where things seemed meaningless. I only hope I don't have a "W" to look forward to, if you know what I mean
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:39 AM   #18
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I think I may suffer from your fate if I try to completely retire in 3 years. I can't stand not having a purpose in my life. So I plan to execute my plan to save animals. I have been lining up donors and volunteers over the years and have a business plan that I have wanted to pitch but haven't had the time due to work. So retirement will be 2 years of traveling the world and then the rest of my life changing it.

Maybe you could find something that you are passionate about that can change the world.
That's a great suggestion, corn18. "Changing the world" seems like a good way to live life.
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:51 AM   #19
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I’m now 57 years old, 5 years into that job, and once again dreaming of what it might be like on the other side, the FIRE side.
That's rather surprising.

Why are you dreaming? You know exactly what life on the other side is like. You've seen the grass on that side in all it's green-ness.

Quote:
If I’m not going to be much happier than I am now, then is it worth giving up the paycheck?
If you aren't going to be happier, and if retiring doesn't make someone you love happier, then why bother?

If I could enjoy life just as much and still receive a fat paycheck, then I'd probably do just that.

After I retired, I went back and consulted for a year on a part-time basis (2 days/week 16 hours, no overtime, no stress). I enjoyed that. But when the year was up, the need for my help was over. I'd probably do it again if needed. But I'm also not actively seeking out a consulting gig.

Quote:
Did you experience this euphoria, but then was it followed by a return to your own baseline? What did you do about it? What have you learned about what makes you happy now vs what you thought when you FIRE’d?
Your expectations may be out of line with reality.

For me, I have really enjoyed being able to do what I want, when I want. But I probably wouldn't have used the term "euphoria".

You are in your second go around. You already know what the experience is like. And remember, you don't need to do the same things as last time.

Think through what makes you happy. And if you have a spouse or partner, talk it over with them. Decide if you can do more of those things that make you happy and less of the things that don't add to your happiness during retirement or not. Find your own path. Maybe it's retirement. Maybe it's continuing to work. Maybe it's a bit of both.
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:54 AM   #20
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For me I don't think ER was about being happy so much as being free. I never expected euphoria. But I am happy that my time is my own.
Well said!
Freedom was a huge part of the equation the first time around for me, and is defintely one of the main reasons for me this time around. Something's nagging me though, so let me pose this additional question: for the folks that have been FIRE'd for a few years, is "freedom" enough?
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