Retiring from retiring

Life is good. You finally did it! You pulled the plug on your day job after reaching financial independence. You never have to work for money ever again. But, you’re bored. You need something to do… You need a project! You grab a piece of paper and a pen and start thinking. Now that you’re financially free, what projects do you want to complete? However ambitious, however small, you now have the time to pursue anything that you like, what will you accomplish?

– Saving Ninja

This is the #5 of Saving Ninja’s thought experiments.

I wasn’t initially going to have a go. But having read his and a few other responses, I thought I should. You’ll see why. He asks for a stream of consciousness. Here it goes.

Retiring from retiring

I’ve already pulled the plug on my day job. It’s been a few years since I became Financial Independent (FI) and stopped working the 9 to 5. I’ve learnt a lot over that time. But I have been reflecting on things.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that I should retire from retiring.*

Before you think I’ve got a few screws loose here’s why: being FI or retired has meant I have to deal with a lot less shit.

Since quitting the day job, there are far fewer dickheads in my life. My interactions with them favourably short.

This is a bad thing.

Vaccinations

It’s a bad thing because I’ve come to realise it’s important to put up with shit in your life. I’ll explain with an analogy: it’s like vaccinations. A manageable level of disease is injected into you. This means that if the full-blown illness comes along, your body can deal with it.

It’s the same with nonsense. A continuous level of nonsense is good for you as it means you are more readily able to deal with full-blown arsehattery.

Similarly, an absence of nonsense is bad because it makes very minor nonsense seem worse. Your partner does something annoying, people on the street are obnoxious, the trains are cancelled. Minor things that feel worse because you’ve lost your resistance to idiots. A common joke in the financial services industry is that when a partner retires they soon get a divorce – actually spending time with their other half drives them over the edge.

It’s also possible to see this every day with ‘grumpy old men’ (it’s a stereotype for a reason). You see it in the FI-space with the creep of the holy-than-thou attitude of some bloggers – unwilling to comprehend anybody else’s point of view but their own.

Rethinking my reasons for leaving work

Way back I explained my three reasons for leaving work:

  1. Admin – I was sick and tired of doing compliance, form filling and appraisals all day.
  2. Clients – I disliked working for often bad dudes or companies.
  3. Health – My mental and physical health was suffering.

Let’s revisit these.

Admin

The chores of work aren’t going anywhere. But I feel I’ve matured as a person. I’m more patient and can see that most box ticking doesn’t matter. It’s part of playing the game. I’d like to think I’ve learned how to play it better.

Clients

Working for bad dudes or mega-corporations is arguably not ideal. But in a way perhaps that’s a good thing. Working for an arsehat of a client puts into perspective that most people are good. It gives you something to vent about. Rather than something abstract or imaginary to rail against.

Health

I feel much healthier. I sleep better. I exercise more. I’m emotionally happier. Whether I could keep these up in a 9 to 5 is a test. But I think it’s worth a shot.

Balance

None of this is to say I’m going back to work full-time. That’s very unlikely. At the moment I’m taking tentative steps looking at potential part-time jobs. As it stands, I ‘work’ maybe one or two days a week. I think there’s a healthier balance for me at a few more regular days a week of work.

The reality is, I’m a very odd chap. I love corporate finance, accounting, pensions, tax. I write about this stuff for fun(!) This isn’t like a panel beater calling time. Getting to do the things you enjoy doing on a regular basis (and being paid for them) seems quite sensible.

I’ll leave it there for now.

All the best,

Mr YFG

*Fine – technically I’ve never really retired. I’ve always done some work since quitting the day job.

Other responses:

in-deed-a-bly

CaveMan @ DitchTheCave

A Way to Less

Cashflow Cop

Merely curious

Sam @ A Simple Life

Gentlemans Family Finances

Marc @ Finance Your Fire

Dr FIRE

The FIRE Shrink

23 thoughts on “Retiring from retiring

  1. I suspect FI bloggers struggle, because they are driven people, first to be FI, then to blog. I was never driven, and 2 years in, don’t mind faffing around all day. I got bored over winter because I couldn’t get out to do outdoors or tourist things, and my main fallback, wiki editing and text processing, is a bit too much like work, with people who are wrong.

    But now the weather improves, so does my mood, as I potter round the garden.

    1. Hi John – completely get you. I was gonna write a bit more about FI bloggers being weirdos. But was worried it might be misconstrued. A lot of FI bloggers are very driven or have ‘grand plans’. I and I think most people are neither. So you have to be careful what you read in the blogosphere as it’s quite a distilled view you’re getting.

      That aside, I’ve never been bored. But I am a man who can find interest in anything. An example being I once spent all day reading the 800 page franchising agreement for Govia Thameslink – and enjoyed doing so!

    2. Add my name to the list of people who read RIT’s blog for a while and thought ‘wow this guy is really going to struggle with retiring’. Who knows though, we’ll see, and I’m sure he can always just go back to work if not working..err…doesn’t work out for him.

      In my case, I’m very weird indeed. I ended up with a good job, but essentially was always looking for the easiest way to complete tasks to give me my time back (which actually works quite well in some roles!). With guilt at my side always, I would complete my tasks as fast as possible, and then let my mind roam free on the net, go out for a walk, or sleep (maybe, if at home).

      So, when I reached a not-quite-FI-but-f**k-it point I did what I wanted to do. Toss around on the internet, except from a series of lovely destinations, going wherever is generally warm and cheap. I’ve not set up a blog, I don’t work part-time, no kids, I’ve not become a manic gardener or acquired 16 pets. Have never looked back. Although occasionally feel I do need a little extra intellectual stimulation admittedly, but nowhere near enough to return to the corporate chain.

      The point is, my lifestyle, pathetic as it may be, works for me because I didn’t actually change after I left work, I just dropped the guilt and drudgeries of my job. The premise behind saving ninja’s quote and others no doubt is absolutely right – FIRE is no magic wand to suddenly free a once lazy person to learn 3 languages and the grand piano. If you were a lazy git like me, you’re still going to be. If you’ve always been a super-keen-o, then you’re probably going to end up back at work or something that looks very like work.

      1. Haha really enjoyed your comment Far Wide. It resonates a great deal. I agree with what you say, especially that FIRE isn’t a magic wand. I’ll be returning to this topic to expand beyond this post.

  2. Oh my goodness, pandemonium! You’ve completely flipped it on the head by writing the opposite of everyone else, haha! I love it though.

    I’m mortified that you’re saying I won’t be able to cut all of the BS out of my life after I quit the daily grind. I was SO looking forward to this 😦 Are you sure I can’t go and live in a cave somewhere and never interact with anyone?

    Good luck with your return to work, I’m looking forward to reading about it. And thanks for invading my Thought Experiment and flipping it on it’s head! 🙂

    1. Oh you can cut out the BS Mr Ninja – but I reckon it ain’t good for you! Finding the right level of BS, that’s the trick. I haven’t worked that one out yet.

      I’m also a devil’s advocate by nature. I think this is the second time I’ve flipped your thought experiment!

  3. Admin is relatively easy to get around. When I was in a position to do more of it, I created systems to avoid it eg I’d take a past report, make a few tweaks in light of new information and resubmit it. Checklists etc take the thinking out of it. Or if you really need to – you can delegate or outsource it.

    1. I think that’s right greencat. I developed a reputation at the firms I worked at for being good at this stuff and a safe pair of hands. A blessing in disguise – which probably shows my naivety at the time.

  4. Thanks for writing about this so honestly Mr YFG.

    The vast majority of the FIRE bloggers are aspirants, swapping hopes and dreams about how rich and fulfilling endless slow travels, gardening, and charity work is going to feel.

    The bulk of them abandon blogging before they get there, blogging takes time and the early retirement niche a very limited range of topics before repetition sets in.

    Most of the rest stop blogging about FIRE when the reach the goal, naturally losing interest in writing about past glories and goals already conquered.

    A small number linger, waxing lyrical, evangelising, cheerleading, or attempting to sell into their former aspiring FIRE seeker audience.

    This results in coverage with a strong survivorship bias. We hear the streets are paved with gold.

    Yet consequently we rarely hear about the other side. The folks like your financial services divorce gag. Those who got bored, restless, or came to agree with the common old age retiree refrain that a life of endless leisure involves a lot of filling in time.

    I’m not convinced seeking out administrivia and dickheads is the path to happiness, but I am pleased to hear you will be productively utilising your hard won skills and experience once again. Good luck with it, I hope you find what you’re looking for.

    1. @Indeedably – to avoid the survivorship bias you have to read and then subsequently remember the ones that disappeared – and of those, there have been many. What they had to say was at least as useful as those who remain. It may be the case that is where all the real insight lies?

      I’m a bit more convinced by YFGs concept of seeking out hard-work and wankers as a route to happinesss. In the right doses I think I’d go so far as to say it may be vital (but only like vaccinations, in the right doses). I refer it to it as voluntary discomfort and I try and incorporate it into the day to day where I can..

  5. Love this response!

    Mainly because it validates my feelings (oooh can you feel the confirmation bias?!?! Can ya!?!?!) that I should always continue to do some sort of work to maximise happiness.

    It’s all about the balance, as you astutely conclude!

    I would love to hear your further thoughts on what an odd bunch us FI bloggers are, I think you are onto something there and it would be a fun post 🙂

    Cheers!

    1. Hi TFS. It is all about the balance. I think what you read and see on the internet about FI tends to be the more extreme end (as Indeedably notes, often due to survivorship bias). But that’s no different from any social media.

  6. thanks for this. I work in financial services and as can be seen from the name am seeking fire…hopefully not too long! But having read blogs and thought a fair bit over the last few years, I think unlikely that I will stop work entirely but will look to do something part time as you have said. I think my skill set is quite similar to yours and so I would be extremely interested to hear what you are going to do as and when you have an update. So many financial jobs are either all or nothing. Self employed financial planning is a possibility. It’s very clear from your skill set and age you could obtain a decent job quickly. Whether it fits into your life is harder. Anyway good luck and hope to hear how you progress. I think Indeedably’s comment is spot on.

  7. Haha, good stuff. I have been around and read the blogs long enough to appreciate the (large) disconnect between what those aspiring to FI and those who *are* FI say and do. I put more weight on the views of those who have got there and are talking from experience, rather than those articulating their hopes and dreams 😉

    Indeedably has already popped up here, but I was going to suggest following his approach to work-life balance? I’ll probably move to that model in the longer term. Firestarter is also doing well on the part-time rather than part-season angle.

    I am gravely concerned about RIT who has gone extremely quiet. He was always a disaster waiting to happen, but I dearly hope to be proved wrong on that front.

    I fall into the FI but not doing anything about it category. I’m happy enough though!

    1. Hi Rhino, always good to hear from you. I hope you don’t mind me saying – you’ve been around the block so your insight is valuable.

      I’ve spoken to Indeedably a few times about his approach. In fact, I’ve been offered several jobs/contracting opportunities based on that model. But for Mrs YFG and I, I think it’s best for a part-time all the time rather than full-time part of the time approach. As it stands, I basically take all the life hassle off of Mrs YFG’s plate. Which allows her to kick ass in her job and not worry about home. We’re reluctant to go down the full-time route as it likely means going back to the days of doing chores at the weekend, having an unclean house etc. If that makes sense?

      I also worry a bit about RIT. Going from 100% (or 110%+) to 0% is very hard. Especially for somebody who clearly operates at a high level. I know the adjustment is hard. I got through it by studying full-time and taking on some projects that really filled my time and slowly not replacing them. A lot of his reasons for going for FIRE was about escaping. I personally feel that’s not the ideal reason to do it. I think it has to be a positive thing. Because an absence of a negative leads to new negatives popping up. I hope, and I like to imagine, that the radio silence is because he’s out there enjoying life and spending lots of valuable time with the family.

      1. For me personally the part-season appeals as I like getting seriously into one thing at a time rather than multi-tasking, and I think that means at least a good few months in a block be it work or some non-work activity. But for sure, I would also take normal part-time, say on a weekly basis as well, just wouldn’t allow me to be quite so extreme in what I get up to (possibly a good check-and-balance;). Sounds like part-time would work well for you as it helps you support MSYFG in a consistent/predictable way? To be honest, you could just try both and see how you go? I think you have (possibly inadvertently) chosen one of the best areas of work for just this kind of part-timism? Opportunities seem to be very good.. (compare and contrast to ZX who is exactly the opposite)

        As Ermine has so wisely said, best to be ‘free-to’ rather than ‘free-from’ (I have got the right way round haven’t I?) And as Jordan Peterson pointed out, most peoples hopes and dreams don’t embody a philosophy so much as a holiday brochure..

        1. Personally, I think RIT will be OK. He has his family for support as well as a new country to explore. My suspicion is that after a well deserved rest, he’ll find a cause or a project to sink his teeth into and go at it 110%.

  8. Very interesting to read thoughts from someone who’s already there, and considering the opposite to everyone else! As TFS said above, this helps to confirm my own thoughts that doing some sort of work is desirable, whether part time or otherwise. It helps keep you stimulated and gives you some sort of routine.

    Looking forward to reading about what you eventually decide on!

  9. The thing about retiring from retiring , doing a bit less of what you did, with a more ‘relaxed’ style may not be so easy.

    I did the retiring bit 12 years ago, with a couple of side gigs along the way. But before I quit the pressure role, I had a few months of slightly shorter hours, letting subordinates take more responsibility and being “nice” to everyone….Disaster ! It turns out you either work it 100% or nothing. Nothing proved the more attractive option.

    I was late 40’s and subsequent lack of Arsehole’s is good. Always plenty to do provided the weather is ok and World Cruises take care of that by being away from January to April,

    Good luck and enjoy, it goes quicker than you expect.

  10. Very interesting take on this, unsurprising as you retired so young!

    If the few months I spent out of work were anything to go by, then retiring early and not working will suit me fine. I will be doing ‘something’ but paid work is unlikely to be one of them. Recently, it occurred to me that the chances are that by the time I pull the FIRE plug, I’ll be going through the ‘female change’, so my hormones will be all over the place and my brain unfit for work anyway!

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