What do you do when your reason for living has gone away?

The comments below reflect the thoughts and idea of myself, a 54-year old man, raised in that time period. Some people may question the assumptions or thoughts here, but they are mine, and I believe they reflect a certain percentage of the men my age in the FI community. Since the purpose of this blog is for me to discuss my thoughts on FI, and its impact on my life, I do not have any problem with voicing my opinions and thoughts on the matter.

As someone born at the tail end of the boomers/beginning of Gen X (1964) my general thoughts on men is that we are the providers in a relationship (I know, everyone has different opinions here – I’m talking in generalities here, so sue me). Men have the ability to generate excess resources beyond their needs. Anyone who has ever been to a bachelor’s home knows that they don’t need much to live. I once heard a female comedian call men “bears with furniture.”

A typical bachelor pad will have some basic furniture, maybe a card table instead of a dining table, and a functional bed. Not much on decorations, curtains, exotic cooking gear, etc. They will probably have a great TV/entertainment set up. Their clothes requirements will be simple and not excessive. After that though, they don’t need much. Yet they have the ability to generate large incomes and throw off excess money.

This is why the basic family unit worked so well. Raising kids takes an awful lot of time and resources, so by having two people working on it, the man can generate the excess resources necessary for the family to get what they need. In return, the man gets a feeling of accomplishment on his work, and the belief that he is contributing to the success of his family.

So where am I going here?

As you close in on FI, and you reach the point where you have sufficient resources to maintain your lifestyle, the primary reason for many men’s existence suddenly is threatened. If they have reached the point where the family has what it needs in perpetuity, then why is he needed? One of a man’s primary roles in the family is gone. What do you do?

I think this is a major reason why we see so many men dying shortly after their retirement. Their major role in life is gone, and they struggle to find something new. They’ve been working at this since they are 18, and for some, that is 45-50 years of life’s work that is suddenly gone. All they’ve known in their adult life……

I’m struggling with that right now. I’ve got 24-1/2 months left to go, and while I have some short-term goals (travel, writing, etc.) I am not sure what I want to do once I hit FI. I know I want to take some time off (sabbatical?) but then what?

An interesting book that I have just started reading is Find your Why, by Simon Sinek. The idea is to search for the core idea of “why” you do stuff, “why” your exist, “why” you act the way you do and what that gives you. Knowing your “WHY” gives you a filter to make choices, both at work and home, that leads you to finding greater fulfillment. The book is interesting (as is the TED talk) and I’m hoping the exercises it has will lead me to further revelations.

Other blog postings related:

I hope this helps

 

Mr. 39 Months

Sorry, been sick for a while…..

Cue the whining.

Sorry the posting has been light, but I’ve been battling a major ear infection (steroids, antibiotics) that has wiped me out, and I just can’t seem to kick this thing. For those who have had them (or have had children with them) you know how much pain they can cause, and how it is difficult to do anything.

I’ve continued to go to work every day (concept of duty drilled into me in the military). Work has been a little stressful, as I had to loan about 50% of my resources out to another team for the next 4 weeks, and my team’s workload actually picked up – so I’m doing extra work to cover, while sick and tired. Actually was asked by my boss on Thursday to take on a project for another team, because they’re even more swamped. I’m such a glutton for punishment that I said OK. When I get home, all I end up doing is watching TV/read for about an hour, then head to bed early. I also haven’t been exercising, so I can get an extra 30-60 min of sleep in the morning.

I tell you what, being sick sucks!

While trying to de-stress, I was reading online and saw some pictures of a Hollywood starlet that reminded me of Mrs. 39 Months when we were first dating. It lead me to think about how lucky I am, and how lucky folks are to have a significant other in their lives, not only when they are sick, but just to come home to and talk with, to have support them. We’re both looking forward to FI and what how our lives will change in the years ahead, as we grow old with each other. Kinda nice.

This also had me thinking about the recent/upcoming celebrity deaths in the US. Just this week, two celebrities committed suicide this week – Anthony Bourdain (chef, show host) and Kate Spade (designer). While we can argue the morality of committing suicide, I always wonder what drives people to the depths of despair that they feel this is the way out. I have tendency towards depression and have had suicidal thoughts (very minor ones that I think pops in everyone’s mind for 30-60 seconds). For the most part, I really can’t understand how bad it must be to do that sort of thing. Still, it is possible that it was a medical/chemical depression issue with their bodies, and since I’m not a doctor, I can’t find it in my heart to judge.

I contrast that with Charles Krauthammer, the Fox News analyst who announced this week that his cancer has returned, and that he has only weeks to live. Putting politics aside, here was a man going through Harvard Medical School when a freak diving board accident paralyzed him from the neck down. For the last 40 years, working through numerous illnesses and rehabilitation, he has built a life and worked hard to support himself. He beat cancer once, but it has finally returned, and he now has only weeks to live. He never gave up until the last moments, and then he announced to the world his status and how he intended to finish his days. He is being shown as an example of bravery and manliness in the face of adversity.

I don’t know how I would face either of these two challenges. I hope that I would do it well, and not do anything that would cause my loved ones pain or suffering. I can only hope that I would never be put in that situation in my life. I also hope that all of you escape it as well.

Sorry for the “downer” posting – guess it comes from being sick.

 

I hope you all have an excellent weekend!

 

Mr. 39 Months

The Long and Winding Road….

Cue the Beatles Music.

What do you do once you’ve gotten all your investments in order, your spending in control, and you have maxed out how much you can put away towards your FI goal? You have run the numbers, and now you just have to wait the 2 years, 4 years, etc. till you hit your FI number. What do you do in the meantime? I’ve seen this topic covered a couple of times in the FI blogs that I read.

I would say one of the major things people do while on the path is worry.

  • Did I choose the right investments?
  • What if there is a market correction?
  • What is going on with healthcare (primarily a US issue, but other western countries have their own health care issues)
  • Is there any more money I can squeeze out of my income to put towards FI?
  • What do I do once I hit FI? Retire? Continue to work? Move to another job?

I can say that these and many other issues continue to bubble up in my head, now that I have worked through the basic numbers and have a date – as well as quite a few others. Each of them can involve hours of going around in circles, trying to determine if the decisions made were correct. What is a more productive use of your time while you slowly wait to hit your FI number?

Here are some ideas on what you can do to occupy yourself while the clock ticks down:

Determine travel you want to do once you hit FI, and determine basic costs for it: This is probably one of the most popular ones. Most FIRE people dream of travel – going to exotic places, seeing the world, visiting with friends and family. Since most of us are research fanatics, this is a way to get your jollies by doing research and pricing stuff out. It is one of the best ways we can dream while waiting to hit our date.

Continue researching FIRE via Blogs, Podcasts, etc. to glean additional ideas (travel hacking, etc.): The FI community is growing larger every day, and everyone has their own “spin” on the topic. One of the things I love about it is that I am almost constantly learning new ideas, new thoughts on the subject. While many of the topics don’t get me closer to FI (I don’t change my plan) I do take them to heart – and occasionally I do find something that will help me.

Research potential alternate career fields/jobs once you hit FI: You often hear people talk about hitting FI, so they can pursue a career in what they really love to do. Well, while pursuing FI, why not take the time to do the actual research on the career field, so you can find out if you really will love it?

One of the best books on doing this sort of career research is “What color is your parachute.” They called it informational interviewing. You find someone working in the career field that you are interested in and ask them three questions:

  • What do you like about it?
  • What do you not like about it?
  • Who else do you know that I can talk to about it?

By doing the research, you can narrow down the wide range of possibilities into things that are more manageable, and identify career paths that looked great, but ended up not being so “sweet.”

Look for ways to teach, even for free, in order to share: There is always an opportunity to share the lessons you have learned on your path, either in FI or in your current career. Take the time to share them, through writing, lecturing, etc.

Look for additional ways to reduce stress in your life: Even as we approach FI, there are other things causing stress in our lives (family, health, etc.). As you slowly eliminate the stress of finances, look for other ways to cut the stress out of your life.

What are you doing to take up your time while waiting to hit FI?

 

Mr. 39 Months

Taking time to smell the roses II – Portland OR

Again, one of the key points of FIRE that I agree with is the idea of not putting off things you want to do today, just to try to achieve FI earlier. It leads to a sense of deprivation which often can make the individual (or family) stop pursuing FI and falling back into their old habits. Yes, save as much money as you can, but also try to enjoy life as you go through it. We only go this way once (if you agree with Western philosophy) so you should work to enjoy every day.

Just ask the Stoics about that: “Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. NO one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs.” Marcus Aurelius

One of the places Mrs. 39 Months likes is Portland, OR. As noted in a previous post, we took the opportunity to see a couple of national parks and then headed to Portland so she could take a class on one of her hobbies – making leather shoes. A 4-day course where, at the end, she’ll have a pair of boots once she is done. We also took the opportunity to do some travel hacking (more on that in a future post).

I took the opportunity to run around Portland and see some of the sites. The city boasts the largest number of brew pubs and coffee bars of any city in the US (supposedly). The drive up the Columbia River was gorgeous, with lots of information on the various dams on the rivers (there are 11) which have helped tame it, while allowing the salmon to continue to climb up it and spawn. The drive ended about 100 miles up, with a remake of Stonehenge, which was made to commemorate the dead of the county in the state of Washington in WW One. Pretty cool.

In the city, every Saturday, they have the craft market down by the river. Last Saturday, they also had the first annual “doggy dash” to raise money for animals care. The market has all sorts of vendors, as well as excellent food.

We had a great time, even after I came down a little sick the last couple of days, and we’ll always have this trip together.

And here are the shoes!

 

 

Mr. 39 Months

Giving Back – an important part of FI

Another aspect of our community is the idea of “giving back.” Whether its volunteering for charities, writing and speaking at conferences to spread the gospel of FIRE, or just participating in our communities, there is a strong theme of sharing/caring that you can witness is people’s actions and writing. Its one of the parts of our community that I really like.

Note: Not Mr. 39 Months. With my Native American ancestry, I can’t grow a beard at all.

About a week ago, I was invited as a member of my local professional society to speak to current college students on networking and interviewing for job prospects. While the majority of the students will probably enter the daily grind, and work 40+ years, I did take the opportunity to sprinkle in a few FI comments and encourage them to start saving money at the beginning of their careers.

For networking, we went over the various ways they could start building connections to people and businesses in their lines of work, and how they could use simple investigatory interviews/phone calls with people to determine if certain jobs suited them, and others didn’t. I suggested that they find an industry they were interested in, find (via the internet, linked in, etc.) someone in that industry, and ask them 3 questions:

  1. What do you like about your job?
  2. What do you not like about your job?
  3. Who else could I talk to about a job similar to yours?

People like to talk about themselves, so it should be hard to get people to answer these. With those questions, the student should be able to weed out jobs they don’t like, and discover new fields of work that they might enjoy.

Overall the students had a good time, asked a lot of good questions, and hopefully will take some of the ideas and move forward with them.

 

Mr. 39 Months