When Is Enough, Enough?
Based on its title, you may be surprised to learn this post isn’t going to be about figuring out how much money you might need to achieve financial independence.
Looking solely at the numbers, I know our family is over 75% of the way to our definition of financial independence, and that if nothing significant changes in our lives, we are likely to reach our target in less than four years.
Today, when I ask when is enough, enough, I am being more philosophical.
Thanks to a good start in life, hard work, and lots of luck, the numbers behind our quest for financial independence are fairly straightforward at this point.
But as I think about our finances, and life, more deeply, I find myself wondering whether I need to reconsider how important those numbers should be to our family’s decision-making going forward.
I have been completely burned out at work for the better part of a year. I am well compensated by my employer, but every year I work longer and longer hours in a more demanding and stressful environment. The prospect of continuing to do what I’m currently doing for several more years is increasingly unattractive, even though the light at the end of the tunnel could be financial independence by the age of 50.
But the costs of trying to achieve that goal are always climbing.
I seem to dread my long commute a little more each day.
Every Sunday night before the start of the work week seems a little more depressing than the previous Sunday night.
Taking some time off, which I was able to do last week for Thanksgiving, doesn’t even really recharge my battery anymore. Of course, it doesn’t help that I spend a lot of that time off dialing into videoconferences, texting with co-workers, writing reports, and responding to emails.
And relationships with family and friends suffer.
So even though our current path to FIRE seems clear, I’m wondering whether I need to consider taking a different route.
One that would truly allow me to focus on improving my health.
One that would enable me to post on Retiring On My Terms more frequently than I have over the past few months.
And, most importantly, one that would allow me to spend more time on what’s really important to me.
Like more time with my children, wife, family, and friends.
Working on something I truly enjoy, rather than just collecting a paycheck and Working For The Weekend.
Time to write, time to think, time to enjoy life, rather than just existing.
I recognize what I’m writing about is truly a first world problem. Literally billions of people around the world would do almost anything to be in our financial situation, and many of them work just as hard, or harder, than I do, and have to make even more difficult trade-offs and sacrifices in their daily lives.
I know I am truly blessed to have the potential option to make a significant change. If I left my job tomorrow, we’d still have food on the table and a roof over our heads for the foreseeable future, as well as retirement savings we could tap into for the longer term if needed.
So what are some of the options I am considering?
- Finding a less stressful and time-consuming (and likely much lower-paying) job that is closer to home.
- Taking a year off to spend more time with my kids, while they still enjoy spending time with me, followed by #1.
- Sucking it up, staying on the current treadmill, and hoping to make it through the next few years without any major health or family problems.
- Giving it all up to live in a van down by the river.
I don’t know what the right answer is.
Right now, I don’t know when is enough, enough?
But life might be a lot more interesting if I were to make a radical change to try to find out.
With a fairly clear path to financial independence, would you consider making a change that could make that path longer and more difficult, in exchange for a potentially (but not guaranteed) more well-balanced and happier life?