The early retirement movement is awesome because it takes a lot of discipline to consistently save a large percentage of your paycheck and then walk away from a paycheck completely during your prime income earning years.
When people ask me why I bother to consult post-early retirement, now I can unequivocally say “For the experience, and not for the money.” Because if I was doing things primary for the money, I wouldn’t have walked away from a multiple six figure finance job in the first place! Of course being paid a fair market wage for services performed is a requirement. It’s just not the main requirement.
During my 13 years of struggle to break from from Corporate America, I often wondered whether the sacrifice was worth it. If I was able to perfectly predict my life expectancy and net worth, I could “consumption smooth” my way to an optimal spending life. Unfortunately, I can only guess my time of death, which I’ve set at age 60.
The idea is if I die at age 60, I will have lived my life with full abandonment and have minimal regret. Each year I live past 60 would be treated as a blessing. Early retirement helps those who believe they will die young, lead a fuller life post work. What a shame it would be to work until age 60 and then die the very next day.
Let’s talk about early retirement as the silent killer.
SEEKING FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE TOO QUICKLY IS DANGEROUS
I’m a big fan of blogs in general, and one journey I’ve been following is the one of FIFighter. He’s a Bay Area blogger as well who has accumulated five rental properties and maybe one more. I’m having a difficult time keeping track because he discussed taking out a HELOC to buy a non-cashflow positive property in Santa Clara for principal value speculation. FIFighter isn’t even 30 yet and has built quite an impressive real estate empire worth over $1.1 million!
I mentioned to him a couple years ago that one of the biggest challenges of early retirement is actually having the determination to walk away from your paycheck. It’s easy to say, but very hard to do when you realize that steady bi-weekly income stream will suddenly be no more. FIFighter told me he till planned to retire at 30. But in October 2014, he surprised us all by deciding to jump to a new tech firm with more pay, more responsibility, and more hours. I couldn’t blame him because money is very tempting, especially when we are younger.
But FIFighter’s outlook quickly turned sour in 2015 when he surprised his readers by saying he was quitting his job on January 20, 2015. Things must have been very bad to quit a job after only three months, they were 10-12 hour days, and his announcement was that he has “Adrenal Fatigue.”
Although Adrenal Fatigue is not a real medical condition according to Science-Based Medicine, it doesn’t matter because FIFighter felt enough pain to quit his job. In order to heal himself, he’s taking the following steps:
- Eliminate work. No more 9-5!
- Eliminate toxic (unhappy) people.
- Only eat whole foods.
- No dairy.
- No wheat.
- No processed foods, sugars, additives.
- No caffeine, alcohol, drugs, stimulants, etc.
- Meditation everyday (Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga).
- Light jogging until I can handle more strenuous exercise.
- Sleep by 10 PM every night. Rise by 6 AM every morning.
- Lots of naps throughout the day.
- Massages and acupuncture.
- Surround myself with positive (happy) people.
All these steps are fantastic, and I’m positive that FIFighter will feel much better after some much needed rest.
I wonder if I’ve ever suffered from Adrenal Fatigue as well because I clearly remember not feeling great going into work at 5:30am and leaving after 7:30pm every day for two years in Manhattan. I told my friends I was getting sick a lot, and they’d alway retort, “Yeah, sick of work that is!”
FIFighter hasn’t answered my question about whether he regrets taking the new job, but my theory is that taking on a higher paying, much more stressful job effectively short-circuited his health to the point where he could no longer take going in. If he had stayed at his old cushy job, he most probably would still be working.
Stress is a real killer. I can feel the tension in my jaws flare up when I’m stress. Chronic back pain used to be my arch rival until I read “Healing Back Pain,” by Dr. Sarno that cured me for good. The mind-body connection is a powerful one, and killing yourself at work to make and save lots of money to leave corporate America early can be very dangerous.
YOU WILL SUFFER TO SOME DEGREE IF YOU PURSUE EARLY RETIREMENT
There is a saying I’ll always remember when I first entered the workforce, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself!” I completely disregarded my Managing Director’s advice because there was so much work to do and I wanted to get ahead, gosh darn it!
If I paced myself, I probably would still be a Director at a bulge bracket firm with a very nice compensation package. Maybe I would actually have made Managing Director by now with a $430,000 base salary plus bonus. But no. I was too anxious to GTFO in order to try my hand at making money from nothing.
This post is just a reality check to tell y’all that nothing good comes easy. There are a lot of sacrifices to be made, including one’s health, which is absolutely priceless. If you’re feeling your health suffer, either figure out a way to take a sabbatical or engineer your layoff. It becomes counterproductive to just quit and short-circuit your career because you tried too hard. Luckily for FIFighter, he stated long ago that he planned to retire at 30. Through an interesting twist of fate, his body has decided that is exactly what he will do!
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