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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:06 pm
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Well, it's been several months since I came around these forums, so I thought I'd drop in.


My family and I made the big ERE move 9 months ago. Downsizing our house, dropping to 1 car, changing jobs, etc... So far we have no regrets. In fact, we are quite happy with our new situation.


There is one interesting downside, however. I've found myself in a sort of limbo with my job. The thing is, I'm getting paid a lot of money to do work that I can do with my eyes closed. I generally work less than 20 hours per week - and spend about 10 hours physically in the office. No one seems to care about this, and in fact they've been very pleased with my work. This might seem like a great thing, but it's not.


With ERE so close (15 months), I have no ambition or motivation to challenge myself at work. Mentally, I'm checked out. And this lack of motivation seems to be leaking into other areas of my life, because I find myself less motivated to do things outside of work. I'm pretty sure this is temporary - and that it will go away when I finally quit. But it's an interesting problem since I've never lacked motivation in any area of my life.


This lack of motivation is magnified by the fact that my low work hours mean a lot of unmotivated free time - the perfect ingredients for picking up bad habits.


I won't classify my mood as bored - just unmotivated. I technically have many things I can or should do. I'm in the process of making the list of projects I should be doing, so I can start knocking them off my list. It's strange for me because I've never had to do this, I've always just been so active and so motivated that I'm constantly doing things and creating/achieving goals.


Anyone else run into issues like this during ERE purgatory, where you know you're quitting soon but you have obligations to work a bit longer? How'd you deal with lack of motivation?




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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:10 pm 

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I haven't run into it, but it's probably one of my higher worries about what to do post-ERE or in the transition to semi-ERE.


Maybe do some reading around finding purpose and fulfillment through helping others, bettering your skills to contribute more to the world, etc.?


There's also a chance you're experiencing some natural anxiety around making big changes in your life..


I'm hoping post-ERE I'll have time to work more than I do now...but work on stuff that really matters to me...poetry, short-stories, philosophy, hiking, cycling, and maybe small-scale farming if that all works. Moving fully into those things will take some doing and some motivating though. These things don't happen by accident.


I think Cal Newport's Blog/Stuff on "building mastery" could be of use..


http://calnewport.com/blog/2012/01/29/closing-your-interests-opens-more-interesting-opportunities-the-power-of-diligence-in-creating-a-remarkable-life/


Combining that stuff with ERE one becomes more free to pursue their passion by not letting their lifestyle-inflation get in the way of doing what they really want to do..whether that's writing poetry 10 hrs/wk or writing code 100 hrs/wk.




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:31 am 
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It's kinda like divorcing oneself from a relationship without breaking up. That's the best I can describe it. You know you're going to get out but you have to stay on for a while, so/but where's the motivation to improve upon anything.


The fact that there's a certain spill-over is unfortunate. I think it's due to many of us having one prime motivation which used to be/is our job ... this energizing effect then spills over and drives the rest of our life. I think that's simple manner of brain chemistry. If I'm excited about one part of life, I tend to be excited overall as well. I think many use recreational shopping for exactly this purpose(!).


One solution is to find something else to live for with the job just being a secondary thing. This actually seems to be the normal state of being for most people. Their primary interest is their family, their travels, their interior decorating, their sports team, or whatever.


I have no idea what to do about this since I have the same problem. What I do/think about is very much like a relationship to me which seems to be a form of serial monogamy that lasts 5-10 years for each interest. My concern is in reaching a sort of "been there, done that" state for everything [interesting] one can possible do. Done academia, done semi-elite sports, done the visiting of a dozen+ countries, done living in other countries, done a book, done a popular website, done a nonprofit, done a bunch of hobbies, done several small businesses, now doing finance, ... what next?


That's the big question!


(And the big concern...)


You might try "The Joy of Not Working". It contains a lot of ideas ... however, they didn't work so well for me. [Nothing skill/competence/achievement based really rang a bell with me.]




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:14 am 

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Jakob - do these things have to once only events ("done semi-elite sports, done the visiting of a dozen+ countries, done living in other countries, done a book")?

Why not do another book, sport etc?


This is one of the reasons I love gardening - it's "new" every year and there's always something to learn. And if you garden for food - it's all gone by spring and cupboards need to be refilled. Or else you don't eat (a bit exaggerated).




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:31 pm 
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This sounds like the nomad v. homesteader argument framed a different way. Some people (seems like many on this board) are nomads. They are happiest moving from one intense project to the next. Once the intensity is gone (or is unnecessary), they are eager to move on to the next project. Homesteaders seem more willing to dig in at their jobs or hobbies and maintain a constant level of attention to various aspects of their life.


@tjt--can't help you since I'm a nomad at heart. Even finding new challenges won't help you since you'll always hit the proverbial ceiling at some point (even with running ultras). You'll have to find a way to adjust your thinking since you'll still feel this way about new projects after you leave your job, or adjust your thinking and accept your nomad-ness.


@Jacob--Is DW on board with your serial monogamy theory? ;)




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:02 pm 

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Jennypenny - I never thought of it that way (nomad/homesteader).


The dominant culture so encourages us to be dissatisfied and need "new", "more", "bigger", "moving on". Cultivating satisfaction with what we have and self sufficiency is becoming a lost art.




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:39 pm 
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@EMJ--I guess I don't think it's the culture because people here have proven they can resist that kind of pressure. Some nomad tendencies might be construed as an adult form of ADD. Maybe we should change the term to nomADD.




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:06 pm 

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@jacob,


Those things you've done are hard but play to your strengths.


You could try playing to weaknesses after finance. Become a top salesman, public speaker, advertising executive, whatever.


How about this one: learn to tell stories (out loud, not writing) to a group of 8+ people such that all 8+ people are on the edge of their seat and laughing.


Stuff that's easier for ESFPs than INTJs, etc. Maybe you won't find it interesting enough. I dunno. But you'll get your challenge.




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:17 pm 

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@tjt, I'm in a similar situation in that I'll probably be FI within 15 months. But I'm not checked out, so I can't relate all that much I guess.


Here's a different take on your ERE Purgatory. You're not 15 months from FI. You're actually FI *right now*. But you have to work this job anyway, just because of your contract and them paying for your moving expenses, etc. Based on what I've seen of your numbers, you don't need this 15 months of income at all.


If I were you, I'd probably try to buy my freedom *today*. I know you agreed to work for a certain amount of time in exchange for moving expenses or whatever. Say that total came to $40k. I'd offer to give back the entirety of the $40k and walk away from the contract (assuming you've also done enough good work to make up for your training costs, etc). Then you can focus the entirety of your motivation on something you actually want to do, rather than doing this job because you have to (not even for the money, but because of the obligation).




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:12 pm 

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Thanks for the feedback everyone.


@jenny - I'm quite sure I'm a nomad by your definition. I guess I'm just not sure how to make that work while I fulfill my original commitment to work another 15 months, other than just look on the bright side and recognize that the end is in sight. Really, at the end of the day, my problems are pretty insignificant compared to a lot of people... :)


@akratic - Your idea of doing something that plays against strengths sounds good in theory, but in my experience it doesn't work. Before I left my last job, I took a management position which played right into my weaknesses. It left technology behind (my biggest strength), required politicking, coaching others, speaking in public, etc. The fun of the challenge worked for about 6 months before I was ready to stab myself in the eye because I couldn't stand how I had to act in order to succeed. I could do it, and I did do it, but it was pretty miserable. As you said, it was challenging, but in the "sell you soul" kind of way...


@akratic #2 - I agree, I consider myself FI now, and I consider retiring daily. At least once a week my wife and I have this discussion. I have 2 reasons I'm staying at the job right now. First, I feel obligated, not due to money but because I made a commitment. I was recruited by a friend, and I would feel terrible for leaving. It's a small office, and it has a lot of good people. Second, I spend so little time in the office that I feel that the next 15 months is a test for me to make a smooth transition and find other passions. If I can't pass the test over the next 15 months, I question whether I'm ready for retirement...


With all this said, I do have about 5 major projects I want to start and enough spare time to start a few of them. If nothing else, this thread has given me some motivation to get started on a few of them.




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:41 pm 

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I understand what @Jacob is sharing. It seems a hallmark of NT personality that once we have enough experience to satisfy our proof of concept, an idea or project no longer holds any interest. To have to continue dealing with it is pure tedium. Let the SJs build it out and maintain it. For us, the model is the thing that matters.


And because we are abstract, analytical thinkers, having done something once is sufficient for all similar cases (hence Jacob's long list of successful life experiments). If income is no longer an issue because we are FI, then repeating any activity merely because it was previously successful holds no promise of new insights or surprises. It's like assembling the same jig saw puzzle for a second time -- been there, done that, don't even want the t-shirt. Rote repetition is like a living hell for NTs.


@tjt

I second Jacob's advice. Find something outside of work (or ideally something that you can do surreptiously during working hours if it doesn't prejudice your deliverables) that intrigues you. We all need to have at least some experience of "flow" to feel as if we are in an optimal state. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

Work clearly isn't delivering that for you. What will?




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:11 am 

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It seems like this all ties in together. The nomad vs. homesteader discussions on the board, the lengthy "ennui" topic, this thread, Jacob's return to work.


I sometimes wonder if someone who is intelligent, driven and focused enough to commit to extreme early retirement and make it happen is actually built for "retirement", at least in the traditional sense. And, if said person isn't built and must continue "paid projects" aka work aka employment, then is ERE simply just the process of building a giant "FU fund" aka emergency fund aka "I can quit at anytime so I'm ok working fund"? I am becoming increasingly curious about all of this since starting my ERE journey and blog, because as much success as I've achieved in such a short period of time I do wonder if it's all for not. Having a giant pile of money is certainly never a bad thing, but striving for it just to continue working because one is too intelligent and driven not too begs the question "is it worth it", and what definition do you give the word "worth"?


If you're exchanging your time for enough money so that one day you don't have to trade your time for money anymore, but continue to trade your time for money, even though you have enough of it not to simply because you end up bored, then where do you go? You develop hobbies? You build a garden? You spend more time with family? But, eventually the garden becomes too time consuming and you already accomplished an award winning garden...you master your hobbies....your family doesn't have time for you because they're still working?


I don't mean to ramble, but I do wonder if the sacrifice (if you deem it a sacrifice, which it sometimes can be) of living an ERE lifestyle to attain ERE, then end up continuing working...then maybe just taking off 6 months every few years might be better? Maybe not?


Where is all this going?




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:21 am 
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I think Maus summarizes the issue/problem perfectly. Especially the puzzle analogy. Why redo the puzzle when you've already done it---is it just to prove [to yourself] that you can repeat yourself? It's the difference between showing [to yourself and/or others] that something is possible vs demonstrating that you have the determination to do it again. Those are very different endeavors..


It's like climbing Mt Everest ... and then climbing it again.


The concern with the abstraction is that it limits the number of things one can do. There are maybe 100 different abstract concepts known to humanity. What happens when one reaches the point of "this is similar to everything I've already done"? I worry about this.


I like the nomad idea. I'd consider myself an intellectual nomad. I don't care so much for traveling in the traditional (aptly summarized [_to me_] as "same shit, different toilets" because I don't look at the specific views or the specifics foods or the specific anything ... I just observe that yes, here too, people are born, grow up, eat, work, sleep, die ... just like my neighbor, whom I incidentally barely know)... but I really like discovering new ways of thinking. So the analogy is there in the sense of "what's the fun of vacationing to the same place for the next 40 years?" To some that's fun... but others like to go different places.


Unfortunately, I need to value the things I do. I do value being able to do ESTP things like akratic suggested. On the other hand, the ROI is not there. I guess this is the efficiency-curse. For example, once upon a time, I decided to become social. Being social seems to involve having a repertoire of gossip one can exchange: "who did what and where". I found it to be far too much work trying to be popular like that. Paul Graham has an interesting essay on this that touches on how much effort normal people actually put towards being normal/fitting in. So, verily, if I could get social skills cheaply, I'd take them, but the price is currently too high.


Fun fact: I used to find anything money-related to boring and snobbishly considered it beneath me. This is obviously not the case anymore. So maybe my attitude will change ten years from now. I don't think it should be forced---it's very much like poking yourself in the eye with a ... spoon.


One issue I found with ERE is that some things are really limited to jobs or other venues that are not easily available to the young retired individual. It's unlikely to find a group of 15 other financially independent 30-40 somethings who are willing to dedicate all their time to project X. Most people I interacted with during daytime hours were 55+ early retires, unemployed or part timers. Most people are off to work. This is where "ERE city" would be useful.


Finally, I'd like to (again) direct people's attention to the book called "Development of the creative individual". It's something that seems to have received far too little attention.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:44 am 
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@DividendGuy - Fun fact: I've never considered anything I've done a sacrifice. It's always been a "can I do this". I've done some stuff just to see if I could ... like turning off the heat over a winter even as I had free heat to see what would happen.


Many people don't understand this and I don't think there's any way I can explain it to them. To others, maybe 5% of people, it's obvious.


That said, indeed I think this is the great irony of ERE in the retirement sense. Those who have no problem achieving it are those who have the least use of it. Then again, I never should have put that word retirement in there. It has too many classical connotations. Maybe eventually we can reach a world where everybody has FU money. Then we can get rid of those employees that are just taking up space because they presently need the money ... and those of us who like to do useful work can do that and go home [early] when we're done.


Indeed, a huge problem is fitting into the present structures and people's preconceptions.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:12 am 
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This is a very important topic, one that has dominated my thoughts for months... I was thinking of starting a thread "ERE Burnout" but what tjt described is exactly what I have. I renewed a contract out of something that feels like cowardice, because I've met every financial benchmark I wanted by retirement. I didn't want to make a hasty decision, especially after a recent financial negative windfall. Which is logical, but it feels like my id is very angry and I've lost faith that I will ever retire. Logically I know I can retire right now, and plans are in place to do so within months!... But it FEELS like that cannot be. Hard to describe. Maybe change seems so unlikely to the muscle memory or something that the body doesn't believe the mind.


Worthy of an entire blog post, but blogs are reserved for people with enthusiasm in the tank. In my ERE purgatory, enthusiasm is void... Alcohol spending is several multiples higher, food consumption is far less healthy, workouts are rare, even my favorite hobbies (like reading) are scarce. TV watching through the roof, concentration bottoming out in some sub-basement. It feels like a scifi where I've had to retreat to a probe; life support system, alarms blaring, no time/effort for anything but the core mission: keep saving, don't do anything stupid. It feels like I'm lashing together an airplane with tape while it is crashing.


I've reached the point of diminishing returns. Maybe because I am older? Maybe, because of the regrets involved in the ERE quest during 20s... I try to execute everything so perfectly, it often doesn't get executed at the optimum time. It's like taking time off of work (or life!) to shop on the internet, only to spend 2 hrs to save 25% of what your lost wage was... I enjoy a perfect execution, even if it is meaningless. Anything can be art if executed with grace. I need to find balance between this and making decisions quickly. Because I'm getting older!...


I think I know what Jacob is hinting at. Loss of enthusiasm is terrifying. I do not believe it will happen, but is a frightening prospect... Can I even exist or find passion outside of ERE? It has been the very dominant focus of my life so far...


I guess I'll find out in part time! ;) I truly believe that everything will recover, and double, once I regain faith in myself and my efforts... This has felt good to put my feelings to words... Eh, maybe it's just the alcohol. Which I can blame on all the problems with this post :)


The way out is through:

*Preparing part time proposal to employers.

*I came to the same conclusion as tjt: use part time to cultivate other interests... I think working PT might be an important step to ER. If I jump into the shockingly icy waters of retirement without the transitional stage I might freak out.

*New focuses, hopefully 1 of them will come to dominate: fix/build house, building trading systems, 80% feed myself (garden, hunt, fish), brewing, travel (I know, I know but my location bores me), couchsurfing and new locales for satisfying friendships, looking for a mate to have kids with... countless other adventures, experiences I feel like I've missed out in my ERE quest.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:54 am 

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If all the money is only leading to boredom why not give it away and start all over? That would be a challenge.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:16 am 

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Everything said here resonates very strongly with me. Thanks for sharing. When I feel like this I usually run through all of the things I could do, and none of them sound fun. I start playing guitar, nothing... I pick up a book, meh... oh, maybe we should try fiction instead, nope, not interesting. Maybe some really dark music? Yeah, that does a good job of expressing my emotion, but I don't want to wallow. Play some poker? Yeah, that was fun! Ok, now what?


I haven't done much of this, but I have found that "meditating" during these times is helpful. Try to stop thinking about all of these cerebral discomforts and just apply all of your focus on the physical sensations you are receiving. Run hard, eat hearty, breathe deep. Notice that your heart is beating. Your lungs are filling. You are right here, right now, at the center of this enormous and chaotic expanse of space and time. And you are alive. And that's all that matters. Tomorrow is another day.


“One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the person I think I am must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the laws of nature and under orders to keep on marching, through irreversible time, through a world wholly indifferent to our well-being, toward decrepitude and the certainty of death. The remaining two thirds of all sorrow is homemade and, so far as the universe is concerned, unnecessary.”

― Aldous Huxley, Island




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:08 pm 
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We are too future-oriented. We either change this on ourselves or we keep always a lot of goals ahead that can't be fullfilled so quickly. I'm not having problems with this yet because I still have a long way to go to where I want. But please, don't be a victim of your own personality. It's not like your personality can't be changed; it can. It takes times and effort and the process is boring; but it can be done.


I have goals like learning to live with almost no money, building a community, having children and teaching them a better way of life, improving the world by education, getting to improve on jiu jitsu to the point of improving jiu jitsu itself. All of them will take time enough to be fullfilled that I will probably not reach ere purgatory soon. Maybe it is just the kind of goals you have? You've gotta have some that will take you a life to reach.


Or maybe at some point we should take the conscious decision to change your personality if needed be. It CAN be done, we are not victims of ourselves, we can change our destiny.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:13 pm 

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I was thinking about this a few days back and came up with some rough numbers, as any good EREer would do, although I've started to mentally use the term FI, since, as discussed above, it's more descriptive of the reality many of us will face.


I'm typically awake about 15 hours a day, or 105 hours a week. When I factor in my work, driving to work, preparing for work, etc., it totals out to a standard 40 hours a week or so. Let's add another 10 hours of preparing food, some chores, and let's guess I'm "busy" about 50 hours a week. 52.5 sounds like a good overestimation.


This means I have exactly half my waking hours devoted to work. On the one hand, that perhaps sounds miserable to some. On the other hand, that comes out to an average of seven and a half hours a day of free time. This was seriously illuminating to me. If I can't find the time to have fun with 7.5 hours a day, then I don't think reaching FI would help me personally in any way. I then spent yesterday having a good time, and realized that if I'm going about my daily life well, I have time to maintain my French, play piano, read, keep up to date on current events in different languages, do one of those online Harvard courses, do some yoga, go for a long walk across the city, comically tour a couple model homes in the luxury condos downtown :-D. The fact is I did all that yesterday, and had a great time. Meanwhile I've scheduled some quality hang out time with a couple different people for the weekend, so I've got more fun coming up, and today I plan to be like yesterday - so what if I have to work later in the day?


"Life's what you make of it" appears as such a simple platitude on this site where we're all quite good at describing things in great detail, but I'm really finding it boils down to that. When I first started the FI journey, work seemed a burden, and now I hardly notice it. Spending less time online helps the most, I find...




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:58 pm 
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Many of these ideas are discussed in this 30-year old presentation, along with other ERE concepts:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ib16R-FqLw&feature=related


Starting at about 5:45 you'll hear a cogent discussion about all of the time people waste.


You'll find this highly inspirational if you are getting push-back from people who don't understand what you are doing and think you should conform to others' values.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:48 pm 

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+1 This. This is the stuff that gets me thinking. I've mastered the mechanics of ERE and simply lack the courage to pull the trigger; but the philosophy is evergreen.


One dichotomy that seems to resonate in many of the posts is enthusiasm versus fun in the post-work life. I think this is an important distinction. Of course, we all want to have some fun; but that is so highly personal. One person likes to make music, another to garden, one to travel to foreign shores, another to master Japanese swordsmanship, etc. But, as the quote from Huxley above implies, not every waking hour can be fun because the human condition intrudes. Let me share with you that as age increases, so do the minor aches and pains of bodily degeneration. It's not just that I can no longer ski double black diamond runs; some days I wake up feeling like I went a couple rounds with Mike Tyson the night before (quickly check ears).


But enthusiasm is broader than fun-seeking. To me, it encompasses curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. I like to experiment indiscriminately. Some experiments are precluded by work, either by time contrainsts or by negative consequences. For example, I would love to assess how certain aggressive social postures influence others' behavior; but that might be interpreted as work-place harassment by the management. So FI holds out the possibility of removing these constrainst for some types of experiments. On the other hand, no one is going to penalize me for using new spices in the kitchen.


The issue becomes whether boredom leads to the experiment (i.e. poor impulse control and a desire for adrenaline and dopamine); or the inability to experiment leads to the boredom. Some waiting around is likely to occur. And wasting time (i.e. being idle) might be a way to cope with this waiting or to recharge one's batteries for the next experiment. I don't know the answer to this, but I don't mind short periods of lying fallow.


I think Jacob articulates a real concern shared by many, certainly by me: what if I've run through all the humanly cognizable abractions? There is something terrifying about a vacuum or the abyss. But what I find is that prior to exhausting the list of 100 or so; I am becoming anxious because I've managed the ones I enjoyed (the low-hanging fruit). Now I seem to be more preoccupied with separating out the ones that have no interest or attraction for me. The sense one is left with is of painting oneself into a corner; so that all you get is what you're forced to accept as a remainder. Is the solution to simply rebel and break down the walls? Maybe, but I can't help but remember that those who followed Spartacus ended up crucified.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:57 pm 

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If there is some purgatory effect as one approaches FI or ERE, that might be a good sign. Employment can distract or even anaesthetize a person from seeing underlying problems. The default hope of some is that a job will distract them long enough so that they die or become too old to care before the job disappears, not that they always make this choice consciously. I recall Dave Ramsey once pointing out that you will leave your job; you will quit, you will get fired, you will die or you will become disabled, but you will leave.


I can sympathize (empathize really) with the OP’s problem; not all obligations cease with FI, and some can really drag you down, not necessarily to boredom but to a lack of motivation. Obligations are a psychic form of debt.


Another difficulty is that we’re conditioned to believe that money (getting and spending) can buy a life, when what it actually provides is more and more powerful distractions, similar to the illusion of endless employment. There is a natural and necessary letdown, even a dark night of the soul, when it becomes inescapably clear that having money, even FI money, really won’t give you a life worth having. Even a casual observation of those with plenty of money bears this out.


As usual, @Maus offers a thoughtful and insightful perspective. One thing I would add is that although complete rebellion may not be desirable or even possible, as to the followers of Spartacus, revolt was hardly the only path to crucifixion; apparently it wasn’t even necessary to do anything wrong to end up that way. And what about the slaves who didn’t revolt, did they die more pleasantly? If they did, is that what we’re after? And if it is, then Seneca’s preference for suicide as a good ending is understandable, it being the most reliable method for controlling the circumstances of one’s exit, though off-limits for many, including me :)




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:12 pm 

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The best solution to all of this is IMO meditation. We INTJ-folks have quite expansive internal realities, and there a lot of fun to be had in our heads, but as we have all recognized here - there is a limit. Even if you master everything, understand all the abstractions, etc., there is a time where things can cease to prove "interesting".


Meditation brings about a different paradigm. No longer are things required to be "interesting" - even the act of breathing, of existing, becomes more satisfying than even the toughest philosophical or psychological problem.


It's a matter of mind & ego or presence & being. Presence/being is more satisfying, especially if you achieve ERE and get enough time to consider life without the distraction of work. At that point I think many of us can finally start living.




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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:27 am 

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This is a great thread..and clearly points the way to how ERE is such a different focus and experience than the typical personal finance stuff.


When I was reading Jacob's book, I kept feeling that interconnectedness between the ERE lifestyle and the contemplative/philosophically-informed way of being in the world. In many ways, ERE is simply a cover for living a semi-monastic existence and searching out other forms of validation in the world that are intrinsic rather than extrinsic. It is itself a meditation on what is possible: how to be in the world, but not of the world; how to find balance in a world that seems so far out of it; and how to live responsibly given the predicament we are in as a species. I love that it can be read as an adaptation of classic taoist/zen precepts brought into the modern world that leaves behind all the pomp and circumstance of the middle-class new-agey stuff. And that it is scalable to one's own station in life; that it works where you have responsibility to family and it works where you have goals or tolerances that include a 9-5 job or a free-lance existence. It allows us to be where we are and make the most of what we have physically and spiritually from a very conscious place..by asking us to consider our actions very carefully and live intentionally.


But that is also where it can come off the rails for some people. If you are only following ERE as a prescription to get you to the point of not having to work anymore, then you've really missed the opportunity. It's sort of like the person who sits down to meditate and develops a very focussed mind, but does so from a place of ego and so doesn't sink into the growth of non-growth that is possible when meditation is put in context as a tool rather than a goal. In this, as in everything, the how and the why matter so much more than the what..and yet, if you don't do the what, then you'll likely never get to the how and why..aka..meditate daily, but don't get hung up on the sanctity of the practice..aka..do your ERE lifestyle, but know why you are doing it and do it with a purpose that opens rather than one that closes or narrows.


This gets real esoteric, really quick.


But even in the short time I've been on these boards, I've seen its a place folks are willing to go..and that's pretty cool.


To that end, I'll link to my poetry site. I haven't been posting much lately as my mind has been on more organizational aspects than creative ones lately, but maybe some of you would enjoy it.. http://amusingself.wordpress.com




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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:22 am 
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Also, this bears on another frustration of mine ... finding autobiographies of people I can learn something from. It's almost impossible... that is not to say I know everything but rather that few have written about the things I want to know.


If we look at a typical life progression in the western world(*), it's birth, school, family, job, retirement, death. Most spend a lifetime on this. What do you when you reached retirement by 30? If death is not an option, what then?


(*) I believe India has a more elaborate theory on this involving what one should focus on. Maybe Surio can enlighten us?


In particular, as Hoplite remarked, a job (and consumption) often serves as an adequate distraction from existential problems. The real question is whether you can distract yourself from your existential crisis without a job or without consumption?


[My solution to existentialist problems is to ignore them as being unsolvable, alternatively find some substitute religious argument, here stoic. This is not very helpful to the inquiring mind (but why is this so?).]


Also, does meditation really help all day long ... presumably you're not meditating all the time ... [but 'normal' people are working/thinking about what they're going to buy next all the time.




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