Tyler9000's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Post Reply
User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:29 pm

Embers and Expectations

I mentioned in another thread that I've been working on a personal project lately -- a website dedicated to portfolio asset allocation that shares some tools I've built over the last year. I built it purely for fun as a creative outlet, and had no expectations of it ever becoming anything more than a hobby project used mostly by internet friends.

Then this happened: http://thereformedbroker.com/2015/08/04 ... n-the-web/

For reference, Josh Brown is a TV personality on CNBC and has one of the most popular finance blogs out there at the moment. His interest took me completely by surprise, and his review blew me away. Needless to say, my page views have far exceeded expectations since that post.

I think feeling proud of the recognition is normal. What I didn't fully expect was the sense of pressure that followed. How can I improve things? What's next? With this kind of publicity, I'm on a time crunch here! While I can't say I have a full-time-worker mentality any more, I think that when stoked the drive is a hot ember that can quickly reignite. That's great in moderation, but I can get obsessive at times so I need to keep it in check. I didn't leave one full time job to feel pressured into another!

As the wave of visitors and emails fades, I'm sure things will get back to normal quickly. It's fun to have a new project see a bit of success, and I look forward to seeing where things go. The best thing about trying something like this at this point in my life is that it doesn't have to go anywhere at all. Considering the number of comments I've seen complementing how the site is "free" and "independent", I suspect others are attracted to that quality as well even if they don't consciously think about it.
Last edited by Tyler9000 on Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
spoonman
Posts: 696
Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:15 am

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by spoonman » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:43 pm

Congrats man!

I wish I could tell you to take it easy and all that, but I know all too well how the hot embers you describe can ignite. Regardless, you should definitely cherish this moment!

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 10132
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by jacob » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:43 pm

Heh! Since it's _good stuff_, the [another] recognition will come [again]. Good things can grow really fast. Don't worry about missing the [first] train. Trains arrive all the time. Websites grow on strong fundamentals and you obviously have it.

If you want some residual income, the next step would be to put on some ads which---unfortunately is the default in this gratis-expecting internet---is the only way to monetize. Google adsense is the default/first step. Worst case, it's "coffee money."

jennypenny
Posts: 5823
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by jennypenny » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:52 pm

Congrats!
Tyler9000 wrote: I think feeling proud of the recognition is normal. What I didn't fully expect was the sense of pressure that followed. How can I improve things? What's next? With this kind of publicity, I'm on a time crunch here! While I can't say I have a full-time-worker mentality any more, I think that when stoked the drive is a hot ember that can quickly reignite. That's great in moderation, but I can get obsessive at times so I need to keep it in check. I didn't leave one full time job to feel pressured into another!
Can you really compare the two things? One was a job, and this is *your* project. If you want to go all in, do it. See where it leads. You can always stop if it gets to be too much. I think it's providence that you quit when you did so you have the time now to devote to this. Enjoy the opportunity.

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:07 pm

Yeah, re-reading my previous post I think it probably comes across as more negative than I intended. I'm really excited. Just tired! I've worked more on this the last week than I have on anything else for a very long time. Working on your own project is definitely a lot different than someone else's. It's way more fun.
jennypenny wrote: I think it's providence that you quit when you did so you have the time now to devote to this. Enjoy the opportunity.
Amen. Time is a blessing.

User avatar
cmonkey
Posts: 1621
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by cmonkey » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:36 pm

Congratulations! I had that happen to me once. I wrote an article on my blog that got picked up by Lifehacker and I got tens of thousands of views for the next month or so. Made a few hundred bucks in ad revenue.

I'll have to check out this tool you built. :)

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:46 pm

So What Do You Do?

DW and I have been making a concerted effort lately to really get to know our neighbors and meet more people, which has provided some new opportunities to answer the question "what do you do?" I'm good at evading the topic with strangers, but once you get to know someone it becomes a little more tricky. With mixed results under our belt, I can start to offer a few tips of how (and how NOT) to answer that question.

The topic came up recently with a small group of new friends, and in retrospect I totally over-did it. I explained that we chose to take time away from career and may eventually return on our own terms. There were lots of questions and I quickly realized I probably raised more than I answered. And with some in the group having a bit of job and income stress, our good fortune probably came across as a little boastful. They were all gracious, but afterwards I was kicking myself for being too open.

A few days later I had the opportunity to get to know a neighbor, and I took a different approach. I explained that I'm a freelance engineer who works from home. She asked what kind of work I do, and I got to talk about how nice it is to "be my own boss" which everyone appreciates. The beauty of that approach is that it explains why I am home all day in a truthful* way and is socially acceptable. The impression you leave is one of an intelligent and independent neighbor rather than a weird person doing something very strange.

(*) if anyone ever asks "how's the freelancing business" the answer is easy -- "I'm doing plenty of work to pay the bills." The assumption that the work done must be non-zero need not be addressed. ;) And when I really do get side work it fits right in.

The next time I met with the first set of new friends, the topic inevitably came back up but I finally had the proper experience to deal with it. This time I played it more cool. I talked about how I spend a lot of time building a website about investing and how I do freelance work to help pay the bills. And what seemed to really resonate is that I talked about tradeoffs.

Everything has a tradeoff. Choosing to leave your full time job means you must be willing to make some sacrifices in spending. And choosing to stay at a high stress job means you must be willing to make sacrifices with family, happiness, and sometimes health. Everyone must find their own balance that works best for them and their family, and while we perhaps made an unusually large change we were willing to accept the tradeoffs it implied. Importantly, one does not need to quit working to strike a better balance.

That conversation went great. It allowed some people to feel ok about their own money stresses because their particular expenses are important to them, and it hit a note with others who perhaps might be willing to make some tradeoffs of their own to change their own work situation. It also put our own decision in the proper perspective that it's not like we're living the high life while they're at work. We just chose a different balance for now.

Noided

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Noided » Sat Oct 03, 2015 3:29 am

As I study the way in which I will talk about those things in the future, I think the "Freelance" talk is the best path. People can relate, and maybe you can even start talking about other things.

But at the same time, it is kind of sad that people in the FI community have to lie in order for people not to feel offended or something similar.

Cornerman
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun May 17, 2015 1:46 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Cornerman » Sat Oct 03, 2015 5:25 am

I like your website a lot, thanks for building it. I am not that far along I can quit my day job , but from my experience a lot of people are looking for a way to take the balance of living vs working more in the direction of living. I sometimes mention the FI and early retirement and what I am planning and most people react very positive. If the subject comes up, and money somehow always does I just tell them my view of things. And I have had some very nice chats with people as a result.

User avatar
spoonman
Posts: 696
Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:15 am

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by spoonman » Sat Oct 03, 2015 6:31 am

That's some excellent advice. We had to learn similar responses the hard way as well. Eventually we settled on the idea that I am doing "algorithm development" for cell phone apps from home. It knocks multiple birds with one stone because it gets people off my back and they don't ask any questions about "algorithm development". Even my barber in the PNW was OK with that answer =).

We have other answers for family and some close friends. My favorite one is that we're on "sabbatical"...people really like that one.

Learning what to say to people is one of the challenging things about our lifestyle. I dream of the day when it's socially acceptable (nay, even revered) to say that we've unpluggled from the matrix and live our lives strictly on our terms.

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:41 pm

We also talk about a "sabbatical" with family, close friends, and former coworkers. That also resonates. The only downside is that the effect is kinda temporary. We're coming up on the 1-year anniversary of leaving our jobs, and I'm starting to get questions about my plans for the sabbatical coming to an end. It seems like family is starting to get the big picture, but my former boss has begun to ask about my interest in returning.

On a positive note, I see that as reinforcement that I handled the way I left well and didn't burn bridges. And frankly, it perhaps presents a potential opportunity to creatively reengage on my own terms (not that I'm actively looking for that, but I'm also not one to immediately dismiss it). One of the cool things about ERE is how it frees you to pursue new opportunities in real time as they arise.

steveo73
Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by steveo73 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 2:50 am

Its interesting that you guys have to basically tell lies about what you are doing. I can relate even though I am nowhere near FI just yet. People want to know what you are doing and I think I will also be taking a sabbatical and then sort of never come back.

My parents especially consider work as something that you just keep doing no matter how much money you have.

User avatar
cmonkey
Posts: 1621
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by cmonkey » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:36 pm

I have given this topic some thought and I have decided that I will be telling the in-laws that we are in a position where we don't need to work for money anymore if we don't want to, simply because I will be proud of it. I will follow that up by saying something to the effect of "Any work I engage in is all online these days", which will be technically true.

For strangers I will just use the 'online work' line coupled with "Oh computer stuff, its pretty technical" if the inevitable "what sort of online work do you do?" comes up. When folks hear you "work with computers" its essentially a brick wall for the conversation.

mxlr650
Posts: 165
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:33 pm

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by mxlr650 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:31 pm

steveo73 wrote:Its interesting that you guys have to basically tell lies about what you are doing. I can relate even though I am nowhere near FI just yet. People want to know what you are doing and I think I will also be taking a sabbatical and then sort of never come back.
Humans are really bad at predicting future (per Daniel Gilbert), and i am no different, so i talk to people only in terms of next 3-4 year plan: which involves travel, hobbies and some projects unrelated to earning money. As i have not mapped out next 4 years I mention that our plans are constantly evolving. When we are close to 4 year mark, it is easy to add another 2-4 years if we are still enjoying it. I never saw a need to invent stories or use pompous language like "I am retired" etc. Most of my/DW side family and friends know what we are up to. We tell the same story if a stranger asks. So far, no issues, and everyone has been nice enough to offer good suggestions - asking us try things out and do what they could not full-time :-)

steveo73
Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by steveo73 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:50 pm

I use terms like "I'm bludging" which to be fair is what I try to do as much as possible.

dragoncar
Posts: 1317
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:17 pm

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by dragoncar » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:01 pm

I told my neighbors what I do for a living but they probably think I'm full of shit because I'm home in the middle of the day so much

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:06 am

The Man Behind the Mask

Halloween marked the one year anniversary of leaving my full time job for the last time. I remember being particularly hung over from a going-away happy hour the night before, and frankly the day was a blur. But this time around my mind is a lot more calm and clear. It's like the fog has been lifted, and the world is a lot bigger than it was before.

In retrospect, the more memorable day perhaps wasn’t that particular Halloween but the one before. Fresh off the plane from China, I nevertheless dressed as a ninja to stealthily hand out candy to neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Some little kids were noticeably taken aback, while others really got into it. I remember the mutual delight when I opened the door one time to discover a fellow young ninja looking back at me. A counterpart! Of course I gave him the secret triple candy allotment for fellow ninjas. Shared experiences cannot go unrecognized.

This Halloween there were no costumes but masks didn’t feel appropriate anyway. It marked the three week anniversary of returning to work on a part time basis, and my identity no longer needs easy labels.

Finding work was actually not my goal, but it happened quite quickly and I wasn't opposed to it when opportunity knocked. My old boss called me up looking for help, and I found myself in a unique situation to basically name my terms. After a bit of conversation and contemplation it just kinda came together. I’m working three days a week with permanent four day weekends, no major management responsibilities, lots of flexibility, and a healthy hourly rate that easily covers our meager monthly expenses with significant room to spare. There’s no hard commitment on either side, but I’m pretty confident I can keep doing this as long as projects are available and I’m still enjoying it. Opportunities like that don't come along every day, so I figured it was definitely worth a try.

Honestly, the setup is pretty darn nice. It’s like having all of the personal flexibility of an independent contractor but with the benefits of a steady job at a place I enjoy. I do find myself occasionally struggling with reestablishing a bit of work routine, but the beauty of it is that I’m still off more than I’m on and Friday is always right around the corner. It sorta feels like retirement is my 9-5, and work is the weekend break where I catch up with people and earn a few bucks in the process. How’s that for work-life balance? I fully intend to try it through the end of the year and see where things go. Finding that it's not for me and that I prefer to pursue other interests is a perfectly fine outcome as well.

In contrast to my previous post where I was figuring out what to tell people what I do when not working, I now find myself on the flip side of identity. I find it interesting how I once identified so strongly with my career only to trade that label for identifying so strongly with retirement, and perhaps a few months ago this might actually bother me. But like I said earlier, my mind is now a lot clearer than it was a year ago and masks are no longer necessary. I’m finally free to be myself, whether that involves lounging, traveling, writing, or yes, even working when I feel so inclined. ERE has made me so much more interesting than any one label can describe, and fully realizing that is perhaps my greatest accomplishment my first year in.

User avatar
spoonman
Posts: 696
Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:15 am

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by spoonman » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:45 pm

Wow, congrats man! That's one of the beauties of the early retirement setup: you are in complete command and can arrange things under your terms. That's the whole point of it anyway, to do things under your own terms.

I hope your part-time adventure goes well. It's interesting to hear that your retirement feels like the 9-5, and the job feels like the weekend!

Btw, how do you feel about dealing with a commute again? (that is, if you have much of a commute to worry about). What about waking up early?

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:09 pm

spoonman wrote:It's interesting to hear that your retirement feels like the 9-5, and the job feels like the weekend!

Btw, how do you feel about dealing with a commute again? (that is, if you have much of a commute to worry about). What about waking up early?
I should probably clarify that in this context I definitely don't use the "9-5" term in a negative sense. It's more about the prioritization of life over work, and I only meant to contrast the current setup from the traditional balance. It's pretty nice! Three days of work in a row is about my limit these days, and I think my favorite thing about the arrangement is that by bunching the work together I can still keep my normal ERE routine the rest of the week. I was worried about being able to compartmentalize and not let work thoughts creep into off days, but so far that hasn't been an issue at all. If anything, it's the other way around. :)

My commute has never been bad -- it's 15 minutes with very little traffic. Waking up early is a little harder. It's more a matter of having the discipline to put down what I'm doing and go to bed because I have to be somewhere in the morning than it is about getting up.

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1425
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Tyler9000's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:03 pm

Unexpected Turbulence

Air travel has always been a source of anxiety for me. As international travel was a big part of the job description for a long time, I've flown way more than your average vacation-goer. At first I chalked my stress up to my first flight that was particularly bumpy and my college engineering professor who was an aircraft accident expert and told a few too many stories about every way a plane can fail. However, my anxiety only got worse the more I flew. While the airport routine quickly became a piece of cake, the experience of being locked in a bumpy tin can thirty thousand feet above the arctic circle for 14 hours straight was a lot to handle. At some level I felt like the more I flew the more I was due for a crash, and when my last international flight included extreme turbulence and screaming passengers, that pretty much sealed the deal that I needed to stop for a while.

With that lifestyle behind me and my feet securely planted on solid ground, I feel a lot calmer. I know statistically that there are far more dangers off the plane than on, but the illusion of control is nonetheless a comforting one. I may not be perfectly safe, but at least I'm not trapped. In fact, it's that feeling of being in control of my own destiny that was a major selling point of financial independence for me.

We took advantage that freedom last week and traveled up to visit family for Christmas. No planes – just a relatively easy four-hour drive. It was great to see everyone and even make time for a few old friends, and the experience even had us contemplating moving back to the area to try re-prioritizing those personal relationships for a while. Career and adventure may shuttle you around the world for a time, but it’s amazing how enduring some of those old ties remain.

On the long drive home, we stopped briefly to get gas. The clouds were ominous, the wind was unusual, and the rich thunderstorm ozone smell filled the air. It was – eerie. Once the phone alerts sounded for a tornado warning we decided to take cover at a nearby building for a few minutes until the storm passed. The clouds veered comfortably eastward and the winds died down, and we continued on our way.

Shortly afterward, the same storm leveled my childhood neighborhood in Garland, TX.

I called my mom, and she indicated she heard the tornado and the power was out, but she was fine and was going to bed. It wasn't until the next morning that I saw the level of destruction online and found a map of the tornado path. She also made it out and saw things in the light for the first time, and told me she hadn’t realized just how serious the situation was the night before. It passed within just a few hundred yards of her, and the house fell right on the edge of the documented damage zone. My mom is fine and the house was miraculously untouched, but she is extremely lucky.

Life is precious but surprisingly fickle, and one should not fall into a sense of complacency or worship the illusion of control. I may not fly much anymore, but the wild and perilous knife edge of life still found a way to remind me of its true nature this weekend and I know better than to get too cocky or comfortable. It’s yet another reminder not to waste the gifts I’m given. Honestly, I feel a little shaken yet strangely clear-headed at the same time.

I took a walk today. It was cold, crisp, and calm. My priorities are different than they were even a few days ago, much less twelve months ago. It's been a revealing year, and I look forward to where the next one takes me.

Post Reply