The structure part I definitely found to be important, and that was the same as the last time off. That was an easier problem to solve though, I needed to make sure I was setting goals and working on them each day. It also made the periods of laziness sweeter since they had contrast.
Purpose was a trickier problem, and not one I solved. I did feel like I made progress there, since I finally had time to sit down and ponder "what is the meaning of life?" for hours at a time. I think that's more of a thing to be worked on continuously than solved. Family is kind of what I settled on though for a partial answer. I went off on a whole other tangent about purpose that I'll have to write up some time...
I've never really gotten much purpose from work, other than the basic human element of it (I enjoy helping people I interact with on a daily basis), so it's not a purpose thing. It's more of a calm port in a storm: my industry is in flux, it's gotten more competitive with all the people trying to become programmers, I need to catch up on new technologies, and from what I hear from others there's an overall slowdown in software development contracting. By itself that wouldn't be so bad, but my wife's job is shaky because the company is close to running out of money, and our expenses are the highest they've ever been, and we want to buy a house to lock in kids public school/childhood neighborhood for the next 10-20 years. Having a couple income streams right now helps me to sleep at night. The totally possible worst case scenario was that wife loses her job, we start burning 4-5k per month, and the contracting market is slow so this goes on for 6+ months, wiping out a good 30-50k of my savings. All that together made me feel thankful to have found a couple new gigs, I think I've taken for granted the easy availability of work when I wanted it for the last few years since I had more than I wanted. So there's a positive spin on going back to work this time, I'm grateful to have found more, it was totally dead for about a month, no call backs no nothing, which is really odd in my experience, slower even than the 2009 crisis.
That's where I was going with you might want to consider what semiRE would feel like in a recession environment. When jobs aren't plentiful, it's a different feeling to be taking time off, since you need a lot longer runway to get back in. I was projecting that it might take 6 months to find another contract this time, based on the completely dead/radio silence month I experienced. It cuts down the time spent simply enjoying everything, and shifts focus to oh crap I need to work on finding something new. Just something to think about.
Burn rate was roughly 2k/mo, a bit higher since some annual expenses came up like car registrations and insurance, totaled out a bit more than 5k because of those. At some point I need to average those and automatically transfer a monthly portion expenses like that to a separate account, that way it's not shocking to see large expense months.
Yeah it is what it is. I think you have to factor happiness in, not just finances. When family happiness is maximized, finances may not be, depends on the family. Finances aren't the only criteria. It's too damn bad my wife didn't like snow
Would have been great if that had all aligned, I'd be done with accumulation this year if that had happened. I've got enough cash in the bank to buy two more rentals right now, completing the trifecta. *triple shrug*
Anyways, typing it out made things a bit more clear for me what happened in hindsight. When the situation is more stable, like it was in 2017, I'll enjoy time off more. But there will probably also be times when time off ain't that great, but still worth it, I definitely consider the time off as worth it. The anxiety was finance/work related, and it was probably a good thing, because it gave me the kick in the ass I needed to fix the situation now before it went off the rails.