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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Unknown Road

Posted by Tim Stobbs on July 3, 2015

So I finally started down an unknown road at work, figuratively speaking.  During my mid-year performance review with my boss I planted an idea with respect to my career goals.  I actually wrote on the form for near term goal (1 to 3 years): retirement or reduced hours to approximately 50%.  Then I submitted it to my boss to see if any fireworks ensued.

Oddly enough, the entire conversation was oddly civil and straight forward.  From my boss’s point of view he wants to keep me around as long as possible, so if we need to look into options to make that happen he is at least willing to explore them and ask how it could potentially work.  If we can find a compromise that works for both of us, why not look into it.

I made it clear I don’t expect changes immediately (after all I’m still working on building my savings), but I would like to know what options may exist.  Currently we are exploring a few different ways to make something like this happen including:

  1. Cut back to half time.  This would be using the same policy that let me drop down to 90% currently.  The issue here is figuring out how picks up some of the work that I’m no longer doing.
  2. Cut back time and reuse the budget to pick up another employee.  This one is a bit trickier to pull off and requires some help from HR on what is possible and what isn’t.  The idea would be to free up enough budget from my current position to allow another person to come on board and pick up the remaining work.  In effect splitting the budget from my job into two.
  3. Shift to a contractor role.  I had thought of this idea myself a while back but somewhat discounted the idea as the work involved to setup and obtain clients while still working.  This way would be easier as I would start with one client right off the bat, which would make the shift easier.  The downside of course if contractor budgets are often the first things to get squeezed out during budget cut backs.  So my income would be more unstable and there is a risk of me being hung out to dry.

Of course I’m not sure where this is going to end up, but I figured that it would be worth the time to at least explore semi-retirement with my current workplace.  Oddly enough I sort of discounted this idea in the first place as I thought they would shoot it down at once, but the reaction has been more hopeful than I would have guessed.

Anyways, worse case scenario it doesn’t come to anything, I finish my savings and just leave in about two more years.  Best case would be dropping down to 50% by next year and staying in semi-retirement mode for a three or more years until I get enough savings to leave entirely or just get sick of the entire thing and pull the plug.

Has anyone else had much like convincing their employer to allow you to go part time?  Any tips or ideas?

Repressing the Urge to Run

Posted by Tim Stobbs on October 24, 2013

I’ve noticed something odd in the last year.  Since we have paid off the mortgage on our house and we have a sizable nest egg started I occasional have the urge to say “screw it all” and quit right away.  Why?  Because I’m slowly closing in on the amount saved that I could reasonably downshift my job and work half the time at significantly less pay and still cover all of our expenses.

The obvious downside to doing something that drastic would be locking myself into needing to work part time for the next 30 years at a higher rate than I ever planned.  Yet is a bit more freedom now worth less freedom in the longer time frame?  I really don’t know the answer to that some days.

I suspect this entire mindset is merely a result of having enough saved that I could actually even entertain these thoughts.  I can actually ;ook a scenario in my head and not feel guilty because it isn’t that far off the realm of possibility.  In effect, I’m daydreaming thoughts like this merely because I can.  Unlike the average person my age, I really don’t fear a layoff so what’s the big difference to intentionally downshifting your job?

The other reason to these thoughts is my job has recently been more stressful which makes me a bit unhappy.  I know it is the result of temporary issues of a lot of expectations for getting work done, but not enough staff to really do it all.  The good news is more staff have been approved, so its just sorting out the workloads for next year and hiring someone.  So my daydreaming is also likely the result of my mind looking for a stress relief.  After all, not working half the time right now seems really appealing when you have had a bad day at work.

In the end, usually a good night sleep helps clear my thoughts and gives me a bit more perspective.  I don’t need to do anything drastic and waiting a bit more to see if my day to day workload improves won’t cost me much.  It’s a few months at worst until things get better.  So I play with my daydream and usually put it back in the box.  It’s comforting just to know the option exists…even if I decide to never use it.

So how often do you daydream about saying screw it all and quitting?  Did you find the frequency goes up when your stressed?

The Shift

Posted by Tim Stobbs on February 14, 2013

I was recently playing with some numbers the other day around my retirement plans and stumbled onto an interesting concept.  At some time in 2014 or so, I should have enough cash saved up to flip over to semi-retirement if I wanted (on a fairly bare bones spending plan).  While pulling the pin at that point would ensure I would always have to do a fair bit of work each year until full retirement, it did make me realize something important.  Making the shift from full to part work or full retirement is all about degrees of difference.

Full work or full retirement is all about being more black and white for states of being.  You are working full time or you are not.  Semi-retirement is the grey between those two states.  How far you want to go down that path is all about your personal choices.  Some people rather not have to work, while other are like me and fully expect to do some as I go.  It’s all about how much work do you want to add in your plan or how much time off you want sooner than later.

Deciding where you want to be in that grey zone is really mainly about your emotional state.  How much does your current situation drive you nuts and how badly do you want out of it?  Or perhaps you just want a bit more time off now?  Either case the decision is partly a math exercise of you need to either save or make X amount to live, do you want to earn that all at once or spread it out?

So for me there are times when I’m firmly in the idea of getting out as soon as possible, while other days I like the idea of working for a bit more so I don’t have to as much later on.  What I’ve always struggled with is making that choice?  What do I really want on average?  Also how do I deal with my ‘get out now’ days once I can pull the pin?

While I don’t know the answers to these questions, it should be interesting to work through them in the next few years.  So did semi-retirement ever appeal to you? If so, why or why not?