{ in·deed·a·bly }

adverb: to competently express interest, surprise, disbelief, or contempt

Deuce

My phone vibrated and twitched its way across the dining table, like an epileptic in a nightclub.

It precariously hovered on the edge of the precipice. Weighing up whether there was such a thing as too much communication with the outside world? Another incoming message appeared to tip it over the edge. I understood how it felt.

£1,000+ worth of electronics leapt into space. Vibrating a couple of more times as it plunged towards its doom on the hardwood floor. The value proposition of having invested an additional £15 in an off-market phone case was about to be tested. An insurance policy skipped only by the shortsighted or impractically fashion conscious.

Instead of the expected dull thud or sound of shattering glass, an aggrieved yowl echoed from under the table, immediately followed by the sound of the cat flap swinging closed. In a spectacular display of bad luck and poor timing, the lazy cat happened to have chosen that moment to emerge from between the maze of chair legs.

Brained by a weighty object randomly dropped from upon high by some unseen force. Sometimes the gods just have it in for you. I understood how that felt too.

As I bent down to rescue the phone, I experienced a sense of déjà vu.

Two years

Almost two years ago to the day, I had been sitting in the same chair at the same dining table when I had decided on a whim to start { in·deed·a·bly }. Come to think of it, I had even been wearing the same t-shirt as I am today.

The cat had been sulking then too, after being told off for bringing the first of what has proved to be many robins, sparrows, and wrens into the house. All of them very much alive. For the most part uninjured.

Two years is an interesting period of time.

Long enough to not be considered the short term.

Insufficient to be considered the long term.

An in-between duration.

What had I accomplished during those two years? How many bucket list items had I achieved?

Off the top of my head, the trophies and milestones were mostly educational.

I completed two post-graduate qualifications, just for fun.

Operation Gordon successfully secured a viable pathway through the state school system for both my children, which should make it possible for them to gain admission to any university they choose. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for many state secondary schools.

It occurred to me that I had added nothing to my 250 word life story during that time period. I was two years older, but had neither achieved nor changed anything of note.

A curious observation, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it.

Next, I took a read through my goals list.

The majority of the goalposts listed were behind me. Races already run. Challenges conquered. If I’m entirely honest, there was little remaining on the list that I would be overly bothered by not achieving.

Strangely, I was not particularly troubled by this revelation. I am drifting, but content to do so.

I had long ago outgrown the desire to rule the world.

Dispelled the illusion that success equated climbing the greasy pole or living the largest life.

Lost any interest I may have once had in impressing others, or even caring what they thought.

Professionally I am treading water.

Doing the same thing I had been doing a decade ago. Lucrative, yet unfulfilling.

Which wasn’t all that different to what I had been doing a decade before that.

30 years ago I was a paperboy. Definitely not lucrative! Yet it involved getting plenty of exercise and no stress. Apart from occasionally being attacked by a territorial dog or swooped by a broody magpie! Sometimes it is hard to argue with the suspicion that I should have stayed a paperboy.

My semi-retired lifestyle requires a certain income to sustain it. My preference has long been to minimise the duration of my winter working hibernations by maximising the price at which I sell myself.

This year has been unusual in that regard. In many ways for that matter.

The COVID-19 lockdown has resulted in my working longer and harder than I have in years. My thinking had been that if I couldn’t get out and about, I may as well get paid for staying home. What I hadn’t counted on was the constant juggle of work and homeschooling.

The rational part of my brain tells me that I should step off the treadmill. I don’t really need the money or the stress, so why subject myself to the ordeal?

In hindsight, I would probably be happier working for less while doing something I enjoyed more. A life lesson I have learned and forgotten more times than I would care to admit.

Yet my inner saboteur is warily eyeing the horizon and shouting “make hay while the sun shines”!  A looming tidal wave of unemployment approaches. A pandemic induced recession + hard Brexit + disguised employment changes creating the prospect of a perfect storm likely to see many United Kingdom based white collar professionals warming the bench for an uncomfortably long time.

Solving genuinely interesting tricky problems for clients used to be sufficient. Providing me with a mental challenge. Sometimes a feeling of achievement.

However, in recent years I am increasingly encountering clients who don’t want their problems solved. Instead, they wish to be seen to be doing something, throwing money at problems without any intention of actually resolving them.

This phenomenon has long been the domain of politicians and high priced consultants, but the preference for virtue signalling and style over substance appears to have infected the corporate world.

This yields frustrating and unsatisfying client engagements.

The change I’m observing may well be in myself rather than the corporate world. A realisation about how the world works that once seen, cannot be unseen. The magic forever lost as soon as I peered behind the curtain and saw how things really operate.

Financially too, I have been treading water.

Net worth marginally higher than it had been at the beginning of the blog.

No new money contributed to the portfolio. No capital withdrawn from it either.

The natural yield funding most, but not all, of my family’s lifestyle costs.

I do miss the feeling of tangible progress. Of simpler times when my bank balance was measurably larger one month after the next. Yet when daily market swings shift the needle more than annual earnings, such feelings become a quaint memory of the distant past.

Much like my paper route, I’m not sure the practical realities of that rose coloured reminiscence would make it worth trading places for!

Next stop… destination unknown?

The most interesting thing about my second year of blogging has been observing how the community evolves and how quickly its members turn over.

Bloggers start with much enthusiasm and a head full of ideas. Some fantastic new voices such as Finumus and Banker on FIRE have burst onto the scene offering insight and spurring debate.

Over time, audiences plateau. Some valiantly keep adding value year after year. Monevator and QuietlySaving are great examples.

For others, their publishing cadence slows.

Enthusiasm wanes.

Life happens.

Eventually, other priorities claim the blogger’s time, and their journey comes to an end.

Over the last 12 months, a host of blogs that felt like they were going strong when I started have fallen silent.

  • Bangkok to Blighty
  • Ditch The Cave
  • FireThe9to5
  • Fretful Finance
  • LittleMissFIRE
  • Ms ZiYou
  • The Canny Contractor
  • The English Investor
  • YoungFIGuy

To name just a few. It is an attritional game, blogging.

Another interesting thing is how other blogger’s stories and attitudes have evolved over that period.

TheFIREStarter forever immortalised himself as the poster boy for sequence of returns risk, pulling the trigger on early retirement moments before the coronavirus pandemic swept around the globe.

SavingNinja working his ass off in pursuit of his dream to join the Silicon Valley gold rush… and it appears that his dreams came true, only just around the corner from Kungsträdgården.

Meanwhile, RetireInProgress returned in his shovel, having decided he had mined enough gold.

Another riding the rollercoaster of life has been Gentleman’s Family Finances, who jumped into freelancer life in pursuit of the big bucks, then had the epiphany that some things are more important.

What will year three hold in store for { in·deed·a·bly }?

For now, I’m enjoying the writing and the self-discovery, though not so much my demonstrable lack of follow-through once I observe an issue! While that holds true, I’ll keep pouring the contents of my head onto the keyboard. At 330,000 words and counting, that is a lot of rambling!

I wanted to thank all the readers. So far you have collectively read my ramblings more than 250,000 times, from locations scattered across 161 different countries around the world. That blew my mind when I knocked the dust of my Google Analytics account and ran the report.


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35 Comments

  1. GentlemansFamilyFinances 19 June 2020

    2 years? Congratulations!
    For me it’ll be 2 in July and I feel in some ways the same (idkife crisis anyone?.
    Blogs come and go (and many seem to be clones / regurgitation of eachother).
    Yours always stands out as being very well written and I feel that secretly i would love the 6m on and 6m off routine to make the most of life withiut going broke.

    Hope you are around for another 2 at least!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 19 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks GFF, that is very kind.

      Two years at the end of June, but I pulled it forward because the post I was writing for this week wasn’t flowing, and I have learned not to force things when the writing is fighting back.

      The seasonal work pattern is a lifestyle choice, more readily available to many than a traditional part time job. It works for me, and may be worth running the numbers on for your family also.

  2. Dee 19 June 2020

    Thank you for your clear and concise writing. It’s a breath of fresh air.

  3. Ryan Gibson 20 June 2020

    I’ve been a huge fan of your writing since the beginning. I enjoy getting your updates and perspective.

    We are perhaps worlds apart in terms of overall lifestyle yet similarities in what we want to achieve long term.

    I hope you continue to write and if you do I will continue to spread your work to my audience.

    Thanks for the two years!

  4. Gnòtul 20 June 2020

    I really value your writing style and most importantly the depth/interesting angle from which you analyze the world… just a quick message to encourage you to keep it up, and to say THANKS!
    A relatively new Italian reader of your blog 🙂

  5. Hustle Escape 20 June 2020

    I echo all of the above comments. Many congratulations on two years and on the deserved popularity of your blog over that period.

    Your writing is consistently entertaining and unique, and I look forward to reading more in your third year!

  6. Nick @ TotalBalance.blog 20 June 2020

    Happy birthday, Sir! I’m told it’s unusual for a blog to “survive” that long, so yay for that!
    I still enjoy reading your posts, and I hope to one day gain the same level of insights and wit as you 😉 I’ll admit that there are times where I scroll a bit through your ramblings, but this one was truly enjoyable and interesting to read 😛
    Keep up your stellar work!
    And best of luck in your quest to find whatever it is you’re looking for 😉

  7. Fire And Wide 21 June 2020

    Hey there

    As always, another great post. Though what I am going to read with my morning coffee now that you’ve stopped your lockdown diary is a problem 😉

    Anniversaries are always thought provoking times. Sometimes encouraging and sometimes not.

    This post struck a chord with me for sure – I’m coming up to my two year anniversary of quitting my job to FIRE full-time. As I look back on everything we’ve done in the last two years I’m strangely proud of not just making the leap – but also actually doing the things we’d wanted to do.

    Often once the excuse of not having enough time/money is removed, people find another ‘reason’ not to do whatever it is. More time for travel was our big FIRE motivator and we pulled off 6 months out of 12 last year. Any more & I think we’d have been in danger of losing our UK tax status!

    I am curious how much longer you will stick it out with your consulting gigs. I found the same, once the false glitter wore off those jobs/projects, it was tough.

    But more importantly – look forward to another year of great posts here at the minimum 😉

    Cheers

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 21 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks FireAndWide.

      The daily diary experiment was an interesting exercise. Educational to observe how specularly bad I am at trying to predict the future. Mindful in some ways, paying closer attention to how my family was coping and adapting to life under lockdown. Disheartening in others ways, because focusing on the pandemic meant focusing on the government’s response, and that is when it became apparent those in the driver’s seat were focussed more on how things appeared than how effectively things worked. Not a good look during a major public health event.

      “Often once the excuse of not having enough time/money is removed, people find another ‘reason’ not to do whatever it is.”

      Absolutely. There will always be more excuses. There aren’t many things that people say they want to do in retirement that they can’t be doing in some form already.

      “I am curious how much longer you will stick it out with your consulting gigs. I found the same, once the false glitter wore off those jobs/projects, it was tough.”

      A good question. I’m burnt out at the moment, counting down the sleeps until I finish up for the summer. In theory, I have the option of another winter working hibernation once school goes back. However, at this stage it is an open question about whether that option will be taken up, as the client is seeking to conserve cash.

      Taking a step back from the immediate, it feels like I’ve outgrown what I have been doing the last few years. What that means for the future, I’m uncertain.

      I’m tempted to poke the bear and bring my long running housing saga to a head. Depending on where that lands I could end up being a home owner with no further need for winter working hibernations.

      • Fire And Wide 22 June 2020

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

        Agreed on the gov response. I keep reminding myself I shouldn’t be surprised about the focus on appearance over results – but I’m still always disappointed. Tbh – it’s pretty similar to why I became disillusioned at work too, thinking about it! The worst of it for me is when people accept the illusion.

        I’m looking forwards to reading about which way you guys go on the house-front. Have you ever thought about a trial run – testing out that waterfront life – or just too tricky with kids/schools. Perhaps if schools don’t go back it’s the perfect time?!?

        One thing I would say – when burnt out it’s easy to fall into wishing your life away as you count your life down. Been there. Try and enjoy the time in whatever small ways you can. It makes a difference.

        Cheers

  8. Banker On FIRE 21 June 2020

    Nice one. Enjoyed the meandering, somewhat brooding style here. And big congrats on crossing the two year mark.

    Interesting to see how many bloggers have hung up the gloves. YoungFIGuy was one I read often. Bummer to see him go.

    Blogger burnout is a thing, after all it’s just writing. I find encouragement in the thought that my ramblings are helpful to others. Judging by those traffic numbers, you should be too. Nicely done – and look forward to reading more!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 21 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks BoF.

      Brooding has a number of meanings, the “appearing darkly menacing” one made me chuckle and feel like an evil cartoon bad guy for a moment. The truth is probably closer to Doofenshmirtz than Megatron!

      I read somewhere that the average life of a blog is about 6 months. By then the blogger has either found their voice and their audience, or long since tired of shouting into the void. It may well be one of those made up internet statistics, but feels like it probably should be true.

      • Banker On FIRE 22 June 2020

        Hah, I was going for something in the pensive zip code!

        I don’t even want to think about the size of my audience at 6 months 🙂 Somewhere between zero and 1, the 1 being me.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 22 June 2020 — Post author

          My diabolical schemes for conquest and fame certainly involve deep and meaningful thought!

          Don’t worry too much about audience size, it is a bit of a false metric in my experience. Someone promising the “top 5 easy ways to get rich and attractive without lifting a finger” is always going to attract more eyeballs than those who don’t.

          Just keep writing about what you enjoy writing about, and the audience will find you. According to Google, in my first year, 80% of { in·deed·a·bly } readers were first time visitors, while this year 81% were returning visitors.

  9. Dr FIRE 22 June 2020

    Happy Blogiversary, Indeedably!

    That list of now silent bloggers was a walk down memory lane. I remember reading most of them in their prime, until, as you say, they just stopped.

    Good to hear that you’re still enjoying the writing process. I’ve always enjoyed your unique style. Hopefully you continue for several more years yet!

  10. weenie 22 June 2020

    Congratulations and happy 2nd anniversary! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts (and admiring the many brilliant photos accompanying your posts) over the years – here’s to many more!

    Thanks for mentioning my blog in the same breath as Monevator – high accolades, I’m honoured! 🙂

    It was a little sad looking down at your list of blogs which have fallen silent – I followed many of them and would love to find out how they are getting on – we’ve been left with cliffhangers!

    I think when I eventually stop blogging, I intend to at least make one final post, if only to say The End, with a caveat that I can change my mind!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 22 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks weenie.

      I wonder how many of them knew their last post was their last post? Versus those that never quite got around to writing the next one? Eventually the prepaid hosting package ends and the blog is just a memory.

  11. thefirestartercouk 24 June 2020

    Well, I’ve never been described as a Poster Boy for anything so…. thanks for that 🙂

    You are spot on in that my attitude / approach has changed quite a lot over the years, although if you look at my original “blog goal” I set out, I pretty much did it +/- about a year and a few thousand pounds here and there on the figures 😉

    Happy Blogoversary, as the phrase goes!

    You’ve probably put more content out in 2 years than I have in my last 5, so Kudos for keeping up both the quality and quantity so well over a solid period of time.

    Always enjoy reading your posts and the nice oiling it gives to the otherwise creaking cogs in my brain!

    Hopefully we won’t be on someone else’s “dead blog” list this time next year (mine is much closer to it than yours of course!) 🙂

    I always found that funny when blogs just go silent, I think if I genuinely knew I wasn’t going to post again, even if it had been 6 months since my last post, I would still write a “Final” one as weenie says.

    We need closure blog people!!!!!

    I guess they intend that they will still write something again until the renewal comes up then it’s just like… meh screw it.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 24 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for the kind words TFS.

      Congratulations for putting your words into actions and taking us on the journey where you actually managed to achieve your goals “+/- about a year and a few thousand pounds” by practicing what you had preached. That is a rare commodity in the personal finance space, so thanks for that.

  12. Playing with Fire 27 June 2020

    I’d love to hear from the bloggers who went silent. Maybe an active blogger could offer to host a series of “Where are they now?” posts? It’d be so interesting to understand what direction people have gone in, whether it is FIRE, family or finding awesome work that changed their goals.

  13. ermine 27 June 2020

    The change I’m observing may well be in myself rather than the corporate world. A realisation about how the world works that once seen, cannot be unseen. The magic forever lost as soon as I peered behind the curtain and saw how things really operate.

    Love it. I’ve never worked this out either. Did I become unemployable because in the way of the world I became more cynical and curmudgeonly as I got older, or was it the world of work that has changed, favouring style over substance to an excessive degree?

    Congrats on your second anniversary!

  14. 📈 Bankeronwheels.com - Passive Income Strategies (@bankeronwheels) 29 June 2020

    Great blog. First time I’m here and will keep following your adventures.
    I recently started a blog too. Wondering how long it will survive based on your observations it’s challenging in the long run
    Maybe some people can benefit from my knowledge related to investments before it happens!
    Bankeronwheels

  15. Scott 3 July 2020

    Just to add my thanks in the hope you keep up the good work. Your posts always give me food for thought. Cheers

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