{ in·deed·a·bly }

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

Midlife crisis

The week I caught up with an old friend for lunch. I say “old” because that is what he claims to be.

He had just turned 50.

He had also just bought a motorbike, to realise a childhood dream.

A recent brush with mortality (fortunately not his own) caused him to take stock of his life.

He realised he was statistically closer to the end than the beginning.

Physically and mentally his best years were long behind him.

Professionally he had topped out, treaded water, then climbed aboard the consultancy gravy train.

Initially believing he had sold out and was now prostituting himself. Eventually realising that had always been the case, the only difference now was the transparency of the arrangement.

His long-suffering wife didn’t appear to like him very much. A weekly commute had long masked the symptoms, but there was no hiding the fault lines now that he came home every night.

They shared a past and current parental responsibilities. However their hopes and dreams for the future, hopefully spent together, were worlds apart.

  • Moving abroad or taking in elderly parents.
  • Retiring to the countryside or living down the road from future grandchildren.
  • Retracing the Silk Road on a restored antique motorbike versus working into their seventies.

The weekly commuter existence had meant more absence than presence throughout the lives of his teenage children. Having grown up without access to his help and guidance when they needed it meant it was now neither sought nor welcomed.

He hoped they could become friends as adults. So far he had been more placeholder than parent.

If not now, then when?

As a kid, I remember my mother disparaging those “silly men and their midlife crises”.

Little blue pills to make them feel virile.

Trophy girlfriends to make them feel young.

Little red sports cars to make them feel fast.

Hobby farms or beach houses to make them feel rich.

Whatever the “impractical self-indulgence”, the goal was an escape from the crushing weight of ever-present responsibilities.

To make them feel alive.

Even back then I recognised there was an element of observer bias at play in her perspective.

Her friends were the abandoned wives and single mothers discarded in pursuit of a fantasy.

A feeling.

An ideal.

Or so the narrative went. Leaving them the innocent victims of foolish men seeking to recapture their youth.

My father would generally nod in apparent agreement, before escaping to his own hobby farm.

Less expensive than a divorce.

Safer than a motorbike.

I once asked for his take on those experiencing a “midlife crisis”. His simple response surprised me:

“if not now, then when?”

I would like to believe that he meant folks should put together a definite plan for how and when they will attain their hopes and dreams, rather than endlessly deferring them until “someday”.

I am pretty sure he did not mean folks should head to the local shops intending to buy a loaf of bread, and instead come home with a shiny new Tesla.

Midlife crisis

My friend was looking forward to the day, less than five years away, when he could crack open his workplace pension. Apart from the equity trapped in his heavily mortgaged home, that pension was his only asset of note.

This is one of those exceedingly rare occasions when doing something to somebody, rather than with them, yields an optimal outcome. Compulsory savings can be a wonderful thing!

Having witnessed him become increasingly jaded with his chosen vocation, I suspect his time in the workforce will end before then.

His plan for the remainder of his life consisted of quitting work, pay off his mortgage, and riding his motorbike to China. All told that might keep him busy for the first three months.

When I challenged him on what happens then, he mused about doing a PhD just for fun.

That might keep him entertained for a couple more years.

What then?

At this point, he faltered.



Eventually, he conceded he had nothing.

His best guess was to find some non-demanding part-time work for some undefined local charity.

When I asked whether that would be in a volunteer capacity, he wore the same kind of dirty look a parking inspector might receive when issuing a parking fine.

I observed that would likely involve doing the same type of work he did today, for a lot less money. He started to object, then realised that after a career spent plying his specialist trade, there wasn’t much else he could do that an employer might pay for.

The curse of over specialisation.

This plan will self destruct in 120 seconds

It had taken less than two minutes to demonstrate his vague retirement plans would keep him occupied for less than 5 years. That wouldn’t even see him through to traditional retirement age!

His wife, kids, or potential future grandchildren didn’t make an appearance.

His fitness didn’t rate a mention. Nor his health.

No thought was given to the likely need for aged care, either for his elderly parents or for his future self.

There was no estate planning, to ensure his loved ones were provided for and inheritance tax minimised. The life insurance policy he enjoyed as part of his consultancy package would cease the moment he walked away.

I bought him a large slice of chocolate cake for dessert, as an apology for holding up a mirror to his undercooked post-retirement life plans.

His hopes and dreams were fine, as far as they went.

The problem was all that was missing. The things he had not thought about. The known unknowns.

The problem is the gaps. Image credit: peter_pyw.

Hopes and dreams are fine. The problem is all that is missing. Image credit: peter_pyw.

A plan for a plan

According to the ONS life expectancy calculator, my friend can reasonably expect to live another 35 years.

There is a 1 in 4 chance he’ll see his 94th birthday.

The odds stretch out to roughly a 10% chance he’ll receive a birthday card from the Queen.

Think about that for a second.

Those are better odds than my winning the lottery.

Or captaining the Australian Cricket Team.

Or appearing in the next Star Wars movie.

I wouldn’t bet my house on any of them occurring, but a 1 in 10 chance is merely unlikely as opposed to highly improbable or downright impossible.

A good financial plan should help attain hopes and dreams, as it those that make life worth living.

Nobody remembers or rejoices in the daily minutiae, yet that is how we invest the majority of our time. The time spent buying groceries. Stuck in traffic. Participating in conference calls.

A good financial plan provides a path to achieve a sustainably acceptable standard of living for the whole of a person’s lifetime.

Living large for the first 10 years, then subsisting on food bank donations for the next 40 years is a planning fail.

The adjustment from enjoying a six-figure annual income to surviving on the princely sum of £8,767 provided by the full state pension would be brutal and ego-bruising.

A good financial plan sets realistic expectations.

What is possible?

What is plausible?

What is likely?

What is required to achieve them?

Hopes and dreams differ from one person to the next. So do expectations.

This means there is be no “one size fits all” financial plan that will be appropriate for everyone.

However, there are some common elements that will apply to most people.

  • There is a reasonable chance they live into the triple digits.
  • Misaligned commercial interests burn money.
  • Inheritance tax is largely optional.
  • Churn is expensive.
  • High fees are bad.

As for the rest, the answer is “it depends”.

Choose your own adventure

Depends on what?” challenged my friend, around his mouthful of chocolate cake.

The list of questions I asked him wasn’t exhaustive, but they are all things that should be consciously considered when drawing up or reviewing a financial plan.

I’ve reproduced it below. In most cases, the question is followed by some examples to get you thinking.


  • How do you invest your time today? (in a typical work week, weekend, and holiday)
  • Which of these activities makes you happy? (socialising, family meals, gardening, pets)
  • Which of these activities makes you miserable? (chores, commuting, dinner with in-laws)
  • What activities would you do more of, if given the opportunity? (date nights, reading books)
  • What activities would you skip if you could get away with it? (lawn mowing, car washing)
  • What would your ideal non-holiday week look like? (no alarm, fulfilling, regular exercise)

Hopes and dreams

  • What activities do you find rewarding, and provide self-satisfaction? (teaching, volunteering)
  • What does your dream lifestyle look like? (living near grandkids, endless summer, ski-chalet)
  • What experiences are on your “bucket list”? (concerts, living abroad, slow travel, vacations)
  • Where do you hope to end up? (a country, a town, a street, a specific property)
  • What do you do just for fun? What did you do for fun when you were a kid? (sports, hobbies)
  • What are your short, medium, and long term goals? (get fit, learn the guitar, not die alone)


  • What keeps you awake at night? (fear of running out of money, being alone, kids going feral)
  • How much is “enough”? What is the bare minimum that would be acceptable?
  • What is the backup plan if your family are unable or unwilling to assist you in your dotage?
  • What would you do if you unexpectedly find yourself abandoned, divorced or widowed?
  • What is your attitude towards risk? (play to win, play not to lose, not play at all)


  • How much do you earn? (wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses)
  • How much investment income do you make? (dividends, interest, rent, royalties)
  • How much do you spend? (needs, wants, gifts, fun, taxes, investment expenses)
  • What does it cost to be you today, to maintain your current lifestyle?
  • How much of that cost goes away when you retire? (commuting, dry cleaning, lunches)
  • What additional costs would be incurred to achieve your ideal lifestyle described earlier?
  • How much, above your lifestyle cost, will it cost to tick off those “bucket list” items?
  • What assets do you own? (businesses, collectables, home, investments, patents, vehicles)
  • How much debt do you carry? How will it be paid off? (credit card, student loans, mortgage)


  • Who is financially dependent upon you today? (spouse, children, employees)
  • Who are you likely to become financially responsible for in the future? (elderly parents, grandchildren)
  • Will your parents require financial support in their old age? Are you willing to provide it?
  • Do you want to be able to provide “Bank of Mum and Dad” assistance to your children or grandchildren? (childcare fees, university fees, house deposits)
  • What kind of legacy do you intend to leave? (inheritance, bequests, donations)
  • Who will assume your responsibilities when you are no longer able? (supporting spouse, raising children, babysitting grandchildren, managing business)


  • What are your success criteria for measuring a life well lived? (contentment, contribution to society, family, wealth)
  • Who will care for you if you become ill or disabled? (spouse, children, friends, neighbours)
  • Who would you like to attend your funeral? (old friends, distant relatives, former colleagues)
  • How will you finance aged or nursing care? (reverse mortgage, sell assets, rely on the state)
  • Do you know of any significant health issues that might impact your time horizons?
  • Have you completed a legal will? An enduring power-of-attorney? A Do-Not-Resuscitate order? Registered to be an organ donor?
  • Will your life insurance pay off the mortgage? Will your family lose you and their home?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • What would your eulogy say?

Managing the crisis

If your plan hasn’t considered all these types of questions, then you have some thinking to do. This is unlikely to be a comfortable process.

If you haven’t talked through the answers with your significant other, then you should do so. This will be controversial, as a lot of assumptions and disconnects about the future will be exposed.

If your financial planner isn’t asking these types of questions, regularly, then you should find a better planner.

Too many simply ask for your net worth and signature on a wealth management contract.

Their job isn’t simply to manage your money, nor to provide answers to these questions.

It is to help realise your dreams, and ensure alignment between your finances and your lifestyle.

Ultimately you are the one leading your life.

Setting your direction of travel.

Determining priorities.

Making decisions.

Only you can make the choices necessary to achieve your desired outcome.

The one certainty is that if you haven’t given much thought to where you are headed, then you are unlikely to end up where you hoped to be, nor leading the lifestyle you always dreamed of during the journey.


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  1. GentlemansFamilyFinances 8 June 2019

    1Thought provoking.
    I suspect that many 50 year olds are easily FI. It’s a good time to start expensive hobbies like holiday home collections or premium functioning alcoholism.
    How you choose to live your life is for many and for the young not often a choice – the burden of debt or family or kids or fear or habit or ambition or others keep you grounded.
    Once those go; you are on your own and the things you longed for when in bondage are not what you want when free.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 8 June 2019 — Post author

      Thanks GFF.

      We always have choice, though sometimes only bad ones. We’re only as trapped as we choose to be.

      You’re right about the things we desire, and their practicality, changing over time.

      Sometimes the reality doesn’t live up to the hope.

      Other times the things are unchanging, but our frailties no longer allows us to enjoy them fully. The company too fast, reflexes too slow, hangovers too brutal, and bruises take too long to heal.

  2. Renae 9 June 2019

    A great set of questions.
    I think the one about how you spend your time today is the most telling. For most dreams, there is little stopping us from participating in them in some way today.
    For example, getting fit is a common one, and many prefer it to remain a fantasy than to start the work of bringing it into being. If your friend doesn’t volunteer now, chances are that it is not really an interest of his!
    Sadly (I think) lot of people value alcoholism and television more than anything else, if you go by their actions.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 9 June 2019 — Post author

      Thanks Renae.

      “I think the one about how you spend your time today is the most telling. For most dreams, there is little stopping us from participating in them in some way today.”

      Exactly! I wrote a whole post on this a while ago, it greatly upset the trolls in the financial independence subreddit.

      For mine, a financial plan or life plan starts today and takes you through the remainder of life. If good habits are to form part of that, there is no reason (just excuses) why they too can’t start today.

  3. Caveman 9 June 2019

    One of my favourite quotes is the one about life being what happens while you’re waiting for it to start. A job you find meaningless, few hobbies, a loveless marriage and indifferent offspring is where you can find yourself if you allow your life to drift. Your friend is a lesson for us all.

    I think that your list of questions is great, even if I approach it differently. For me it’s about what a good day looks like if I’m not working, then a good week, a good month, a good year. We end up answering a lot of the same questions but for me it helps to think about what I need to do for each stage.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 9 June 2019 — Post author

      Thanks Caveman, John Lennon was certainly an astute bloke.

      The reason I start with the current state is that it reflects the reality we live in today.

      From that point we can identify the things we need to add or subtract things to get us ever closer to our desired future state, that good day/week/month/year we enjoy experiencing.

      The more we optimise our mix of activities and pursuits, the more frequently we should experience those good days. This also makes the exercise repeatable, as the things we desire evolve over time.

      I’ve found that for many folks starting with the end in mind is a bit like staring at a blank sheet of paper. Intimidating, and too far removed from their current everyday experience to be tangible. They struggle to reverse engineer all those little steps required to take them from their current state towards their desired future state.

      I often see this manifesting itself on FIRE blogs, where a blogger paints themselves an idealistic picture of retirement nirvana, failing to recognise that making minor changes today could address many of their pain points immediately.

  4. The Rhino 9 June 2019

    crikey thats a lot of bullet-points. I’ll have my work cut out getting through them before my mid-life crisis kicks in?

    I’ve been contemplating the blogs for years and I’m in broad agreement that spreadsheet-living is no substitute for real living, w. h. murray had it about right:

    Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

    I also agree that, on balance, iterative lifestyle evolution is more likely to yield the outcomes you want as opposed to big-bang revolution lifestyle design.

    Evolution not revolution, I evolve but I don’t revolve

    as Alan Partridge once so rightly said..

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 9 June 2019 — Post author

      “Australian cricket team”, “crikey”… I see what you did there, Rhino. Very clever.

      Spreadsheets are great for modelling hypothetical “what-if” scenarios, but like battle plans they don’t help much when life is punching us in the face.

      The habits we establish and behaviours we cultivate do, conditioning our automatic responses to take us closer to our goals despite the adverse circumstances.

      It is much like athletes doing the bulk of the winning in training and in their heads ahead of time, then they just need to apply the finishing touches on the track/court/field.

      • weenie 9 June 2019

        A very enjoyable and, as pointed out by @GFF, thought provoking post – quite close to my own heart in fact!

        I already make time for hobbies and doing things which I find interesting and enjoyable – I just want to have more time to do them more often! Retiring will give me that time. One thing I will need to consider is that perhaps too much of a good thing might be, well too much.

        Mid-life crisis? Stories seem to be dominated by men suffering from them.

        Perhaps women don’t do daft things like buy sports cars or motorbikes because they’re too busy dealing with and coping with the inevitable biological change to their bodies that is the menopause?

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 9 June 2019 — Post author

          Thanks weenie.

          You raise an intriguing point about gender differences, one I’m probably not qualified to comment on.

          A question for you: Do young women seek to collect trophies like young guys often do? For example the (often leased) sports cars, vanity addresses, enormous televisions, ridiculously overspecced computers, instagram worthy holidays?

          From what I’ve observed, it is often those same type of trophies the midlife crisis sufferers attempt to (re)capture.

          If women didn’t desire those things earlier in life, then perhaps it isn’t so surprising they don’t seek them out later on?

          • Dr FIRE 9 June 2019

            I’ve always found the mockery of a “midlife crisis” unnecessarily harsh. When you’re young, you’re typically encouraged to try out lots of different things. Why, when you’re 40, are you restricted to only doing what you’ve done before?

            Obviously there’s a balance; if someone goes out and buys a flash new car, then, fine, maybe that does warrant a chuckle. But if someone decides to take up a new hobby, like windsurfing or kayaking (they were the first two “weird sports” that came to mind, but anything else also counts), I don’t think that should be mocked. I think trying new things, especially when you’re older, should be applauded!

            I am curious why you rarely hear of a woman going through a midlife crisis. Is it because they don’t? Is it because there are more men in writing/publishing, and they write about what they know?

            I don’t have many older friends and I’m only 30 myself, so my experience and knowledge in this area is limited to watching my parents!

            • {in·deed·a·bly} 9 June 2019 — Post author

              Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dr FIRE.

              As I said in the post, there was nothing wrong with my friend’s hopes and dreams. The issue was everything that surrounds them, keeping his and his family’s lives funded and functional while he was chasing them. Calling time on a lucrative career early, with lots of debt and no clear path for sustainably financing his future would have been shortsighted, and potentially harmful to not just him.

              I’m all for people experimenting and trying new things. It is how we learn what works, what doesn’t, and identifying things that add value or fulfilment to our lives.

              However I’m less enthusiastic about those who blow up their families in the pursuit of those things.

          • weenie 10 June 2019

            For women, not so much cars or tvs but these days, instagram worthy holidays, designer handbags. Probably.

            I just googled and came across this interesting article.

            So to quote:

            “I say midlife crisis and you probably think of a 40-something bloke who leaves his wife for his secretary, buys a Porsche and acquires a dodgy ponytail, earring, fake tan or all of the above.”

            My initial thoughts exactly! Anyway, I’ve just learnt myself that women apparently tend to experience such a ‘crisis’ earlier (35-44) than men and it manifests in a different way – more to do with introspection, confusion, self-doubt etc.

            As this is mostly internal as opposed to external (ie buying sports cars in men’s cases), it’s unlikely to make the news but it’s happening.

            Well who knows – perhaps I was in the middle of one just as I came across FIRE and that was the ‘change’ in me, although it was a positive one!

            • {in·deed·a·bly} 10 June 2019 — Post author

              Thanks weenie, that makes a lot of sense.

              The thought that the “early retirement” side of the FIRE movement represented a kind of existential crisis has frequently occurred to me. I’ve viewed the timing as more driven by financial realities than age, but perhaps age plays more of a role than I had considered.

              Not all crises are bad, sometimes changing things up to escape a rut is the best thing for us.

          • Dr FIRE 10 June 2019

            Looks like I can’t reply directly to your reply to my first comment. I think we’ve found the limit to your comment section!

            My main point, of not understanding the mockery of a midlife crisis, wasn’t really directed at you, more just a comment on how I perceive the general view of it.

            I fully agree with your summary. It’s great to try new things, but not at the expense of those that depend on you, or anyone else, really!

            • {in·deed·a·bly} 10 June 2019 — Post author

              Thanks Dr FIRE.

              I’ll have to sign you up as my QA tester, I wasn’t aware there was a nesting limit. Testing things to destruction could be an alternative career for you if the doctoring lark doesn’t work out for you!

              The puzzling thing is why everyone responded to Rhino’s “crikey” comment rather than original post?

          • Dr FIRE 10 June 2019

            Funnily enough, I am looking for ideas for a new career!

            I can’t speak for anyone else, but my first comment was meant to be a continuation of yours and Weenie’s discussion about differences between male and female midlife crises. This is perhaps a good example of why it’s unusual for a proper conversation between more than two people to develop on the comments section of a blog, and why a slack channel may prompt better discussion!

  5. SavingNinja 10 June 2019

    Such a powerful post Indeedably. I’ve bookmarked it, the bullet points will come in handy when me and the Mrs are discussing our future in the years to come. Thank you.

  6. liberatedotlife 12 June 2019

    This is a great post.

    The general theme of making sure you’re getting what you want out of life has been on my mind a lot this week.

    I can’t help but feel some sort of tragic loss on behalf of your friend. Wishing away the next 5 years is always a bad sign, but wishing away 5 of the last 30 (45?) of your years on Earth is very sad.

    I know I bang on about it a lot (and indeed, you seem to have come to a similar conclusion) but the entire PF community has it completely wrong in splitting life into two distinct phases:

    1) Servitude. The bit where you do what you must and forget how to live.
    2) Paradise (retirement, preferably ‘early’). The bit where you have the freedom to live but you forgot how to be an individual during (1) so it doesn’t matter.

    In my opinion, everybody reading this needs to work out a way to put living NOW to the top of their priority list. You get one single go at this! By all means, keep the spreadsheets to make sure you don’t end up eating cat food when you’re 60 but please just work out how to start living!

    I’m only 35.

    I’ve had at least half of my working week (every week) available to do as I wish for the past few years and it has been very difficult trying to walk my talk and learn to ‘squeeze the juice out of life’ so to speak (very long post on this to follow soon).

    If I’d have kept my head down until 50, living a life which was not a good fit for my personality, only to retire a millionaire and *then* had to work out how to enjoy it (after 30 years of monotony and following the rules), I don’t think it would have turned out well.

    I suppose in a way I had my mid-life crisis early enough to start trying to ‘self-actualise’ before the rat race ground out my creativity and ability to dream.

    > …you are unlikely to end up where you hoped to be

    I would add to this point that if most of your life is currently consumed by obligations (work, child raising etc) then you probably don’t even *know* where you want to be yet. You don’t just ‘imagine’ a perfect life and then watch it unfold because you’re free of previous obligations.

    You find out by trying stuff and then finding what fits. Who the hell ever planned their retirement and then executed it perfectly with no changes to the plan?

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 12 June 2019 — Post author

      Thanks Andy. You raise some excellent points.

      My friend is at a bit of a cross roads. The “used by” date of his specialist niche is visibly approaching, and he is having trouble mustering the enthusiasm to suit up and re-skill yet again. He’s restless and dissatisfied, but feels trapped by some of his past life choices.

      To his credit, he has recognised that drifting along following the status quo isn’t making him happy, so he has started to think about how to address that. This is brave in its own way, an important first step.

      I think people need to strike a balance between living for today and setting themselves up for tomorrow. Once they reach the point of “enough“, they enjoy a luxury of control over their time allocation decisions that opens up a lot more options than many people realise. Adopting a part time or seasonal working pattern are good examples of that in action.

      • liberatedotlife 12 June 2019

        > …they enjoy a luxury of control over their time allocation decisions

        I think this is the key for me. Make no mistake, I work for a living, but I know that so long as (on average) I bill enough hours every year to pay for now and for retirement, then anything goes.

        > He’s restless and dissatisfied, but feels trapped by some of his past life choices.

        Another tragedy of being human I suppose. You learn to live well by making mistakes but then some of those mistakes lock in limitations that you can’t ever escape.

        If I could be 21 again and know what I know now etc 🙂

  7. The Rhino 12 June 2019

    Well this week has seen another nail in the coffin for the Shawshank approach. It’s looking ever more concrete that it’s a plan that doesn’t survive first contact with the human condition!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 12 June 2019 — Post author

      To give credit where it is due, RIT formed a plan, executed it well, reached his magic number, and isn’t going to die wondering.

      If that doesn’t provide a sound base for future well-informed decisions, I don’t know what will.

  8. The Rhino 12 June 2019

    I think you’re right, credit is due. There are a couple of things in favour.

    1. Hardcore execution of a very challenging work plan. I admire the discipline.

    2. Unflinching honesty. Come what may things have been reported with out any sugar coating. That’s very unusual and to be respected.

    However, it could be argued that.

    1. The plan was half baked and showed a startling lack of introspection on the socio-emotional side

    2. That lost decade+ of a brutal work regime cannot be recouped. That’s prime years gone without a whole lot of fun involved.

    So pros and cons, swings and roundabouts. I genuinely am 50/50 on it. As always, I hope it comes good in the end. Do I wish I had made similar life decisions? Probably not, but not definitely not…

    Either way fascinated to have observed the journey, and the vicarious experience very valuable for which I pass on my thanks. I’ve indirectly learnt a lot

  9. Cashflow Cop 12 June 2019

    Thanks for writing this. The timing could not have been any better as you know. The questions listed will help me as I continue to figure out ‘my purpose’ once FI.

    There is of course family time, hobbies, travel, volunteering, charity work..the list is ever so familiar. My concern is whether I actually ‘need’ my job and secretly enjoy it more than I care to admit.

    Money is the easy bit. I recognise how flippant that can sound for those who have little of it. What I find most difficult is the ‘now what?’ question beyond the typical answers.

    Just like ‘Acting’ roles in Policing where someone is temporarily promoted to see if the job is a good fit for them; I am likely to push for a career break route to test out life beyond FI.

    There is nothing wrong with giving something a try and then changing our minds. So long as the wider implications and the effect on others are thought through in the event we want to reverse course.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 13 June 2019 — Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts Cashflow Cop.

      There is a lot of merit in trying before committing, I think that is a great approach. A bit like adopting an evidence based investing or well-informed decision making.

      The alternative requires taking a giant leap of faith, and relying on luck as much as anything else to ensure the human side of the equation reconciles with the financial. Sometimes that works well, though the amount of discussion around “buyer’s remorse” and divorce are two examples of this not always being the case.

      Personally I save my faith for the sporting teams I support, while using my old rugby coach’s “little steps” approach to get incrementally but (relatively) certainly ever closer to my long term goals.

  10. gettingminted.com 13 June 2019

    Lots of questions to consider there. I think I have the money related ones covered but some of the other ones such as hopes and dreams need more thought. RIT’s experience after achieving FI are instructive here.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 14 June 2019 — Post author

      Thanks for reading GettingMinted.

      My experience has been that the money questions are the simple part, it is a tool. I think many people fall into the trap of viewing money as the goal, rather than an enabler for achieving their goals. That is why these broader questions are so important.

  11. Dr FIRE 14 June 2019

    I’ve been continuing to think about this post over the last few days, and the more I think about it, the more I realise that, surprisingly enough, I think it actually applies to my mum more than anyone else!

    For the past 30 or so years, she has essentially been employed full-time as a mother. Whilst she has had a variety of part-time jobs during that time, her main role has been raising me and my brothers. Now, however, we’re all grown up and have either flown the nest, or are about to (my youngest brother is looking at houses, so will probably have moved out by the end of the year). This means that, after 30 years of a rigidly defined role and identity, she’s suddenly left with a huge amount of time on her hands, and the question of “what next?” She’s only mid-50s, so statistically still has 30+ years left to fill! I think she’s been struggling with this for the last few years, and I think it will only continue until she sits down and thinks about what she wants out of life. Much life some of the people chasing the FIRE dream, who have worked non-stop for a number of years, she hasn’t had time to herself and to develop her own life and hobbies since she started her full-time role (i.e. since I was born!).

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 14 June 2019 — Post author

      The “empty nest” lifestyle change is a huge adjustment.

      Some parents do the victory dance and celebrate their new found freedom, jetting off on “Spend the Kid’s Inheritance” holidays and cruises. They celebrate their achievement of seeing their children venturing off into the world, and look forward to a rich life free from the many compromises involved in parenting.

      Others discover a huge void.

      Their own lives long ago put on hold in favour of their offspring. Suddenly, their position in the world is structurally redundant. Their reason for being removed. This is similar to the challenges faced by the 50 something white collar professional, with dated skills, who gets put out to pasture and unexpectedly discovers they have somehow become unemployable.

      Next there are those who are unhappy with their spouse/partner. Who “stayed together for the kids“, but have now lost the long used excuse to justify remaining in an unsatisfying relationship.

      It is these kinds of unfortunate outcomes that highlight why it is so important for each of us to independently work through our own answers to this uncomfortable list of questions.

      Death of a partner. Divorce. Redundancy. Adverse medical diagnosis. There is a long list of shocks and dislocations that are potentially life changing. Being confronted with this sort of unknown is a daunting experience. This can be made a slightly less scary if we have each done some of the thinking ahead of time.

      I hope your mother is surrounded by a strong support network, and wish her all the best for successfully establishing a community of friends to help her with the pending lifestyle adjustment.

  12. thefirestartercouk 16 June 2019

    Excellent and thought provoking post as always indeedably!

    If we ever get to meet up for coffee and a cake I’ll remember to block out 7 hours of my schedule 🙂

  13. thriftyhustler 17 June 2019

    I just stumbled upon your blog as I was searching for FI blogs. Like everyone else, I feel that there must be something else in this life that the usual routine that everyone does and your list of questions make me think how I live my life. Will definitely be back-reading your other posts.

  14. Ben 10 October 2020

    “Nobody remembers or rejoices in the daily minutiae, yet that is how we invest the majority of our time.”

    I love this point and it occasionally (but not as often as it should) rears it’s head in life planning.

    It’s a feature (not a quirk) of our brains that we remember the big static events and let the minutiae wash over us. But it’s the minutiae that affect our daily mood even if we don’t remember them; the walk to the shops, the school run, the daily meal, a weekend hobby. (It’s also the minutiae that form the foundations of the creeping banality of evil but that’s a different story.)

    We thus over estimate the transformative effects of big events (the trip across China, the big ticket purchase, the discovery of a religion or guru) and fail to factor in their brevity. Changing something you do everyday will have a much bigger effect on your mood and happiness. And it doesn’t have to be big.

    Our stories are full of this. It’s funny how many teenagers read Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus and how few 40-50 years olds revisit it; when faced with the rock on a daily basis can we choose how it is pushed? Most push troubling thoughts aside with the troubles of the now. For many these are present until the end. For a lucky few (but increasing in the modern world), these die down and bigger problems start to be heard. Most face these whispers by creating new troubles that are yet familiar rather than listen to the voices.

    It’s funny that as a species in the C21, humans who have a home and enough to eat have generally opted for “mo money mo problems”. Those with more work longer and harder. Those with less struggle to access the more. Individualism has chipped away at seeing ourselves in a web of others that exists over space and time; we seek new experiences over estate planning or working out how we care for the parents or the grandkids. These was not always so, and again, other cultures do this better, and reap the daily rewards (yet not featuring in the top 15 countries for GDP).

    Some good feedback in the comments on the stereotypes of men vs women. I think a lot does depend on a caregiver role. There are two crunch points: mid-late 30s where biology dictates your child rearing options and 50s where any child rearing options are no longer needed. Cruises, reading groups, career swerves, doubling-down, writing, lodgers, teaching, same-sex affairs; these are some other pony-tail & sports-car alternatives :).

    Or maybe choosing to focus on the minutiae and opt for the happiness of living means that there are fewer troubles to spur tomes of philosophy or literature.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 10 October 2020 — Post author

      Wow Ben, thanks for sharing such an insightful comment!

      I think the age window notion is a great observation, though the age it may occur to us varies by individual. For example, a girl I went to high school with had a baby at 14, and found herself as an “empty nester” before the age of 40. She had trouble coping with the resulting void, her mother/caregiver identity now surplus to requirements, so she had another baby.

      There is a window between school and mortgages/raising children of relative freedom, tethered (mostly) only by our own choices. There is another between when our kids move out and grandkids/old age frailties arrive.

      The former sees us at our physical peak, but (often) lacking the means to follow our dreams.

      The latter sees us with the means, but (often) starting to lack the physical capabilities required to make them realities.

      Your individuals being part of a network comment is also well made. I read somewhere recently that back in the day our sphere of influences was largely defined by our local neighbourhoods/workplaces. Syndicated television, the internet, and social media have combined to replace those spheres with often unattainable ideals. No longer do we aspire to having a slightly nicer house than our immediate neighbours, now we all want the apartment in Friends, the lakeside house in Ozark, or the country estate in Yellowstone. Which sets us up for a lifetime of disappointment when we’re only making local wages!

      Little changes, that are monitored and considered, allow us to course correct and iterate our way towards a happier place. Big bets, “Hail Mary” passes, and “moonshots” create great endings for Hollywood scripts, but part of the attraction is adopting such a risky approach so seldom works in real life.

What say you?

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