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{ in·deed·a·bly }

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

Ridiculous

I loosened my tie as I slumped back against the wall. Suit jacket feeling strange yet familiar. It still fit, an outcome far from certain after gathering dust in the wardrobe for the best part of a year. Business shirt sticking uncomfortably to my back, as a trickle of sweat ran down my spine.

An old rotator cuff injury burned. My body’s equivalent of writing a strongly worded letter to management, protesting about unreasonable levels of tension. Exhaling steadily, I consciously relaxed my rigid shoulders.

I had just completed a job interview, via video conference. A novel experience.

The hiring manager had sat with the sun shining directly behind him. Face deep in shadow. Halo effect surrounding his wispy balding head. Wing-nut ears glowing bright red. Collectively, they created an effect of speaking with the devil. Incongruous, given he came across as a lovely fellow.

But then the devil probably would!

Shortly after the interview commenced, I experienced a curious dissociative feeling.

My conscious mind stepping outside my body, watching events unfold like they were happening to somebody else. Something I have only previously experienced when going into shock. While heavily concussed. Or the time I received a terminal medical diagnosis, incorrectly as it turned out.

My conscious mind sat next to my inner saboteur, eating popcorn and enjoying the show.

It was a somewhat bizarre experience. Watching as I slipped into character and performed the ritual dance that is a job interview.

Observing.

Doing more listening than talking.

Using the information, cues, and tells revealed by the interviewers to ask astute questions.

Attempting to discern what they thought they wanted? What they really needed? What they feared?

In this hire did they seek a colleague? Friend? Mentor? Minion? Saviour? Scapegoat? Wingman?

Acting out the role that they were attempting to cast. Part chameleon. Part mirror. Part muse.

Making friends with the panel. Serving up empathy, encouragement, or humour where appropriate.

Recounting relevant war stories to create the reassuring impression of being a safe pair of hands.

Conjuring the perception I would solve their problems. Fit into their team. Be good company to spend time with.

Basic social engineering. Manipulation 101. All that is required to get a stranger to like you enough to give you what you want.

A date.

A favour.

A job.

An opportunity.

It took less than 30 minutes to secure the role. The hiring manager’s phrasing shifting from neutral terms of “the successful candidate” and “they”, to the more familiar “you”, and finally the collective “we”. The panel’s body language transforming from polite disinterest to learning forward in their chairs as they hung on my every word. Minds already skipping ahead to the great works we would do together.

The interviewers were excited. It was heartening to see. They turned on the hard sell. That salary package outlined before the interview? Entirely negotiable. Benefits. Bonuses. All very generous.

I politely thanked them for taking the time to interview me.

Made suitable noises in response to their entreaties that I accept no other roles before they could get their paperwork together.

Then closed the laptop and slumped back against the wall with my eyes closed.

My inner saboteur gave a slow clap and a mocking “chapeau” to my performance. For that was all it had been: a performance. The interviewers might have been excited, but I wasn’t. Not even a little bit.

After nearly a year out of the workforce, I can honestly say I haven’t missed it in the slightest.

The interviewers had seemed genuine. Offering a great opportunity at a forward-looking firm.

New enough to not have much in the way of baggage. Still consciously crafting their workplace culture. Not yet having capitulated on the quest to align behaviours with values, in favour of playing political games for selfish ends.

Rich enough that money was no object to securing the tools and talent required to get the job done.

My younger son looked up from the bedroom floor, where he and the lockdown kitten had been quietly playing with Lego. Home from school with a head cold and a sore throat. Feeling miserable.

His eyes teared up and his lower lip trembled.

Fearful in the knowledge that any new job would impact him considerably.

A return to the bad old days of breakfast clubs. After school nannies. School holiday programs. Self-absorbed parents running around doing “very important work”. Too busy or too tired to just play.

Business as usual for many kids. An often necessary evil, from which I thought we had escaped.

Three years remain before he will be old enough to make his own way home from school. To look after himself.

Three years seems like an eternity to his impatient young mind. Nearly half a lifetime.

Three years that I know will pass in a blink of an eye. Little boy replaced by independent minded “tweenager”.

I climbed off the bed, the quiet place to which I had attempted to escape for the interview, and gave him a hug.

After wiping tears and snot on my suit coat, his body started to shudder. I thought he was sobbing, more upset than I had appreciated by the thought of my potential return to work. Then I realised he was gazing at our reflection in the full-length mirror and laughing.

Looking back at us was the incongruous sight of me decked out in sartorial splendour. Suit coat. Business shirt. Tie. Barefoot and wearing an old pair of bright green board shorts!

A metaphor of sorts. A glimpse of the internal conflicts that exist beneath the mask. Ridiculous enough that I couldn’t help but laugh too.

Ridiculous

As a boy aged around my son’s age, I had dreamt of one day having a million dollars in total.

Today, I had been offered a job that would pay a quarter of that amount every year.

Granted, the years in between had seen inflation tarnish the lustre of that seven-figure sum.

Once the domain of the affluent.

Today, virtually anyone with a decent workplace pension and London property bought 30 years ago qualifies.

Destined to become the default state, notable only in its absence as a sign that something has gone horribly wrong.

Yet the idea that I would not leap at the prospect would have seemed ridiculous just a few years ago.

Once, the money alone would have made all the compromises and sacrifices seem worthwhile.

Somewhere along the way, my priorities had changed. I had passed the point of “enough”. Not with great fanfare. Nor a ticker-tape parade. It had been observable only in hindsight. A change in perspective rather than a magic number appearing in a brokerage account or on a bank statement.

I no longer wanted to rule the world.

I no longer needed to demonstrate how ambitious, capable, driven, or smart I was.

Nobody cared how far I had travelled. How fast I had climbed. How much I had earned.

In fact, nobody had ever been watching. Those Joneses I competed with didn’t even know I existed.

Money had ceased to provide a meaningful measure of value. More no longer equalled better.

Perhaps it never had?

Maybe I had grown up.

Deciphered the illusion.

Seen through the matrix.

Realised the pursuit of more was a game without end. Each new level playing slightly faster and harder than the one before. The only way to win was to stop playing. To find contentment in what I already had.

Or perhaps my lady wife was correct in her judgement that I had simply given up. Abandoned my ambitions. Surrendered my hopes and dreams. Too afraid of failure to risk trying to succeed.

That character assassination had stung just enough to suggest there may be some truth to it. Not in the way she intended, involving business failure or career risk, but rather a defeat on the home front. In the endless trade-off between playing the roles of husband, parent, provider, and being true to myself. The man behind those many masks, whomever he may really be.

Childhood has a finite window.

Lasting roughly a decade, during which our offspring require our active assistance. Starting with nappy changes and midnight feeds. Evolving into trips to the park, playground, and toy shop. Each activity possessing a used by date. Fun while they last. Before eventually ageing out.

By the time our progeny venture off to high school, their increasing self-reliance and desire for independence gradually replace that constant need for assistance with a sporadic want for attention.

The parent’s role as caregiver, cheerleader, coach, confidant, and disciplinarian remains. Morphing into an on-demand part-time gig, as our child’s ability to amuse and entertain themselves grows.

By the time they come of age, we have instilled within them a unique moral code. A value system. Established a baseline for what is acceptable and what is “normal”. Imprinted a decision-making framework upon their thinking.

A small part coming from what we said.

A larger part informed by what we did. Or failed to do.

Some part because of us.

Some part in spite of us.

The remainder originating from outside influences. Friends. Peers. Teachers. Society. The media.

Beyond that point, what remains is to be their friend. Trust them to make good life decisions. Perhaps bail them out occasionally, only if they really need it. Bank of Mum and Dad. Caring for future grandchildren.

Full circle

My interview with the devil had been in response to a growing awareness of looming change. Financial plans built upon a core set of assumptions, some of which may prove to be unfounded.

Exploring options.

Testing approaches.

Validating priorities.

Recognising the inherent conflict that “peak earning years” coincide with the years of peak parenting.

Appreciating that life swiftly swings from feast to famine. Overstretched and in-demand today. Surplus to requirements and redundant tomorrow. The circle of life, as the old make way for the young.

Learning the hard way that, despite what FIRE seekers proclaim to the contrary, white-collar careers have a finite shelf life. Technical and regulatory knowledge quickly becoming stale, then dangerously outdated. As time passes, the corporate escapee ages. Those resume gaps become chasms.

One of my core skillsets has been rendered obsolete. A generational shift in approach crashing into unfavourable market conditions. Demand for managers of do-ers evaporating, an unaffordable luxury during challenging economic times. Their former duties reallocated to a new breed of hands-on department heads or outsourced entirely. “Do more with less”.

Some of my former industry peers, most of whom are older than I am, sought refuge in the traditional preserves of the dinosaur: the non-profit and government sectors. Where noble intentions and inadequate budgets allow old dogs to continue performing their old tricks for a little while longer.

In a desperate final throw of the dice, a few attempted to monetise their professional networks as commission-based sales consultants. Short-lived roles for which they were ill-equipped to succeed.

Those caught without a seat when the music stopped found themselves unexpectedly retired early.

FIRE proving to be an externally imposed employment status, as opposed to attaining a magic number. “Do more with less”.

My son’s tears and inconvenient illness provided a reminder that my parental responsibilities have a few years left to run.

My exploration of the job market suggests that my professional shelf life will prove to be shorter than that.

The big salary offer makes for a good story, but glosses over the lived realities of being culled and rejected at the application stage more times than my fragile ego would care to admit. Fortunate to have the option, something for which my former colleagues would trade places in a heartbeat.

My preferred semi-retired seasonal working pattern proving to be a boom time luxury with long-tail consequences.

Which raises what should be a simple opportunity cost question.

Do a deal with the devil, trading those three remaining years of my younger son’s childhood for a salary and the opportunity to reskill.

The grown-up choice.

Or wear some rose coloured glasses to go with my green board shorts. Trust that everything will work out ok in the end, like a Hollywood movie. Take a leap of faith and stay the course.

The idealist choice.

Not my natural state.

Nor is hope a sound basis for a financial plan.

Airlines tell us to see to our own well-being before attempting to help others. That cognitive dissonance I experienced during the interview suggests my conscious mind rejects the premise that I face a simple binary choice.

A third way must exist. I just haven’t been smart enough to figure it out. Yet.


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34 Comments

  1. David Andrews 31 May 2021

    “Too afraid of failure to risk trying to succeed.”

    I suspect that rather depends on what the definition of success is. Some aspire to the large house full of things and the Tesla or similar prestige car on the driveway.

    I get to eat family meals each day, read, play with my son and put him to bed each night. I freely admit to being a failure in many aspects of my life but my son will be the best achievement of my life.

    £250k per annum sounds nice but the taxes would and personal sacrifices would outweigh the financial benefits. Of course, you mileage may vary.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 31 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks David.

      Perspective is a wonderful thing, we all have different outlooks on things like success. We share similar views on this particular topic, you and I.

      Dollars not Pounds, still a good number, but your observations about the tradeoffs involved are well made either way.

      • David Andrews 7 June 2021

        I’m a permanent employee and my partner is a contractor so we face different challenges and rewards. Last week was half term and I took our son away for a few days. Flying a kite, building sand castles, watching him get more confident talking to new people and generally learning how life works was more rewarding than any realistic amount of money. My partner took 1 day off ( day’s off are very expensive for contractors ) and sent our son to a kids club for another day.

        I’m certain my peak earning years are behind me but that’s fine and I’ve planned for it. My motivation to remain fully employed is no longer terribly strong either.

        I delivered my tenant with a section 13 rent rise notice and he went nuts, which was a little awkward as he’s a work colleague. A lively back and forth ensued and I think I’ve managed to deescalate the situation. It transpires he definitely knows he’s on a significant discount but doesn’t really want to pay anymore, even though the new rate is still £150 a month lower then the market rate. Pointing him at the rightmove results for his budget was rather a reality check.

        Anyway, he’s contemplating moving out which is fine by me as I’ll be able to take possession quicker than the 4 months notice I’d normally have to give. The consent to let for the property is ending soon. With additional financing charges, EICR and gas safety etc it was no longer economic at the old rate.

        Whilst I’ll lose on rent and potentially have additional costs for keeping it empty I’ll probably break even if I draw down some equity form the fully offset mortgage and invest it instead.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 7 June 2021 — Post author

          Thanks David, sounds like you had a fun school holiday with your son.

          Obviously everyone’s financial circumstances and job roles are different, but freelancing doesn’t have to be that way. It can also provide a very flexible arrangement, allowing more time off than a typical permanent job for example, though as you point out each day away has a price.

          Good luck navigating the landlording adventures, those rent rise conversations are never much fun.

          • ex-pat Scot 12 June 2021

            It’s a mindset thing with contracting.
            Every day not worked as a direct opportunity cost, whereas that isnt the case for perms.
            I’ve worked in both styles and the only real disadvantage I felt for contracting was that sense of guilt or lost income for each day not worked. My working arrangement was that the work was not guaranteed, and I was always fearful that there would be periods of bench time, but in practice that never materialised.
            It does rather depend on your broader mindset and circumstances though. I was (and am) an income maximiser, and sole earner for the family, whereas my peers were more sanguine about part time work, modest earning requirements and prioritising their own time off.

            • {in·deed·a·bly} 12 June 2021 — Post author

              Thanks ex-pat Scot, I agree with your observation about broader mindset and circumstance.

              For what it is worth, my experience has been that the behaviours of perpetual chasing billable of hours tend to be linked to living at the lower end of the financial maturity curve. As freelancers get their financial acts together, establishing a safety net and diversifying their income streams, they tended to relax away from the “always be billing” posture present in many newly minted contractors.

              Not everyone gets there of course, but one of the few remaining benefits of freelancing is the flexibility it offers, but only to those who can afford to avail themselves of it. Those living pay cheque to pay cheque, hand to mouth, cannot.

  2. The Bludger 31 May 2021

    Great observations, excellent post.

    The third way?

    Semi Retirement – perhaps? You no longer need the status nor the massive pay check. How about working part-time that works for the family and ideally low stress?

    Career change? Could be another – a few years studying and then work when your youngest starts high-school. Keeps your skills up?

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 31 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Bludger, some helpful ideas there.

      A third way might be an asynchronous remote working job. I found a charity looking for something along those lines, 4 days remote, 4 hours of meetings in the middle of the working day on the 5th. Capped 35 hours per week. Pay was not great, but reasonable for the ask. Unfortunately they are very indecisive, and it apparently takes them an eternity to release any money.

      Semi-retirement is how I would describe what I have been doing the last five years or so. Part time is not a viable option for my skillset, so seasonal project based work has been the next best thing. However, recent tax changes have made that business model potentially risky, and therefore undesirable, for many of my former clients. They now opt instead to put the projects out to larger consultancies on a fixed price delivery model, who can afford to spread the delivery risk out across multiple projects and clients. With no control over a client’s prioritisation or resource allocation decisions, this isn’t a viable model for a small operator with only a couple of projects on the go at any given time.

      Career change is certainly another option.

      • The Bludger 1 June 2021

        I was about to suggest volunteering. I personally always found value in getting paid. I.e. your time is valued.

        After seeing your comment below about ‘ego’. Can I suggest perhaps a 4th way? Taking a philosophical, spiritual or religious path. You seem to be very interested in philosophy, perhaps go to uni or look into a religion to find wisdom, to make sense of your journey and why you are having this dilemma.

        I’ve found a great deal of value in difficult times attending meditation classes.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 June 2021 — Post author

          Thanks again Bludger.

          I must confess I’m quite content “bludging” myself. The exploration of job opportunities wasn’t about a thirst for meaning or making a contribution to society, but rather how I make ends meet if my marriage blows up and I lose half the income producing investments that currently support the semi-retired lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.

          Perhaps I’m a closed minded cynic, but I’m not a big believer in higher powers, purpose, or legacies. I think people are little different to ants or cattle. They are born. Lead a largely random existence, dominated by the struggle to survive. Then they die. Two generations later, we are (almost all) forgotten, little more than names on tomb stones. We tell ourselves stories to make that struggle more palatable, yet the struggle remains.

          One of the great things about democratic societies is we are each (relatively) free to believe whatever we choose. Providing those beliefs don’t hurt anyone else, I encourage people do whatever makes them happy.

          In my case, my yearning for value is driven more by annoyance at having my time wasted. If I’m brutally honest, most of the client projects I’ve worked on over the years were ill-conceived and delivered underwhelming results. No matter how awesome the techie parts were (and they often were great), they will still ultimately be judged a failure if they were tasked with solving the wrong problem. Lucrative perhaps, but of limited value.

          Apologies, I’ve ventured off into the weeds there. Time to go outside!

  3. John Smith 31 May 2021

    Regarding dealing with the man / firm / devil, “Vanity is definitely my favorite sin”, from “The Devil’s Advocate” movie 🙂

  4. weenie 31 May 2021

    Hi indeedably

    I don’t think many would have been able to do what you have done, ie managed to put a melancholy spin on securing a job paying a quarter of a million but as we know the story, it’s obvious there are going to be very mixed feelings, regardless of the job and the pay.

    Hope this goes some ways towards healing things within your family.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 31 May 2021 — Post author

      Lol, thanks weenie.

      The whole FIRE caper should come with a giant health warning! It messes with our heads, turning our traditional responses to ego stroking and reward upside down.

      The job was an amazing opportunity for the right person at the right stage in their lives.

      In my case it appeared as an unexpected prize, after striking out on almost all the other options I had investigated. Should things go sideways at home, it may provide some structure and financial liquidity as I adjust to a new normal. If not, then it would be unnecessary.

      Therein lies the dilemma, an uncomfortable maybe rather than a definite yes.

      Which I realise makes me seem ungrateful for an opportunity that many would happily seize with both hands and zero hesitation.

  5. Steveark 31 May 2021

    I never felt the pressure of missing my three kids’ childhoods. My wife was a stay at home mom and I had lots of play time with the kids outside of my work hours. Plus work was a lot of fun. It’s not like you lose your kids when they grow up, in fact in a normal functional family they become great adult friends, it’s an even better relationship than the parent/child one in some ways, because you are peers and no longer responsible for their choices.

  6. Jo 31 May 2021

    Well, what a pickle….

    You don’t specify your dollars (memories appearing from nowhere of the maths teacher in my first year of secondary school: “you MUST ALWAYS define your units, girls”. Marvellous woman, darn, I’ve forgotten her name) or say whether the salary would be a fair price for your skills.

    Assuming the price is right, presumably you don’t have to commit to bailing out on your son’s entire remaining childhood? You could always just take the job, get on with updating your skills, see how things pan out on the home front, then reassess at a suitable point?

    Jo

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 31 May 2021 — Post author

      Zimbabwean? 😉 A bit of mystery keeps things interesting, Jo!

      The money is less than I made while running my business, but far more than those unfortunate former colleagues earn after unexpectedly finding themselves to be professionally extinct.

      As for commitment, you’re absolutely correct. No role ever has more security or commitment than its notice period, and sometimes not even that long!

  7. Fan of Indeedably 31 May 2021

    You capture the mindset and choices facing so many of us, the “FIREd,” so well! How to make such a decision, where it is the “best out of a good bunch,” but the choice still has a lot of implications for us and our families? Rather than being in the “horns of a dilemma” where each choice is bad.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 31 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks mysterious “fan”, for both the kind words and the seldom acknowledged truth that the dilemmas facing the FIREfolk are often great problems to have.

  8. Malcolm 31 May 2021

    An interesting post
    Your set up is so far from the “typical “ as to be unique to you
    Very difficult to comment but there are some red lines
    Being with your child nearly full time before school age is a real benefit to him and you
    Can you as or if you return to work do it part time and from home ?
    This again is of great benefit to him and you
    As he ages believe me more input from you will be required not less
    Music Swimming and all the other extra curricular activities that go to make a successful child requiring time transport etc
    You get a break when he goes to college-not till then!
    A successful child is a delight-a failed child will haunt you all your life
    xxd09

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 June 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Malcolm.

      We’re all unique special snowflakes, our mother’s told us so! 😉

      You have a valid point, venturing off the standard narrative of life poses some unusual challenges. Not least of which is weighing up options where most of us see no choice at all. This requires the occasional sanity check, am I hung up on a trivial and obscure edge case, or does my lifestyle afford me with a luxury of choice that others do not possess? Having no choice is a much simpler decision making path!

      You make an excellent point about failed children.

  9. Impersonal Finances 31 May 2021

    Monetize Indeedably? I don’t mind an occasional Google Ad sidebar or organic Amazon link to a product. That should get you to that $2.50 number in a few months. You did say $2.50, right?

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 June 2021 — Post author

      You could be on to something there Impersonal Finances! Why didn’t I think of this earlier?

      Write a blog about how to make money starting a blog about how to make money. Banner ads. Pop ups. Pop overs. Pop unders. Content written to target SEO robots, not people. Affiliate referral links. Sponsored advertorials. Tracking cookies. Invisible pixels. Sell to my list. Come to think of it, sell my list.

      The punters will be drawn in like a swarm of mosquitos to a sunbathing office worker during lunch break.

      Success is inevitable. Failure could only be the result of my not believing hard enough, meditating before breakfast, taking up power lifting, reciting positive affirmations throughout the day, or not enrolling in the exclusive time limited platinum advanced mastermind class where successful bloggers with nothing better to do hang out waiting to share their secrets with newcomers in return for a nominal fee.

      Perhaps my first post could be: HOW TO MAKE 💵 MiLlIoNs 💵 IN 5 4 3 **EASY** STEPS GETTING AN IOT BOTNET ARMY TO CLICK ON YOUR DISPLAY ADS!!!

      In just a few short months that $2.50 could be mine. I could buy… a single happy meal.

      • nobody 1 June 2021

        Ouch! KO blow. It proves the power of a tinycore linux OS (runs in RAM from USB, always virgin start-up) with “dillo web-browser” for paranioc no-scripts, no-cache session.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 June 2021 — Post author

          Apologies “nobody“, I must confess I don’t know what some of those words mean.

          I suspect you’ve described the method via which just about every internet enabled CCTV camera, clock radio, and “smart” device could be mobilised to run amok. All that is required is a difficult to patch operating system and sufficient motivation.

          • nobody 1 June 2021

            Are we still at chapter “ridiculous” things? Then You are right that adds /pop-up/down, tracking etc are useless for bloggers trying to monetize them.

            I just gave one sample about how to grab a free / ready-made nomad linux “distribution” which starts from write-protected USB stick (in the past was CDrom), that runs virgin from <100 MB RAM memory (no HDD storage disk need), and load a tiny web-browser (ex: named dillo) etc. So on reboot everything (viruses, cookie) is lost. Next reboot (in 5 seconds) is virgin again, etc.

            Of course, for layman, bloat M$win## and fat Chrome (both spy-addicted) with adds-on /extensions can also be used for "privacy".

  10. Fire And Wide 1 June 2021

    Hey Indeedably.

    Hmm….one week a post with marriage survival statistics…the next week a job interview….

    Funny isn’t it ( in the traditional ‘British’ sense of actually not funny at all… ) how we would all have loved to been offered that kind of opportunity when starting out. Now, when you don’t really want it – it’s yours for the taking.

    I get the whole ‘take it whilst you still can’ gig. I don’t get the sense you need or want the ego boost/self-esteem kick many go for those roles for.

    So I’m curious where you see it playing out if you take it. A temporary white flag in the domestic battle sure. +1 for you and the kids for a while on peace, -1 on less time together.

    But presumably this move would be swiftly be followed by the ‘McMansion/mortgage/everything else’ conversation/battle? As in it’s not just a job – it’s step on a whole path – one you and your wife sound pretty divided on unfortunately…

    As you know, I reached ‘enough’ a while back and it’s impossible to not change as a result.

    Money needs a purpose. Tackle the root of the problem, not the symptom?

    But mostly – either way – hope it works out how you want it to. If you know what that is…!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 June 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Michelle.

      I tend to write about whatever thoughts are in my head. My post narrative isn’t entirely linear. Different threads might run concurrently, as is the case with this one and the marriage stats numbers post the other day. Or I may tell stories out of chronological order, as writing helps me to do the thinking on whatever topic I happen to be pondering in a structured way.

      Which is all a long winded way of saying { in·deed·a·bly } probably shouldn’t be read as a chapter book or soap opera, with a new thrilling instalment each week. Rather it more closely resembles (to me at least) a collection of short stories, some of which contain recurring characters or longer running story arcs. Unfortunately that means there is unlikely to be a neat conclusion or satisfying ending, as even I don’t know where the journey will take me.

      The family situation has a number of interrelated threads.

      I want my kids to enjoy their childhoods, and to be there as they do so. A finite period of time that cannot be got back once it has passed. High school is a different proposition to primary school in terms of the level of support and involvement that is required or welcome, at least that has been my lived experience with the elder boy so far.

      That has driven some of my lifestyle choices and prioritisation decisions, including opting out of the fulltime workforce so I could be around more. Happily, I can report I have a much stronger relationship with my kids than either of my parents ever had with me or my brother, or their parents with them. Whether that is correlation, causation, or just happenstance is anybody’s guess!

      That in turn leads to some compromises, probably more than either myself or my lady wife would tolerate in a workplace, friendship group, or were the kids not a factor. Which is a problem, given our relationship has pretty much run its course.

      The House Wars saga is just one instance of that, and you correctly surmise would immediately escalate with a regular salary.

      It’s all a bit like playing a game of chess, always having to think several moves ahead. The difference is that life doesn’t conclude with the end of the game, but has 40+ years left to run afterwards. Which isn’t what the fairy stories described in their happily ever after endings!

      • Fire And Wide 1 June 2021

        Ha, yeah – it’s because I know you randomly blog that I thought the order was funny. Sad sense of humour I have eh.

        Yeah, I’m a total sucker for a happy ending but a big believer in making it happen rather than waiting for the proverbial fairy godmother or whatever magic deity takes your particular fancy 🤣

        These kind of choices and where they may or may not go is pretty much exactly why nobody makes films beyond those fireworks moments….! Still – having choices is way better than not at least.

  11. Q-FI 1 June 2021

    Another solid post Indeedably.

    I particularly enjoyed your interview summation. I found myself grinning and nodding along. It made me reminisce about my last one with a wily chuckle.

    I also find myself relating to your point in life although our situations are very different. I’ve never tasted the semi-retirement life, but money wasn’t what it once was to me. Seeking more simplicity and time are my new callings. It took me a while to realize I will never stop changing and need to learn to enjoy the ride so to speak.

    I don’t have children but hope to begin fostering at the end of this year. Hearing your take on balancing careers with parenting are always good insights for me to ponder.

    I also share your view that white collar skills have a shelf life. I’ve always found the FIRE mantra of “just leave now, you can always go back to your job,” a little naïve. At least in my line of work – M&A – if you’re out of the market or deals for a year then you’re pretty dated and good luck.

    But to each their own.

    Good reflection piece.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 June 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Q-FI.

      I hope your fostering plans prove to be a rewarding experience. Opening your home up to kids in need of one is an amazingly generous thing to do, kudos to you both.

      It took me a while to realize I will never stop changing and need to learn to enjoy the ride

      Brilliantly articulated. That is the biggest danger I see amongst the younger/lean-FIRE end of the FIRE movement, nobody really knows at 25 what they’ll want out of life at 45 or 65. Most of the 45 year olds I’ve met still don’t know!

      Hitting eject on the rat race involves a conscious choice to actively reduce potential future career options, including earnings potential. In many professions, your M&A example is an excellent case study, there is simply no viable way back once networks, deal flow, and currency of knowledge have all become stagnant or dated. Just look at how rare and difficult it is for stay at home mothers to climb back on the career ladder after an extended innings raising young children.

      Living like a backpacker is fun for a while, but few would choose to lock themselves into that being their only lifestyle option forever.

  12. ryangibsonclever 2 June 2021

    Another great post.

    For me this is an incredibly difficult decision. In one instance it’s an opportunity which sounds exciting and something to get your teeth into. The skills set transition is of course an added bonus away from the salary.

    Do you know the demands of the job? Will it be extended working hours outside of the traditional 9-5 norm? These are the questions which I ponder.

    I would also question as Michelle did earlier as to where this stops? Would this start with the job and then your lady Wife leaves her current employment for more fulfilling work, followed by the expensive house. Where does this leave you if you suddenly decide this job is not for you?

    I’ve also read some of your comments above re early retirees and career position. I think you are slightly different to this in terms of you’ve done so much and achieved so much.

    Lastly, has the decision been made? Have you discussed this with your Wife or would that open another can of worms?

    I am eagerly anticipating the outcome of this.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 2 June 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Ryan.

      The demands of the role would be non-trivial. It is a “big” job, the salary would need to be earned.

      I’m not so different to the early retirees observation I made above.

      25 years ago I would have mocked the suggestion I would one day get married and have kids.

      6 years ago, I would have laughed at the suggestion I might semi-retire.

      2 years ago, I would have argued I could walk into any job I chose without much difficulty.

      The future has a way of playing out in often unexpected ways. Our hopes, dreams, desires, and realities ever evolving.

      I believe financial independence is about having the luxury of choice. My testing the job market was a way of exploring my options, validating some of those beliefs.

      I hadn’t expected to discover the world had changed so quickly on the skills front. Nor had I fully anticipated the impact that tax changes would have on client behaviours, and by extension the viability of my business.

      Which doesn’t mean accepting the offer (or any offer) is the right choice. That said, in having tested my marketability and otherwise been found wanting, it can’t help but inform some of those future decisions, as the range of potential choices has narrowed.

      Have things really changed? Or was I just blissfully ignorant? Probably a bit of both.

What say you?

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