Post FI Anxiety
Post Financial Independence Anxiety
Many of us feel anxiety on the path to financial independence. These worries mostly stem from the fidelity of our quest. Will we truly make it? How long will it take? How can we escape the daily grind of the indentured servitude that we call the W2 asset class? The idea of post FI anxiety rarely occurs to us.
There is the general belief that once we hit our number, all fears will fade. The destination, whether it be lean FI or Fat FI, is nirvana. The pieces of our life will magically merge into place once we no longer have to toil uselessly for the man.
That’s exactly what I thought at the beginning of this journey. But reality, it turns out, is a little more complicated. The freedom of FI is awe-inspiring. The ability to steer the ship and control destiny may evoke speechlessness.
There are , however, some pitfalls that can cause post FI anxiety.
Sequence of Returns Anxiety
We did the hard work. We calculated 25X our yearly expenses and planned to safely withdraw four percent inflation adjusted every year. Our plan is bulletproof.
We all have heard of the risks of a financial downturn at the beginning of early retirement. Poor returns at the start of the FIRE journey is the top reason retirees run out of money. While theoretically the Trinity study and work by such luminaries as Michael Kitces and Big ERN may be comforting, there are no guarantees that the market will smile on our carefully made calculations.
There is no financial plan without risk. No investing strategy that is bulletproof. Many try to mitigate these risks by settling on a lower safe withdrawal rate or maintaining a side hustle to generate extra income. But the fact remains, none of us owns a crystal ball. Financial instruments are not sure things.
Coincidentally, I’ve often wondered if we could create sequence of returns insurance. Could a big enough pool of financially independent people insure each other for the first five years of retirement?
A greater mind than mine will have to figure this out.
Social Media Anxiety
Many of us flock to social media post financial independence. We write blogs. We read each others ideas and progress. The community we build helps both allay post FI anxiety and create strong bonds. But there is also a dark side.
As I work to build the following for my blog, I feel a certain amount of stress to be absolutely everywhere at once. I find myself jumping to read every other blogger’s new post and catch every new podcast. While I love the content, I have recently found my heart racing at the idea that I’m not fast enough. Did I forget to leave a comment over there, did I not retweet over here.
The innate joy of reading new blog posts has lessened. I find myself in too much of a hurry.
And then there is that feeling of missing out. When you read of all these fascinating hustles, side hustles, email courses, and investing strategies… you start to question yourself.
Hey, why aren’t I doing that?
There is a propensity, no matter how successful you are, to question why all these people are doing such cool things, and you are sitting around twiddling your thumbs.
Now, of course, you didn’t reach financial independence by doing nothing. You (and hopefully me too!) probably have several unique ingredients that make your story particularly delicious.
It just doesn’t always feel that way.
For better or worse, we derive a certain sense of relevance and identity from our jobs. When asked to describe ourselves, often our vocation springs to mind first.
We are our jobs.
So what happens when we choose to FIRE early? Do we become someone different? In what new ways do we then define ourselves?
The search for purpose is a particularly difficult cause of post FI anxiety.
For many, the answer is a new hobby or business venture.
My solution was to start this blog.
How do you deal with post FI anxiety?