Balance is a wonderful thing.
FI journey: Staging a series of downshifts
As Mr. HG and I continue on our FI journey, there are a series of downshifts that we are executing.
Downshift #1: Mrs. HG: Moving from middle manager 60 hour/week grind to 40 hour meaningful, direct contributor role DONE
Downshift #2: Mrs. HG: Moving from a full time, 40 hours per week position to a part time, benefitted position (essentially working for health benefits and golden handcuffs-retirement age) Estimate 2021
Downshift #3: Mr. HG discontinuing routinely scheduled work and FIRE Estimate 2022
Downshift #4: Mrs. HG discontinuing routinely scheduled work and FIRE Estimate 2026
Details behind our decisions
We discovered the concept of FI during a period of time where I was feeling dissatisfied and burned out in my work. Initially, I became obsessed at pushing for the FI finish line to simply be done with the daily grind. However, FI was still at least 3-5 years away. The thought of remaining in my middle manager role at work became untenable. There were a series of organizational changes that happened with my manager role. I was no longer excited about what I was doing, and the evening meetings + delegated mundane tasks + email burden had tripled as a result of the restructure. It was time to make a change.
I began exploring other options. I was interested in downshifting (demoting) from my middle management role to a direct contributor role in my area of expertise as an occupational therapist. Yes, this would result in a considerable wage decrease, but it would also result in less hours at the office (40 instead of average of 60!). I interviewed at several other companies, and received a 2 competitive offers, and 1 below market offer. However, I really wanted to remain with my current organization, and, as it turned out, a perfect opportunity opened up internally.
There are many reasons I wanted to remain with my current organization:
- Golden handcuffs
- Competitive pay
- Amazing health benefits
- Generous retirement benefits (provided I can hold out to age 55 – 8.5 more years)
- Lovely coworkers
And the clincher: I believe in the mission and the vision of the organization I work for. I did not love the role that I was in, but I do feel that overall the organization is on the right path for making a difference for many people.
In February of 2018, I completed downshift #1. I moved from my middle manager role into a direct contributor role as a staff occupational therapist in one of our outpatient hand therapy clinics. I have now been in my new role for 6 months, and I couldn’t be happier. I feel like I am making a difference. I feel appreciated by my patients. I feel appreciated by my coworkers. And when I am away from the office, I am able to fully disconnect. Evenings, weekends, and vacations are back to being my own. I work a 4×10 schedule with a 3 day weekend. It is a pleasure to enjoy what I am doing in my daily role. It has been a while since I have felt this level of contentment and joy with my work.
In good times, happiness, and health.