FI Journey – A series of downshifts

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
  • Pension
  • 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.