I used to think that One More Year syndrome was due to people not really wanting to retire or not having anything to retire to. Lately, I totally understand why people would get caught in the One More Year cycle. It’s not about having enough money, it’s more about the psychological traps that come along with leaving a comfortable work environment and lifestyle, to venture into the unknown. A situation that’s new, possibly uncomfortable, possibly more stressful, and definitely more challenging than the known present situation. It makes it hard to envision the potentially stressful or uncomfortable retirement scenario as a “good” scenario. Especially when you’re like me and you really like your job and corporation (minus the rare bizarro meeting).
“Give me one good reason why I should never make a change?”
Well, I have lots of reasons why I should make changes, but it’s the big 3 that I keep reminding myself about and that’s the wife and kids.
There are a lot of things I can focus on that could go wrong with our plan and I have. Working on solutions and getting comfortable with the level of risk associated with those uncertainties is what I have to come to accept. I think Abe Lincoln said it better than I can.
“Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.”
Just One More Year…
Sure, I could stay working “One More Year” after our projected FFLC date be even more wealthy and “secure” in our plan. Plus, I’d know what was going on with healthcare, and we could see how the market is playing out – surely it would have corrected by then right? If I worked until 2020 instead of 2019, I could potentially add another $50k +/- to my work retirement accounts, and ~$100k into our pre-60 accounts. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and we get to keep living comfortably in our current lifestyle.
If I kept that going for 3 more years that’s close to $450k I could pad our accounts with. Sure I’d retire in 2022 instead of 2019, but that’s a lot of savings… I understand why “One More Year” is so enticing… You just keep doing what you’re comfortable with and don’t step outside of that box.
I was actually discussing this with a co-worker yesterday.
Me: “You know with our incentives paying out in February, and the bonus hitting in April, I could just hang on for another 10 months and get another incentive payout. Then I’m only 2 months from the bonus…”
Him: “And that’s exactly why they give out “long term incentives”. Mainly, because it’s so hard to walk away from “free money”.”
It’s so easy to just keep doing what you’re used to. To paraphrase a popular quote, Nothing good ever came from doing things the easy way.
You can get yourself all worked up over the “what if” scenarios. What if healthcare goes to crap and we have to get insurance on the open market? What if the stock market tanks 6 months after we quit our jobs? What if we “retire” and it sucks? What if we didn’t account for every worst case scenario (yes multiple worst cases) and our plan fails?
I have to remind myself that I can’t keep saying my life would be better “if” or worse “if” different scenarios play out. I have to remember my life can be different “because”. “Because” I made a choice to save and give myself freedom before I’m 65. “Because” I made a choice that this lifestyle change seems to be a better fit for me than the one I’m currently in.
Instead of frittering away another few years of my life at the office in exchange for more money, I can have that time to spend with the family. I don’t really know what that value is, or if you can even put a price on that. I do know it sucked the last few Sunday nights when I was saying goodnight to my son, and said “I’ll see you in the morning, no wait, I’ll see you in the afternoon. I’ve got to work tomorrow.” Boo…
Real Worst Case Scenario
In the end, what is the value of money over freedom? Missing time spent with the family isn’t going to be worth the money I’d be able to potentially save, especially at this stage of our journey. The real worst case scenario is pushing back my FFLC date another 1-3 years and then dying unexpectedly. Car wreck, terminal disease, random work shooting (no one expects those), whatever the cause it would suck. Especially if it was slowly enough I got to ruminate about choosing work over freedom before I shed my mortal coil. eesh…
We’re Sticking With The Plan
What we’ve been planning for these last 5-6 years is a Lifestyle Change. We’ve made some good improvements to our Lifestyle already, but we’re wanting more than that. So, for better or worse, we’re committed to moving ahead with our Lifestyle Change. We’re convinced we can figure out how to make it work regardless of what scenario life throws at us.
It might not be the most psychologically comfortable thing to do, and we may get anxious along the way, but we’re moving ahead with the plan. That plan says 2019 is our timetable to move away from Houston.
I counted it up and realized I have about 21 months of work remaining. Woohoo! We’re also initiating construction on the house in Canyon Lake. Double woohoo!
Now it’s back to sitting and waiting. Well, there’s actually a LOT more work to be done between now and then and I only have 21 months to get it done in. Yipe!
Have you experienced One More Year syndrome or something similar that you’ve been involved with?
I’d love to know I’m not the only one.