Autopilot Fail

I’ve been on autopilot for some time now.  At first, it seemed like a good idea to continue on my current path of saving several years of expenses each year, while focusing on living my life in the moment.  Now I realize that I need a pinch in the arm from time to time to stay on target.  It’s difficult to focus on a goal so far in the future while enjoying the present moment.  Some people are so focused on that future goal (i.e., financial independence), that they miss out on life.  Others get caught up in the moment and let their goal slip away from them.

In trying to maintain this delicate balance, I momentarily lost sight of the long term goal.  There were several factors at play.  First, my work took me to some high rolling locations with high rolling partners.  I was surrounded by people who enjoyed only the best.  From $500 bottles of wine at restaurants to suites at world-class hotels, I enjoyed it all for two weeks.  Bit by bit, I was lured to the glitz of the lifestyle.  I didn’t even notice the change, until I found myself faced with the unusual urge to buy things when I returned.

Compounding this change of mind, I was also the subject of political tug of war back at the office.  For reasons I won’t state here, the partners were keen on making sure I felt like I was valued by the firm, so I was lavished with praise and promise of riches (i.e., partnership).  I swear I heard it from five partners in a week, some of whom dropped by more than once to tell me that they were my strongest advocate and that my career about to shine.  All of it started going to my head.  Deep down, I still know that the career path I’m on is not a healthy one.  But I started thinking more seriously about working at my job longer and striving for more money, power, success.  I was getting indoctrinated.  They used the only carrot they had and it was working.

Finally, some of my friends bought very expensive property.  I was actually impressed when I saw the place, but cringed when I heard the price.  But the very next week, I saw a similarly priced listing that seemed like a “steal” and I almost got sucked in.  That was the wake-up call.  Buying that place would have destroyed my current financial plan.  I don’t even have $400K liquid yet, and I was looking at spending three times that.  Holy cow.

I’ve slowly been regaining my senses.  I’m going to continue on my career path for now, but only for the right reasons — its the fastest path to gain my freedom.

7 thoughts on “Autopilot Fail

  1. Hello
    I would love to discuss in private as I’m suffering with you. I understand. I’m a partner. I’m now on the big dollar. Once you’re on it you can’t leave in a hurry. Trick is to not expand lifestyle. Remain true to your roots. Work out how much cash you need to be FI and work till you get there. 5 years more in the salt mines beats 30 earning fuck all in my view. Buy that house you can retire in. Squirrel away that cash. Work to your goals, then have the balls to exit when you are there. But beware. The goal posts keep shifting.

  2. Very few people start on the right track and stick to it through to the end. Everyone on a diet has some bad days, or weeks. Those times are a kick in the pants, and we end up the better for it.

  3. Thanks for the post. I enjoy reading your blog. As a second year biglawyer, I am working towards the same goal as you. I can’t imagine doing this job for five more years, let alone ten or fifteen. Anyway, just wanted to say keep up the good work, it really is an inspiration.

  4. Thanks for the update. My goal post seems to be shifting also. I recently turned in my resignation at my current medical practice, effective June 30th, 2012. I had set a goal of $1M net worth and reached it, and now I have 780K invested. But there is a bit of second-guessing on my part, whether this is enough, even though my yearly expenses have been 20K/yr for the last 3 yrs. Now wondering if I should take on a part-time job.
    Do you have any update on your investments? My cash v. stock allocation is almost the opposite of yours. My values have gone up with the stock market, but it does not feel secure. My worry is when will it collapse back down. What will you do with all your cash?

    • I’m still heavily in cash. You can look at my NetworthIQ profile on the right for details. I wish I was more invested, but am never satisfied with the current valuation. I keep seeing my 401(k) rise faster than my taxable accounts. I guess I should just set up an auto investment program or something!

      Sounds like you’re in a great position. I wish I was at $1M. Maybe in a few more years! Do you plan on reallocating stocks/bonds/cash once you’re not making any income? What are you doing with health insurance? I’m sure as a doctor you have a better understanding of the system than the rest of us.

      • I would humbly suggest converting more of your cash into a mix of stocks/bonds. I have the opposite problem. I am heavily invested in stocks (mostly in large cap). My allocation is currently 88% stocks/ 12% cash/ no bonds. Although I am happy with the up-tick in the market this year, it is making me very nervous that it will come back down at any second.
        I have been meaning to shifting more into bonds, but have not done so yet.
        Regarding health insurance: if I end up working part-time after July, I may be able to get a discount on health insurance through that company. If I end up retiring totally, I will purchase a high-deductible private plan. The rates quoted for me on range from $60-$100 per month. I think I could handle that.

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