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I really need some people to bounce this off of, and I don't really know of any forums to discuss such topics. I figure with the crowd here I'd get some good answers, or at least some good heckling.

I'm going through my midlife crisis. I'm 35 and married, no kids. I was brought up in a strict household. Throughout school I was always in the top of my class, never through determination or drive but always through fear of my parents retribution. I finished a university and started working as an engineer. I've had many different jobs with many different companies. I've always started the same way, by putting my head down and working hard. Impressing my managers. I've always seen the doors and opportunities being offered to me for advancement and I've always avoided taking them, and soon after quit or was laid off. "what do you mean you don't want this promotion?"

The truth is, I've had many jobs that have challenged me, stimulated me, have been rewarding.. I was making a meaningful contribution to a company. Where the days flew by and I would lose myself in my work. I've also had jobs where I have been paid a lot to sit around and do nothing. I have never once enjoyed any of it. Every single job I have, I just can't wait to get home at the end of the day. I drag myself out of bed in the morning with a deep depression. I see coworkers striving to succeed and rise through the ranks. I can't relate to any of them. I make a fantastic wage, and I mean that in the most humble way. This is not a thread to brag. I make around 185k a year. I have built a nest egg of $500k, I have no debt, no house. In my current job I've been praised by all my managers and the director of the company about how I turn heads and the quality of my work. Its all a lie. I only work hard because someone is watching. I fear "falling behind" in life, letting my wife down, disappointing my parents, being looked down on by my friends and family. Not having enough saved, having to work into my senior years.

The truth is, I don't want to work at all. I want retire in a poor country like Mexico or Thailand and spend my days sleeping in a hammock by the beach, drinking beer, and laughing a lot. It is so terrifying to admit this because people look at you as if you've admitted to being a pedophile. Throughout the years I've taken 3 sabbaticals each about a year long, when I've just been too fed up or exhausted from working. And the honest truth is that those years were the happiest of my life. I never felt bored or for want of things to do, as each month went by I only found more ways to pass my time. The only thing that drew me back to work was again this fear of falling behind in the rat race. I've admitted this to my parents and they told me they were ashamed of me.

I don't covet nice things or a big house. I mentally do the math and think that 400k mortgage could let me retire 10 years earlier if I lived in a trailer park. The thought of working until 65 makes me ill. I was raised in a poor family and I never felt like I missed out on a childhood, and yet I could probably work another 5 years and provide for my future children the same way my parents did for me. Am I nuts? Does anyone else feel this way?
 

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First, you should hold your head up high. You have achieved a lot and are contributing immensely to the society. Everywhere I look, I see and use what has been created and perfected by engineers like you: this computer, houses, cars, roads, appliances, etc. So for that alone thank you!

It seems to me you could be suffering from burnout. Do you know exactly what is it about the work that makes it difficult. Does it involve the tasks itself? Is it the pace? Is it your colleagues? Your boss? the commute? There are steps you can take that would improve your situation, even if it means a reduction in compensation. A lateral move to a different department with different tasks, retraining to attain new skills, becoming a contractor, going part time, moving closer to work, etc.

It seems to me you are very capable and a high achiever, as evidenced by your earnings and the promotions that you are offered. At the age of 35, a portfolio of 500k is reasonable, but it would be difficult to support early retirement, except maybe somewhere with a very low standard of living or under extreme circumstances, a la Mr. Money Mustache. However, as a young and capable engineer there is a lot that you can do and you may be able to contribute to societies in third world countries.

One last recommendation: consult a professional before making any major changes to your life, such as retiring. If you are truly suffering from burnout, a life coach or career coach or something similar may prove well worth it.
 

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I want retire in a poor country like Mexico or Thailand and spend my days sleeping in a hammock by the beach, drinking beer, and laughing a lot. It is so terrifying to admit this because people look at you as if you've admitted to being a pedophile. Throughout the years I've taken 3 sabbaticals each about a year long, when I've just been too fed up or exhausted from working. And the honest truth is that those years were the happiest of my life.
Have you heard of FIRE? Financial independence / retire early. There appear to be many like minded people in online FIRE discussions such as the sub reddit r/financialindependence

Besides "early retirement" you could also consider a job optional lifestyle or "coast FIRE" where one decides to earn just enough to cover their expenses while their investments continue to grow. This could mean working less, off and on, or at a less stressful or more enjoyable job that happens to pay less

If you really don't want to work and don't mind a radical lifestyle change you could look into "lean FIRE" This is absolutely possible with $500k and less if you think outside the box and ignore the sheeple. Slow travel, low cost of living regions, house sitting, tiny house, sailboats and many other "alternative" lifestyles already thriving

Having lived in many corners of the world I also wouldn't underestimate the impact of your environment.
 

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Not to make light of your concerns, twowheeled, but in solidarity, I'd say that this sounds like it is just typical man problems. Nothing unusual or surprising.

Without children to raise and teach, without a job or passtime that builds something useful for your community (does your job actually do this?) and without a spiritual pursuit towards seeking knowledge of what is good and true, life is left pretty meaningless, and can lead you to thinking dark thoughts about wasting your life on a beach in Mexico.

All three of these aspects are pretty important, but you can pick away at any and all one by one or at the same time, and good things will start to happen to you emotionally.

Rejecting work promotions that bring you a bit more money but take you even farther away from building for your community or pursuing what you know is good and true, is a very wise move on your part.

Finding happiness on your sabbaticals lead you to thinking you enjoyed drinking on the beach and not working... Was that really the right conclusion? Or did your happiness come from some place deeper, where you were allotted the time and freedom to pursue what you thought was good and true activities, thoughts and conversations with other people to properly understand the world, from which your job was holding you back from doing?

Not everyone can have a career that brings about the satisfaction where these factors successfully coalesce together. It's really very rare. So don't feel shame in the fact that you don't want to work for money in the current state of this economic machine and the corporate world. But do realize you need to make money to live off of and pursue more worthwhile things in your life.

The trick is to not let your work dissatisfaction grow so much that you truly start to believe that your life is meaningless and your desire for drinks on the beach and pleasant hikes through nature are all that matters in the world.
 

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There is no shortage unhappy couples with children so that is no guaranteed golden ticket. Be weary of recommendations that validate one's own decisions as the only way

Many people have children to add meaning and purpose to their lives. Many people seek out religion for similar reasons. Many people have done either or exclusively and even neither who found even greater meaning and purpose in many different ways. Not everyone is the same.

There are many paths to a meaningful life but the heard always seem to disagree. Why does the misery heard always desperately try to convince others not to break away? Meanwhile those who have just smile and encourage you to actually just listen to yourself. That yes you can do it and it is possible.

Just look up what happened to peter's self-help expert Jordan Peterson. He has some good advice but the more I looked into it I realized it was sugar coating on a preachy core.
 

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The truth is, I don't want to work at all. I want retire in a poor country like Mexico or Thailand and spend my days sleeping in a hammock by the beach, drinking beer, and laughing a lot.
Spending the next 40 or 50 years sitting in a hammock drinking beer will turn you into a fat slob, and you'll probably get bored quickly. If it was me, I'd move to an inexpensive place...maybe small town or rural area to minimize expenses, work a few more years so bank a little more money, and then spend the winter in Mexico or Thailand.
 

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You say you have $500k saved up. Invested in dividend stocks @ 4% that would give you $20,000 a year. What about other assets, do you have equity in a home, cottage, etc? If you sold everything and invested the money would you have enough to live in Mexico or your choice of low cost countries? If so, what are you waiting for? If not, do you have a plan to accumulate what you need?

How is your family with this? If your wife likes the idea, and you can raise and educate your children and launch them in life then your other main obligation is to yourself.

Incidentally if you do 'drop out' and quit your job do so without burning your bridges, it may turn out that after a year or so of loafing you want to go back to work again. I know it seems repulsive now but you want to keep your options open.
 

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I've had that feeling.....trying to impress others; seeking validation, self-worth.....

You need to sit back and reassess your life. Find what truly makes you happy or gives you satisfaction in life. No, sitting in Mexico is not it. Find meaning in what you do. No one wants to work for fun. But we need to do something to earn money.

You're working a job that lives up to someone else's satisfaction. You don't like what you do. I sense you will be good at everything and anything so take this time to reassess. I'm no doctor but I feel you're headed in a depression. You will want to speak to a professional to a) resolve the issues you have that were caused by your upbringing and b) regain happiness and stability in your life.
 

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Throughout the years I've taken 3 sabbaticals each about a year long, when I've just been too fed up or exhausted from working. And the honest truth is that those years were the happiest of my life. I never felt bored or for want of things to do, as each month went by I only found more ways to pass my time. The only thing that drew me back to work was again this fear of falling behind in the rat race. I've admitted this to my parents and they told me they were ashamed of me.
NA work/life balance is weighted quite heavily on the work side. People commonly say how busy, how much overtime and how many years it's been since they took a vacation as a mark of pride. They barely give themselves free time, never experienced a better work/life balance or sabbatical and now have never truly found real things to do with free time. When they retire they feel lost without their only job identity. There are probably many other hive mind, cultural, and personalty factors.

Then there are people who either have a different personality, broader experience and/or different ways of thinking outside the cultural hive mind herd box. There are far more of these people than you think already out there doing what you are considering. You don't really see them because they have time to get further from the crowded paths and peak seasons and don't feel the need to validate their lifestyle by convincing everyone to do like them. Why would they?
 

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You need to sit back and reassess your life. Find what truly makes you happy or gives you satisfaction in life. No, sitting in Mexico is not it. Find meaning in what you do. No one wants to work for fun. But we need to do something to earn money.
I'd second that, I know very few layabouts who are actually happy.
You should try and find something, also you might be experiencing depression.

Just to touch on a previous post, as a parent, having kids is the most thankless job. I don't think it's for everyone, or even most. That being said, I love being a teacher/mentor/coach, so having kids is actually my dream job. It helps if they're actually awesome (like mine).
 

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Well I can't comment on any issues you have regarding your parents and how your upbringing may have affected you psychologically. You would need to talk with a psychologist about that obviously. But it does sound to me as a layman as if it has and is having an ongoing affect on you. So first, I would say it may be worth consulting a professional in that regard.

I can comment on what you say you would like to do, "The truth is, I don't want to work at all. I want retire in a poor country like Mexico or Thailand and spend my days sleeping in a hammock by the beach, drinking beer, and laughing a lot. It is so terrifying to admit this because people look at you as if you've admitted to being a pedophile."

I did pretty much exactly what you say you would like to do. I retired at 43, hit the road with no plan or expectations and have never regretted it in the 31 years since then. My 'Eureka Moment' came out of nowhere one day when I was 35 as well. Somehow, something triggered the thought, 'is this what I want to be doing till I am 65 and then retire to drop dead on the golf course at 67?' The answer of course was no.

So then I asked myself what I did want to do and the answer that came to me was that I wanted to be free to get up in the morning and decide what I wanted to do that day and to be able to do that every day. That led to the question of how can anyone have that freedom and the answer to that in the world we live in is that you have to have financial freedom. That simply means having enough income without having to work. That then leads you to asking, well how much income do I need and how can I have that income without working.

There are many different ways to achieve financial freedom and each individual may find a different way that works for them. I'm not going to go into any great detail on that since it is an individual thing. I started on a 10 year plan to financial freedom at 35 and managed to achieve it and retire at 43 as I said.

At this point, I would say you do have to give serious thought to what you say you want really being what you want. You probably know the saying, 'be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.' Having a goal to work towards is good but you need to be sure it is the right goal for you.

A word on marriage. If you and your wife are not on the same page as to your future life goal, that will obviously create a problem. I was married when I decided I wanted to retire early and my wife was sure she was also on board with that goal. However, when the time came to pull the plug, she was reluctant and ultimately unable to do so. Her response was, 'just one more year' and after 3 years of that, we parted ways. What it ultimately came down to for her was not the money aspect of 'packing it in', it was the lose of Position Power she would have to give up. She was a high flyer and particularly so as a woman in a 'man's world'. I can't suggest any answer for that problem. Nor do I think can anyone else. Either you both have the same shared goal or the end is inevitable.

Other than how to get to the financial goal necessary to quit working, there is the question of what lifestyle you want to be able to have. If you are happy to live a very frugal lifestyle, never venturing far from home, etc. then you need less income than if you want a less modest lifestyle. On that I would say it is easy to say as many of those you will find in the Mr. Money Mustache forum say, 'I'm happy to live on $10k a year income.' The question is, if you get to the financial goal necessary to achieve that income, will you actually be happy living on that income or not? I would suggest to you that it may be OK while someone is younger but may wear a bit thin as time goes on. My advice is to aim for a medium/average income. You can always live on less than your income if you are happy to do so but can also spend more if you grow tired of eating Kraft Dinner and rice dishes.

I also know that it takes a big leap of faith to pack it all in when you are 'successful' as defined by the majority of people and when you talk about doing it, they look at you like you are crazy. You need to have the strength of your convictions and the self confidence to ignore them. Your comment about your parents saying they were ashamed of you when you have voiced this topic do not bode well in this regard.

My Mother told me that she worried I was going to become a 'beach bum'. She was serious to a degree but not to the degree of pushing her objections onto me or expecting that her disapproval would actually make me change my mind. She knew I would do what I decided to do. I was in charge of my life, not anyone else. If you find you give in to outside pressure, that's a problem that has to be addressed.

I read some of the comments above that say things like, 'no, sitting in Mexico is not it' or 'you need to find a work/life balance', etc. and say poppycock. Those kinds of comments are simply voicing another version of, 'what you say you want to do is crazy'. Because one person cannot see how lying in a hamock in Mexico or wherever might be entirely satisfying to someone else, they think you must have it wrong to be saying it would satisfy you.

They make the assumption that how you have expressed what you want to do is an absolute. You are going to lay in a hammock every day for however many years you will live into the future and do nothing else. Life doesn't work that way.

When I first hit the road, I went to Europe with no plan of what I would do beyond where I was first going and why. I knew I wanted to visit Europe just as a traveller and was quite content to start with that and just see where it led me. I could easily have written, 'I want to go to Europe and bum around forever'. Someone could have easily written, 'Find what truly makes you happy or gives you satisfaction in life. No, bumming around Europe is not it.' That simply shows a lack of common sense to me. I don't need anyone to tell me it isn't likely that anyone would just continue to do that forever. The statement is not meant to be taken literally. No one knows what will happen down the road whether they follow the herd or just decide to leave and bum around Europe. As the saying goes, 'life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.'

I bummed around Europe for about a year and then ended up on a Greek island. I expected to stay perhaps a week or so and then move on as I had up to that point. I never actually decided to stay longer, one day just turned into another day and I still hadn't decided to leave yet. If the goal is to have the freedom to wake up each day and decide what you want to do that day, there is no MUST on any morning. I stayed on that island for 7 years without ever deciding to stay and then one day I decided I wanted to be somewhere else for a specific reason(a woman, now my wife, who lived in another country) and so I moved on.

That is the freedom of choice that financial freedom gives someone and whatever the initial thoughts were as to how you are going to live your future life just swinging in a hammock or whatever, you will find yourself making choices along the way just as everyone else does in their life whether they follow the herd or not. When I first hit the road, there is no way I could have predicted the choices I have made since then.

As for Mother and her fear of my becoming a 'beach bum', my response was, what's wrong with being a beach bum if you can afford to be. How many do you know who could afford to do so for decades if they wanted to? It takes as pretty wealthy person to afford that actually.' I will say though that of all the other potential beach bums I've met over the years, I never met one who only had very little income, who remained happy with that once they started to get older.
 

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If I was young and choosing a career I would choose refrigeration and air conditioning/heating.
Everybody has a fridge.
Huge money.
Huge demand.
3 year course at George Brown College.
 

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If I was young and choosing a career I would choose refrigeration and air conditioning/heating.
Everybody has a fridge.
Huge money.
Huge demand.
3 year course at George Brown College.
What relevance do you think your comment has to a guy who is an engineer earning $185k a year and looking for a life change? Do you think a change to refrigeration will appeal to him?

Do you post any comment that comes into your head without regard to its relevance?
 

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I am sorry. I read the post as somebody who desired a "Complete" change of career.
Maybe I did not read the post properly.
No big deal. I tried.:)
 

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Not to make light of your concerns, twowheeled, but in solidarity, I'd say that this sounds like it is just typical man problems. Nothing unusual or surprising.
I agree and it sounds awfully similar to a thread I posted here a couple years ago. About dragging myself out of bed, going into work, and coming home exhausted (basically non-functioning) at the end of the day.

I think what twowheeled described is a very common experience. I'm in my late 30s and have felt the same. I've even heard very similar things from women I know, also around the same age.

There's probably no one-size-fits-all solution. What helps me is focusing on things I really want and that make me happy. For me that includes travel, hobbies, outdoor sports and side pursuits. These days, I view work as a necessity (to earn income) but not as something that's supposed to be too deep or meaningful.

When I was experiencing that exhaustion, I started tracking some stats. I discovered that there's a certain number of work hours at which I start feeling worn down. For example, if I work 20 or 30 hours in a week, I am often very energetic and lively. However, once I get closer to 40 hours, or exceed it a bit, the exhaustion appears.

I then took this experiment further and negotiated my working arrangement at my office to work closer to an average 30 hours/wk. I worked at the same pace as before, so each hour of work was as busy and efficient as normal. I used the extra time to take some vacations and day-trips.

Example: I took a Friday off to go skiing. And I frequently took an afternoon off here and there, perhaps quit work Wednesday at noon, to go hiking -- I loved that and I felt more alive and happy the moment I set foot on the forest trails.

I also sometimes just took an afternoon off to go sit at a coffee shop I like, and play around on the computer -- reading other random stuff, news, playing with investments. It seems that the change of scenery from the office, and taking some time for myself, really helped. So it was not entirely about physical/outdoor time, but really about making some more time for myself and working a wee bit less.

More than once, I quit work early (maybe 3 pm) to meet up with a friend or just go for a walk. I tried to time these outings with good weather, and reserve bad weather / rainy / cold days for office work.

Without question, this approach worked great for me. It seems that I was spending too many of my waking hours on uninterrupted office work. When I reduced the work hours, and reallocated some of the hours to myself (to use on things I want to do) I felt a lot better.

Since then, I quit that job, and took it easy for 2 months. After that I actually found I was drawn to working again, and currently am self-employed with a different freelance job. It's less than 30 hours a week as well, but is extremely similar to my last job.

So it turned out that I have no complaints about the actual nature of my work, or the kinds of tasks. I just needed more time for myself, and more breaks / interludes from office work.

~~

P.S. with your high income, save aggressively, invest prudently, and then you'll have enough capital to quit jobs you don't like, so that you can find work that's more appealing to you. You can see my money diary here if you're curious about my approach to spending/saving.
 

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Throughout the years I've taken 3 sabbaticals each about a year long, when I've just been too fed up or exhausted from working. And the honest truth is that those years were the happiest of my life. I never felt bored or for want of things to do, as each month went by I only found more ways to pass my time. The only thing that drew me back to work was again this fear of falling behind in the rat race. I've admitted this to my parents and they told me they were ashamed of me.
You're not alone on this, by the way. I've had the same experience when I quit previous jobs and took a few months off. The happiest times of my life!

What you describe about the rat race and your parents are just old-school social pressures. I believe that these pressures can "trap" people into living the standard lifestyles. These pressures will always exist and there's not much you can do about them.

So what if your parents are ashamed of you? My dad was a workaholic and I'm ashamed of him, because I think he went down a wrong/harmful path with that lifestyle. Which of us is correct?

As @m3s points out, the North American lifestyle is way too heavily weighted towards work. So yeah, if you ask people around here (especially in conservative circles) they will sing the praises of hard work. Who cares? These are arbitrary standards.

One thing I keep reminding myself is that everyone is unique. A cookie-cutter template won't work equally well for all humans. If working nonstop for 35 years to impress other people works for someone, that's fine... but I know it does not work for me.
 

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Since then, I quit that job, and took it easy for 2 months. After that I actually found I was drawn to working again, and currently am self-employed with a different freelance job. It's less than 30 hours a week as well, but is extremely similar to my last job.
I can directly relate to this and took the same approach as you did. The time off made me extremely motivated to re-enter the workforce in a completely different sector. It was also the beginning of my successful new career change. Many people feel the same way the original poster does, not many of them seek to change.
 

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The OP has given a specific description of what he wants to do. He isn't asking about a career change, so why does anyone want to suggest one? He states clearly, that he wants to STOP having to work for a living. It's as if people read the words and then ignore them.

Read his lips so to speak: "The truth is, I don't want to work at all. I want retire in a poor country like Mexico or Thailand and spend my days sleeping in a hammock by the beach, drinking beer, and laughing a lot. It is so terrifying to admit this because people look at you as if you've admitted to being a pedophile."

That is what he is asking for comments on. If someone wants to write, 'I don't think you should pursue that dream', that's fine, they can make their case for why he shouldn't do it. That's on topic. But ignoring it is not on topic.

Regardless of whatever some posters here may think, the OP is not alone in his desire to stop working. When someone writes something like, "These days, I view work as a necessity (to earn income)", that is an assumption and a false assumption. Work is NOT a necessity, it is a CHOICE. There are plenty of people who can give the lie to that assumption. It's called 'retired' or 'financially independent' and some people do that in their 20s for crying out loud.

Twowheeled, clearly you are not going to get much useful input from most of the posters in this forum. They can't conceive of not having to work for a living. There are forums specifically for what you are interested in doing. Some at the extreme end of the spectrum like Mr. Money Mustache where particpants are trying to figure out how to retire on an income of $5-10k a year. Others are more conservative in approach like early-retirement.org. In those kinds of forums, they start from the ASSUMPTION that someone doesn't want to work for a living and proceed from there as to how to achieve that goal.

I FIREd 31 years ago and have never had a regret. Ignore those such as parents, friends, colleagues and most posters here, who cannot see outside of the herd bubble and start looking for those who can see what you envision or are already living that life.
 

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Stop talking about it and fucking do it!

Do it - quit your job, go live overseas, enjoy your life. Hopefully your wife is on board because that will make things easier. Your happiness is more important than any social pressure.

You wouldn't believe what you'll learn about yourself and how many people around you may feel the same way...
 
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