Sunday, November 26, 2017

I'm officially retired!

I'm officially retired...for the year. Due to the nature of my job, I have about 2 to 3 months of relatively free work. It's my eat-grass season and my winter month. This obviously affects my income, because I'm probably earning like 20% of my 'normal' months. Every year, I'll face this forced retirement and I've come a long way to deal with the uncertainty and the emotions that comes with it. This article will share my thoughts about the emotions of retirement. I must say I've not retired for good, but I've plenty of experience on retirement. All 15 years of it. Strange eh?

The emotions comes in 4 stages:

1. Relief
2. Happiness
3. Guilt
4. Resolution

I'll discuss a bit more in detail for each stages now:

1. Relief

I've worked very hard for about 10 months of the year, working through the weekend. This year is a bit lesser because I'm a newly minted father, but usually I'm so packed with work that I'm actually looking forward to my winter months. I think most employees will share the same feeling that I had. It's like you have worked hard for 20-30 years and finally you can see the deadline to end your working life. But it's only a relief if you've prepared for it by settling your debts and saving up a nice stash and all. I've saved about 70k+ for the year and am prepared to 'draw down' on the savings during my wintry months. If I haven't saved enough or at all, I guess I'll be very very stressed. So the first few days, I felt a immense weight off my shoulder. Very light and...relieved.

2. Happiness

After the feeling of relief, next came the feeling of joy. I felt happy that I'm finally having a good time catching up with long neglected friends or spending quality time with family. Quality time means you have no agenda or have no other appointments other than the current one, not trying to rationalise to yourself that although you have only 1 hour you will squeeze it by doing as many activities as possible. This period is where I catch up on my social life, my gaming and my books. This stage rejuvenates me and prepares me for the next period of work. It refreshes you and prepares you for the longer journey ahead.

3. Guilt

Unfortunately, the feeling of happiness is usually short lived. After what could be weeks to months, I might feel guilty that I'm wasting my life away. While others are busy working their asses off in offices and scurrying away to important meetings, I'm sitting, alone, in a cafe, sipping coffee and staring at nothing. There's only so much nothing to stare at. I'll say that most people who are taking leave for a week or so wouldn't feel this stage yet. They will certainly reach stage 1 of feeling relief, or stage 2 (if the leave is long enough) of feeling joy and happiness. But to reach stage 3 of guilt, you need a few months of doing no work at all. I could be playing so much games that I start to feel that I'm wasting my day away bashing digital monsters and collecting digital gold coins, where I could be earning real money fighting real life monsters. The real lesson here is that even if you are fully retired, you cannot stop working. Just stop working for money. Work keeps you in contact with other humans, or makes you feel important, or gives you joy. Find other reasons to do some sort of work again, something to set your routine and make you feel like a useful citizen to society once more.

4. Resolution

The period of guilt will build up until you start doing something. Usually this will end up where you start looking for work again (or in my case where my work starts finding me again), or you find some sort of semi retirement arrangement where you decide to spend the bulk of your time on. It could be project based, working on some hobby or some thing that keeps you occupied for the bulk of your free time. It could be volunteer work or some part time work or mentoring work. This might run a few iterations of the stages again, especially if the work you chosen overwhelms you. Eventually you'll reach an equilibrium where there is optimum work life balance that you can continue...until the next emotional crisis hits you again.

Those are the 4 stages. When you take a short leave of a 1-2 days, you'll reach stage 1: relief. When you have a longer leave of a week, you'll reach stage 2: happiness. When you have a much longer sabbatical leave of more than a few months, you'll go through all the stages from 1 to 4, passing through stage 3 of guilt and stage 4 of resolution. 

While reaching financial independence is important, don't focus solely on the monetary aspects of it. Most of the time, the emotions will be the part that you derail your best laid plans. Financial independence is not just about passive income > expenses. Work might be an important part of your identity, regardless of whether you liked working or not, hence to take it all away in one shot might be too sudden too soon. Practice the emotional aspects of retirement!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Migration of email

I read from Investingmoat's article here that Yahoo finance is not functioning anymore, hence it affected the spreadsheet to track one's portfolio. I knew this would happen one day. Yahoo finance used to be my number 1 get to site to get things on finance, but after Yahoo had been bought over, things just started to break apart at the seams. After yet another series of email hacks, I finally threw in the towel and said my goodbye to the very first email that I had for 20 over years.

I knew it's going to be somewhat of a major operation to switch email, especially one that I had used for so long. So I listed out a couple of steps to migrate over:

1) Change and inform all the email address in websites that I follow

I have last pass, which is a password management website, so this step is a breeze. I just go to each and every website that has my yahoo email registered under them, and change the email address there and then. There are some websites with accounts tied to email address, so unless I'm prepared to open a new account, I've no way to change it. I guess those are a rarity. No choice. Despite yahoo being my main work email, I didn't email all my contacts with regards to the changes. Unlike changing a handphone number, I think this step is not necessary.

2) Update and change every email that you received for the next 2 weeks or so

There are bound to be some website that I've missed out, so for the next 2 weeks or so, every email I received is updated to my new email address. There are some sites that send less frequently, so I guess those are by default not urgent enough to affect me. It's okay to miss those.

3) Keep track of the old yahoo email, but don't use it for future correspondence

Use the new email to respond to any email you received from the old yahoo account. After a while, you should get lesser and lesser email from yahoo, which is the whole point of this exercise. But I will still track this account. If you're a signaller in army, it's just like putting this yahoo 'channel' in 'scanning' mode. You use one email but you scan several. And oh, I'm nostalgic. Once every blue moon, I like to go to my sent folders in yahoo and see what are the things that had happened in the past. I see it like the facebook's memory function, or just simply a time capsule where all my memories are stored digitally somewhat in my yahoo email. I'm sentimental like that.

That's it. Those steps should allow you to change the most urgent ones first, followed by the next tier of urgency and so on.

Before you jump to another email, you might want to consider the longevity of the company. Back in 20 yrs, I didn't expect yahoo to go bellyup like this, but hey, it's still a better bet than some of the smaller internet companies I suppose. I migrated over to Google if you must know. I think Google stands the best chance of serving me for the next 20 years or so I hope.