The End is Nigh

The last few weeks have been hard. The toughest of my career, though I’m now experienced enough to take it in my stride and bounce back. But, Jesus. This week especially was tough. Too many more weeks like that and I’m done.

Thursday I got home exhausted and frustrated. I cancelled my language lesson and skipped the gym. I got straight onto the computer, went over my accounts and did some calculations. My query: can I retire as soon as I finish this contract, in two years time? Fully retire, and never deal with this stress and bullshit for the rest of my life?

I figured, yeah. Just. If everything fell into place (and it might not) I would be able to live indefinitely on about USD$14,000 a year. That would be enough to get by in a place like Cambodia or the Philippines.

The next day I made some good progress on solving some problems and my initial spike in emotion settled down. But I was still thinking, why not?

My original plan was to be able to retire early as a backup plan in case everything went balls up. Later I refined this so that in 3-5 years I would transition to part-time work. But now I’m thinking, fuck it. Just piss off somewhere cheap, make a new life, a new Nikolai, do what I really want to do and stop having to deal with so many people.

My profession does not suit me. I’m a quiet type. I’d be happy enough in a little cubicle doing whatever it is people do in those things. Dealing with humans is draining to a person like me.

I don’t hate the people who cause me trouble. Sometimes they have a good point, and sometimes they’re just troubled because of causes I’m well aware of. The problem is that it just never stops. ‘Relentless’ is the word I’m looking for. There is no peace in my life. There is always someone demanding my attention, someone calling, someone complaining, someone angry, someone indignant. At least my employer is reasonable. If he were horrid then I’d have already disappeared into a cloud of third world dust.

I feel like yelling at them, ‘Be nice to me! Or if you think I’m so awful, I’ll just leave!’ And that would really cause them a problem, and be the end of my career. But now that I think about it soberly – why don’t I just leave?

I won’t break contract, though I could afford to. I don’t do that sort of thing. I know this goes counter to various things I’ve said before and I can’t explain it, but I will see out this posting or die in the attempt. This is my one streak of pig-headedness and I’ve no idea where it comes from.

The trick to getting through, I’ve realized, is that I need to stop searching for happiness. Fuck happiness. What I need to do, for the next two years, is survive. It doesn’t really matter how miserable I am as this is not forever, and a plan for the future will help me cope with present annoyances. I’m going to leave this country in 2019 with increased language skills, money saved, two manuscripts complete, fitness maintained and wisdom gained. And that’s all. Happiness can go fuck itself.

It is terrifying to think that this time next year I will not be seeking my next contract. That I’ll be cruising. That I’ll tell my family I’m going to take a break and try something else. It seems impossible and I keep going over the numbers, and each time it seems to work.

The only way to know for sure is to try. I’ll take a sabbatical year and sample other means of income as a way of subsiding my leisure as it’s a bit tight. I’d only need to make an extra $3,000 – $5,000 a year to go from struggling to steady, and on ten to twenty grand I’d be sweet. The main thing I’d be testing is how cheaply I can live. If I can get by on fourteen grand or so p/a then I may be set for life.

What do you think? Am I a lunatic? Should I give it a go? I’ve recently come to acknowledge that the average IQ of my readers about half a standard deviation higher than my own so I genuinely value your honest and thoughtful feedback.

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9 comments

  1. Vincent · May 7

    I have no doubt at all that you are doing the right thing if you follow this approach. I’d be happy to endorse every aspect of what you say, and am glad that you’re seeing through your commitments & making sure not to leave any mess behind, whether bosses or broken hearts. My wife and I are both retired. She packed it in early after finding that working for the National Health Service was bad for her health—so much stress. We’re happy to live on less money and the greater luxury of our own time. I still do some work at home, but like hot pepper sauce it adds to the flavour of freedom, as does the occasional stress. We just came back from 10 days in Jamaica to see Karleen’s folks & friends, there were many 3rd-world moments of anxiety that reminded us how blessed we are to be able to spend our old age in England.

    Blessings to you too. Fuck searching for happiness indeed. Do the right thing and it will chase after you.

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  2. dickycone · May 7

    Go for it. Take a few years off, at least. You always seem to look at decisions like this as permanent: I’ll NEVER work again. I NEVER want kids. Doesn’t make sense at your age. Relax for two or three years, live simple, only spend time with people you like, maybe learn some kind of skill you can freelance for decent money like coding phone apps or something like that.

    I did something like this once, in a country where my local girlfriend and I could live comfortably on about $500 a month. I found that if I committed to working out consistently and putting in two hours of language study and two hours of working on coding daily I didn’t get lethargic or bored with it, even if I just napped for the rest of the day. It was only about six months in my case, but it was glorious. Honorable that you want to finish out your contract but after that, do it!

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  3. luisman · May 8

    […]I would be able to live indefinitely on about USD$14,000 a year. That would be enough to get by in a place like Cambodia or the Philippines.[…]
    That’s how the descent into hell starts. There are plenty of retired US-Army soldiers who live a rather miserable life on roughly a thousand bucks a month here. At some point they can’t pay for their medical issues anymore or even miss going to immigration for their Visa, etc.pp. This is, sadly, no exception. Below a safe and secure 25kUSD a year, you shouldn’t even think about permanent retirement. Arrange a 1 year sabbatical with your employer if you desperately need a break.

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    • dickycone · May 8

      Hey Luisman, what do you think about my idea of Nikolai quitting the job, going to some country he likes where living expenses are low and, after just relaxing for a while, working on some way of generating income online? I figure if he has his 14k a year from savings plus say another 1-2k a month of active income, he’ll have a better chance of not falling into the miserable impoverished expat life you describe. I suppose if he gets desperate, there’s also always private English lessons. I do agree that just retiring with no income at all for the rest of his life seems a bit iffy at his age. For one thing, who knows if they’ll always be liveable countries out there where you can get by on 1k a month if you have to. No guarantee that whatever fiat currency his savings is in won’t collapse either.

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      • luisman · May 9

        As I’ve lived in the Philippines for over 10 years, I’ve seen plenty of shit happen to overly optimistic people. This stuff never gets reported. You only hear about the few people who somehow got their shit together and made it work. From the maybe 20 people I knew well here 10 years ago, around half are now dead, most of the others are back in their home country toiling, and the few who stayed here were already financially stable from the beginning. The 1-2k monthly income from websites or English teaching are largely a myth. EVERY native English speaker tried the teaching route one or more times. It’s not the most pleasant thing to teach to the broads/kids of rich Chinese and Korean people (who actually have the money to pay you). It’s highly competitive with very little reward. The same with most internet ventures. It’s much better to stay in your hated western, well paying job a few years longer and develop a sane investment strategy which would get you through the next 30 years. If the USD collapses, the world goes to hell anyway; no point thinking about it, unless you can afford to hoard gold.

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  4. dickycone · May 10

    I’m with you that Nikolai probably shouldn’t try permanent retirement at his age, but disagree about his keeping the office job. It’s making him miserable and without kids or a belief in God what does he really have to make life worth living? I like your year-long sabbatical idea (must be nice working for touchy-feely Aussie and Euro companies…I’ve never heard of such a thing in the US) but even if he can’t get a sabbatical he could take a year or two off. Presumably he’s got skills and would be able to find employment afterward. About teaching English if necessary, yeah it’s not ideal but beats starving, at least until you can figure out something better. As far as freelance coding I know two guys in real life back in the US who do that and are successful enough to live comfortably there. There must be other, similar options. I can handle my miserable office job because seeing my baby daughter when I get home makes it all worth it, but if I were a younger, single man I’d probably get some training in welding and become an underwater welder or something like that.

    So there you have it Nikolai. Luis says play it safe and keep slaving away. I say go in a different direction. We both say don’t retire permanently. Interested to see what you decide to do.

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  5. Adam · May 21

    You’ll be bored after two years.

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  6. Nikolai Vladivostok · June 26

    Thank you, everyone. In a world where three quarters of the planet is covered by shit comments, yours were informed and adroit. I will think about what you’ve said.

    Liked by 1 person

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