April 14, 2011
So my brother is wrestling with a significant decision. To retire or not to retire?
I went through the math with him a few weeks ago. The short version is this, the expected value of continuing to work past this retirement offer is ultimately contingent on how long he lives. The longer he lives, the more his time in the office is worth. If he knew he had 6 months to go, the decision would be a no brainer. 100% retire now.
But decisions are rarely that simple. I have him at about 75% right now. I won't say if it is 75% to stay or go, I'll just say 75% at this point. And in his case that point is roughly 2 weeks from the date his early out would be effective.
In my case I was at 100% 4 years before my retirement date. In my case it was a no brainer. From a cash standpoint, I would be working for roughly 55% of my usual income if I continued past 20 years. I didn't come from money and so that kind of offer was not of interest. had I been "set for life" I may have stayed on as I really liked the job and the work. But where I was at the time, it was a no brainer. and even though it may have resulted in a number of negative consequences after the fact, it was still the right call.
The reason it was the right call was because it was a call. The key to decison making is quite simple. Make the decision and live with the consequences.
I think that is where most people run afoul of the process. They try to arrive at a decision without having to deal with the consequence. Let a spouse make the decision and blame them. Let circumstances drive the decision and blame the economy, the politics, etc. The 'no decision decision. I don't care for that.
In our hobbies, we know that the no decision option doesn't exist. Neither of us can jump out of an airplane and land safely by doing nothing. Rock climbing has similar downsides to the do nothing option. But the artificial office environ seems to offer this option. Just keep doing what you did the day before. Carpool in, do your stuff at your desk, carpool home. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then drop dead.
Uh, wait a sec. That last part?
Yeah there is the issue. If you never make the decision, the outcome is a lock. You work until you drop.
Currently, that is my plan for life. I do plan to work until I drop. It may not turn out that way, but if it does it won't bother me as it is the result of a decision. I won't feel bad about it and no one else should.
The people I feel bad about are the people that show up at work every day because it is the easiest way to avoid making a simple decision.