A co-worker quit. Her husband got a job in Asia. She’s moving with him, together with their three school-age kids. She won’t be working in that country. Everyone in the office gave her encouragement.
“It’s a great adventure!”
“It’s good for the kids to see a different part of the world.”
“It’s great for your husband’s career!”
All true. Is there a downside to the move? There has to be, but no one said anything. Friends and co-workers only want to see pictures and hear stories. To the bystanders, the move can only be positive. If she and her husband end up chasing a rainbow, friends and co-workers don’t bear any negative consequences. So they only offered cheers.
“Can I retire?” is a question I see people ask often on the Internet. The answer is always yes. If you ask the question it means you want to. If you ask the question it means it’s at least within the realms of possibility. Then why not? Retiring means fun and freedom. It’s bad form to knock down people’s hopes.
Chances are it will work out. You only have to adjust your budget to make it work — live within your means. Nobody actually runs out of money in retirement. Before people even get close to running out of money, they would adjust the budget down or start working again for more income. Whether making such adjustments later in life is ideal or not is a different question. Regardless, people on the Internet are not going to be held responsible years down the road.
Therefore only you can decide what the best course of action is. Moving to a job overseas may or may not be a good career move. The boom over there could turn out to be a bubble. By the time you come back, you may not be able to get back onto the same train you jumped off. Or you may hit the jackpot and never have to work again. But if you ask others, they will only encourage you to take the risk because they’d like to see the risk pays off, and they have nothing to lose if it doesn’t.
When well-intentioned friends and co-workers bias toward encouraging you to take risks, the answer will be even more encouraging if you ask people with something to sell. Take a big grain of salt when you are encouraged to take risks. Only your ____ is on the line, not theirs.
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Glenn Post says
Yes, they should be wary. Sounds exciting of course. But having spent a career in the Foreign Service, it was clear to me that the biggest downside for families overseas can involve the non-working spouse. That person needs to find something to do. It can work out for that person of course but often is very difficult. Having the kids with her should help in this instance.
Sam S says
I like this post, Harry.
So when confronted with a big decision on whether or not to take a big risk, who/ what can we trust for an unbiased opinion or advice?
Harry Sit says
First ignore those who have something to sell.
“P2P lending? I did great. Here’s my affiliate link.”
“Lend to house flippers? Sign up here.”
Then seek out people who have been there, done that, and failed, such as the landscapers who had their business but realized they were better off working for someone else.
Sam S says
Thanks for the examples, Harry. Great point. By the way, what did YOU say to her when u heard of the news?
Harry Sit says
I said I enjoyed working with her and I would be glad to work with her again if she comes back.
Sam S says
That’s a wise response. I like it.
Millennial Moola says
The worst that can happen if you retire is that you won’t be able to return to work and you’ll have an outdated set of skills. The worst thing that can happen if you don’t is that you die an untimely death from heart disease from stress at the office that you hate. I’d rather take the second worst option.
Scott R says
Which one of those was the ‘second worst’ option?
Harry Sit says
I wouldn’t make decisions only based on extremes. There are many options in between, such as learning new skills with more time on your hand and working at a place you don’t stress or hate.
there is much truth here however I detect some tongue in cheek. For example, it is not possible to say ‘chances are it will work out…” There are so many issues to factor in; to name a few: do you have debts that require you continue working full time to payoff? Can you truly cut your expenses to make ends meet–will there be a worthwhile quality of life as a result? If you need to ‘jump back on the train’ to resume work, maybe the ‘train’ no longer pays a livable wage and your retirement savings have been depleted…. And others.
Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life says
This is something we learned quite young in talks with our parents: outsiders and strangers who have no insight or nothing to lose will always tell you the easy answers because if you fail or it goes horribly, there’s absolutely no effect on them.
The people who truly care about you will tell you the hard truths that you don’t necessarily want to hear. That doesn’t mean being a perpetual naysayer, it does mean raising the practical questions and concerns that you may not have considered and accepted as acceptable risks.
It’s important to learn how to tell the difference between the two groups, and only seek advice from the latter group if you need it. Otherwise you’re just asking for empty validation from the former group.
Brian @ Digital Detachment says
Harry – I enjoy the thinking you’ve been doing recently about “skin in the game” versus “no skin in the game.” As NN Taleb would say: “Tawk (take that risk!) is cheap” and “Don’t leave the graveyard (of early retirees who’ve developed complications) out of your research.” Taleb’s new book’s working title is, in fact, “Skin in the Game”
Sam S says
What do u mean by “Don’t leave the graveyard out of yr research.”?
Thanks for the link to Taleb’s interesting book.
I agree with your statement. But, if it is my co-worker, and she didn’t ask for my opinion, and she has already given notice… there is no other thing to say but to wish her all the best as she heads into the adventure. She didn’t ask me whether I thought it was a good idea or to go through the pros or cons. It isn’t my business to provide any contrary information unless requested. So, yes, my response would probably be encouraging and positive, even if I thought it was a bad idea or even a questionable idea.
Agreed. My experience has been that most folks don’t want to hear the negative anyway, so why risk an unpleasant conversation, especially since the decision’s already been made? Wish them well, and hope for the best.
Excellent point. I have learned to be wary of the “if I were you….” type of advice. I’m the one who bears the consequence…good or bad.
(your blog has been a good source of “caution” on different topics. Thank you)