Saturday, 30 September 2017

Frustration

To set the scene it’s now been 14 months since I achieved Financial Freedom and it’s been 3 months since we decided to put a year between ourselves and FIRE.  Usually this blog is about the quantitative hard numbers around saving, investing and early retirement but on this occasion I’m going to go a little emotional on you because the scene we are in is definitely interesting from a psychological perspective.

On the work front I’m still putting in the long hours that I always have but I’m now starting to feel more tired at both work and when I get home.  I think this is because I used to always be so in the fight working to succeed at what I needed to achieve that I never had time for anything else.  Now I feel like I’m more watching the fight and no longer have so much skin in the gain.  I’d even say some boredom is starting to creep in which is starting to make the days and weeks drag on.

I’ve also noticed that my stress bucket has become massive and the tap that drains it is also now more like a fire hose.  Some events that I’m currently looking after that once would have been giving me sleepless nights are now having little to no effect on me.  I’ve also noticed that my bullshit bucket has become tiny and I’d go as far as saying that it’s now overflowing, flooding all over the floor and I’m slipping in it regularly.  The organisation I work for can be a pretty political beast that sets some very unrealistic expectations.  Once I would have been accepting of the situation and would have had my head down going like an idiot but now I’m speaking far more freely and it’s having both a bad and good impact.  For example recently I was asked to accept a draft plan that was set by others with more authority but less domain knowledge than me and which was completely unrealistic.  I pushed back and told them that they were being ridiculous and why they were being ridiculous.  This resulted in a number of closed door discussions about me as a person and my attitude but when it was seen that the discussion was having no effect on me and was not going to result in my acceptance it all stopped.  I’m yet to find out if the plan is staying or whether it’s being revised but either way it won’t really affect me greatly as the plan runs well past my FIRE date of summer 2018.

On a well known financial freedom forum that I frequent a punter made the following quote “When megacorp realises they don't own you, they either fire you or throw money at you.”  They now definitely know they no longer own me.  Sadly though, where I find myself today I’m actually wishing they would fire me tomorrow.  I know I’m now only giving 95% where once I gave 120% and I know it’s affecting my output.  I’m even starting to develop coping mechanisms.  One thing I now find myself doing is ticking off when I’ve done something for the last time.  For example I’ll say to myself that’s my last mid-year review.  I also now have a countdown clock running.  Both of these are providing a little motivation to help me push on to FIRE.

On the home front it feels like we’re in a holding pattern.  I think this is because we had task 1 which was to FIRE leading straight into task 2 which was to relocate to the Mediterranean.  What has happened is that task 2 has become task 3 with a new wait to see what happens task 2 inserted.  We’re both struggling with it as we’re not quite sure what to do with ourselves.  If I had to give it one word I’d probably call it frustration and it’s bad enough, particularly as the nights draw in and I now find myself back to driving to and from work in the dark, that we’re starting the “should we go earlier discussions”.

Since starting my FIRE journey way back in 2007 and up until July of this year it’s been nothing but a positive experience.  This one more year, OMY, lark though is a huge FIRE journey negative and something I don’t like one bit.  Others on a FIRE journey might handle the situation very differently but at the very least I’d suggest think carefully about it and what it means before leaping into it.

35 comments:

  1. An interesting post rit. It's good to hear a personal view on what it feels like to be involved in "one more year". It is interesting that shortly after FI you were feeling less stressed at work and perhaps even enjoying it more but this seems to be changing slightly, or at least morphing into some different feelings. I always pictured I would be able to do "one more year" easily because I actually enjoy parts of my current job. But this does give me pause for thought that maybe it won't be as easy as I think.

    Still some way off for me.

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  2. I’m in a very similar position to you, but slightly further down the track. FI came a few years ago and, although I haven’t gone down the OMY route, my attitude at work is to do the stuff I like and not all the BS. It also means being vocal like you about BS, but I try to hold my tongue. The result is my work input is running more like 20% which obviously cannot continue for much longer. My FIRE date will be determined by the Man!!

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  3. Sorry to hear you’re struggling RIT.

    For what it is worth is an experience shared by many folks who are about to experience a major geographic relocation. The “will we or won’t we” discussions are exhausting. Then once the decision finally gets made (or more commonly in the UK these days made for them, in the case of folks unable to obtain visas/extension), they experience an often protracted period where they feel life is on hold until the departure day eventually arrives.

    I’ve done 5 international relocations, and to varying degrees I’ve experienced what you are describing every time. Were I to do it ha 6th time I’d just pack up and go once the decision was made, as the protracted lingering goodbye isn’t a happy place to be.

    Good luck with it.

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    1. are you going to buy a different domain name or is that it?

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  4. I get it - you feel like you're in No Man's Land. Not fun.

    I'm already FIREd here in the US, but I did it almost as soon as I could because I just couldn't take working anymore.

    I'm not sure it applies to the UK, but does it make sense to read Financial Samurai's book on negotiating a severance? Maybe you could get the additional money you want but just leave earlier.

    Good luck!

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  5. Hi RIT, I like you feel my BS bucket getting smaller. I thinks its harder to give 120% when you don't think the organisation (let's face it certain individuals) aren't being honest/realistic or are advancing their own agenda over what you think the organisation should be doing. Sadly I don't quite feel FI yet so my stress bucket is also getting smaller at the same time (though regular exercise seems to be a good tap). Just hoping I can make it to FI before I do something I regret.

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  6. RIT – as I understand it, you've based FIRE on a set of assumptions about future returns etc. An extra year will give you more of a buffer, but your assumptions could still turn out to be wildly wrong in either direction.

    So why spend a year making yourself miserable? Wouldn't you back yourself to make extra money in "retirement" if needed, or otherwise adjust as necessary? Shouldn't you be planning to do that anyway, given that anything could happen over the next 30+ years?

    Sure, all else being equal, a bigger retirement fund is bigger than a smaller one. But all else really isn't equal – it sounds like you're having a miserable year, and I'm struggling to see why it's necessary.

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    1. Just adding to this comment. RIT, wasn't you calculation for FIRE already fairly conservative (low WR, 14 months of extra buffer, valuing state pension at zero, no future work/income)?

      To me, working to Summer 2018 sounds along way off to me when you have: 'starting to feel more tired at both work and when I get home', 'a pretty political beast that sets some very unrealistic expectations', 'closed door discussions about me as a person and my attitude'.

      I wonder if you quit now, you company may try to retain you with some better terms. Any chance they would offer remote work or reduced
      hours?

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    2. RIT what is your notice period for resigning? If it is one month, then how about quitting now but give a generous 3 months? Explain you want to make the handover as easy for your company as possible. That gets you out by January 2018.

      You can still wait for Brexit to shake out. But now you'll have time for a few winter/spring extended holidays to Cyprus (or wherever). Time to test you really like Cyprus. Time to really track down your ideal home. Time to get a great deal on your home. Time to maybe test if you can develop some passive incomes. Time to further optimise your investments.

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  7. RIT,
    Sorry to hear of your dilema and frustrations. The most revealing comment for me is your wish for your employer to dismiss you...which very much sounds like you want to avoid taking responsibility.

    "If people are to Start down the road towards achieving financial independence then they must first stop acting like victims and must stop blaming others. Instead they need to start taking responsibility for their own actions."

    You will recognise from earlier posts. So if I were in your situation and my job was making me stressed and miserable and I had worked very hard to save enough for FI, as you have over the past 9 years, then I would have no hesitation..time to move on.

    Wishing you all the best in resolving the problem.

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  8. I reached FI at the same time as you, but I then retired and not only have I enjoyed the last year, my financial position has improved. I just don't have your drive, and am happy to potter my life away in the garden, but I worry that you need to *do* something all the time, like write your book, and you are struggling as work is no longer that thing. I think when you do leave them you will need projects, and if any of them make money you will have future income streams that will just keep swelling your pot. You've had your OMY, you don't need another.

    Its tempting to be bolshie enough that you get fired to remove the decision making. I was surprised when my boss was sad to see me go, as I thought I'd been doing a poor job. But I don't need that reference, do you for any future plans?

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  9. Get on with it. Get your money out of UK before it collapses under Brexit and a hard left government. Make some money somehow in retirement - monetising this site in some way might be a starter. Mrs RIT might also do something part time.

    If you don't take the plunge then what was it all for?

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  10. Hi RIT,

    Hang on a bit . I don't really get the concept of your BS and stress buckets - or how the size of the bucket changes depending on how much is in it. I also don't accept your 120% committment - no one doubts you are ( or at least have been ) a workaholic and given your all for your work . 100% is full on - you cannot do more than that . I think that too many of the comments so far are much too directive - advising you what to do - or at least suggesting what they ( contributers ) would do if they were in ( their assessment ) of your situation. Remember that your decision to stay at work until summer 2018 is ( hopefully ) changeable - it sounds like you may not have informed your employer's yet and you will need to give some kind of notice ( in my work that would be 6 months ) I think what you are going through is very understandable and also very important for you and your family's future as it is going to effect your " fall back position " of taking on some work after you have FIRE'd - your experience now may help you decide you might not want to do that - or you may want to eg start making furniture - rather than doing something like your current work. You are effectively starting a bereavement process - and you may be underestimating the future effects of how you leave your job. It does sound uncharacteristic of you to be willing to have this very important decision " taken out of your hands " and risk being fired ( not FIRE'd ) Let's assume you never work again after this job - how is being fired going to effect you for the rest of your life when you know that it has been your life for at least the last 10 years+ . Things can fester and I think you may be risking ending up a bit bitter about how your working life was brought to an end - when you have worked so hard to be Independent ( financially at least ) If you have not let your employer know about your plans maybe it is time for you to do so . It may make you feel a lot better about your work for the remainder - and it will prevent you being fired - although they may offer you a severance package for you to leave earlier at no financial loss to you. The maximum amount of notice will be helpful to your employer from the point of view of their succession planning - and it will also show good faith on your behalf ie you don't want to mess them around . You will need to have dealings with your work after you have left - about unpaid entitlements , holiday owing to you and also your employers pension scheme - goodwill will make all of those dealings easier for both parties. I would be surprised if doing something like the above does not improve your mood , reduce frustration and help you focus more of your energy on your future. You will be working towards a fixed date. I am sorry that I have " joined " the other contributors above ( whom I have effectively criticised for giving you specific advice ) by also giving you specific advice . I suppose it's me being arrogant and saying " my advice is better than their's "but I was intending for my post to try and help you get the best out of the situation you find yourself in - so that YOU can make the best decision for you , your family , your future - and your employer - who has been a very significant part of your life for many years - and after all , they have enabled you to consider FIRE in the first place . Good luck RIT , take your time , don't panic - and be as honest as you can be with yourself and those effected by the decisions you need to make .

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  11. Hi RIT, are you reconsidering your decision to see out OMY? Do you feel you have the flexibility in your plan to take a different course?

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  12. It puzzles me why you are doing this do yourself. If you don't need the money and it's hacking you off, take some time off. After what you'd have to do to get where you are, you deserve a break.

    Work also clouds the mind. You might find some of the big decisions get a bit clearer after some decompression time. There's no law that says finish work = move right now.

    The fact that you almost want The Man to make the decision for you is a little strange in a fellow who normally wants to operate the switches of his own lifestream. With the I in FIRE comes the requirement to take control ;)

    Good luck in whatever you choose to do!

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  13. Hi RIT,

    It sounds like you need to make a change to preserve your sanity. Perhaps now is the time to loosen the financial discipline a bit and do some of the things you were deferring to your retirement. The downside of a big bang move from full-time working to complete retirement is that you defer too much happiness to later and frankly that's hard to sustain, particularly in the 'one more year' period when it's tantalisingly close. Take some time off, make a change at work, pull forward some of the recreational things you're planning to do once retired. Some interesting musings from The Happy Philosopher on this that may be a good reference.

    Good luck and hang in there.

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  14. Hi RIT,
    The people you work for and with haven't changed because you have filled your FIRE bucket. You have, probably because you have completed objective 1 and OMY isn't, to you, a proper task. Can I suggest that leaving well, at a time of your choosing and with your employer struggling to fill the large hole you have left may well be a more satisfying objective.

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  15. @All
    As always thanks for all the thoughts. It’s one of the reasons I continue to run this blog. Before I give my thoughts let me first clarify why I actually do still run the blog as I think it’s important context today:

    -Hold myself accountable. This was once the number 1 reason but now that I’ve reached my number this is less important than it once was and is probably nearly redundant.

    -Over the years a small community has developed here who I enjoy interacting with. I can also say things here that I cannot say to anyone else but Mrs RIT along with a problem shared being a problem halved. I see similar in some readers comments.

    -Learn from and share with like minded individuals which is relevant today. I am not a company trying to project an image. In exchange for learnings from all of you what I give in posts like this is a warts and all account of what a journey to FIRE might entail. Like anything else in life it has its ups and downs with right now probably being one of the biggest downs of the journey so far. Tomorrow might be better or worse again. In doing so I’m just trying to give a small glimpse into what it’s all about which might then help others who are on similar journeys.

    Some thoughts on your thoughts:

    -I think it’s important to clarify why I’m doing OMY. It’s not about money as I have my number and as G points out it’s reasonably conservative. A WR of 2.5% after a beautiful home purchase, circa 40% discretionary spend in the budget that number is based on, assumption of no state pension even though my spending budget includes continuing to make voluntary NI contributions, early retirement being defined as work is entirely optional and a GBP:EUR exchange rate of 1.123 (that last one may play out to be not so conservative, only time will tell).

    -The OMY reason is Brexit and in particular watching how healthcare provision plays out as a result of the negotiations. It won’t stop us migrating to the Med but it might set our country and this is important given the current stance of the EU in the negotiations – “UK nationals in scope of withdrawal agreement only have protected rights in the state(s) in which they have residence rights on exit day, without prejudice to Social Security rights.”

    -Since settling on OMY 2 positives seem to have occurred that allow us to continue to be steered towards Cyprus. The first is as I wrote about on the 29 July 2017 – Cyprus is starting to build an NHS which it looks like I could pay into once I was a permanent resident. This is an important backstop as we’d need private insurance forever otherwise which carries risk – company stops covering because of too many conditions or because of age. Secondly it looks like both the UK and EU have agreed to the following regarding healthcare – “The withdrawal agreement also covers entitlement to healthcare reimbursement under the S1 scheme that arises by virtue of past residence or work, in accordance with the personal scope of the agreement in relation to social security rights.” I read that as providing we’re in prior to Brexit on 29 March 2019 then there is a good chance we’ll be able to still use the S1 route once we are of State Pension Age.

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    1. -This segues nicely to TA’s question. Our concerns regarding healthcare look to be diminishing. It’s still early days but if in a few months things are looking like firming on this front and my headspace is still where it is today then yes I think we definitely will consider going earlier. It’s one of the big advantages to already having our number.

      -To answer SlowDad. No it’s definitely not a will we or won’t we problem. It’s more a it’s 27C and sunny right now in Cyprus vs 17C and rainy where I am in the UK right now. I could be on bicycle riding along the seafront right now and not writing this reply type of problem.

      -On the fired before I FIRE topic which a few of you have picked up on. I can never say never as it’s one of the reasons I went for FIRE in the first place (outsourcing, job moved to a cheaper country, face no longer fits,...) but if it happened it wouldn’t be for performance reasons. When I say I’m giving 95% I’m still in the top handful of performers in my company. I’m probably not number 1 or 2 anymore but I’m nowhere near being fired. I also have no intention of that occurring as that’s just not how I’m built.

      -Stringvest makes a good point about this being the start of a bereavement process. That’s something I am going to think about. I’ve read a lot about the decompression phase that comes after FIRE and it has me thinking that I might actually be starting a part of that right now.

      -As Stringvest also suggests I will certainly also not be rushing the decision. I am still fully in control and in being so never make fast, rash or panicked decisions.

      Please do keep up the comments as it’s all great food for thought for both myself and I’m sure other readers.

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    2. If its not about the money, why not do all the things you can do in the UK, but not in the Med. Go to museums, festivals, watch morris dancing, attend Apple Days (don't have a go at Cheese Rolling, I visited the course this year, you have to be mad)

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  16. I completely understand about the bullshit bucket! I wrote something similar a few months back about the same - corporate values, and Agile/Lean practices and personal development and so on. Unfortunately I still have 6 to 8 years before FI, but it definitely helps to unload some of your issues in a forum like this.

    I still don't really understand why you continue to work when you don't need to, especially the long hours you do. I've read and reread your post about OMY and I'm still baffled. Surely you don't need to move to Cyprus straight away? But hey, you know your situation better than I do, and I guess with a family to consider the stakes are much higher.

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  17. As you reached FI the questions you ask will become more emotional and I understand and mirror that exactly. I have around 7 months left and the advantage was mine was a date rather than a financial target so my 'bereavement' process started 5 years ago.

    Use your last year productively crossing t's and dotting i's, for me it's about getting rid of a company car, sorting a home pc and home mobiles etc...I am detaching myself. I am mentally preparing for a California road trip in Oct 18. So in a way I am not treading water but preparing for the departure.

    My stress bucket is high but mentality I know I am literally 10/15 weeks to being under notice...so I can see the light. That's just a blink compared to the last 5 years.

    If I were you I would try take a weeks holiday now, try gain perspective and then see if that helps. All easier said than done. I am trying to do that myself.

    Good luck with this tricky patch.

    Phil321

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  18. Hi RIT,

    Thoughtful post as always.

    My concern is that you a storing up stress at work, whilst at the same time you will need to prepare for an extremely stressful period - leaving your job, moving home and moving country, starting a new life.

    You are working on a deadline to achieve residency in your chosen country before 'B' day, yet are not thinking of leaving work for another year. This is compressing the time you will have to get everything sorted out - it's time consuming enough buying a new home here in Blighty, let alone in a foreign country.

    I fear that you are in for an anxious period. But hope it goes well just the same.

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  19. Complainypants post. If you don't like your situation change it.

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  20. Some interesting things going on here. The last RIT decade from the outside looking in has been madness, but we see that madness with a suitable end goal can be enjoyable - I believe you when you tell me you found it positive. Now its madness without the end goal and its not so much fun. Not surprising. Waiting out for a bit of brexit clarification sounds eminently sensible for your situation, but the idea above of just not working in UK for that period is a good one. You'd learn a lot more from doing that than carrying on working, knowledge that would be very pertinent for the Cyprus trip. I'd give that a go if I were you.

    You're probably going to hit the 'grass isn't greener' paradox a year or two down the line so keep options open, give some thought now to how you might work again. Hot, dry days do not a happy man make - its other stuff that turns out to be important. But you can't know if you don't go - learn by experience and all that. Right now you need a healthy dose of commitment... W.H. Murray said it best, "Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initative or creation, there is one elementary truth...that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves. too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones's favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed would have come his way.

    Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it."

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  21. Be thankful for what you have, remember how fortunate you are and stop whingeing.

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  22. "Sadly though, where I find myself today I’m actually wishing they would fire me tomorrow"

    It's time to man up and get out of dodge.

    The recent events in Spain should have made your decision easier. It would be crazy to go there now and that's before the trouble starts over Gibraltar which will fuel anti-British problems.

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  23. Interesting post, RIT.

    On the politicking front, it may help to read a historical perspective on power e.g. 48 laws of power - and move into treating the various annoying interactions like the game they really are. It might even be fun to try some of that stuff out. That could help a lot with reframing your current experience.

    Another thought is to give some serious thought in terms of how you are managing your time in/outside of work. Simply put, can you put some activities in your calendar to break up the monotony and give you and yours something to look forward to. Two books: Happy Money & The Power of Time Perception could be worth a look and may help post retirement.

    I'm the process of negotiating going part-time post FI as I still like my company a lot and it is trying to change the world for the better - but I want to focus on the stuff I'm good at/enjoy/can make most difference in. Fortunately, I have a boss who is up for that (so far).

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  24. Try some meditation, use cold mind to analyze what you want to achieve during this extra year, probably to reduce your exposure to BS and to have the chance to enjoy that "killing yourself" at work is not required, and that boses are not "masters", they don't have the full picture, you do, take your popcorn and watch it, relax... another day... another dollar...

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  25. it barely needs restating but the whole point of "financial independence" is to not have to put yourself in a situation that you don't want to just to make a wage. Given your net worth, whatever you earn and save in the extra year could easily be made up by less than a 10% move up in the markets. I know this because I am in a similar situation financially and as soon as I hit my number, I started operating as an independent consultant. I now feel free to turn down any work that does not interest me and have a lot more time to focus on things I want to learn in unrelated subjects, with the kids etc. If you feel the pressure to put yourself through this, clearly you are yet to achieve proper independence despite hitting the target - financial or otherwise.

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  26. Man who has accumulated "Get stuffed" fund must cry "Get stuffed".
    As Confucius so wisely observed.

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    1. haha - wise words grasshopper. But its scary to do!

      Bear in mind, from the outside looking in RITs behaviour appears entirely conventional, what is unconventional is his motive, but thats not visible to the outside world. Next step is unconventional motive *and* unconventional behaviour - that's harder, more courage required to stick your head above the parapet..

      One other observation is that, to the workaholic, an attractive lifestyle and a holiday are indistinguishable. Once work has gone though, my feeling is that they will quickly become noticeably different. Worth bearing in mind?

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  27. Awful Warning, RIT.
    https://www.city-journal.org/html/killing-kicks-15473.html

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  28. Thanks for sharing this, RIT - things don't always go to plan but it doesn't sound like you are in a happy place at work. If I were in your shoes, that would be the signal for me to walk away, even if before the full OMY. Take some time off and enjoy yourself while you wait to see how Brexit turns out? Do you really need to put in those long hours when you don't need to?

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  29. Remember RIT. You can do whatever you want and it doesn't matter what anyone on this forum thinks about it. Take whatever seems the wisest course.

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