Aiming Higher, or the Case for “One More Year”

I recently received a promotion and a sizable bonus. And just like that, I’ve now technically achieved financial independence based on my target net worth of >35x annual expenses. But, although I’ve achieved one of my main financial goals, I’m still not ready to quit.

Reasons to Stay

Being promoted and rewarded financially was really gratifying, in part because I’ve never worked as hard as I’ve been doing this past year. More importantly, being financially independent means I can stop working and feel reasonably confident that I don’t need to work for money again.

But, there are a number of reasons in favor of staying, including many of the same reasons I mentioned at the beginning of the pandemic.

On the work front, while I’ve been working hard, I still find my work interesting and my team has brought on additional help recently, so my workload should be more manageable going forward. Also, with the pandemic still ongoing, I still get to work remotely, which also helps to make work more sustainable and enjoyable.

There’s also a significant financial incentive to stay.

For one thing, financial independence may be fleeting. The current state of affairs is partly due to the stock market recovery, but that can always change. Better to reduce the margin for error under even the worst case scenarios in the market.

My promotion also means I’m now earning several times what I was previously earning in total annual compensation, which is a game changer. It’s akin to a law firm associate being promoted to equity partner (except the work is more enjoyable and motivating, at least to me). And, though a meaningful amount of my bonus has already been paid, the remainder will vest and be payable over several years. Quitting now would mean leaving a lot on the table, after putting in a lot of work to get to this point.

Expanding the Art of the Possible

Under these current circumstances, working for another year or two also opens up a world of possibilities. I can more comfortably buy a house, if and when I find the right place. Or, I can travel more or be more comfortable when I do. I will be in a better position to support family and other loved ones. Having more capital will also give me more resources to invest in my existing hobbies or start new projects. Even if I were to pass away unexpectedly, I would be leaving a meaningful nest egg to my significant other and my family.

One More Year Syndrome

I’m cognizant of the well-documentedone more year syndrome.” But, as Physician on Fire said, “When you have a high salary, One More Year can make a big difference for you, your family, or for people and causes that matter to you.” That’s especially true when “one more year” going forward is the equivalent of multiple years of my prior compensation. And, given all of the uncertainty in the world, it seems prudent to save more while I can.

I still need to think about how much is “enough.” I also need to watch out for (unintentional) lifesyle inflation, which may render me financially un-independent again. But, in the meantime, it seems like a worthwhile tradeoff to work a while longer, to enable me to set my sights even higher, as I pursue my ideal life.

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