Mod Note (Andy): make sure to see the top comment below by user APAE
Created a burner account here to talk about burnout and life choices. For reference, I went to a semi-target, did 2 years at a BB/EB, and have finished up ~1 year in PE. In between, I took a prolonged summer gap - left the BB/EB on the first day possible while keeping a bonus, and pushed my PE start date as late as possible.
A few hours after finishing up my last day of work, I flew to a European music festival with my best friends. They would come and go for different countries as banking vacations allowed, but I just kept moving country-to-country with little-to-no plan. Overall, about ~50% of it was with friends while ~50% was solo. I met a girl I liked and traveled with her for a week. This gap had me travel Europe, Asia, Australia, and NZ.
While traveling, I met so many people with different ways of living. A few kayaking guides told me how they would move to a different country (and continent) each year and work on a new river - life never got old. Aussies take month-long breaks almost every year and have travel as a defining part of their culture.
Deciding what to do next.
Switching gears, I'm having a major problem deciding what to do next. At the heart of the problem for me is two separate but equally important concepts.
1. Compounding Returns:
Using the rule of 72 and historical returns (not guaranteed but the best starting point) of 8%. invested capital should double on a real, inflation-adjusted basis every 9 years. Therefore, it should 16x every 36 years. Therefore, every $100K accumulated by 30 should be worth about $1.6M real dollars by a normal retirement age of ~65 as long as it's not touched. You could save $300K and be on track to retire with $5M real dollars, and in the interim 36 years be a beach bum (as long as you can cover your expenses, which should be pretty easy).
I'm well -on-track with $300K given some fortunate bonuses and a high savings rate (2/3rds) and a lucky inheritance (1/3rd), and could actually go do this today. But more widely applicable is just the incredible power of compounding returns over time and therefore the importance of working hard and saving in your 20s.
2. Living While You're Young:
Even though it's so important to save in your 20s due to the importance of compounding returns (articulated earlier) and setting yourself on the right career track (talked about all over WSO), it's also so important to have life experiences. I figure that by the time I'm 35, I'll most likely be married with kids and wish I was at work (even with a lovely wife and child, it would be good to get some time away).
Lots of traveling in hostels and partying in clubs really doesn't make sense in your 40's/50's, and I know that many of the life experiences I've been fortunate to have are only possible now. At the same time, I've sacrificed 7+ years to get here (college / banking) and any major break would take me off of "the track" and limit options in the future.
At some level, I feel that the prolonged summer gap has hurt my work ethic - I still get things done, but I spend a lot of time staring out of the window thinking of the waves and the beach. I know this is a privileged position, and I'm fortunate not to be paycheck-to-paycheck like a lot of America. At the same time, I'm losing time each day and I'm only getting older. Hoping this thread can be somewhat of a permanent place to talk about work/life trade-offs. Thanks for reading.