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I switched jobs from one that I hated to one that I like. I recognize though that the job itself might change, but it moved my desire for FIRE from being extremely important to just something to aim for.

In the original post you linked to, you mentioned some investors in the 80's who had done very well. Unfortunately, we don't live in the 80's, the market appears to be overvalued, and your real return on investments in the overall market may be quite low (like 2-3% a year). I think some solid dividend players may be the maximum you could really hope to garner, which might be around 5% a year (with KMP, MO, RAI, ED, DUK, MCD) So now you are looking at 350*.05 = $17.5k which is pretty tight, far below the $40k which you are living on now.

If I were you I would try experimenting with a super low lifestyle just to see how it feels (for those expenses which are discretionary obviously)

I suspect if you were reasonably lucky with both health and investments, which would be the most probable situation, you could retire right now provided you started traveling abroad a lot of the time and living in really cheap accommodations. however, if you were unlucky in either of these categories, it might land you in a world of hurt. This would take some more investigation to see if you could cover your health expenses with some foreign plan that was not as pricey as US plans. I priced out annuities for someone in their 40's and the most you can hope to get is around 3.3% a year, which is worse than dividend yields of those aforementioned companies.

Is there anyone out there who just got fed up and decided to leave work temporarily and wing it? Are most people just hanging in there and hoping they'll still be able to retire early, but gave up for now?

To be honest the crappy markets have really taken the wind out of my sails with regards to trusting that my investments could really pull their weight and be enough to live on. Combine that with the fact that the investments really aren't doing as well as they should be to retire on, and I'd place myself in the "given up for now" camp, but with the caveat: not as desperate to retire either. My job doesn't demand that much compared to the older job, and it is a bit like being partially retired actually compared to my old job which demanded nearly 50% more working hours.

I like the "Early Retirement Extreme" blog too, it is fun to read. However I share your concern that he really is now mooching off his wife/girlfriend combined with spending huge amounts of time managing his stocks (which he appears to be doing well at, but I don't share his confidence that one can beat the stock market consistently even with a high level of time invested in it). So he has basically switched careers to stock investing, putting in more than 20 hours a week on it, if you read him closely.

I also notice that my enthusiasm for that stuff has waned.

I agree with this sentiment as well. My enthusiasm for some of the things I dreamed of even as recently as 5 years ago has waned. I dreamed living in a foreign country would be exciting and fun. Now Mexico has a really strong drug lord presence and it seems threatening. I dreamed that having nothing to do would be idyllic. Now I have more free time on my hands with a less stressed job I find myself sometimes bored. I prefer it! But I realize that some of my dreams may have been naive. I am still aiming for financial independence, but more because I don't trust my overall job situation than anything else.
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When Life Gives You Lemons
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