So you’ve reached your FI number and you’re ready to walk the plank off the good ship Employment to see what awaits you in the wide-wide world.
Note: The Quiz on this page has been broken since a site migration to wordpress. I know. Suck.
Up until now you’ve been doing the right thing at work, keeping a low profile on your saving and investment-minded alter-ego. Maybe you’ve made an exception for a close friend but that’s about it. Everyone else knows you as just another working schmoe.
You suddenly have an opportunity to show them otherwise.
Because my God, you’d like to show them otherwise. Stick it in their faces. Strut a little. Air it out.
Take this simple test to determine whether or not it’s appropriate to tell your entire organization that you’re loaded and retiring for good.
Should You Reveal All?
1. Your age is:
- Speak up, Sonny, I can’t hear you.
2. You would describe your relationship with your manager as:
- Just swell, thank you. We get along and usually see eye to eye.
- Almost not totally broken.
- You are his/her personal garbage basket.
- Relationship? What relationship?
3. Close your eyes and remember back to the first anniversary of employment in your industry. How did you feel?
- Like you’d aged a full dog year.
- Ready to put in another thirty.
- It might get old eventually, but it’s fine for now.
- More disappointing than a box of rats on Christmas.
4. The way you’d like to be remembered at your employer after you’re gone is:
- Someone who worked hard and gave it their all.
- The most bad-ass enigma, like, ever.
- A ghost who left no traces.
- Dumbstruck with jealousy and hate, like Cinderella’s step-sisters after she transforms into a princess.
5. The chance of you ever returning to office life and needing a reference is:
- 10%. If the market sheds half of its value in the next year, you’ll be finding employment, stat.
- 50%. It had its good days and it’s possible you’ll want to return at some point.
- 80% or more. You’ll probably switch to a different office-type career down the road.
- 0%. Office life? Is that like, a thing, still?
6. Imagine you’ve just told everyone you no longer ever need employment. Coworker X starts crying, asking how you could possibly retire when s/he can’t even afford to take the kids to the movies this weekend. You would feel:
- Guilty. You didn’t want to upset anyone with this news.
- Nonplussed. They’ll cry themselves to sleep eventually. They always do.
- Happy. Those kids shouldn’t be going out to fancy movies-in-theaters anyway.
- Powerful. The tears of suffering make you stronger. So sweet and delicious.
7. You’ve been retired for a year and run into your old director at the library on a Saturday. He asks how you are doing. You would:
- Pretend you didn’t see him/her and go about your business.
- Politely say hello, but keep the conversation as short as possible.
- Ask, with just a bit of genuine interest, if your position is still open.
- Cut that bitch. Cut him
8. Your preferred method of communicating your RE plans to your company is:
- A discreet conversation, limited to your manager and an HR rep.
- Broadcasting MLK’s “Free At Last” speech over the PA.
- Friendly hallway conversations with co-workers, full of knowing nods and smiles.
- Company-wide email is always best. Contents: “So long, Fuckers!”
I score a 7 on this quiz, which means that I’m going to be withholding the real story from my employer when I retire. I just don’t want to ruffle any feathers or raise eyebrows on my way out. If I was in my late 40s or older I would probably tell them the truth because it wouldn’t seem so out of the ordinary. But at 36 — I’ll be 37 next year when I self-terminate — I’m just too young to be seen as not formally working and I don’t want the hassle of the conversations that will surely arise. My favorite idea right now is to tell them that I’m going to be doing consulting in a work-from-home capacity for a nameless firm. My current employer disallows WFH more than 1 day a week, so people will understand why I’m making the change.
Some folks will think that this is a shameful cop-out. That I should be open and honest about what I’m doing. After all, maybe if my co-workers see that I’ve been able to retire early, they’ll start getting ideas of their own. I might even help someone out, open their eyes, that sort of thing.
But I just don’t agree with that line of thinking. The people where I work are just like most people. Set in their ways. Even if I air it all out in a friendly and educational way, they’ll find reasons to believe that I’m a freak-of-nature anomaly and they could never do anything similar. They’ll tell themselves that it’s too late to make a change. I work with guardian-types almost exclusively and they’re not inclined to go against perceived norms, even if there are clear benefits in doing so.
What I Believe
When you tell someone you’re retiring early, what they hear is you are rich. No amount of explaining will change this perception for the majority of folks — they just will not understand that you’re living on an extremely modest flow of passive income. In addition, they hear the second bit that Superman says in the lead image to Lois — even if you don’t say it. They hear “You are not rich.” It feels like a put-down. Revealing your true situation is going to inspire jealousy, maybe anger, surely awe and astonishment, and even, possibly, some self-loathing and disappointment (why can’t i retire? I don’t like my job either!). Most of my co-workers are good people and I don’t want to bother their lives in any way.
The path of least resistance — which incidentally will also allow me to keep or pick up any relationships I have with these people in the future if I so choose — is to avoid this whole mess and lie. Or at least not tell the whole truth.
But everyone is different.
And on that line of thinking, if you scored a perfect 24, please, please, please contact me after you leave your job and tell me how it went. There’s going to be a good story there.
Awesome quiz. There are some good days at my job, but “endless vortex of pain” kind of sums it up nicely. The main thing keep me sane is that I work PT, I bike to work, and 100% of what I earn goes to purchasing our freedom.
Yep, exercise definitely helps to cope on the multi-year trip through the corporate crapper before reaching FI. I run and do body-weight exercises myself, very nearly every day, which usually reduces me to a limp pile of optimistic human mush. I use exercise like some people drink — as a numbing agent. The added benefit is that you’ll also be much healthier when you finally pull the plug on employment, and that health will allow you to really enjoy FI. (I’ve seen you post on this on the forums, very cool.) BTW there have been times in my life when I would have scored on the higher end of the quiz (as you did) but I’ve managed to finally find an employer that doesn’t ride me until the breaking point. I still don’t want to work, but the intensity of daily pain I’m asked to endure is finally bearable. Most days, anyway.
The last answer on #7 had me rolling. Hilarious.
I am a 9. What I am struggling with is why I would think my work deserves the full honest story. There’s a whole bunch of information they withhold from me, other stuff they just lie to me about, and some things they are honest about. This is a job, not my confessional. It is a business arrangement, not a personal relationship. So I will tell them something, but not the unvarnished truth.
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I’m kind of curious to try this out. Any chance of fixing the quiz?