If I kept a gratitude journal, the first item listed every day would be to thank people in my life for being there for me. My wife. My parents. My siblings.
But a close second would be a big thank you to myself, for taking the time and effort to build up a pile of sweet, sweet money. Because that money allows me to responsibly quit.
Every day at work, good or bad, no matter how things go, I think: I could quit.
I’m just about there. I don’t have to do this anymore. Unlike virtually everyone else in this building with me, I’m not trapped.
It’s my choice, after all. I could quit.
Knowing that it’s a personal decision to go into work everyday makes a potentially unbearable situation feel much, much better — at least tolerable, sometimes even good.
And it’s been like this for two years or so. At age 35, in mid 2012, I plugged my numbers into the FIRECalc retirement calculator and it told me that my working career could be over if I so chose.
I’d passed the finish line: I could quit.
It’s been over seven hundred days since hitting that initial ‘bare-bones’ mark of FI, and I still think about the possibility of quitting nearly every time I go into the office. Now, maybe this is a good thing, and maybe it’s a bad thing, but no matter what kind of thing it really is, I can’t deny that it is one — A real thing.
Much like a teenage girl that can’t go more than a few hours without thinking about Justin Bieber, so am I unable to make that particular thought depart. It’s always banging around in my head somewhere or other. You know — that one. The one that says I can quit.
Sometimes it stays hidden until early afternoon, when I’m tired and wish I were home instead of in a cube. Other days it might not pop in until nightfall, when I’m close to the end of a book I’m reading but realize I have to go to sleep so I can make it to work on time. If I quit, I wouldn’t have a schedule. I could afford to stay up an extra hour on weeknights. Or two. Or four. Whatever.
Most days, though, the thought hits me first thing, during the commute, because I bang around with other cars on cramped New England streets, total anti-fun.
Seven hundred days and you’d think I would have adjusted to this feeling, but somehow I haven’t. It has something to do with the weirdness of the situation. Nobody quits good jobs without another lined up. Nobody says no to more easy money. And yet, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. It hardly seems real.
At any rate, the apparent strangeness of it all is a huge contributor to the frequency of the quit-related thoughts. Whether I like it or not, the ability to retire early has become one of the defining characteristics of my life, as much a part of me as any other passion. If it was common, for example, for people to take extended sabbaticals, then what I’m about to do would seem more normal and probably less interesting to think about — Not a Big Deal. People would be moving in and out of offices constantly as they took extended breaks from formal work. I’d be just another guy giving himself a breather from the grind.
As an added bonus, you’d be able to openly talk about your plans for your next 6-month hiatus with other coworkers, because they’d be sharing their own with you.
But that isn’t the present reality. So I’ll confess here that quitting is my go-to thought whether things are rough at work or they aren’t. It doesn’t makes a difference. With my own leave-work-forever date looming, I’m in a semi-daze most of the time, mentally saying goodbye to things I don’t like.
Seeya later, beaten down pile carpet. Gotta run, meeting room with conference phones atop maple-veneered tables. Hasta La Vista, dirty kitchen refrigerator that smells like moldy bread.
It’s as though my brain is narrating an updated version of Goodnight, Moon, revised for early retirees.
Irritating co-worker? That’s okay. I’ll be leaving soon. Confrontation with management? No big deal, I’m just about out the door. Boredom? I’ll be saying goodbye to that in two months as well.
Because I could quit, you know. And I’m damn well going to.
April 2015, here I come.
That is awesome – I can’t wait until we get to that stage that we “could quit”. Having that goal in mind, and only a few years to go take so much stress out of work and the daily grind. I’m not trying to climb the corporate ladder, or build some amazing guru reputation at work. I’m just happy being someone who is reliable and does a really great job. My husband and I do spend quite a bit of time thinking about if we are crazy to want to quit really great jobs… but we have a few years to come to terms with it, hopefully it clicks before the time comes!
You’re taking a good approach in the office. Trying to do too much usually results in needless stress, anyhow — better to focus on the quality of your work and let the rest take care of itself.
It’ll probably ‘click’ faster for you and your husband than it did for me. Staying plugged into online communities that support your dreams helps.
I could quit, but we have big travel plans so I will work 7 more years and we should save another couple hundred thousand making sure we can do whatever we want in retirement.
I know exactly what you mean. I’ve had the same problem for almost a year. My chant phrase in my head is a bit different, but it sounds like its frequency is just about the same as yours. I’ve started to realize it’s a bad day when I’m chatting every few minutes in my head.
I’ve also realized I tend to over use it as a defense strategy. A set of ingrained thoughts isn’t helpful to avoid dealing with things for a long term, so when I start having a bad day I tend to find something else to pour my energy into to get off the treadmill of thoughts.
Anyway, thanks for sharing. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
I agree with both of your points: re: a) defense mechanism and b) it not being healthy to continually use these sorts of strategies to put off finding better long term solutions. The best long term solution for me is to follow through on my April date, which will allow me to move on in life. Appreciate the thoughts and encouragement!
I wouldn’t exactly define work as “easy money,” even if you believe once you get to work, the work itself isn’t all that hard. What is not easy, is the commute, the schedule, the bosses, politics, going to bed because you have to work the next day, etc., are all reasons it’s not easy. Can’t wait for the first post after you say “I quit.”
I think it just seems easy because I’ve been at it so long. Time consuming, and sometimes draining, but also easy. It’s tough to, say, look at my brother, who is 41 and trying to find a job making more than 35K, and simultaneously say: I’m quitting my 100K gig.
Me = also looking forward to the quit post. No idea what it’ll look like yet, of course, as it’s impossible to plan in advance how I’m going to really feel, but I’ll do my best to be truthful about it when the time comes.
Now that you are finishing the marathon, are you sure you are going to keep going and try to finish the ultra marathon? 🙂 jk
Just for kicks, the last few weeks while you are on the job, you ought to answer every question, no matter how critical and urgent the situation may be, with “I’m doing wonderful, and yourself?” I know it that response will create many bewildered looks from people, but fuck it….nothing work related really matters at that point anyway. You could also try the Bartleby the Scrivener reponse “I prefer not to.” I might just alternate between those two responses during my final farewell tour.
Congrats on an awesome journey!
Gotta love the B to the S reference, had me laughing out loud. I’ll repeat “I’ll prefer not to,” all the way up until the day that I leave.
That’ll probably be where I stop emulating Bartleby, though — in the book, doesn’t he die in the end? Prison or something? Damn, I think I’ll be avoiding that.
Dude, what are you waiting for? The last few thousands in your million-dollar stash?
If you’re really even missing $50,000, that means that over the next FORTY YEARS or so, you’d only need to make up $50,000 + maybe some interest! So if you cut down your monthly spending by about $105, done. Or you make an average of $105 per month in side gigs, odd jobs, mowing the neighbors lawn for exercise, whatever.
It feels to me like you’ve been mentally ready (and you earned it!) and had enjough cash to FIRE years ago. Something in your mind is holding you back though, I don’t know what it is. From this post it sounds like you think you don’t deserve it, because then you’d just be a lazy bum while other people still have to work.
Maybe you could think about and make more concrete what you’d actually be doing in RE for yourself. Then you could tell yourself “I’m not stopping work like a lazybum, I’m focusing my efforts on becoming well read, or learning carpenting, or fixing up our house, or ?”, fun_thing_here.
Sounds to me like you struggle with giving yourself permission.
Jeb, you’re definitely onto something — I’ve been driven not just by a desire to retire early but also by a sense of responsibility, combined with, at times, irrational hesitation to change the status quo. The same traits that I cultivated in order to become better at my job — commitment, consistency, loyalty, dedication — have perversely also made it more difficult to leave. This is one of the ironies of FIRE, if not for many people, then at least for me.
Still, your points are well taken and there’s no doubt that I don’t really need the last two months’ salary to secure and execute my own early retirement. That being said, my exit plan, as created early last year, was to spend the year finalizing logistics and padding the stash, to be concluded by a front-load my 401(k) this year before finally giving notice. Each of the first three months this year, I’m raking in 6500 of tax-advantaged money — pure savings, I should add, as my living expenses remain covered by the remainder of my paycheck. It’s too good to pass up. But once I hit the caps, subsequent months become much less valuable. Believe me, I’m sticking to the plan.
Also, to your point, given my expenses, I’ve clearly over-saved, and there’s no doubt that I’m mentally ready and it’s time for me to leave. Still, I have zero regrets about having a bit more padding in the stash to be prepared for an uncertain future. On the other hand, I will regret working a single day past April.
Not Happening. 🙂
It stopped being weird for me about 6 months after I walked out the door for the last time. You get used to it fast.
I’m looking forward to un-acclimating myself to the office. My guess is the deprogramming will happen a lot faster than it took to initially adapt, which took years of work. Glad to hear it was a fast transition for you, it’s reassuring.
I am not yet at a point where I could quit for any length of time yet. Well I take that back, I could probably quit for at least a year or two, but then would have to go back to work.
But as you pointed out it is easy money. So over the past 6-months I have been re-framing my day JOB. It currently is my main source of cash-flow that is largely contributing to my freedom fund.
I have learned how to integrate pieces of my idea future life with my day JOB. For now I will continue perfecting the “Blend” until I can finally make the “Break”.
Love the way you’ve decided to look at the situation, very cool. Saving for freedom is an awesome and inspiring goal.
I think that’s a fantastic position to be in. Perhaps, what you need is just a good trigger like a good bout of office politics creeping up or a bossy client/coworker giving you a hard time. Make your exit count man.
Can’t wait for the day where I’ll be in the same position.
Could quit? April 2015, Love it. I choose to ignore the co-worker as well, who knows you might miss them…..nah just kidding.
This is such a great post….and quite the inspiration. Yet so counter-culture to mainstream America. For those of us that “dare to dream” I suppose. I actually think “I could quit” as well, but meet much resistance…perhaps mostly in my own head. I’m really glad I found this blog…and look forward to April’s exit. It may end up being a bit anti-climatic yet glorious nontheless. Keep up the good work!
>.perhaps mostly in my own head
Yep, that’s really been the central challenge over the last year. Logistics turned out to be the easier part of the FIRE journey for me, and was just a matter of figuring out what needed to be done and then executing plans, i.e. standard problem solving. The mental side seemed to take greater determination.
Best of luck in your own efforts.
How awesome!! Mr. Maroon and I long for the day that we can walk in to say I Quit. We are still 5+ years from that day. But still think about it daily. I’m thinking it might be a little unhealthy to linger over it for nearly 2000 days…
Half a decade isn’t all that long, and when it’s over — that’s it, for life! Still, be sure to find ways to enjoy your working years along the journey, as much as you’re able.
Very awesome, I look forward to that day myself. Any reason why your’e waiting till April to call it quit?
About a year ago I set the quit date as April 2015. This allows me to front-load my 401(k) contribution for the year and max it out at 18K + about 2K from my employer. So a) 20K of tax-free savings in 3 months is a decent ROI and b) I’m the kind of person who likes to stick to plans most of the time.
Goodbye, single ply crepe toilet paper!
How did you know?
I just stumbled onto your Drawdown series from the MMM forums and loved your writing style and Dilbert references. Will be reading through the rest of your posts over the coming weeks.
I have one question for you though, based on your April exit date… When you handed in your ‘I Quit’ notice to your boss what was their reaction and the reaction of your co-workers upon learning of your future plans?
I haven’t shared my plans with anyone at work yet. My boss knows I’m, uh, well-off, but I don’t think he thinks I want to or can retire, exactly. It should be a shocker to them when I resign. We’ll see.
I don’t plan on sharing the truth with them — the truth being that am not planning on working any longer. Many folks have strict no-lying policies but I am not one of them — especially in the workplace. I plan to tell my boss I’m going to freelance because I need the schedule flexibility. They have a very rigid 9-5 ‘availability’ requirement so taking this tack will prevent them from making any counter offers, while allowing me to credibly state that I have enjoyed my time with them and am not leaving due to any issues with the function or environment.
And hey, it’s true I need the schedule flexibility, because: Retired.
I’ll definitely provide a blow-by-blow after it goes down.
Ya buddy! Super pumped for you.
And I totally agree. Long hiatuses or sabbaticals should be encouraged.
Some readers tell me that they are, albeit in other countries.
Hey livafi, I found you when I was lurking the MMM forums and wished I had discovered this blog sooner. I thought I was reading a biography on my own life in the tech world and pretty much consumed every post you’ve made in 2 days. Happy to see your goals coming true and you’ll be moving onto the next journey soon. No pressure but I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see what happens in April. Cheers.
Thanks for the comment, DA, and it’s always great to have new readers. I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying the site.
Yes, I could quit too 🙂 That keeps me sane, I have had many instances where I should have walked away from my job, but couldn’t. Once I did, but then I wasn’t ready then So that spurred me on to be FIRE. There’s a lot of well meaning advise to carry on, including from my boss. He feels this is making me less passionate and productive at work – which may be true to some extent. I am in a high inflation country and there is lot of volatility in everything. But at the other hand this is also a poor country where people live in hand-to-mouth existence and we are also flexible to adjust our spending based on the money at hand unlike many folks in the western countries. So I am R-E-A-D-Y and I do pass many of the local retirement calculators. I echo the same feelings as yours at the moment – good to know it is not just me 🙂
Interesting comment, really appreciate the sharing. My wife made similar observations: “You are less motivated and passionate at work. Sometimes also ruder.” I unfortunately agree with her and I’m trying to keep tabs on these things – they are symptoms of my impatience, because I know the time is short. And thanks for the reminder to be willing to be flexible on spending in the future – dropping expenses to your ‘floor’ level definitely helps during more trying years, if the retirement calculators can be trusted. High inflation, plus reading a blog about FI and technology – my guess is you’re talking about India?
Congratulations on being ready yourself – it’s an incredible achievement.
Reblogged this on Power Of The Pivot.
While I’m not anywhere near quitting I have a somewhat similar mindset at work in certain aspects (it’s still evolving to the state that you have reached). I could quit because I don’t really need the money like other people there. I couldn’t permanently quit, but I could easily take 5 years off and just do…. whatever. Because I am much more financially secure than most others it allows me to speak up more about things that I don’t like, because hey, what’s the worst that could happen, I get fired and unemployment checks for a while. Sounds like a good backup to me.
As for one of your responses above about regretting working a single day in April I think you shouldn’t regret that at all. If you work 1 day in April that means your company health care will be covering you for that month, that’s 1 less month that you will have to pay for it. (Though the cost probably doesn’t matter at this point) That was one of the things I learned from an old job, if you’re a salaried employee it’s best to make your last day in the beginning of the week (say a Monday or a Tuesday) because then you get paid for the weekend when you were not at work. Whereas if you quit on a Friday you don’t get paid for the weekend you are about to hit.
Thanks for the info, re: April dates. I sloppily typed the wrong month, meant to say May, as it’s actually likely I’ll be working a week or two in April.
But either way, it’s great to know I’ll have HC for the entirety of the month. And yes, you’re talking about FU money, which it sounds like you have in spades. Life-changing, empowering, awesome FU money definitely reduces workplace stress.
Congratulations on reaching this point, and it’s obvious from your posts that you are ready and prepared to leave the workforce. But make sure you don’t invest too much emotional energy in the act of quitting. When you’ve been working toward a life-altering goal like that for so long, it can be impossible to not do so. But the fact is that the quitting itself will only take a day, maybe two as you enjoy the first morning of not going to work and knowing that it’s because you’re done. After that huge emotional release, there’s then going to be the sense of “Now what?”. There will be a period of transition when the absence of the goal will feel heavier than the goal itself. Make sure you’ve got some concrete plans to get you through that adjustment.
Your post makes me feel conflicted. I’m jealous, because I’m so much older than you and just really starting to focus on FI. Its ten more years for me, and I already find myself thinking like you are sometimes. But at the same time I’m happy to have a plan, and the idea of finding a way to fill that space after I retire like you now face is already a bit intimidating. I’m glad I don’t have to decide by April. 🙂
Looking forward to reading about how you handle it.
Never mind – lol. I had taken you at your word last fall that you were done with the blog and hadn’t checked it again till I saw this article today. Now I see there are many more, and you’ve already addressed this issue in that excellent post you made about seeing the therapist. Loved it, btw.
I still stand by my statement that I look forward to reading about it. You should keep writing – you’re good at this, you know. 🙂
Hey FuzzyB, nice to see you. I’m honestly not looking forward to the quit event in and of itself: I just don’t sense any future pleasure in telling my employer that I’m leaving. Despite some of my recent complaining about him, he’s not a bad guy and it’s not my intention to ruin his day/week/month/career. OTO, the ‘not having to go to work anymore’ part of quitting I’m looking forward to immensely.
Right, re: future, I’ve given myself permission to quit without having anything specific to retire TO. I’m now pretty comfortable just working it out when the time arrives.
That being said, I’ve done a bit of brainstorming, just for kicks, and there’s an upcoming post on the subject.
>>But at the same time I’m happy to have a plan
Also happy for you! If you’re anything like me, feeling like you’re working toward something (instead of merely treading water or floating aimlessly) makes life generally more enjoyable. You will be fine, I’m certain of it.
>>I had taken you at your word last fall that you were done with the blog
Yeah, I just can’t be trusted. 🙂 Truth is, a) a few people convinced me to keep blogging and b) I really enjoy putting the posts together. So it’s working out, for now.
I especially like your line…
“As an added bonus, you’d be able to openly talk about your plans for your next 6-month hiatus with other coworkers, because they’d be sharing their own with you.”
I could quit too and I hear the refrain in my head , but I can’t share it because everyone else is living paycheck to paycheck waiting for the lotto jackpot. It kills me to keep quiet and I want to shout in every meeting . .. This is BS! let’s revolt. My quit date is 4-2017 This is the date my husband and I agreed to so I need to stick it out.