Our Next Life series: Part 1 – Quitting!

Published September 4, 2015   Posted in How to Retire Middle Feature

Welcome to the first exciting installment of the 4-part article series “Our Next Life“.  Here, we divulge our retirement plan, in some detail, for others to consider, scrutinize and endlessly ridicule.  And yes, I am fully aware that the name of this series also happens to be the name of one of our favorite finance blogs around – OurNextLife.com – and that’s okay.  They will forever be the blog.  This is the series. Blog.  Series.  Okay then, let’s get started!  First, I quit!

I remember vividly the last time that I quit a job.

In many ways, I was on top of the world.  Nothing could touch me.  Move out of the way, world, because I’m coming through.  This is my day – my day to be eternally, unequivocally, 100% happy and overflowing with pride.

This was my last day working as the Director of Information Technology at a not-for-profit in the healthcare industry.  Two weeks prior I submitted my official resignation, and for 13 days, I was preparing for this sweet day, my last 8 hours, in an office that grew to be stale, hollow and unsatisfying. As it turns out, I don’t like working a job all that much.

What does it mean to simply “not like to work”?  Does it mean lazily sitting on your ass all day and doing nothing, Peter Gibbons-style?  Well, maybe.  For me, it means I can’t stand the extra workish stuff that comes free of charge with a career, like meetings, performance reviews, more meetings, commutes, schedules, documentation…  As you know, I don’t want a career.  Been there, done that. Sorry career, you’re not for me.

I wanted to experience the feeling of knowing that I will no longer have to do this any more.  No more commute into the office.  And that huge looming kill-me-now-I-don’t-want-to-live project that I’ve been dreading for months?  No longer my problem.  I wanted to walk through the office one final time while thinking to myself, “I’m free!”  I wanted to freaking scream it.

For the past 8 months, I served as the head of the Information Technology department, a team of 13 people if I recall.  I was just some 32-year old stooge, but I was also in charge of people who were twice my age – those with more experience than me, and sometimes, more leadership under their belts.

But I was the guy.  I called the shots.  How did this happen?  What in the world enabled some 32-year old to be transformed from a web developer to the Director overnight?

There was no warning, either.  The CEO called me into his office and told me, point blank, that the old Director had been let go and he/they/someone wanted me to fill that role.  Whoa.  I’m sure my expression of shock, disbelief and amusement was felt reverberating throughout the office at that instant.

Of course I accepted.  For the past 12 years, I wrote code for a living.  Head down and mashing the keyboard, pounding out if statements and while loops, worrying about memory leaks, resource allocations, security vulnerabilities, all the “what ifs” of usability.

Sure, what the hell.  I wanted a change.  Truthfully, I badly wanted to experience something new. Okay, maybe I didn’t have quite this much of a job title upgrade in mind, but screw it, let’s give it a shot.  I’m game.

Overnight I became “the Director“, and I felt like hot shit that night.

The very next day, my calendar started getting full – I mean, real full.  Meetings piled up.  Questions about schedules and features started pouring in.  I liked it.  I was the one in charge.  Finally, after years of longing for the opportunity to make decisions, here I was – with virtually no prior upper management experience – sitting in meetings with executive staff making things happen.

And for a while, it was great.  It was new and different.  At least it got me moving around more going from meeting to meeting.  It was all cool and exciting.  It was nice being on top.

But slowly, the monotony started to set in.  Day after day was always the same, questions. Concerns.  Issues.  Meetings.  More questions.  More concerns.  More issues.  More…meetings.  It all started to accumulate within me.  My frustration grew.

Then the employee performance reviews started, and that sure as hell didn’t help.  Nobody, not even management, seemed to give a wit, but they still needed to be done.  My staff didn’t care, and quite frankly, I did not expect them to.  Their goals were as scripted and barren as possible.  They placed no importance in this process.  But honestly, neither did I.  It was busy work and I knew it. Performance reviews are almost always busy work.  Ugh, why?

At first, I chalked it up to being a part of the job.  When you’re in management, these things happen. Dealing with people is a part of it.  Answering questions is why you’re here.  Feeding upper management gigantic piles of feel good bullshit was what this job is all about.  Live with it and move on.

But as the weeks dragged on, I realized that I can’t simply “move on”.  The truth was after several months of being “the boss”, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I don’t want to be on the phone with one of my support staff on a Saturday night if something breaks in the office.  I also don’t want to be the douchebag who makes someone work when they should be away from the office and enjoying time off.

I refuse to be the enforcer of a policy that requires IT staff to sign their lives over to the organization, to design their free time around the ability to immediately respond when something goes wrong, generally caused by mindless office staff who could not possibly care any less about their jobs.

I also don’t want to practically turn into a lawyer whenever I’m in a meeting with upper management by carefully choosing my words, committing to nothing, anticipating their questions and having my bullshit answer already scripted in my head.  Because if you say the wrong thing, you’re liable to make it happen.

I was done, and I put in my two week notice 8 months into my dictatordirectorship – and I couldn’t have been happier.  I did it through email, ’cause I’m good like that, and ’cause I work in IT and it was assumed that I no longer possess the ability to print a piece of paper or hand-write much of anything.

And there is probably some truth to that.

It was both exciting and nerve-racking.  Suddenly, I became brutally honest in meetings with upper management.  Sugar-coat removed, baby.  For the next 14 days, you get the real-deal-spiel directly from your soon-to-be former Director.  But not to worry, for my replacement will soon reapply the sugar and once again feed you the bullshit that you’re looking for.

In some ways, it was a surreal experience.  Slowly walking towards the kitchen to grab myself a cup of coffee on my last day, I looked around.  I remembered things.  Good things and bad things.  I remembered standing there talking to so-and-so about such-and-such problem.

I also remember sitting in that cubicle writing code, wishing that I was the one calling the shots around here.

But more than all that, I also realized this was my last day walking these halls, talking to the majority of these people, dealing with this organization’s crap and the familiar concern over whether or not my weekend is going to be frantic OMG-Everything-Is-Down-Please-Fix call free or not.

It was a sense of relief.  And it was this relief that enabled me to finally see things for what they truly are without the old “Yeah, but I work here, so it’s not that bad” blinders on.  The old fridge.  The grimy carpet.  The yellowing ceiling tiles.

That 65-year dude who still works.  I don’t want to turn into that dude.

And now, as I think back on my last day at that organization, I am feeling the same drive to quit once again, but this time, for good.  I realized long ago that the grass is never greener – in fact, that shit is always brown.  The truth is that I am not cut out for the traditional “job” – any job.  I can move from company to company until I’m blue in the face.  It won’t help.  I don’t like “jobs”…not like this.

The way I felt walking the halls on my last day, will that be how it feels the next time that I give my two week notice?  Will I once again feel a sense of relief, or will it be something much greater – knowing that I’m not getting another job?

How do I tell my much-older boss that I’m not just “moving on”, but retiring?  I’ve already made up my mind that I’m not using the insipid “I want to spend more time with my family” excuse, because that opens the door for the company to try and keep you by giving you more time off.  Screw that.  I want the rest of my life off. And besides, why lie?  We’ve spent the past several years saving huge amounts of money so we can retire early and travel the country, and I’m damn proud of that.

I don’t know what that feeling will be like, but I am looking forward to finding out.  Come the end of 2016, my life will surely get pretty darn hectic, not just because of our retirement, but also our lifestyle changes that are enabling us to retire this early.

We are selling [almost] everything.

Check out Our Next Life, Part 2!

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Comments

53 responses to “Our Next Life series: Part 1 – Quitting!”

  1. Maggie says:

    That will be an exciting day! “I want the rest of my life off.” I think that’s a fabulous elevator speech for early retirement! And a great tagline too. Early retirement: Because I want the rest of my life off. Preach it, brotha! (And have fun in Long Island!)

  2. Steve – I’m the exact same way. I’ve changed companies once since graduating college, and changed my job within my current employer once as well. Things are fun at first when they’re new. New is always fun. But then the monotony sets in. All the crap you hated about your last job shows its face in one way or another. I’ve been debating hard lately if I wanted to find another job, but I know that won’t make me happy. Maybe it will speed up my FI date, but is it worth it? I think the only way I’ll ever be happy, is if I’m working for myself or FI.

    If I was as close to FI as you, the decision would be easy. But I’m not, I still have approximately 10 years to go. That’s what makes it hard.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Fervent,

      Unfortunately for me, the monotony sets in fairly quickly. I wish I could spend a couple years just muddling through, but I tend to get used to things fairly quickly – this can work out great…and not so great, too. 🙂

  3. Even Steven says:

    That 65-year dude who still works. I don’t want to turn into that dude.

    You and me both my friend:)

  4. Love the play by play. I think this is how most office drones feel, though maybe not all management. People just don’t envision a different way of living or take the steps (savings, side hustles, etc) needed to exit.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Adam! Getting into that drone feeling is just way the heck too easy, isn’t it? It seems like whenever I find a new job, I am quickly thereafter looking for my way out. It’s a wicked cycle that never seems to change.

      My only real choice is to retire early and have some fun. 🙂

  5. Jason says:

    I think this is great as I have said in other comments. I do have a question…is there anything though that would delay and/or speed up your final date? I mean you put it to 2020 originally, now it is 2016….if the market tanks would that change a bit where you would want a bit more FU money.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Jason! I suppose if the market tanked, we might re-think our FI plan – but honestly, we are prepared to do just about anything that we need to to make our FI date work. If that means that we find a few odd jobs here and there, we’ll probably do that. We are more than okay doing some of that stuff if we feel like we need.

  6. Mrs SSC says:

    “I want the rest of my life off “. I love that. Mr SSC decided yesterday that we are moving up our date to mid 2017… Right before we turn 40. We don’t care if we don’t have enough saved… We will make it enough! we walk around thinking some of those exact same thoughts as you… But having kids makes us feel like me can’t be impulsive… Hence setting a date in less than two years!

    • Steve says:

      Hey Mrs. SSC,

      Good on you for your change in retirement date! I’ve found that if you are flexible enough, you can make almost ANYTHING work. Do you know yet what you guys are going to “do” after you’re done with your full time jobs?

  7. TheMoneyMine says:

    Steve – I love how you tell the story!
    I’ve quit once before and then I found myself lucky to be in a company large enough to just change jobs every 2-3 years.
    But like you say, the quitting phase was so liberating. Interestingly enough, it was much more satisfying than any promotion I’ve received. Like i had actually achieved something unique and so brave.
    I might be tempted to do that again one day 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Hey Money Mine,

      My first company out of college was like that…large enough to just move around every now and again. But for me, even THAT got old. I think this was the beginning of my realization that I don’t really like having and holding a “job”. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  8. Steve,

    That’s good stuff, my friend. Who wants two weeks off when they can have their whole life off? Definitely agree! 🙂

    I’m with you in that there’s never been any “job” that I’ve liked doing. I like mixing it up. I might like doing one project for a few months or even a year or two, but I invariably want to try something new. Jobs don’t really give you that flexibility. And, like you mention, jobs usually come with all that other garbage (commutes, quotas, meetings, office politics, etc.) that ends up being a total bummer and ruins what might otherwise not be a bad gig.

    Looking forward to seeing how things play out for you guys!

    Cheers.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Jason,

      Appreciate the read and your comment. I’m with you, I definitely like mixing it up. I start to get restless after a few months of doing the same thing. Maybe I’m just impatient, not sure. 🙂

      Trying something new is the spice of life in my opinion. Always learning, always improving.

      Thanks again Jason.

  9. […]  As we learned from part 1, the ol’ job that I never particularly enjoyed will be done by the end of 2016, along with my […]

  10. It is sickening how true your statement is: …”the monotony started to set in. Day after day was always the same, questions. Concerns. Issues. Meetings. More questions. More concerns. More issues. More…meetings. It all started to accumulate within me. My frustration grew.”

    Steve, I think we worked for the same company. We put up with a bunch of mindless drivel to complete those dreaded performance reviews. Let’s make sure we all set those SMART goals so that we can do what is best for the company’s vision statement and quarterly reports.

    I agree with you, I ready to take off life.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Bryan,

      There is something about those damn performance reviews that just put us over the top, isn’t there? Maybe it’s the fact that nobody, including the layers of management above us, care about those things anyway. It’s just one of those checkboxes that represent so much of what management has become in this country – or always has been, not sure. I’ve heard the SMART acronym before. I’m shivering now that I’m thinking about it again! 🙂

  11. Mr. SSC says:

    Dude, that’s exactly how I felt when I quit my last job. I’d gotten moved up from finding oil to project management and research. Yeah baby! I’ve made it! Then the meetings started, and my micro micro manager boss dealt with my project I was managing until I told him the stark reality that his budget was crap, it’s a solve the world problem that needs focus and let me do what I’m paid to do. I got the project approved with a specific goal, and double his original budget and joined my new company 3 weeks later. I really wanted to get that project through though just to make sure more money wasn’t spent poorly. I do own stock there still…. Yeah, I’m ready to get to the next phase as soon as possible, so congrats on you guys for following your goals too!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Mr. SSC,

      Yeah, the monotony of management BS isn’t easy to take. I don’t know where I’d be right now if I didn’t quit that job, but I can pretty much bet that I’d be much, much more unhappy. It just ain’t worth it.

    • Thank you for your kind words tomy action shots! You know I love photography, but only recently took my very first class. I adore the bench posts and they always make me wish I was able to travel to visit them all. I may have found you via Malyss's Bench blog in the beginning.Today it is the last photo here that made me say WOW!

  12. Love the idea of this series, and am sorta thinking we should make it a series like the About Series you started. How bout it?

    Totally agree with you — the grass is never greener. It’s why we’re willing to put up with jobs that are far too stressful for a few more years, because they are helping us reach our goals, and because anything else we do will be the same stuff, different day — though probably for less money. No thanks. Do you find yourself doing what we sometimes do, when work is especially lame, and imagine you’re writing your final goodbye email? That’s become a bit of a guilty pleasure. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Hey ONL – agreed on making it a series! 🙂

      Honestly, yeah, I have imagined myself writing both my goodbye email as well as my “I’m free!” post for my blog. Honestly, there are so many different ways that I can go about that. I’m already decided that I’m going to be completely honest with my employer. No sugar-coat, baby! I’m traveling for a living.

      Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with if you continue the series. It’s fun to write!

  13. […] bloggers are invited to continue, and more recently wrote a series on his own blog that he dubbed the “our next life” series. we love the name, obviously, and thought — why not also make it a series that we all […]

  14. dealing with this organization’s crap and the familiar concern over whether or not my weekend is going to be frantic OMG-Everything-Is-Down-Please-Fix call free or not.

    Near the end of my 20 year run with my company I feared my weekends, because I didn’t want a phone calls that last 6, 8, 10 hours to fix crap and spoil my family time.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, you definitely feel my pain. It wasn’t a tough decision to leave that job even with the impressive-sounding title. I’m glad that I did – and I definitely have my weekends back. 🙂

  15. Steve, I’m right there with you! I’m at the point where I don’t feel like I can relate to anyone at work. It’s like no one else sees what is really going on. I’ve been expressing some frustration to coworkers and they keep asking me what I don’t like about the job. It takes everything in me not to tell them, “The truth is that I am not cut out for the ‘traditional’ job – any job.” What a great line, sums it up perfectly!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for dropping by! Yup, you definitely feel my pain. The whole traditional job environment is just terribly unproductive and tends to kill productivity. I understand that to a certain degree, that environment is one of those “necessary evils” because there are so many people who would just wander aimlessly without it. But that still doesn’t mean that we have to like it…or spend 40 years of our lives actually submitting to it. 🙂

  16. […] on an original series by Think, Save, Retire and continued by Our Next Life (the blog), I’m completing the “Our Next Life” […]

  17. Scott says:

    When you quit your director job, did you take a pay cut to move to the next job? If so, do you ever wish that you stuck it out with a higher savings rate so that you could’ve knocked months off your working life?

    I ask because I’m living the suck now and have decided (for now) to stick with the very high paying, but stressful job rather than a lower paying, grass is greener job with the intent that this will allow me to give up all jobs earlier.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Scott – it actually turned out to be a pay RAISE, but I didn’t know it at the time. At the time that I was looking, I was totally prepared to stop hating my life, even if that meant a reduced salary.

      But like you’re alluding to, there is a fine line between making the best decision for your happiness and making the best decision for your finances and goal to retire early. It really is a tough decision.

      In my case, if I were truly hating every second of my life, that would serve as a pretty darn strong motivator for me to look elsewhere, even with the realization that I might be working an additional couple of years because of it. In the end, you never know what’ll happen at that next job anyway. There might be a huge opportunity 3 months into it that you’ll get to move into and make almost what you’re making now.

      And if we’re only talking months, rather than years, that might stand as an even better motivator for me to look for other work.

      Another trick would be to simply reduce your cost of living for the first year or two after retirement so the reduced salary won’t effect you as much. If your job sucks enough now, that might be a compromise that you’d be willing to take.

      Best of luck with your decision. Let me know how it goes!

      Take care.

  18. Great article, great story.
    It’s like watching a tv series and waiting for the next episode.
    You should be on Netflix so I won’t have to wait to see what’s coming next 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Ha! If Netflix offers me a movie deal, it would be hard-pressed for me not to take it. Of course, it might also turn out to be the most boring movie ever made, too! 🙂

  19. […] to Free and Our Next Life, I thought I would add my own “My Next Life: Series”. ThinkSaveRetire started this series and has invited others to join in. These great bloggers discussed “their […]

  20. […] the 4-part Our Next Life series that I ran while my wife and I were away in New York? Well, I’ve got another blog series […]

  21. […] but we’d love to add more voices and dreams to the list. so far, since steve and courtney at think save retire kicked off the series, we’ve had great contributions from maggie at northern expenditure, […]

  22. […] first piqued my interest when I read Our Next Life’s blog post about it. The magic started with Think Save Retire. Afterwards, Our Next Life jumped on board, and Northern Expenditure, From Frugal to Free, and My […]

  23. […] by our blogger friends Our Next Life who themselves were inspired by another blogger, Steve, at Think Save Retire and they will provide some insight into our early retirement plans.  I think about leaving the […]

  24. […] the “Our Next Life series” bandwagon! Steve over at Think Save Retire started the idea here, naming it after the lovely folks over at Our Next Life – who took up the spirit in their own […]

  25. With regards to being “on call” with your work–yeah that’s the worst feeling. Back in college, I took a summer stint as a substitute teacher at a daycare. It was terrible and exhausting to plan my week and life around if/when they called me in to work. So glad to be done with that, and I’m sure you are too! 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment Selina. I agree, that kind of work can be absolutely exhausting. The day I quit that job was the first day that I could truly relax when outside of the office. 🙂

  26. […] over at Think Save Retire started the Our Next Life series idea here, naming it after the lovely folks over at Our Next Life – who took up the spirit in their own […]

  27. Jaime says:

    My bf works in IT as a software developer and he’s had a couple of occasions where he had to show up at Christmas once, another time at midnight, and even at 6 am to take care of tech issues. It’s a tough field at times. I wish you the best. =)

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Jaime. The IT field pays well, but it can also drain the life out of you. It’s certainly not fun sometimes, though I haven’t had to work on Christmas Day yet. At this point in my life, I might consider using the FU money excuse to make sure that doesn’t happen! 🙂

  28. Steve,

    Before you quit, please consider getting laid off instead! You might get a severance, and you will be able to collect unemployment benefits for 26 weeks at the very least, cushioning the transition.

    NEVER QUIT! GET LAID!

  29. […] a passion to escape the rat race early, well in just one more year!  I recommend you read their 4-part lifestyle series to get a glimpse of their goals and […]

  30. […] up, brain.  You are not helping me to achieve my goal of quitting my job and traveling the […]

  31. […] they retire (early) into the sunset or reach financial independence. A couple of really good blogs (Think Save Retire and Our Next Life) have been talking about it and asking others to join into the discussion. I […]

  32. […] rate post-retirement, which is very, very low (around $30,000 a year). As I discussed in my Our Next Life article series, we will be selling virtually everything that we have and buying an RV to live in around the […]

  33. […] first piqued my interest when I read Our Next Life’s blog post about it. The magic started with Think Save Retire. Afterwards, Our Next Life jumped on board, and Northern Expenditure and My Countdown to Freedom […]

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