Rocking through my last year of full-time employment

Published May 11, 2016   Posted in How to Retire

It is only natural to second-guess yourself the closer you get to accomplishing a major life goal, and retiring early from full-time work is no exception. It seems the closer we get, the more unsure we become. Maybe another year of work will drive the nail more firmly into the coffin?

There’s only one problem in my situation: I am not all that “unsure” about this decision. In fact, it’s precisely the opposite – the closer I get to December, the more and more I want to just quit now. This whole thing about “maybe we haven’t saved enough” and the dreaded unease about whether or not to actually go through with it, which is very typical in the final year of an early retiree’s life?

I just don’t have that fear…or anything even close to it. And honestly, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. After all, I’ve written before about how fear is a good thing. It keeps us from doing stupid shit. Fear is a very healthy emotion, and it sure seems like quitting a high-paying and relatively stress-free job to pursue a life of jobless freedom is a major enough change to elicit some of that fear.

After all, 2016 is my last year of planned full-time work. Why the hell am I not fearful of the unknown? Why am I not questioning myself about whether or not it is wise to quit this early in life? My gawd, why am I so confident? Is this a weakness? Am I setting myself up for failure with my over-confidence?

One of my favorite blogs, Living A FI, wrote an eloquent post about this last year and described the process that so many of us go through. It seems like I should want to both quit today AND work another X number of years – all at the same time. But like I said, no such conflict exists within me.

Route 66

Route 66

Why am I so confident?

I believe this situation comes down to two main considerations:

Confidence and risk.

The more confident and risk taking we are, the more likely we will feel the “just do it!” urge, even in pursuit of major life goals like early retirement. And naturally, the less confident or more risk adverse we are, the more likely we will feel the “wait, am I really doing this right?” question.

I’m a specially-weird person in how I view life, and I definitely inherited my level of confidence from my dad. Both my dad and I believe that things will turn out just fine. They always do. As I look back on my life, everything has turned out fine, regardless of struggles, stresses or strife.

The risks that I took generally paid off – or I at least broke even, but even those that didn’t work as planned still failed to kill me. I’m still here alive and kicking, writing blog posts about early retirement and the financial madness that grips this great country of ours.

Both my wife and I are flexible people and will make this work. What’s the worst that can happen? Seriously, the worst case scenario?

Probably one of us contracting a debilitating illness requiring month-long hospital stays and amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills in the process. Yeah, that would suck hardcore.

But if that happened, working a full-time job would be the least of my worries, and the last thing that I’d want to think about is the fact that I delayed my full-time adventure because I was scared to take the plunge into early retirement. Talk about adding insult to injury. No thanks.

Like I’ve written about before, I believe that early retirement puts me in a better position to respond to “life happens” than if I was beholden to a full-time job that keeps me in the same ol’ place doing the same ol’ thing, day in and day out. Soon, I will be completely mobile and without the burdens of full-time work, capable of traveling anywhere, spending as much time as necessary and putting 100% effort into anything that grabs my attention – for better or worse.

I would sooner retire today than work a year longer than I thought I needed to for the sake of extra money. Life is too short to spend it worrying about the what-ifs in life. Things happen, and there is nothing that we can do to prevent that.

There is no such thing as an ironclad retirement plan.

It also helps that I have goals setup for my post-retirement life, some of which include working at campgrounds for free full hookup campsites. Most of my goals are in pursuit of the creative side of me that the information technology industry completely killed throughout my career. The rest are related to fitness and staying active.

For example:

  • I want to produce a documentary about early retirement and RV living
  • I want to pursue videography and photography in more depth, both at a personal and professional level
  • I want to continue building this blog into an influential source of financial conversations
  • I want to visit as many national parks as possible to enjoy the amazing beauty of the country I grew up in
  • I want to volunteer in animal shelters and help give a better life to abused and neglected animals
  • I want to tackle day hikes to amazing mountain tops, camera on-the-hip, taking in our natural wilderness
  • I want to read non-stop from about 7 or 8pm every night until I fall gently into dreamland
  • I want to take epic 30-minute long power naps throughout the day, keeping me alert, functional and active

I also want to get as involved in the RV and early retirement community as I can, learn about the things that people do right and also understand their problems and help design possible solutions. In a way, early retirement is only the beginning. There is so much more out there to experience and enjoy, people to meet and nature to explore. Full-time jobs just get in the way.

When you’re an early retiree, your potential is virtually limitless. Armed with enough cash to comfortably live on, retirees have both the time and the experience to make a truly positive impact after quitting full-time work, pursuing any avenue of interest. In other words, my goals don’t suddenly stop once I achieve financial independence and early retirement.

They are only just beginning.

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Comments

55 responses to “Rocking through my last year of full-time employment”

  1. Congrats Steve on having such clarity going into your final days of work! I can’t say that your confidence surprises me at this point, but it’s fantastic that you’ve created new paths of growth to launch into immediately. Once you pull the plug, life will never be the same… awesome. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Michael. We are so looking forward to getting started, here. Sometimes, going through our normal full-time work routine gets tough…real tough! 🙂

  2. Right on, Steve! I think you’ve got every right to feel confident.

    You do a great job helping to dispel the myth that early retirees are selfish and/or lazy. It appears you’ll be plenty busy and plenty happy when you have your freedom.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Steve says:

      Ha, thanks PoF! I never understood why early retirees are assumed to be selfish or lazy. Maybe that should be the subject of a future post, in fact. Hmm… 😉

  3. Kristin says:

    Another fine post Steve! I love the comment “Full-time jobs just get in the way.” That pretty much sums it up!

  4. Sounds like a dream retirement if you ask me, and I look forward to watching the documentary!

    One problem that would hold me back from some of the awesomeness you just described are kids! And more specifically a 2 year old. We will have many years of school, etc which would limit our flexibility. But they come with their own joys that we can embrace in early retirement!

    • Steve says:

      While people do travel full-time with kids, I do agree they add an additional layer of complexity into the mix. Maybe the time that you spend raising your child will make early retirement that much more sweet! 🙂

  5. Very inspiring! We have weekly pep talks to remind ourselves to keep moving forward, to have the confidence to take the next step. And we share nearly the same list of aspirations. How fun! 😀

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Claudia! Nothing wrong with pep talks. They help to keep us honest and focused on the end goal. And yeah, looks like you guys are right there with us in your post-retirement plans and aspirations. Good deal!

  6. John says:

    Steve,

    I totally agree that once you’re counting down, you just want to go immediately. Once I decided to retire from full time work at the beginning of this year, even the most pleasant work tasks (if there are any!) quickly became a chore.

    Hang in there. The time will pass (somewhat) quickly.

    John

    • Steve says:

      I’ve felt the very same thing, John – sometimes things get easier because I know that I won’t have to deal with it much longer, but other things get even more laborious because, well, *I’m still dealing with those things* even though I’ll be retired in just a few months. It’s a paradox, I tell you! 🙂

  7. It’s great that you’re so honest with yourself throughout the whole process. Some in the FIRE community are ultra-conservative and planning for the worse. They will work another couple years until they have 33x annual expenses saved up and there is NOTHING wrong with that. Everyone is different. But I share the same glass half full mentality as you. Things always seem to work out. Even when they don’t, it’s not the end of the world either. That’s why I plan to cut the cord from corporate America as soon as possible whereas I feel confident in my decision. So what if it’s too early, if I start depleting my reserves too fast I’ll start doing some tax returns or take on a 6 month contract assignment. I have the skills so there will always be a fall-back plan. No need to worry or second guess! I’m with you pal.

    • Steve says:

      Amen to that, Fervent. I’ve found that the people with the most confidence (not *arrogance*, but true confidence) are also the happiest. Because, like you said, even when things don’t work out precisely how you thought or wanted, we can always learn something from those mistakes. And nothing is ever permanent. If I feel like I (or we) need to stay put for a while down the road to work for a little extra cash, so be it! No big deal, it happens. 🙂

  8. Amanda says:

    I love this list of goals. So many personal finance and FI bloggers – including myself – seem to have similar interests: reading, animal rescue, hiking, creating financial conversations…That’s why I love this community.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Amanda. It is very true, a lot of us really do have very, very similar goals. And that’s a good thing! We will all get to experience this thing together throughout the years, and animal shelters will benefit immensely from the influx of much-needed help! 🙂

  9. I love your perspective on early retirement. Especially the “what if the worst happens” scenario. Of course you’d rather have your adventure time in ASAP. Fear can be motivating, but out of control fear can leave us paralyzed. You seem to have struck the perfect balance.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate your comment, Kalie. You’re right that fear can be motivating for sure, but it can also stop us from going after our goals. You said it best, “controlling fear” strikes the perfect balance! 🙂

  10. Mrs. PIE says:

    Really enjoyed this!

    I’ve recently been working through some of the ‘what if’s’, and even just wrote about them! I think they are always going to be there when considering a big change in life. What we have to remember is that the ‘what if’s’ are probably relevant to our lives most of the time, we just don’t tend to think about them when living in a comfort zone.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Mrs. PIE. You’re right, they are always going to be there. And that’s okay so long as we don’t let them consume our lives and prevent us from enjoying our productive years!

  11. Mr. PIE says:

    We are fairly confident of our next steps but also have nagging doubts. Mrs. PIE also just posted today on the very subject!!
    For us, we like to air the potential down side now and again just to keep the conversation healthy in our minds. But it ain’t gonna stop us!! No, no, no!

    • Steve says:

      Woohoo! Yup, I read that piece early this morning. It’s healthy to consider the things that could go wrong, but even healthier not to let those thoughts consume our minds. You guys are doing it exactly right! 🙂

  12. Mr. SSC says:

    I’d rather take that leap of faith into ER and fail specatacularly than stay working who knows how many “one more years” out of fear my plan might not work.
    I remember Mrs. SSC talking about 2020 being our date, then 2019, then 2018, then 2017 is a real possibility (still is, but outside chance) which comes back to 2018 as the most likely target date, for me anyway. I love my job, work, and intellectual stimulation ig et out of it everyday, but like that list of yours, I have a lot of other things I’d like to do too. One of my co-workers was discussing “winning the lottery” and mentioned he’d go study geology, not at a school, but just as a hobby. That way he could study what interested him because he’d have the freedom to do that. I just kept thinking, “two more years, and I could do that too.”
    I’m fortunate I like my work so much, but I still have my retirement countdown clock set for July 2018 and it sits right by the coffee area, so I see it every morning.

    I’m kind of worried about all the stuff I might undertake in our Lifestyle Change jsut because I realized I’m kind of a “collector of hobbies”, lol. Must pace myself…

    • Steve says:

      Well said: “I’d rather take that leap of faith into ER and fail specatacularly than stay working who knows how many “one more years” out of fear my plan might not work.”

      Believe me, me too. Interestingly, 2020 was around our initial planned retirement date as well. Then we moved ours to 2018. Then…this year! It’s awesome that you love your job so much, but like you said, there is just so much more out there to see and explore. And hehe, “collector of hobbies”. I like that phrase. 😉

  13. Yep, I want to quit today. Sometimes I don’t even care if I run out of money, because by the time that happened I would have already gone through a lifestyle and mindset change. One where I have witnessed that anything can happen and sometimes opportunity comes your way.

    • Steve says:

      You and me both, Jolly Ledger. I think you’re right…we come at this from a very different vantage point right now. After we’ve been retired for a while and got to experience more of what’s truly out there, other opportunities will arise for us to get involved in that we just aren’t aware of at the moment. It will be a different world, hopefully for the better. 🙂

  14. I loved the Route 66 photo…. I kept staring it for at least 5 mins….Loved the pic!

    We are also about to pull the plug – June 2016. We are absolutely not worried about how things will work out for us financially…. As you also mentioned in the post, ‘things will turn out just fine’.

    But I do feel very anxious these days – I feel as if I am resetting my life, resetting all my accomplishments till now and will have to start from scratch post FI !!

    Looking forward to the new phase of life 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Vivek. June 2016 is right around the corner – I can just imagine how excited you are, and I love the attitude that you have through all of this. Looking forward to the next phase of life…indeed! 🙂

  15. Apathy Ends says:

    Excited to see what you do with all your free time

    I like your “what’s next” attitude – you are approaching a major goal that a small % of people figure out and are already setting new goals – more importantly they are goals you care about at a deeper level

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Apathy, appreciate the comment and the read. Truthfully, I am looking forward to seeing what we do with all of our free time too. You can be sure that I’ll write all about it. 🙂

  16. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. Your faith in an awesome future is very similar to mybown personality, in trusting that everything will work out as intended, or we will be flexible enough to find a way to make it work.

    Your goals for early retirement are so exciting – and again, very similar to my own. I look forward to following your journey. We still have a ways to go, so a little inspiration to keep chugging along is really helpful.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate that, Harmony! Attitude means so much, and having a good one will more times than not ensure a positive experience with whatever we end up doing. Thanks for reading!

  17. AlexJ says:

    Hi Steve: I’m relatively new to your blog and this is my first time commenting on any early retirement blog that I read. I felt compelled today because of this passage in today’s post:

    “Both my wife and I are flexible people and will make this work. What’s the worst that can happen? Seriously, the worst case scenario?

    Probably one of us contracting a debilitating illness requiring month-long hospital stays and amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills in the process. Yeah, that would suck hardcore.

    But if that happened, working a full-time job would be the least of my worries, and the last thing that I’d want to think about is the fact that I delayed my full-time adventure because I was scared to take the plunge into early retirement. Talk about adding insult to injury. No thanks.”

    In all the reading I have done on early retirement, that passage most clearly articulates why someone would want to enter into early retirement. I find myself often avoiding or minimizing risk, especially when considering early retirement because of the worst case scenario. I think you are totally correct, if the worst case scenario does happen, working full time would be the least of your worries, and you would have missed all the benefits of early retirement.

    Thanks for the post and best of luck to you.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Alex for taking the time to comment, and I’m honored that I am your first comment on an early retirement blog! I appreciate your words and I’m glad that it resonated so well with you. It’s true that if something does happen down the line, the last thing that I’d want to think about is NOT accomplishing some of the things that I wanted to accomplish because of what “might happen”. I want a nearly complete bucket list, not a to-do list.

      Thanks again.

  18. I am right there with you Steve on less than a year of work left. However, I do see that I will have a problem making that jump to early retirement. I still have not fully grasped that money does not provide security from every possible problem and that their never is enough. I am a work in progress!

    My wife will stop about the same time as you and we will then try camping for a few months while I keep my remote job. If that completely sucks, I think that will be the final straw and I will retire.

    Either way, we plan on hooking up with you at a campsite somewhere down the road!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Bryan! Ah, so you’re gonna stick it out a little longer as you travel. Nothing wrong with that, many people travel while working full-time!

      And yup, we still very much want to hook up! It will happen, promise. 🙂

  19. Matt Spillar says:

    “Life is too short to spend it worrying about the what-ifs in life.”

    Amen to that! You’ll never be able to negate all the risks, it’s about managing the risks as well as possible and setting yourself up to succeed. You and your wife have done just that. You guys have a lot of flexibility for whatever may crop up, and the positive attitude to match.

    While reading through the first paragraph it reminded me of getting married. People asked how I knew I was ready, how I could make such a big decision at a younger age than average, etc. My response was always, “When you know, you know.” I just knew, it was the right girl and the right time, and everything else was going to work out somehow.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Matt – true, very similar to getting married. And you’re absolutely right, “When you know, you know.” Very well said! 🙂

  20. ARBM says:

    It is so awesome that you are so confident with your upcoming transition to early retirement. It shows that you are definitely ready. I am not even close to being there financially… so, I have some time to get my confidence up to your level. But I love your list. It is inspiring because all of the things on the list would be things I would want to pursue if I manage to retire early!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks ARBM – yeah, confidence hasn’t exactly ever been my problem, hehe. 🙂

      Appreciate you taking the time to comment. I’m goal is to check off every one of those items on the list…and maybe add a couple more to check off later!

  21. Yes! And this is exactly the problem I have. I have NO QUESTION about how we (Mr. T specifically) needs to leave current employment. The list of things to do is long and right now, it’s getting in the way! But Mr. T has the other side of the conflict (meaning, he has a conflict!)… so I really hope to ease into it all in a natural way so we can move forward without looking back. You’ll do amazing things when you have all your time to devote to the things you WANT to do.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Maggie, thanks for your comment! Yup, you and I are in exactly the same place from a state-of-mind perspective. I hate conflict, after all. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I’d rather that everyone just be happy, healthy and confident. But, I also live in the real world…at least part of the time. 😉

  22. It doesn’t surprise me to know that you’re feeling confident at this stage — that’s pretty much your whole vibe. 🙂 What does surprise me is MY lack of fear and hesitation. Ms. Risk Averse over here, who used to want to go into ER with a massive cushion, is now the one asking, “Can we quit yet? Can we quit yet?” 😉 Thank goodness Mr. ONL has a cooler head on this issue and keeps convincing me that actually getting to our target numbers will serve us better in the long run, and that’s so soon anyway!

    • Steve says:

      That’s awesome, Ms. ONL! That is absolutely music to my ears that you don’t feel hesitation; to me, that makes this whole business of early retirement just SO much easier. And believe me, I ask that question a LOT. Hey wife, can I retire yet? Please? Pretty please?

      The answer is always the same…”Sure, in December”. 🙂

  23. Kate says:

    It’s so much easier to be confident in your decision when you’re running towards something rather than running away from something. You’re not making decisions out of fear.

    Knowing that you can always go back to work in some capacity has to make the financial aspect much less daunting. Life isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition — you have the freedom to change your path as needed.

  24. Congrats on getting to this point! Not only reaching the mathematical number needed but also getting to the right place mentally to be able to make this leap. Many people couldn’t leave the security of an ongoing paycheck and instead stay trapped in their jobs. I think it is wonderful that you are so confident that you can make it work and have so many goals for when you are retired as I have to believe these will help. We have to live out our lives in the truest form of ourselves and you seemed to have figured it out for yourself. Best of luck to you in your remaining working months.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks, Mrs. SFF! The mental aspect is, like you said, so very important to have in place before making this leap. I was definitely one of those people who was trapped in their jobs. And I knew it. I felt incredibly trapped. Luckily, I think that I found a way out. 🙂

  25. I love your mindset on this! I could certainly work full-time for a few more years to build up the portfolio to “too big to fail” levels, but I think that’s a very narrow view of the world of options available to us — ignoring all the upside of flexibility and an entrepreneurial spirit during ER. And to your point, the lifestyle benefits of quitting now (hiking, traveling, working on passion projects) are undeniable.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Matt! For the life of me, I’ll never understand the “just in case” mentality that would have people working YEARS longer than they otherwise would have to, just for the sake of padding their investments. I understand that some people want assurances that their stash is going to last, but quite frankly, such assurances don’t really exist – almost regardless of how much money you have. The fact is there are a TON of opportunities out there, and sticking around working a full-time job isn’t the only way to make money and stay productive. 🙂

  26. Stockbeard says:

    Just wanted to give you a thumbs up for your goal to help animals in shelters. Every time I mention animal cruelty to friends and family, at best I get answers such as “there are more important problems such as starving children”.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Stockbeard. Yeah, some people will poo poo the notion of getting involved with abused or neglected animals because, well, they aren’t humans. Animals are living and breathing creatures too, just like human beings. And unlike most *adult* humans, animals don’t have a choice about how they are treated.

  27. This post was just lovely!! I want to do the exact same things when I FIRE!

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