Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 16, 2015
I was thinking about something the other day that I had trouble putting into words, but now after considering it for a while I’ll take a stab at it. If you were to ask me what is the hardest part of working to early retirement? I would typically give answers about planning or something else, but personally I find the most difficult thing to deal with is the waiting game. You know you are leaving work in “X” months, “Y” days and 34 minutes…not exactly, but you get the idea.
Now for years that “X” was such a large number I was effectively been able to ignore it, yet recently when it dropped under the 24 month mark my brain suddenly realized…oh my god….it will soon be here. I can’t tell you how weird it was to finally be able to feel the fact I am now playing the waiting game. All the savings plans are done, the transfers are good to go and I just have to check in once in a while to adjust things but generally speaking the money side of the house is on automatic mode. Yet the feeling of being close to freedom is so hard to wrap my head around that I ended up like obsessing about it for a week.
This of course made me realize that I just can’t obsess about it for two years…hello I still need to live life in the meantime. So what the hell do you do when you have already done a huge amount of planning towards something and now you are just killing time until it arrives? Well this is where I realized I needed to reassess a few things in my life and start making some changes.
For example, it occurs to me now that I don’t have to care what anyone thinks of me at work anymore. I don’t particularly give a damn if I have a horrible performance review. I’ve always been fairly ‘don’t care what others think’ mode at work but I suddenly realized how badly I can crank up that feeling if I so desire. For example, I can get lazy as hell do the bare minimum not to get fired go through a bad performance review and then get put on a plan to bring my performance back up for a year and then screw around with that just long enough to reach my goal. I can easily string that out long enough to just leave at the end and still be getting a pay cheque. Unlike most of the people of my company I have actually read the HR polices and understand them so I could play that game for a while if I so desired. This effective means I could: stop turning on my alarm and show up whenever the hell I please each morning, ignore direct orders for things by dragging my feet on projects I don’t want or generally turn into that co-worker every hates. Please note: I don’t plan to do this…after all I don’t want to turn into a a total ass; I’m just realizing my scope of freedom just got way wider. I don’t need a raise anymore or a bonus to finish my savings plan.
I can stress how weird it is to actually feel this and know it. I’ve understood on a basic level for a while that I’m never getting a promotion again (hell I told them not to bother), but now I feel the idea that I don’t have to kiss up to anyone ever again around here. There is no gain in it for me anymore. I realize that losing my job would in effect be an inconvenience. I won’t be worried about it, but rather annoyed I would have to update my resume and plan the interview game again.
Yet of course this isn’t a positive way to deal with all that emotion so instead I’m starting to funnel that energy into other more productive things like:
- Working out exactly how to take out my money from various accounts in retirement the most tax efficient way possible.
- Considering alternatives for income sooner than later. Like working more on turning some of my writing into some finished books. Did I want to consider starting a small consulting business? Also considering jobs where I would like to work part-time for a while as a transition out of the workplace (and provide some buffer to my plan).
- Make a better effort to hang out with family & friends a bit more.
- Finding good books to read.
- Evaluating my habits and where I should being doing less of some things and more of others.
In short, building a better life so when the clock runs out at my full time work I’ll be out of the gate and hitting the ground running in retirement. So retirees…how did you spend you last few years while the clock ran out? Any tips to share?