I think perhaps people assume that when you give notice at work that it should be some sort of big deal. There should be shock, drama and all sorts of interesting things. In my case, it was mainly boring, except for one thing. Why was it boring? Because everyone involved in this decision knew it was coming.
It all started way back almost a year ago when I mentioned my plan to leave work would likely occur in the next year during my performance review (please recall I do blog publicly about my plans so work has been aware of them in some form for the last five years or so). My boss and I were discussing how much notice he would like and we agreed to a figure of at least three months.
Then earlier this year during the work planning cycle I mentioned that I was concerned about taking on a project that I wouldn’t see the end of. So I provided an updated on my plan and said that I would likely provide official notice after my summer vacation (I figure no one should make that sort of big decision without first being calm and relaxed – you know that feeling you have after not being at work for like two weeks). And on top of that, I have even been dropping comments into conversations with co-workers that I would likely be leaving work this calendar year.
So like I said everyone involved knew this was coming, hell, I even had an appointment for 8am on the day I got back to work from my summer vacation to officially provide my retirement notice. The meeting was only ten minutes long. I handed over my letter of official notice (that I wrote six months earlier) and had printed off over a month ago (it was sitting at the bottom of a file at my desk just waiting for me to sign it). So the conversation was short and I explained that my last day was Oct 27, 2017, but I was going to be on vacation prior to that so my last day in the office is Sept 15, 2017. I then entered this information into our online system (which by the way I actually submitted my retirement notice, I didn’t just resign) and with a click of a button my days as an employee were numbered (because it says right on the form you can’t delay or revoke your retirement after you submit it).
Therefore on the process side things went very smooth so far and no drama or surprises. Yet what I wasn’t fully prepared for was the emotions that ran through me on this day. I woke up sort of nervous. You know like when you have a important meeting or presentation to do. I got to work and I got a little light headed and clamming skin right before the meeting (again nervous…after all I was ending my career here). Then afterwards things got worse, I didn’t calm down or get better. In fact, I was a ball of conflicting emotions. I had feeling of being excited, fear, worry, anxiety and a good dose of thinking “what the hell am I doing?” all at the same time. It was like my entire body was vibrating on a slightly different frequency than normal. Then the nausea hit in the early afternoon and I went home sick for the rest of the day. I hoped it was food poisoning but in fact it may have just been emotional overload.
So despite having read a library of material on retirement I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact that hit me. You can think you are ready, but nothing will prepare you for actually ending your career and jumping into your new life. I wonder what other surprises await me in the days ahead.
It may come off as bit self serving but I’ve been somewhat avoiding my own blog lately. Why? Because honestly I’m trying not to think too much about how close I am getting to the end of my early retirement goal.
You see my current tactic is to keep busy so that the time flies by and before I realize it another month has past and I’m even closer to the end. Oddly, this tactic seems to be working for me. I’m keeping myself occupied at work, my chores list at home is longer than I would like and don’t even get me started on how long my Netflix queue is right now.
The other reason I’m being cautious here is frankly I can be a wee bit obsessive about early retirement (as if you can’t tell by over 10 years of blog posts). So when I do start thinking about early retirement in depth I can can so consumed that I almost cease to think about much of anything else for hours. This of course then get me dreaming of my post work life and then I get a surge of disgust of having to go back to work then next day which then leads me to being distracted at work. After all, it is hard to do good work when your motivation died and is buried out back.
On the pure math target I’m about 99% of the way there so it really isn’t particularly healthy to start counting down by 0.1% segments. I suppose I could but it seem sort of silly. Also I’ve also figured out that I’m not that good at countdowns. I actually find them more demotivating than motivating for myself.
What I am working on is trying to guess on some of the emotional impacts I may feel going through this process of leaving work later this year and prepare for them. Yet with that I’ve come to the conclusion isn’t that useful since I don’t know what I don’t know. I think that this level of change is really beyond the average person’s ability to predict your reaction to, so the only way to really know how it feels like to early retire is to in fact do it. Hence I’ve been spinning my wheels on some draft posts.
So that is lead me overall to avoiding this blog and of course that means less posts recently. Yes, it does suck for you dear reader, but on the upside I am building up a nice list of items to talk about in future posts. You you have a bit of drought now but you likely will have a bit of a flood later on this year.
So how do you deal with being close to the end of a big goal? Any other tactics that work for you?
Well as I enter the last year of my full time working career (I hope), I’m starting to notice a new emotion in other well meaning people around me: fear.
After all I have already told some of my family members a bit of what I’m planning on doing. It’s not like I blog under another name so they could always find out the details anyway, so I’ve open to my family with my plans at least in general terms. I usually don’t bother getting into too much detail in the more extended family.
Yet now when I’m mentioning I could be done before the end of this year, it suddenly becomes real for those around me and I get the usual well meaning concerns like:
- Are you sure you have enough saved?
- What happens if you don’t get a part time job?
- What will you do with unexpected expenses?
- Maybe you should work just one more year?
Of course I short of do an internal giggle at these questions as I have already asked myself those exact questions. After all this whole leaving you job thing to live off your investments is a bit like jumping off a cliff. You can’t stop it once it’s started so you need to be very sure on what you are doing before leaping off.
Depending on the person I will try to answer those questions, but of course I realize that with some people I can give all the answers they want, but I can’t stop another person’s fear. By the way the answers are:
- Are you sure you have enough saved? I’m mostly sure. I can’t be completely positive because of the number of variables involved, but that is okay since I already have a number of backup plans in case things don’t turn out.
- What happens if you don’t get a part time job? Short term this isn’t a problem as I’m saving our expenses for the first six months. Longer term I have lots of options for bringing in some extra money and keep in mind I don’t need this money for anything immediate like groceries. It’s for vacations. Worst case, if things go very badly I can go back to full time job for a few more years to build up more money.
- What will you do with unexpected expenses? The same thing I do now. Pay them from the emergency fund or put them on a line of credit to spread out the impact. Also depending on what happens, like something breaking in the house I will have a lot of time to fix some things myself.
- Maybe you should work just one more year? I’ve considered that and I may do it if for example the stock market does another 2008 crash or other horrible event occurs. I’m willing to be flexible if things happen and adjust my plans accordingly. After all I’m not locked into this plan until I provide official notice of my retirement at my job.
I like to hope the fact I’m very calm when discussing these things helps put people at ease, but ultimately they have to find the source of their own fear and face it. I can’t do that for another person. I can merely help them discuss the issues in their heads and put them a bit more at ease.
Perhaps the one thing that gets people is I’m aware of the flaws in my plan. I fully admit I may not have enough saved to head into semi-retirement. But I don’t want to live a life based on fear of the unknown. I’m willing to try out something new and see what happens. Yes things can go wrong, but they can also go right as well. In the end, I live in a world of hope rather than fear. Time will tell if that is a smart point of view or not.