It’s pretty damn surreal right now. I am done with full-time work. Like, “done” done. Unless something absolutely catastrophic happens, I will never set foot in an office again as a member of their full-time work staff. That’s it. I’m free.
Best damn Christmas gift ever. I am free to pursue everything that I’ve always wanted to pursue but felt like I couldn’t due to the amount of time it takes to maintain a full-time job. If I’m honest with myself, today isn’t just the day that I officially retire.
It’s the day where I put up or shut up.
All that talk about happiness and finding your true passion in life? Blog post after blog post about working your ass off to achieve financial independence and early retirement? About retiring TO something rather than FROM something? Yeah, it’s all culminating right-the-hell-now. It’s my time. “Okay Steve, now do it!” It’s time to put my money where my mouth is, literally.
Yes, it’s awesome knowing that I won’t have to sit through another mind-numbing conference call again. Or come up with a bunch of bullshit to fill my performance review. Or be asked to fly across the country and spend weeks at a client site doing work I don’t particularly enjoy.
Or listen to senior management stroke our collective egos so hard that it literally makes me hurt. Or “All Staff” meetings where you’re fed cheap pizza to avoid paying for your time.
But, it’s more than that too.
It is my time to ditch the primary accumulation phase of my life and usher in the phase where I actually do those things that I want to do. No looking back. No sabbatical. No “I might return to work one day”. When it comes to early retirement and pursuing my passion projects, I’m all in.
It’s starting off on the right foot.
I have the luxury of pursuing these projects without an expectation of payment. But on the other hand, I know it will come. My wife and I designed our retirement plans so we won’t NEED to earn another dime in retirement, but the more we earn doing things that we enjoy, the more comfortable our retirement will be – and by that, I mean more visits to breweries around the country.
We may not need our comfort zones as much as we once had, but we always like to feel comfortable.
What am I looking forward to the most?
Intentional focus – I am looking forward to the new-found freedom to focus on the things that bring value and satisfaction to my life. Every day that I sit down at my computer in the morning is another day to focus completely and entirely on my passion projects. This blog. Other web development projects. Photography and videography.
The truth is that full-time jobs require an incredible amount of time and attention – and the more money that we’re paid, the more attention that we generally need to devote to these jobs. By the end of the day, many of us are drained – both physically and mentally. Our ability to focus on other projects becomes compromised and inhibited by this constant “attention suck”.
Taking breaks – I am looking forward to days where I can take a break if I feel like I need one without answering to a boss or submitting a request for PTO (Paid Time Off…vacation).
Perhaps I will re-design my week so Wednesday and Thursday becomes my weekend. But truthfully, and in true “Steve fashion’, I’ll probably just play this by ear and take each day as it comes. If I feel like I need a day off, I’ll take it. Otherwise, I’ll focus and work, even if that means that I am engaged and focused six or seven days a week. If it feels good, I’m doing it.
That’s the thing about doing work that you actually enjoy…weekends aren’t quite as necessary to replenish your excitement reserves that full-time work steals from us every freaking work day.
Living off peak – I want to live off peak and stay in on the weekends when everybody else is out and about flooding the streets with traffic, creating long lines at stores and crowding entertainment venues. The popular peak times during the day should be when my wife and I stay in.
When you aren’t working a full-time job during the day, you get to use that time to take care of those “life tasks”, like grocery shopping, renewing your driver’s license or gassing up your car – at 10am instead of rush hour or the weekend.
A few other things that come to mind:
- Checking one less email account
- Keeping fewer machines powered up (work laptop)
- No more performance reviews
- Unlimited vacation time
- Nap time no longer a frowned-upon activity!
- No more performance reviews
- Did I mention no more performance reviews?
I just retired – now what?
We are at my in-laws through the day after Christmas, then we drive to my folk’s place to spend a little time with them – and I get to enjoy all that with no work horizon. There’s nothing that I am dreading come January 2nd. No conference calls. No time sheets. When we return to Tucson, I begin my next life, which my wife has promised will include regular “Honey Do” lists because, you know…I got the time or something like that.
But right now, my task is to enjoy this feeling of immense satisfaction. Job done, but the real work is just beginning. My life’s work, free of holding down a job. It should be an amazing ride.
Today feels like a damn good day for a hike.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.