Hanging On

I can always tell now when I have had a particularly bad week when I start running calculations on what would happen if I just quit now?  Previously when I would look at the results I would end up being disgusted and give up the idea, but recently as I get closer to my long term savings goal the result come back in the realm of reasonable.  Ugh, now what?  How do I hand on when leaving is starting to look good.

So I have had to change tactics with the fantasy of just quitting tomorrow and take a step back and consider the big picture.  Right now I’m in my peak earning and compounding phase, which basically means for terms of saving and investing money that is doesn’t get any better than this.  So then I start to play a little game with myself that goes like this:

Could you last another month?  Yes, no big deal.

How about three months until after [insert life event or holiday]? Mmm, yah, I guess.

So what’s the big deal about a few more months after that? If there is little difference between 1 and 3, or 3 and five, why is there any more or less between 10 and 13 months? Ugh, damn you logical mind.

The debate really isn’t about logic, but rather emotions.  When you are tried, stressed or feeling a bit down, it becomes easy to image all the worlds problems melting away just because you no longer have to go to work.  Yet of course that really doesn’t happen, some problems will remain regardless of your job.  Early retirement is NOT a cure all.  It won’t make you sexier, happier and achieve enlightenment.  Rather it may give you time to get into working out more, do more things you enjoy and meditate, but the fact of the matter is you still need to do something other than quit your job to achieve those.  Which of course if you worked on them now you may actually be sexier, happier and achieve enlightenment even with your job.

People who go after early retirement like to demonize work and blame it for lots of things, but often it isn’t all to blame.  It may not help things or compound other issues going on in your life, but work itself isn’t a bad thing or a good thing.  Rather it is a means of making money.  We attach a lot of other things to it, but in its pure form we do it because we get paid.  Full stop that is it.  There are other good things about work satisfaction from solving problems, working with good people and expanding your knowledge base but those are side issues, not the main point.

In the end, these those about ‘leaving tomorrow’ to me are an alarm bell.  I’ve been pushing myself too hard and I need to slow down a bit and enjoy life.  It really isn’t the fault of my work, but rather myself.  After all, the point of early retirement is to have more time for life so how does not having a life help you out?  Simple, it doesn’t help.  So don’t mind me while I go for a walk to clear my head and perhaps read a book.  I’ll feel better tomorrow.

How do you deal with hanging on when you are close to the end of a goal?

8 thoughts on “Hanging On”

  1. I have to disagree with your statement about early retirement, “It won’t make you…happier…” It surely did for me, simply by eliminating the main thing which was making my working days lousy – the friggin’ commute!

    As my ER plan was taking shape in 2007 and into 2008, I recall often in those final months at work (and it was only 2 days a week for the last 17 months) saying to myself, “Why I am still working here?”

    I was mostly waiting for the value of my company stock to hit my magic number, a number it was quickly approaching at the end of the boom market years through 2007 and into 2008. Thankfully, my company, which at the time was not publicly traded, saw its value continue to rise in 2008 even while the markets everywhere else were declining. When it hit that magic number during that summer (and at the time it was evaluated every 3 months, so I knew it wouldn’t change until its next quarterly evaluation), I knew it was time to jump ship. Only getting my one main project done before I left was the main factor in choosing a retirement date.

    That was nearly 8 years ago and it has been a great ride since then, one which has made me very happy.

  2. I suggest you put a different interpretation on your goal. If you have the money you estimate you need for retirement then ‘at 45 you are free’. At any time thereafter you are free to ‘resign’, ‘take a job that you will enjoy but may pay less or be less secure’ or take a ‘sabbatical’ for however long you choose. Give up the idea and the word ‘retirement’ and think ‘financially independent’. At the moment your goal is restricted to being unemployed.Your goal is an ending not a beginning and many people who fail in retirement do so precisely because their only plan was to get away from their current job.

  3. I know exactly what you mean. I have enough to live comfortably, but it is a little premature for me with regard to timing. During Those rough weeks at work, I have the same thoughts as you.

    Since I have 24 to 36 months to go, I start calculating how much my reinvested dividends and monthly contributions will grow and compound, while I wait things out.

    Works for me.

  4. Bro,

    Dump that day job asap and go into business for yourself. Forget those jokers. Work so every minute goes straight back to you, not some corporation.



  5. I agree with James – if you are smart enough to make it as far as you have and run a blog such as this – you are smart enough to earn money in a way that suits your lifestyle much better (if need be)

  6. @deegee – Okay fair enough…I should have pointed out it ‘may’ make your happier…just depends on what happened in your particular case.

    @Stephanie – I assume you are new to the blog, because I do plan to work at something else after I’m done. Please feel to read a bit more.

    @James – But why go to the effort to build my own business when I won’t need it in a year? I looked at consulting seriously about a year ago and decided not to do it. I chose this and I’m fine with that. I am just having a moody week.

    @Scott – Oh, thanks. I could make money in various other ways, but for now the advantages in the long run of staying put are more than the cost to leave right now.

  7. Wow…so interesting to see that our thought processes are almost exactly the same. I always attributed it to a youth spent competing in cross country events, where the mental game to keep going was to break the run up into sections and just focus on that section, rather than potentially get overwhelmed by the whole. The only difference is I consciously don’t think about the ‘few more after that’…rather, we’ll deal with them when we get to them. It’s worked for the most part, however now that I’m down to under a year (depending on whether the pending Canadian housing market crash runs amok soon or no), I’m starting to have occasional, mild ‘but what’s truly next? what if I get bored’ panic attacks. Normal I suppose, but the devil you know is…well, the devil you know.

  8. Hi Tim,

    I can relate to that sentiment although I haven’t started to rationalize quitting yet. I’ve had one job that paid really well by my standards…or any standards…I was making 50% more than I make now. Anyhow, I was a stress case working that job. I hated going to work some days. If I was in that job I would have these thoughts every day. In my current job there is very little stress so it’s more like cruise control. However, the commute is terrible and I think about that every day!

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