The Decision

I’ve done more math on this problem than any other in my life.  I’ve got spreadsheets, data and analysis until my eyes want to bleed saying that I can reasonably leave work this year, but I haven’t actually committed to that yet.  I keep second guessing myself.  I have a plan but I can’t bring myself to commit yet.

Is this the right thing?  Should I work just a bit longer?  One month more or maybe three.  Or can I shorten things by another month, what happens then?  I do stress tests on my assumptions and answer a mine field of ‘what if’ questions.  I know exactly how I can fail at this but I’m still not sure I can do it, because in fact I haven’t make the choice yet.

Then the feeling of uncertainty slowly morphs into something darker over the months.  I’m angry at my job.  I don’t want to be there.  I find myself staring out into space hating being where I am.  I want to leave now, why I am doing this any longer?  Why not just go NOW? My soul blackens and I can barely sit in my chair some days.

Then like a sunbeam from between the clouds it hits me: because I have chosen this.  There are no guns to my head keeping me at my job, no chain on my leg attached to the desk or fence keeping me in my grey cubicle at work.  I can walk tomorrow if I so choose, but I must accept the consequence of that choice.  Besides I realize that despite the frustration of waiting to finish up my last part of savings that there are things I still want to do at work.  I don’t hate my job, and I don’t want to screw anyone over.  I want to leave with my head held high that I set my workplace up to succeed with out me.  It won’t be perfect, but life never is.

And suddenly the tension is gone as I realize that I accept that I will work a bit longer.  I will leave full time work this year.  I have chosen to try my hand at a different life and yes that is a bit terrifying but also very exciting as well.  I have in fact gone from thinking about leaving work to deciding to leave work.  And it is as if the world remakes itself in my head I let go of the anger and frustration and I’m left with a feeling of calm.  I actually smile for the first time in days.

Than a quote comes to mind from the movie ‘Shawshank Redemption’:

He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.

It’s going to be alright.  I have made my decision.

14 thoughts on “The Decision”

  1. Hi Tim,

    Why not try doing working part-time outside of your regular job? I was experiencing the same thing as you are, contemplating if I should quit the job that I absolutely hated for the past 5 years until I started teaching one evening a week at a local college. I am much more content at work now. Don’t forget that you are still in your prime working years unlike an old geezer like me. Or perhaps find another job elsewhere!

  2. It is always difficult to make the move. However, attaining FI does not mean that you will never work in future. The option is yours to return to do either some part time work, or work that you enjoy in future.

    I am considering quitting my job to take a year off. My plan is to engage in work that is less stressful, never mind if the pay is lower. I have been doing calculations repeatedly to find out if I can leave. Of course, the thought of staying another year to have more financial security before I leave this current job continues to bug me. But how I am sick of my job now…


  3. I can imagine knowing that you can leave at any point must make it harder to stay focused at work and take on more stress. When you have no choice but to work, in order to pay the bills, your mind will push through the stress in order to support yourself and your family. However, when handling this stress is no longer required, you mind will think of the path of least resistant, which is to quit.
    It’s like how to desperate boxer who has everything to prove is more dangerous than a wealthy person boxing for fun (Mayweather the exception).
    Stay strong Tim and stick the plan. Tell yourself you can’t leave until a certain date and focus hard on that target!

    Good luck

  4. I can relate, Tim. Back in 2008, when my ER plan was growing and taking shape, and as I was approaching my magic number, I still felt a little scared to be on the verge of making this huge move to stop working and begin living off my investments only. I also received a “good to go” from my informal investment advisor.

    I was now moving from “thinking about leaving” to “deciding to leave”.

    I was working on one project, mainly (I was working only 2 days a week, so I had little time to devote to anything else). I did want to finish it and be able to transition my other work to others. A key coworker retired in the middle of 2008, so it was imperative that I made a smooth transition of much of my other work.

    By the summer of 2008, more and more of the pieces of my ER puzzle were falling into place. My key projects at work were nearing completion and I was nearing my magic number. When I reached the end of September, the pieces had fallen into place and I drew up a resignation notice. I handed that in at the end of the month for a resignation date at the end of October.

  5. @deegee

    It’s interesting to hear that you stuck to your plan during the unique timing of mid 2008, just before the major stock market recession. How was the experience of the emotional roller coaster that must have followed in the next 12 months?

  6. Matt, the market downturn in 2008 was a huge benefit to my ER plan. The big drop in prices presented me with a big buying opportunity when I cashed in my company stock (which had fallen in value only a tiny amount). I was able to buy about 25% more shares of the bond fund whose monthly dividends provide me with most of my dividend income to pay my expenses.

    I also did a direct rollover from my 401k into an IRA. I kept the same AA and its value today has more than doubled without adding a dime of outside money.

  7. That’s why I enjoy your blog Tim. It is the truth in the journey to financial independence

    Some blogs are treating it like “Im retiring soon look how my life is so wonderful

    But the truth is why have doubts, some high days, some low. The dark feeling at work you’re describing we all feel it sometimes! But I think it is one powerful fuel that leaded us to save more and work our way to the escape.

  8. OK, Tim, first you say “I’m angry at my job… hating being where I am” then you state “I don’t hate my job”.
    You seem conflicted to say the least. One big unknown factor that hasn’t played out yet is the possible market turmoil due to The Donald. Maybe you should delay making that big decision for at least a year.

  9. and you really think in one year there won’t be any doubt ?? It’s always there . There always gonna be a war conflict somewere. Or A President somewhere else. A new election there. etc.

    If you fear an economical downturn, You can delay this forever.

    That’s called capitalism. Ups and down will both be there, always. Just gotta have faith.

  10. I retired from my job as a pension lawyer with a reduced DB pension a few months before my 54th birthday. I developed an encore career as a workplace journalist. I’ve really enjoyed the last 13 years and doubled our family savings. I wasn’t ready to retire then but I think I am almost there now. We moved my Mom to a nursing home and are cleaning and selling her apartment. Suddenly working even part-time is in the way.You will know if it is the right time to go. Keep listening to that little voice in your head and heart and you will know.

  11. We’re on the same route to FI as Tim and others here are too. We’ve scrimped and saved for many years to build up a fairly stable portfolio of dividend paying securities that we can live of off. There’s always investment risk to pay attention too – but don’t forget about political risk. My concern is mounting due to Trudeau’s rumoured tax increases on investments/savings in the upcoming budget… Even if nothing happens this time, increasingly indebted juristications will find our savings irresistable and will slowly change the playing field in their favour. Make sure to build in a healthy buffer before pulling the plug…

  12. Okay sorry for the delay on getting back to everyone’s comments.

    @PCT – I am planning on seeking some part time work after an initial break. Just likely in an entirely different field of work. I’m just really tired of full time work.

    @Canuckguy – Ah, I see your point. To clear things up, I don’t hate what I do. At that point in time I hated being where I was. Subtle difference and the hatred of where I was wasn’t really directly at work…it was just the output of being frustrated. Sort of like when you lash out at someone after having a bad day, it really isn’t them, they are just your release point.

    @Domino – Re: doubt. Oh yes, there is always doubt. Fear is wonderfully not logical and very skilled at being irrational.

    @John – Interesting question. The answer is yes and no. Yes I personally feel I have enough and feel wealthy because of it. No, because many people would assume being wealthy would entail much more than I have.

    @Sheryl Smolkin – Thanks that makes me feel a lot better about all of this.

    @RTS – Yes I’m waiting for that as well. In our case even the rumour changes to the tax laws shouldn’t effect us too much, but of course that is why I don’t stick to a single strategy for income (I use a mix of dividend paying stocks and index funds). I will see later this week when the budget comes out.

    Thanks everyone.

  13. Tim, I am going to do the same thing. Eliminate full-time work in my life to pursue more fun PT work. ETA for me is sometime this year.

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