The closer I get to early retirement, the tougher it becomes to wait for it. Virtually every day, I am conscious of the fact that I’m still “going to work”, even though I am close to the end. I am still working, checking email, writing reports, answering phone calls.
It’s still happening. I know the end is near, but that doesn’t make these last few remaining months easier to get through, as I assumed that it would. Human nature strikes again. The closer that we get to something, the more we want it and less patient we become.
If anything, getting closer makes it tougher. And half-jokingly, I periodically ask my wife if I can just quit early – of course, in complete jerk-face style.
“Steve, can you do me a favor?”
“Sure, if that favor means I get to quit work tomorrow.”
“Oh, quit your whining, Steve!” – you might be thinking. And well, I can’t say I disagree with that. I only have a few more months to go, so I should just buck up and get through it and quit whining about it.
Okay, true that.
But remember, my boss already knows. Most of my immediate family knows. We’re all settled into our kick-ass Airstream digs and ready to get this show on the road. All that really needs to happen is for us to quit our jobs and set sail.
Airstream renovations loom
But we shouldn’t, yet.
After all, we have a few expensive renovation items that we need to do on the Airstream.
- New flooring: The original floors are in good shape considering the unit was built in 2005, but they definitely show their wear. We need something new to walk on. Cost: $2,000.
- Replace dinette with desk: We hate the dinette. We never use it – we don’t eat there, nor do we really need that much seating right in the middle of the rig. We want it replaced with a real desk that I will primarily use for my workstation. Cost: $1,500.
- Solar and battery upgrade: We want to spend a lot of time off-grid, and solar power on the roof and upgraded batteries will make that happen for us. Expensive, though. Cost: $7,000.
Right there, we have around $10,000 worth of work that we need to do (or have done) to the Airstream at some point in the future.
And thus, we press on.
But still, I could quit
The thought is always there, and I sort of enjoy its taunts. I know that I can’t punch it in the face quite yet, but knowing that I can in less than a half-year continues to intrigue me. Thoughts of “I quit” re-surface during a telecon that I’d rather beat myself over the head with a hammer than listen to.
I will think about it when I’m crawling out of bed early in the morning just so I can spend time doing work. Or during my performance review a couple weeks ago, which was a mere formality. Or that business trip I had to take over my birthday. I could quit. Or maybe more accurately, “Soon, I will quit”.
And it has changed the way that I do business. Doing the work still brings me very little joy, but I operate differently. I am not painstakingly re-reading every email through “cover your ass” glasses like I once did. I don’t sugar-coat my thoughts or feelings and I am clear with my boss about my expectations for my remaining months. He knows that I’m out the door at the end of the year and I’m just hanging on and riding the wave until it finally breaks and throws me on shore.
I don’t care about looking good in front of my boss or coworkers. Their incessant push for more and more influence is met with zero push back from me. I let it happen, smiling. Because to me, it just doesn’t matter. It’s their career, not mine. I’m nearly out the door.
I’ve already put my F-U Money to good use
A couple of weeks ago, my boss emailed me about a potential opportunity to fill out my remaining few months of work. The catch was it required nearly constant cross-country travel.
I hate air travel. Combine it with a job that I don’t particularly enjoy and we end up with a situation that’s just about the perfect storm of nastiness for me. My boss asked me how I would feel about taking on this gig. I played my FU Money card.
In the past, I would have begrudgingly agreed to this assignment. I never said no to work, not because I enjoyed the thought of doing that work, but because I wanted to make my boss happy with my presence in the company. Basically, I had to protect my career. But today, that’s changed.
I said no. Flat no. I had discussed it with the wife and we both agreed that constant travel cross-country for the next three or four months was unacceptable. I would sooner quit than put that kind of strain on our family at the moment. We have a lot to do before we hit the road, and my availability is critical to make the timing work out.
I was prepared to quit if it came to that. But, it didn’t. My boss knows my distaste for travel. If he didn’t then, he certainly does now.
Meanwhile, I’m just doing my very best not to up-and-quit today, as much as I would like to.
This is going to be a wonderful holiday season, my friends. Wonderful indeed!
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.