Rocking through my last year of full-time employment
It is only natural to second-guess yourself the closer you get to accomplishing a major life goal, and retiring early from full-time work is no exception. It seems the closer we get, the more unsure we become. Maybe another year of work will drive the nail more firmly into the coffin?
There's only one problem in my situation: I am not all that "unsure" about this decision. In fact, it's precisely the opposite - the closer I get to December, the more and more I want to just quit now. This whole thing about "maybe we haven't saved enough" and the dreaded unease about whether or not to actually go through with it, which is very typical in the final year of an early retiree's life?
I just don't have that fear...or anything even close to it. And honestly, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. After all, I've written before about how fear is a good thing. It keeps us from doing stupid shit. Fear is a very healthy emotion, and it sure seems like quitting a high-paying and relatively stress-free job to pursue a life of jobless freedom is a major enough change to elicit some of that fear.
After all, 2016 is my last year of planned full-time work. Why the hell am I not fearful of the unknown? Why am I not questioning myself about whether or not it is wise to quit this early in life? My gawd, why am I so confident? Is this a weakness? Am I setting myself up for failure with my over-confidence?
One of my favorite blogs, Living A FI, wrote an eloquent post about this last year and described the process that so many of us go through. It seems like I should want to both quit today AND work another X number of years - all at the same time. But like I said, no such conflict exists within me.
Why am I so confident?
I believe this situation comes down to two main considerations:
Confidence and risk.
The more confident and risk taking we are, the more likely we will feel the "just do it!" urge, even in pursuit of major life goals like early retirement. And naturally, the less confident or more risk adverse we are, the more likely we will feel the "wait, am I really doing this right?" question.
I'm a specially-weird person in how I view life, and I definitely inherited my level of confidence from my dad. Both my dad and I believe that things will turn out just fine. They always do. As I look back on my life, everything has turned out fine, regardless of struggles, stresses or strife.
The risks that I took generally paid off - or I at least broke even, but even those that didn't work as planned still failed to kill me. I'm still here alive and kicking, writing blog posts about early retirement and the financial madness that grips this great country of ours.
Both my wife and I are flexible people and will make this work. What's the worst that can happen? Seriously, the worst case scenario?
Probably one of us contracting a debilitating illness requiring month-long hospital stays and amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills in the process. Yeah, that would suck hardcore.
But if that happened, working a full-time job would be the least of my worries, and the last thing that I'd want to think about is the fact that I delayed my full-time adventure because I was scared to take the plunge into early retirement. Talk about adding insult to injury. No thanks.
Like I've written about before, I believe that early retirement puts me in a better position to respond to "life happens" than if I was beholden to a full-time job that keeps me in the same ol' place doing the same ol' thing, day in and day out. Soon, I will be completely mobile and without the burdens of full-time work, capable of traveling anywhere, spending as much time as necessary and putting 100% effort into anything that grabs my attention - for better or worse.
I would sooner retire today than work a year longer than I thought I needed to for the sake of extra money. Life is too short to spend it worrying about the what-ifs in life. Things happen, and there is nothing that we can do to prevent that.
There is no such thing as an ironclad retirement plan.
It also helps that I have goals setup for my post-retirement life, some of which include working at campgrounds for free full hookup campsites. Most of my goals are in pursuit of the creative side of me that the information technology industry completely killed throughout my career. The rest are related to fitness and staying active.
- I want to produce a documentary about early retirement and RV living
- I want to pursue videography and photography in more depth, both at a personal and professional level
- I want to continue building this blog into an influential source of financial conversations
- I want to visit as many national parks as possible to enjoy the amazing beauty of the country I grew up in
- I want to volunteer in animal shelters and help give a better life to abused and neglected animals
- I want to tackle day hikes to amazing mountain tops, camera on-the-hip, taking in our natural wilderness
- I want to read non-stop from about 7 or 8pm every night until I fall gently into dreamland
- I want to take epic 30-minute long power naps throughout the day, keeping me alert, functional and active
I also want to get as involved in the RV and early retirement community as I can, learn about the things that people do right and also understand their problems and help design possible solutions. In a way, early retirement is only the beginning. There is so much more out there to experience and enjoy, people to meet and nature to explore. Full-time jobs just get in the way.
When you're an early retiree, your potential is virtually limitless. Armed with enough cash to comfortably live on, retirees have both the time and the experience to make a truly positive impact after quitting full-time work, pursuing any avenue of interest. In other words, my goals don't suddenly stop once I achieve financial independence and early retirement.
They are only just beginning.