The day, as most of them tend to do, started like any other day. I made my way through my well-oiled routine without a squeak – wake up, grab a shower, make some coffee and sit down to check out what is in store for me at work. So far, everything’s cool – until our division-wide telecon.
Actually, let’s back up a second. Up until this morning, I was “in the closet”, as it were, regarding my intention to quit full-time work in December and spend my remaining years traveling the country for a living…or at least doing something that I actually enjoy.
My wife, on the other hand, has already told her boss that she’s quitting in February. She needed to give her boss that much notice due to the nature of the business that she’s in. Me, on the other hand, could quit with two weeks notice and be done with it – though I was planning to give him at least 3 months notice.
But, it’s only May. December isn’t in two weeks, unfortunately. What the heck gives?
The conference call that sealed the deal
Like I said, everything was normal until the division-wide conference call that had been scheduled for weeks. This was my boss’s opportunity to address the entire division about our performance over the previous quarter and talk generally about how awesome we all are.
A little background is in order: As part of our compensation, we are given the opportunity to do additional work that directly benefits the company, which is generally capped at 20 hours per person for the quarter. A portion of our quarterly bonuses are made up of this work; the other portion of our bonus amount is directly tied to our performance and billing utilization – yada yada.
Towards the end of the conference call, my boss dropped somewhat of a bombshell on us…okay, perhaps more of a grenade than a bombshell. He wants us all to get certified in a specific area of information technology because more and more of our customers are demanding this certification. I’ve gone through the process of studying for certifications before, and it is typically a long process. Many nights of reading inane technical concepts buried underneath mind-numbingly dull technicalities, technologies, acronyms and fluff is necessary.
Typically, 80 or more hours of studying is required for most people to let this dryness sift into their brains enough to pass the test. After spending days writing code and sitting through hour-long conference calls, spending my evenings reading about dry technological concepts and taking practice tests doesn’t appeal to me in the least. In fact, it sounds downright horrible.
That, and I have a vehement distaste for technical certifications to begin with. Back when I “directored“, I generally ignored certifications on resumes because they tend to be extremely poor representations of a person’s fitness for almost any technical role.
The catch in all this? My boss wants us all to get certified this quarter as a part of this additional 20-hour workload. And like I said, the hours required to prepare for, and pass, this certification is three to four times the number of hours that we are allowed to work on this.
So anyway, here I am – still in the closet about my quitting date and my boss just hoisted upon me a fresh invitation to say, “No, I shall not get certified, and here’s why”.
But, I’m still conflicted. Taking this route would require me to divulge our plans quite a bit early, and I certainly don’t need to give my boss eight months notice that I’m leaving. I also don’t want this to affect the remainder of my employment with this organization. But on the other hand, I have to tell him some time anyway, and I certainly don’t want to spend hours of my time studying for a certification that I will literally never use.
What’s a future early retiree to do?
Please note: This is not a negative indictment in any way on my boss. He is doing what is in the best interest of the organization. It’s business and I know that. This guy has easily been the best boss that I’ve ever worked for and actively wants what is best for his staff. Thus, I have absolutely no anger or hard feelings in any way toward him or, quite frankly, the business.
I leaned back in my chair (actually, it was the nook in our Airstream) and quickly returned to my natural, confident, everything-will-work-out self and said “Screw it, I’m doing this”.
So I called, and my boss picked up his phone.
The “I’m quitting” conversation
More or less, the conversation went something like this (and no, it had no resemblance to my fictitious “I quit” letter!):
Me: “Hi Boss. I wanted to chat with you for a minute about that certification that you want us to get, as well as something else.”
Boss: “Okay, sure.”
Me: “Well, my wife and I have a dream of traveling the country full-time, and it looks like we will be in the position to make that happen at the end of this year. So, I’m going to be leaving the organization in December.”
Boss: “Are you going to travel around for a couple years, or…”
Me: “Really, we plan to travel for the foreseeable future. I don’t anticipate coming out of retirement anytime soon. I’m not looking for a sabbatical.”
Boss: “Wow, I’m shocked, but I’m happy for you and your family. Truth be told that if I were in your position, I would probably do the same thing”.
Me: “Thanks, I appreciate that. And about that certification, I would rather not go through the hassle of preparing for that test. How about I look elsewhere for ideas of what to do for those 20 hours?”
Boss: “Yeah, that makes sense. I will try to think of ideas as well, but if you come up with something, let me know ASAP.”
First, notice how supportive my boss was during this conversation – and for that I am very grateful. This, in large part, is why I harbor no anger or resentment in his direction whatsoever. He’s been a great guy to work for and will continue to be throughout the remainder of the year.
Second, he admitted that he would probably do the same thing if he were in my shoes, which is his way of saying “I hate to lose you, but I can’t say that I blame you“. Strike while the iron is hot, if you will. In fact, I may have used that phrase on the call with him.
Third, phew! The cat is officially out of the bag! I get out of the certification process and can put the whole giving notice thing behind me…a little earlier than I had originally planned, but it needed to be done at some point, and now my boss has plenty of time to plan around me beyond December.
Once again, I had a good attitude during this entire conversation, and once again, everything turned out wonderfully. My boss knows, so my job is done. All I have to do is finish out the remaining days, weeks and months and then slip gracefully into early retirement, camera in hand.
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.