this is the hardest part. knowing that we’ve saved a bunch already, and won’t have to work forever. yet as of now, we still have to. back when we were first thinking about early retirement, when it didn’t feel quite real, we still saw work as a fact of life. and that made it easier to go to work every day, to put up with exhausting coworkers, pointless meetings, and overly demanding clients.
that’s probably the biggest drawback of our philosophy: like in the allegory of the cave, we used to see the shadows like everyone else, this illusion that work and earning and buying and accumulating are the only option. but now we’ve seen that we can choose a different path for our future. we know that work doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence for us, just because our consumerist culture pushes everyone to work more, earn more, buy more. we feel freed by this revelation.
except, for now, those coworkers, meetings, clients — they’re still our daily reality. and, and it’s a lot harder to swallow than it used to be. maybe because we’ve been at it longer, or because we’re older. but seeing our savings inch closer to where they need to be, seeing our mortgage balance get closer to zero, these are amazing things. watching our progress is this incredibly uplifting force in our lives.
it’s like if you quit smoking, or lose weight, or break out of negative thought patterns, you find yourself wanting to shed the negative influences in your life. you stop hanging out with people who drag you down. that’s sort of how work feels now — we’ve seen this other way of thinking, we feel like we’ve made this giant leap forward, and now the daily reality of work is nothing but a negative force, pulling us backwards.
of course we’re still beyond grateful to have our jobs, and to even be able to imagine this future for ourselves. they say that the imagining itself is the most powerful force of all. and we’re privileged to dream this dream, whether or not it ever becomes reality. but just being honest — when that conference call gets into its second or third hour, it’s harder than ever to hang in there.