the process

work is still the reality

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.


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Categories: the process

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3 replies »

  1. I once read a great quote, “Meetings are the cul-de-sac down which good ideas are lured and then murdered.” In addition to “good ideas,” I would also say “sense of humor, productivity, will to live, etc.” Wish I could remember the author. I frequently wonder what kind of mountains I could move if the absurd amount of non-productive time and paperwork were cleared from the path. But as my dad would say, you can want in one hand and, well you probably know how the rest of that phrase goes.

    • Ha! Great quotes! (“Will to live” might be a little hyperbolic, but point taken.) ;-) I think you’re right that we could all do so much more at work if the time-wasting parts were removed.

  2. Hi there,
    I have discovered your blog a week ago after seeing it on the news, and I was surprised discovering I am not the only one with such plans. Of course I knew there must be more people pursuing the same goal, but didn’t know it there was even a name for it :) FI/RE
    If everything goes well, we will be achieving our “point of no return” in less than five years. But for me the main problem right now is to motivate me to go to work every day as if it was what I want to do for the next 25 years… But is good to know that we all deal with the same “problems”.

    All the best for you guys, stay healthy and happy!