goals

why the urgency?

one of our favorite bloggers, cait flanders at blonde on a budget, has recently been writing some extremely personal and powerful posts. major kudos to you, cait, for sharing. it helped us realize that we can share this story…

blogging anonymously for sure has its pitfalls, and one of them is that it creates an additional barrier to sharing our real selves. we’ve explained why we don’t share our numbers, so that’s not why we’re anonymous at this point. it’s because our entire early retirement plan hinges on being able to stay in our jobs for at least two and a half more years. if our employers find out our plan, it won’t be good for us. it could ruin everything. so anonymity is pretty critical at this point, as much as we’d prefer to be open about all of it.

but we’re going to try to break through that today, to share why this whole early retirement vision feels so crazy urgent to us. why we’ve already made some big sacrifices to make it a reality, and are prepared to make more.

starting from the perspective of the female half of our next life:

when i was growing up, i was really close to my dad. he was my inspiration, and he always saw so much potential in me and encouraged me to dream big. he is essentially the entire reason i am where i am today. but when i was in late elementary school, my dad started changing. he became more distant, his posture began looking strange, he was spending more time isolated or resting, and was seeing a lot of doctors. after seeing more than a dozen of those MDs, it was determined that he has a neuromuscular disability that is incurable and only barely treatable. understandably, that news caused him to face down some major depression, which took years to treat. thankfully, he fought to stay positive in spite of things, and we’ve remained close over the years. but his disability has continued to progress, and he now looks and acts quite a bit older than his age.

unfortunately for me, his disability is genetic, and i run a pretty solid chance of inheriting it. also unfortunately, there’s no reliable test for it (yet), so i don’t actually know what’s in the cards — or, frankly, if i’d want to know if the test was available. the disease, if i have it, is likely to begin showing itself in the late 30s, and progress rapidly between ages 40 and 50. meaning: i still don’t know if i have it, but if i do, virtually all of my mobility could be gone by age 50.

in other words: i may not have a lot of time to enjoy the things that i love.

being able to be active is super important to me — to us. we love seeing places that you can’t see by car or tour bus. the views you have to earn, the solitude you have to work for. what if my future is one in which i’m limited to roads and sidewalks — or wheelchair-accessible ramps?

the truth is that none of us know how long we have. we can only hope, plan and make what we believe are good decisions about our health and well-being. but having a potential disability hanging over my head for all of these years has for sure helped clarify my priorities.

i don’t want to work forever. i don’t want to know that i spent my good years at a desk, and not out living life to its fullest. if i only have another 15 years or so of mobility, i want to make sure that i’m out in the world for as much of that time as possible, and that’s a big part of why we’ve been cranking so hard on paying off the house and saving for our post-work lives. it’s why we left a city we loved to be in a smaller place with more affordable housing and easier access to mountains and lakes. we moved away from some incredible friends and the most rewarding side hustle imaginable to jump-start our retirement savings and get closer to our goals.

and, though i always tell myself that i didn’t really want kids, the truth is that, when you know you might be carrying the genes for a disability whose effects you’ve witnessed first hand in someone you love, you become a lot less interested in passing those genes on. a lot of people tell us we’re missing out by not having kids, and maybe they’re right. at least not having kids has helped us save faster for our early retirement vision, which helps when we’re staring down the ticking clock.

though we’ve come sooooo far in our quest to retire early, it’s definitely frustrating that we still have years left before we can quit. our plan is to quit at the end of 2017, when i’ll be 38. and by then, i might already be showing symptom’s of my dad’s disease. i’ve already had bouts of his depression over the years (that also runs in the family), and i hope that having control of our time will help with that over the long-term. but the day when we send our last work email really can’t come soon enough.

of course, if it turns out that i didn’t inherit his disease, i’ll be thankful to have had the threat of it with me for all these years. if it hadn’t made me feel this sense of urgency, i don’t know where we’d be now. we still both really don’t want to work forever, so maybe we’d be on a similar path, or not. all i know is — i hope i don’t get my dad’s disease, but either way, retirement day can’t come soon enough.

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Categories: goals

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47 replies »

  1. I’m holding back tears right now. Really and truly. And if that’s how I feel reading it, I can only imagine how vulnerable you must’ve felt writing and hitting publish. Thank you for letting us into your world and for sharing one of the reasons you want to retire as soon as possible. It’s inspiring to see that *because* you don’t know what the future will hold (and none of us do) you want to chase after your goals faster and make the most out of this beautiful life we get to live.

    You guys can stay anonymous for as long as you like. I’ll be over here reading… cheering you on… and trying to keep it together. :) <3

    • Thanks for this. :-) We’re thankful, in a way, that we’re fortunate enough to have a visible reminder of the urgency. How many people get way less time in life than they expected to have (or way less *good* time), but never considered the possibility? We’re truly lucky for that. But THANK YOU for the encouragement on sharing the personal stuff. :-)

  2. Wow, very moving stuff. It’s great to see that you take something like this and use it as real motivation to do something different with your life. So many people would let it be a reason to achieve less and be unhappy!

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart. It’s very difficult to be transparent on the web for many reasons; employers finding out, personal privacy and safety etc. It’s nice to read your story and be inspired. Thank you.

  4. This is amazing. I’m so glad you guys are making it happen for you now, especially since you know what potentially lies ahead. I am very, very sorry for what potentially lies ahead. I have known a few people effected by MS. None of them found out until they started to lose some type of mobility or physical freedom, like your father. It’s a terrible, terrible thing to watch happen, and know you’re helpless to do anything. You are truly so inspiring taking the reigns in your situation. Still hoping it doesn’t happen for you, though.

    • Thanks so much. Fortunately it’s *not* MS that we’re staring down! Not that my dad’s disease is so great, but it tends not to be endlessly progressive like MS — thank goodness for the little things, I guess!

  5. Thank you for sharing. I just started reading your blog after you commented on mine, and wow, what a weight you carry. But even more wow is how you’ve re-framed it to be a positive driving force in your life. You’re right that no one is sure what will happen to them in the future. We can only continue trying our best to live our lives the way we want to live it, and to be the people we want to be.

  6. I admire your courage and dedication. Carpe diem. Btw, I’ve been enjoying reading your story (I just started from the beginning and making my way through). All the best on your journey and looking forward to reading all about it!

  7. I can unfortunately relate to this post more than I would like . My dad has been slowly slipping away for years after a major event that took place about two decades ago. Part of the event could be heritable, but the trigger can be influenced by diet. Not knowing if I have the same “flaw” in my genes, I’ve decided to throw everything I can at the risk management side of this. In this case it’s drastic lifestyle changes. Knowing the pain and suffering my mom went through, I’m doing as much as I can to prevent or delay Mrs CF and Miss CF from experiencing the same.
    I’m rooting for you and hope your genes don’t let you down! I think you’re a smart cookie for focusing on your life now. Best of luck.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that! And I think your approach is super smart. Mine is similar — anything that could be a dietary trigger is long gone in my diet. I’m rooting for you too! :-D

  8. Heavy stuff. I wonder if leading a less stressful life might slow down the progression if indeed the worst case scenario were to happen. Sending good vibes that you won the gene lottery.

    • I can’t believe you’re still going! ;-) It’s hard to know how stress affects that particular condition — there just isn’t enough research on it. Though I do believe generally that focusing on stress reduction and a low-inflammation lifestyle is a good bet! Thanks for the good vibes. :-) I’m now 2 years beyond when I wrote this, and still in the clear, so fingers crossed!

  9. I hope all the best for your and your fathers health, with all the advances in healthcare I hope something is able to help him or at least slow the progress. (I have read most of the blog and glad to hear that is sounds like you think you are old enough to know you most likely are in the clear)

    • Thanks so much! As you know, medical advances are mostly coming in the well funded areas, and that means a LOT of rare diseases are getting left behind in the research and treatment areas. But my dad is doing well, and yeah, I’ve learned recently that we actually DO have the same thing, it’s just that I don’t have his more serious manifestation of it, and with each passing year, the odds go down that I’ll get it. Thanks for your well wishes!

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