When Loyalists Contemplate Quitting

Psst. Monday marks the two-year anniversary of our first post here at Our Next Life. We’re working on a big retrospective and forward-looking post that we can’t wait to share with you! 

Our power has been going out a lot lately. Like a lot a lot. #mountainproblems While it’s made work and blogging a little tough, it’s given us a lot of time to sit by the fire and chat about the things that we don’t otherwise make time for. (Other upside: We now know where every candle, lantern and flashlight in the house is!) And a recurring question in those chats by the wood stove is:

What happens when it’s actually time to quit our jobs? How will we do it? What will we say? And, perhaps most importantly in our case:

How will we actually gather up the nerve to do it for real? The quitting, that is.

Not because we don’t think we’ll have enough money saved. Not because we don’t trust our math. Not even because the world is turning upside down right now and who knows what the heck is going to happen with the markets in the short term or long term.

But because we don’t know how to quit things. We never really have.

OurNextLife.com // When Loyalists Consider Quitting / Early retirement, financial independence, leaving long-term careers

Quick Backstory

When we got together 12 years ago, we were already both fairly seasoned in our jobs, especially Mr. ONL, who is three years older than I am. And we still have those jobs. Different titles and higher salaries, of course, but we’ve both been with the same employers for virtually our entire careers. We haven’t even changed departments or job functions, we’ve just made our way steadily up our respective ladders.

So after a gajillion years with our companies, it’s not a cliche to say that we consider some of the people we work with, and especially those who’ve mentored us along the way, to be family.

And frankly, when we think about the actual act of quitting, sometimes it feels like we’re asking to get disowned.

It’s All Economic, But Also It’s Not

We imagine that our friends who’ve moved employers every few years, like normal people, wouldn’t have this same sense of dread at the thought of delivering their early retirement news. Several wise friends have said some version of this to us:

It’s still ultimately just a job. They pay you to do it, and you’re free to go any time.

It’s an economic arrangement absolutely, but it’s also more than that — and I don’t think this part is unique to people who are long-termers in their jobs.

Work is something most people do more than any other thing in life. It’s the thing that defines us for the longest stretch of our lives (FIRE community possibly excepted), and it’s where many people invest their passion and most of their energy. If you’re invested in your job (as we’d argue you should be until your last day) and your coworkers are too, then it’s natural that you’re going to bond deeply with some of them. You’re sharing this big thing in your life, maybe you’re working long hours together, working toward a shared goal, and that can be an incredibly intimate thing, especially if this happens over the course of years.

Though we’re financially prepared to walk away (or super, super close anyway), we’re definitely not emotionally prepared to break the news and walk away from that intimacy.

Related post: Why We’re Not Going to Complain About Work Anymore

Our Career Loyalty

We don’t see ourselves as any more loyal than the next guy, but we’ve certainly approached our careers in ways that aren’t so typical anymore. Before we started planning for early retirement, whenever we’d think about the future, we always pictured ourselves with our companies. When we’d go into our performance reviews, we’d talk about our thoughts on how the company could grow long-term. Even now, as we’re on the verge of walking out the door, we’re still thinking about what we can improve on our way out, and who we can position for future leadership, to make sure our companies thrive without us. Throughout our careers, we’ve barely ever looked around at what other jobs might be out there, almost certainly to our financial detriment, and certainly never leveraged other job offers for promotions or higher pay.

All of which makes us sound like suckers. Which maybe we are. But we work for companies that reward loyalty, and we know we’ve both been fast-tracked in our careers in part because we have stuck around and haven’t played those games to get ahead.

So we have no regrets for being career loyalists. It feels like it has worked out well for us. But it does now pose this problem that we’re so invested in our companies and our colleagues that actually pulling the ripcord feels a whole lot harder.

The Planning Is Worse Than the Quitting

I’ve often wondered if it would feel easier to quit if I could go in and announce that we’ve won the lottery, or that some long-lost uncle has left us a massive inheritance. There’s no premeditation in that, and who could blame us for wanting to sail off to Tahiti with that kind of windfall.

But what we’re doing isn’t exactly a spur-of-the-moment thing. Even though our timeline has been faster than it is for a lot of folks (no kids plus above average incomes help), we’ve clearly spent years planning for this. And since we’re not big on lying, we can’t hide that fact. We know there will be people who will feel like we should have told them, or at least given some hint. They’ll feel betrayed. It’s a little like that expression:

It’s not the crime. It’s the cover-up. 

Who could blame us for retiring when we can, but they sure could blame us for covering it up for so long.

The Weirdest Reverse Ageism

In our most recent power outage chat, we wondered if either of us would still be getting promotions if we were 62 or 63, and getting close to what most people think of as “retirement age.” It certainly seems like our employers would have less incentive to invest in us and entice us to stay when we only have a few more working years ahead of us.

But at our ages now, they’re sure to tell us how much they value us and see us playing pivotal roles in our companies. Because no one would ever assume that we might now be on our way out. Thirties and forties are not what we collectively think of as retirement age, so therefore, someone leaving at this age is deviating from the system, doing something wrong, breaking the rules. (Of course I prefer this interpretation from a good friend of mine: Beating the game.)

Retirement wasn’t even really a thing before the New Deal. It’s still a very recent concept, historically speaking. But the anchor effect of that Social Security and Medicare age is so powerful. If we were announcing our retirement in our 60s, we’d be greeted with congratulations and no surprise whatsoever, but doing it at our ages puts the onus on us to explain ourselves.

Getting Over It

Of course we’ll get over it. When we hit that magic number or reach the end of the year, whichever comes first, we’ll know it’s time to suck it up and do it. And that’s something we know how to do. We might bellyache plenty about it in advance — no, I guarantee we will totally stress about it and overthink it and script out the conversations ten different ways. But then when it’s time, we’ll just do it.

Because we know what’s at stake. We know why this is so urgent. And we have zero desire to fall into the One More Year trap. 2017 is the year we quit, no matter what.

Weigh In!

Any other work lifers out there who shudder at the thought of delivering the news that you’re quitting? Or have you just left a job you were in for a long time, and have any tips to share? Any job hoppers want to give us a swift kick in the pants? We’re all ears. :-)

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88 thoughts on “When Loyalists Contemplate Quitting

  1. I’m a long-termer myself-I only switched companies once, after working for them for 12 years. I’m approaching six years at my current company. I remember well letting my old company know that I was leaving-it felt in many ways like I was leaving behind a family of sorts. I’d been working on a large project for 4-5 years at that time, rose through the ranks, and got to know everyone very well. But I knew it was the best thing for me and my career. So the only advice I have is to take a deep breath and know it’s the best thing for you right now! Interestingly, those people who were “like family” turned out to be really just coworkers. I don’t see any of them anymore, except a few on Facebook and on LinkedIn.

    1. Great advice to take that deep breath and just do it! The interesting thing in our case is, because we’ve worked remotely for a long time now, we feel like a lot of those work friendships have already faded away. The ones we still have feel like the ones that are built to last, but we could be wrong about some of them. The most important thing to both of us is leaving things with our employers in ways that make it clear how grateful we are for the opportunities over the years. They are people we respect a lot, who’ve taken good care of us, and we don’t want them to think we’re making this decision capriciously or without sincere thanks.

  2. I’m looking for a new job and I’ve only been at my current place for a year! I’m going to feel really really bad when I have to let them know I’m leaving but things around there just changed a lot and it’s not a good career move for me to stay.

    I do remind myself that my job is just an economic contract and no one else is looking out for my life plans except me!

    1. I don’t think you should feel bad about leaving a job you’ve been at for a year. That’s not enough time for the company to invest in you seriously, and it’s totally fair for you to look out for your best career interests. Keep reminding yourself of that economic piece! :-)

  3. Before I got my current job, I would’ve been the one telling you how easy it would be for me to walk away. Now though, I love my job and will be genuinely sad to walk away.

    The people from my last job that I was so close to though? That supported me and got me through the hardest job of my life? Barely talk anymore :(

  4. Game theory and the Nash Equilibrium suggests that you should always act in the way generating the best outcome irrespective of the other party’s (the company’s, in this case) decision. Passively sticking around for long-duration, not sharing salary data with coworkers, many other “reverence to the company” tactics only serve to disempower the employee. Never stop interviewing, and never feel bad about putting the needs of YOU llc ahead of your employer’s demands.

    1. I admire people who can operate in purely rational ways, but we are not those people. :-) (And behavioral economists would say that no one behaves rationally at all times, so at least we’re in good company!)

  5. After 26 jobs in 40 years of working I would say withdrawing my labour from an employer is easy-peasy, just do it! I have always known they would soon find someone to replace me and I like to move on. That said, there were places I loved working in and cried to the point of dehydration on leaving day, so be prepared with tissues.

    1. Great advice to be prepared with tissues — I will totally need them, even if I’m not sad! Anytime something has BIG FEELINGS involved, those feelings tend to come out through my eyes. ;-) (Like I am the most embarrassing happy crier you’re ever likely to meet. Haha.) We know we’re completely replaceable — we just want to make sure the people who’ve helped us over the years know how grateful we are for that!

  6. Don’t laugh at me, but I almost started crying when I quit my last job at the Megacorp. I really liked my boss and the work and my team, but since I got my DREAM job…. well, it was tough. My advice is to keep it simple, not blabber on with all sorts of logic and reasonings. And burn no bridges – but you all seem smart enough to know that!

    1. Oh, guaranteed I will totally cry when I give the news! :-) It’s such a big emotional moment, I think it’s entirely possible to cry even if you’re not actually sad. It’s just A LOT. Good advice to keep it simple, though we do want to stress our appreciation for the support over the years — and we will definitely NOT burn those bridges! :-)

  7. After I was RIFed twice, I made the decision to leave that school district. I was infinitely more valuable there than I am here. That’s not to say I don’t love my current district or do great things for these kids (and they for me!). But we were 80% free and reduced lunch with a homeless population that would drop your jaw. I know how much those students meant to me, and I know how much I meant to them. In fact, some of them still email (and that was 7 years ago!). I thought I could say my goodbyes relatively calmly, but it was probably one of the ugliest cries of my life…and the biggest group hug ever.

    It still hurts, and I still miss it. But I know I had to make this call for my own health, sanity, and finances. This a really long-winded way of saying I understand this post more than I ever want to be able to.

    1. I had to look up what RIFed stands for, even though I inferred generally what it means. ;-) And I think it makes total sense that some of that stuff still feels so raw 7 years later, given how much those students needed you, and how much you were able to impact them positively. I have a sour grapes career moment like that that can’t write about now but maybe will someday, and that has stuck with me the same way.

  8. Coming up on 6 years with my first employer out of college – I would consider myself loyal and do have some good friends at work – I have contemplated looking for a new job a few times over the last year, the biggest thing holding me back is the flexibility/hours I currently have. As long as my salary keeps going up at a decent rate – I will stay.

    Ultimately, the job is for money, once that is no longer a primary objective, will happy dance my way out of here without any issues (a respectful happy dance of course)

  9. I view my career as a business. I sell my time and expertise for an income stream. Sure I have some good relationships with coworkers and bosses, but at the end of the day, if they truly are friends of mine, then me not working for that company shouldn’t change that relationship. But obviously it will, just through ease of communication. It won’t be forced anymore.

    At my going away dinner last year before I moved to the Midwest, my boss told me “you’re going to quit in a year or two and work on a golf course out there, and live the easy life.” Maybe he wasn’t too far off from the truth. So I don’t think he’d be too surprised when the time comes :)

    1. What do coastal people think the midwest is like?!?!? That comment your boss made cracks me up, but also totally puzzles me. Do they think people in the middle of the country don’t also work, often in jobs that are meaningful? So funny. I bet it will still be a surprise when you break the news. Nobody expects anyone to walk away from a well-paid job — they think everyone wants just as much money as they do!

      1. I think it’s just Manhattan people. It really is another world. My boss admits he lives in a bubble though. He earns an extremely high income, yet says he feels average since everyone in his neighborhood is earning a similar amount (to be able to afford the 7 figure houses). I can tell sometimes when we talk if he thinks it has been all worth it…

        I have definitely noticed a slower pace out here though, maybe I should write about it. Seems like people pay more attention to living, than the rat race. But maybe that’s just everywhere besides the huge metro areas…

        1. I do think you’re right that there are some overly self-important big cities where some people have a totally skewed vision of what the rest of the world is like, and I have lived in a few of them. ;-) And that whole “feeling average when earning a ton” thing is one of the things I most do NOT miss about big cities! Because that’s just nuts. People need to get some perspective! (And do write about the slower pace! It would be interesting to read your take.)

  10. For certain personalities, it’s going to be tough to walk away from a company regardless of whether they love their job or not. I am one of those personalities. While I’m not passionate about my current career and could walk away in a heartbeat, I’ve developed relationships that mean a lot to me. It’ll be tough to walk away from those someday. It’ll also be tough for me because I’m so sensitive (ISFJ) and I’ll be very cognizant of how my departure makes everyone feel. I think during times like these it’s always good to remember that everyone is going to process and perceive your decision completely different than you will…and that’s OK.

    1. Well said. And, we’re generally less valuable to people than we think we are. ;-) I know everyone will be fine, and life will go on without me, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m ungrateful… so I’ll just have to go heavy on the gratitude talk when I drop the news! ;-)

  11. Yes!! I totally get this. I’ve been working at the same place for more than 10 years. And it’s a children’s charity, so in addition to tugging on my heartstrings daily, I get the benefit of appreciation and admiration when I tell people where I work and what I do. That is going to be HARD to let go of. But someone recently gave me the advice – Don’t love something that can’t love you back. So I’m trying to prioritize my family and myself a little more, including looking forward to a calmer, less stressful FIRE’d future.

    1. I totally see that! Your work must be a huge part of your whole identity, not just what you do for a paycheck (which I’m sure is smaller than it could be, because you’ve chosen to do such noble work). And good for you for prioritizing yourself and your family over work — I know it’s hard, but that’s really great advice someone gave you. :-)

  12. I worked at 3 companies in three years after I graduated but I’ve been at my current company for over a decade so I know what you are talking about. I have friends there, not just coworkers, and it feels like my company (even though if you math based on stock ownership it would be laughable how little I really own). Quitting isn’t going to be easy. In fact, not seeing some of my friends as often as I do now is going to be a big adjustment too.

    1. Yes! Our companies really do feel like OUR companies, even though they’re obviously not. We care about the people there and we want them to do well, and we want that to come across when we leave. Since we both work remotely, seeing the people is less of a concern, but I can see that for you!

  13. I’ve never worked for a company that rewarded loyalty, so that’s hard for me to relate to. I have been with my current employer for almost 6 years, though, and have kept the friends I’ve made working for the other 4 companies before this one. It’s always harder to leave the people than the employer.

    If they truly are like family, they should be supportive and understanding of you decision to retire. If they aren’t, then you at least know where you stand and can decide from there if it’s worth staying in contact with any of them. Don’t let them rain on your parade!

    1. I think virtually everyone will be supportive (and possibly jealous) ;-) so the only real worry is whether our companies’ owners will see our sincere gratitude and not just feel betrayed by the fact that this has been our plans for years. Most of the reasons people leave, like having kids, or a sick relative, kind of just pop up, they aren’t long-term plans. That’s the only part that gives me anxiety.

  14. I too feel extremely loyal and close to the owners of my company. They have been very good to me, and I’ve worked very hard for them. Walking in to resign will be very tough and emotional although in the back of my head, I know that once I’m not interacting with them on a daily basis, they probably won’t think twice about me ever again! I do feel that it makes it infinitely easier for me and them that I don’t have to say I’m quitting to take a different job (perhaps with a competitor), but that I’m leaving to just go enjoy my life. That removes some of the sting for both. In the end, you still have to actually speak the words, but there’s a lot less dread in them.

    1. I am in completely the same boat as you in feeling like it’s important to be able to say we’re not becoming the competition. We’re just quitting the game altogether. Somehow I think that’s better — certainly better than if we were leaving to work for competing companies or starting our own! And people at my company still talk with affection about long-timers who’ve left, so, not gonna lie… I hope to be on that affection list. :-)

  15. I’m the opposite: I’ve bounced around a few companies over the last years. I think the issue is that I know what I’d like to do for a full-time gig and I just need to make it happen. Wompity-womp.

    But man, it would be terrifying to have the ability to quit your job. It’s freakin’ EXHILARATING but also nerve-wracking, even though it shouldn’t matter. But yes, once that time comes for me, I know I’ll be a nervous jitter-bug for sure.

    Most FIRE-ees make cover stories about why they’re quitting instead of saying “early retirement.” It brings up too many awkward questions. I think mine will be “family obligations” or something like that. Who knows!

    1. Terrifying is right! We’re talking about the goodbye part of it, but cutting off the money pipeline is a whole different kind of nerve-wracking that we’re also coming to terms with. :-) And I’m curious who you’ve read who made up a cover story — nearly everyone I know of who retired early was completely open about it!

  16. The key is to make your employer let you quit with an amicable departure and severance. I had no qualms of leaving because we came up with an arrangement for me to train my subordinate well for a month or so for an agreed upon goodbye check.

    It’s fun to leave when you perform the judo!

    Just do it! It’ll be fun!

    Sam

  17. I have to give at least three months’ notice to leave a job, so there have been some very awkward and painful stretches when my bosses didn’t understand or believe I actually wanted to leave such a hellish place that they thought was fabulous because they had their heads so far up their behinds and my coworkers were too scared to be supportive.

    Today, though, is my last day at one of my jobs, and it’s a place where I dearly love my bosses, coworkers and support staff. I’ve been there for three years and will miss them, but at the same time I’m not there a lot as it is and so many of them will not even notice I’m gone for months, if ever. So I baked a massive batch of cookies for them and to throw myself a going away party :)

    Best of luck with however you decide to go about it. Giving plenty of notice helps the company but prolongs the awkwardness and/or tears, then the actual day is anticlimactic.

    1. Wow, happy last day! So exciting! :-) I hope it’s a great party, even if you likely won’t keep in touch with a lot of those folks — that doesn’t mean the relationships weren’t worth something in their own time and place. And re: notice, I doubt that we’ll give super long notice, but we have yet to make a clear decision on that!

  18. These announcements are never easy, especially when you get along fine with senior management.
    It happened to me in my last corporate job. I respect a lot my line manager and his boss. We commute on the same train. And then comeq the moment that the priorities on your life change and they have a great effect on your relationship…
    WHen they are truly caring about you, they should be able to see your point. Especially when you offer after some insisting from them, a reasonable exit plan.

    1. I think you’re right — the people who matter to us care about us and will see the value in what we’re doing. I think it’s more the fact that we’ve obviously been planning this for years, and whether they’ll feel hurt that we didn’t tell them sooner (even though we clearly couldn’t tell them sooner!).

  19. It’s hard to change something that’s been a fixture of your life for so long, especially when you’re so invested in it succeeding! Putting such a large chunk of your daily life into work at a job can invest you to the point where it’s hard to give it up.

    The people are the other factor that makes it hard to leave. At my job, I feel like people count on me to solve their problems. I don’t know if it’s the idea of knowing someone else might not do a good enough job or just enjoying having people depend on you.

    It’ll be interesting to see what you guys do though! It’s countdown time.

    1. It is really making me crazy that you guys keep going to spam. Why, Akismet, why????? :-( And you’re right — it’s the investment in the people that has us feeling that sense of dread. Not that we think they can’t go on without us (for sure they can!), but we just don’t want to make them feel that we don’t appreciate what they’ve done for us. That’s really what it boils down to!

  20. I had close relationships at my old job and we no longer keep in touch. Occasionally someone will Facebook message me or call me. My former boss actually remembered and emailed me on my wedding day which was nice. I’m contemplating leaving my current job and I already feel a twinge of regret, although I’m not nearly as close with this group of people. I think that feeling is normal but you have to rip it off like a bandaid. There will be hurt feelings but that is the cost of pursuing your dreams which is so worth it! Good luck in however you share the news next year!

    1. Well said: The cost of pursuing our dreams. It’s silly to think that any part of this should be easy, right? ;-) You’ve probably blogged about this, but aren’t you bound in your current job for a while because they paid your relocation?

  21. While the lack of power can be frustrating, mostly because it is not in your control, good job on capitalizing on opportunity to sit and talk with your spouse in front of the fireplace with a tasty beverage in hand. Sounds like a win to me.

    I see my relationship with my employer separate from my relationship with my coworkers. No one is going to work at one place forever. It is never assumed an employee would work for over 40 years. Everyone leaves the workforce at sometime; the age and circumstances vary among employees. Having control over this choice is special because it is not the norm.

    I think providing a brief explanation when you give notice is appropriate and be appreciative of their support through out career.

    When I quite Big Oil several years ago, I received all kind of responses from co-workers that ranged from Why would you throw away this opportunity to I am so happy and excited for you . The one I remember today is a senior staff member who was at typical retirement age who said “You will live longer.” I think he was referring to my plan for taking a year long break from working and the absence of office environment and stress would be better for my mental and physical health.

    I did not share my decision to quit with anyone outside a small group before submitting notice. One was particularly agitated with me for this decision, but most were not at all.

    I am still friends with several folks I met at Big Oil, going skiing with some next month, and still maintain professional ties to others.

    I recommend thinking about what you want when you submit your notice. There is likely to be counter offer, leave of absence, choice of different role, or other perks, and to think through how you are going to respond.

    1. So much good stuff here! In our case, it is our employers we’re most concerned about telling, not because we think they can’t replace us (they can in a heartbeat), but because we’re super grateful to them and want to be sure they know that. But obviously that will be the big theme, so I’m sure it will come across. There’s one senior leader I know will be agitated, but she’s agitated anytime anyone leaves, so nothing to be done about that. Friends are less of a concern because, as remote staff, we’ve already drifted away from the ones we were going to drift away from, and feel solid in the other friendships. It’s a good reminder, too, to go in clear on what other offers we might accept. We talked about exactly that last night by the fire! :-)

  22. I was with one employer my whole career too. In my case, it wasn’t a good thing. Our location only had a few companies in my field. In hindsight, I should have moved to CA so I could find more opportunities.
    Anyway, I was extremely happy to walk away. No regrets whatsoever. Working for heartless corporations sucks…

    1. That’s such a bummer that your career ended on such a negative note. :-( Though we certainly wish we could work fewer hours (and so far this year we’re doing well on that front!), we both respect our companies and leaders enormously, and expect to walk away with lots of good feelings. We know how lucky we are for being able to say that!

  23. Just rip the band-aid! It will be painful no matter how many times you run through the conversation in your head. “A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary” -Seneca (they didn’t have women back then)

    When I left my job, I thought I was irreplaceable. They would really be screwed after I left, considering all the stuff I was responsible for! In reality, there was a dip in productivity, but life goes on, others fill in. The company will be fine!

    1. Oh, dude, we are under NO illusions about being replaceable. 100% our companies can and will go on without us. It’s more about making people who’ve been good to us over many years feel that we don’t appreciate it — but we’re just going to have to suck it up and do it… when it’s time. ;-)

  24. Congrats on your blog-oversary! I thought I had started following you closer to your beginning, but you were about a year in at that point. I do still remember all the lower-cased sentences (and I loved them).

    To tell you the truth, if you had considered closing down the blog (which I don’t think you are), even though I never met you in person, I’d be pretty sad. I’d miss you.

    There are lots of ways to make connections I guess!

    1. Your comment totally made my day! :-D I’d miss you too. I can’t imagine giving up this blog, even if someone wanted to buy it for a big chunk of money. (Well, okay, at a CERTAIN point we would HAVE to consider, but it would have to be a LOT.) ;-) Totally with you on the connections — that’s been the best part all the way, but not at all what we expected in the beginning. I thought it would be amazing if anyone even read what I wrote. Hahaha. But now I feel like this place has grown into a really important part of my life, and I can’t wait to do more with it after we have more time on our hands. Sending the love! xoxo

  25. I totally get it. I’m 52 (so not that far from standard retirement age ) and I still get weird reactions. People will ask me what I do and I say I’m retired. “But you are so young”. I do think people feel judged, or they don’t understand or they think we have a gazillion dollars or in their head they are comparing me to where they are financially. And if I throw in the idea that we saved and went without a lot when we were younger, that doesn’t really explain it either. My husband still works by choice and I travel with him so that suffices. BTW, he was at his first career for 27 years and felt kind of guilty leaving, and guess what, he hasn’t heard from but a couple people . As I always say, we are easily replaced. And have less in common with those we used to work with than we think we do.

    1. We are under no illusions about being replaceable! We just want to be sure the people who’ve helped us along the way know that we’re grateful and don’t feel betrayed. I think that’s what it boils down to most. And I can totally see that on people not knowing how to compute young people being retired! We plan to tell our companies we’re retiring, but haven’t figured out yet what we’ll tell people we meet. Maybe we’ll just say we’re bloggers? ;-) (It happens to be true!)

  26. I relate to this feeling as I’m more of a loyalist at heart.

    When I left megacorp, I felt the same emotional turmoil. Granted I wasn’t feeling satisfied in the current position, so I went and found a better more value add to the company position and made a case for moving there – even above my needs, as in it fit a business need as well. When I was told, “You’ll be in this group at least another 18-24 months” I was less than happy. I felt my hand was forced, so I started looking for another job. When I got that job, my current one, I was ecstatic, but not looking forward to the notification to my boss.

    I made sure to give notice to him and his supervisor at the same time – talk about nerves being on edge! My immediate boss was a dick about it, but his boss was professional. After the shock that I was leaving he asked where I was going, what I’d be doing, and was genuinely excited for me, as weird as that sounds. The rest of my team was the same. After the “We’ll miss you” immediately came, “what are you doing, that must be exciting, good for you” kinds of statements. Granted I wasn’t leaving to “retire”.

    When I leave here, I’ll probably give notice that I’m swapping to stay at home dad buoyed by our savings and what not so we don’t need the income. I’m tempted to ask for part time maybe a year out and see if I can pull that off.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that even “close” friends at work tend to drift away over time. I only talk to 2 occasionally, and another 2 are facebook acquaintances now. Same with Prof SSC. Her close friends have effectively vanished in less than a year.

    1. I definitely think it will be similar for us in terms of people being excited for us. (And jealous… let’s be honest.) ;-) We have no plans to give a cover story, in part because we want to be clear that we aren’t becoming “the competition” — we’re not starting our own businesses to compete with our companies or going to a competitor. The only way to make that clear is to come clean, so that’s what we plan to do, or at least within reason. And it’s interesting — I’m less worried about losing friendships, because it’s already clear who the real friends are that we’ll keep in touch with — it’s more about making people who’ve mentored us, to whom we’re extremely grateful, feel that we don’t appreciate it. Because we’ve worked remotely for years, we’ve already had the friendship-fade-away happen and that’s a much smaller concern.

  27. I am a loyalist who recently gave notice at my long-term employer. What worked well for me was the “sandwich” approach to delivering bad news, beginning and ending with sincere expressions appreciation for the people and mission of my org. Despite our mutual affection, the conversation moved pretty quickly on to “how will this impact the org” rather than lots of “why, why are you leaving us!”– be ready that even people you are close to may actually not care that much about the history of your intentions and plans, and more focused on the “post-you” world!

    The other advice I have is to recognize the emotional impact that giving the news will have on you, and plan for it– I gave my news on a Friday and did my level best to have individual conversations/calls with as many colleagues as possible, which felt like the right thing but took the whole day and left me absolutely exhausted– I was glad I had the weekend to recover, and wish I had planned even more of a “self care” type schedule for recuperation.

    1. Oh we’re definitely going with the sandwich! ;-) Big, big fan of the sandwich. And ours will definitely be the gratitude sandwich all the way. And we have no illusions that we aren’t replaceable, so agree — it will probably move quickly into the transition logistics, but we still expect (at least in my case) for their to be more of the big picture stuff. Oh well, maybe I’ll be surprised!

      It’s great advice, too, to plan for the emotional toll. It’s even more complicated in our case because we both work off-site, so we have to figure out if this stuff happens by phone, or if we try to time it with a trip (more complicated), etc. But I really appreciate that input about planning for some self-care right after!

  28. No advice here because I’m pretty bad with change despite having held and left three jobs over a relatively long period of time (at least 5 years) starting when I was 17. It’s silly that even though I have been almost entirely rational about my job and career in all other ways, leaving each job has always felt like some kind of wrench. I tell myself at every job that I’m expendable and everyone is replaceable but it’s still hard not to get unreasonably attached unless circumstances deteriorated drastically.

    It’s a nice reminder that if the relationships are strong, they will last. I am still close to a few of the friends who were actually good people from my first job, gosh, going on 15 years now. We’re hosting some of them next month! It’s kind of amazing to have friends that go back more than a decade and I am grateful for that part of the work experience.

    Also there are the logistics of you being remote – that makes it a little more of a question how you’ll do it, and whether you’d want to tell / prep your closest friends before even if that’s not quite kosher….

    I’m both excited and feel a little flutter for you.

    1. Thanks for sharing our excitement… and a little of the anxiety. ;-) I completely know that I’m expendable, though it’s not about just that. I’ve invested a lot in the company and the people and they’ve done the same with me. So it’s just weird to let all of that go… you understand! And the remote thing… on the plus side, we’ve already seen a lot of those friendships drift off, so that will be less of a shock. But yeah, the logistics of how we do this are another big question mark. And our companies “know” each other, so we can’t give notice at different times, even though it would actually be preferable to do so. So lots still to figure out!

  29. I’m more of a job hopper as I’ve switched job every year for the past three years after graduating from college.

    I find that the challenge of proving myself and meeting new people more fun and enjoyable than staying at the same company with the same co-workers on different projects. Plus, the salary increase from job changes are a nice padding to the wallet, so that’s awesome too!

    1. There are definitely plenty of upsides to continually exploring new career opportunities! In our case, we’re happy with our choices, but so glad your path is working out for you! :-)

  30. Talk about being a sucker… this April will be 20 years at my current employer!

    For some reason, there are many people at my work that have been there for a loooong time. I’ve worked closely with many of the same people the entire time I’ve been there. Our kids have been born and grown up since I’ve been there. So leaving that history behind will be tough. I genuinely enjoy spending time with these people.

    That said, as others have suggested, I imagine these friendships will fade quickly. Outside of a few occasional happy hours, some group runs, and lunches, I don’t really spend time with my coworkers outside of work. I’ve already started dropping retirement hints to some of the folks I’m closest with.

    When the times comes, I’m just going to tell them the truth – there are other things I need to do in life and it’s time for me to move on. And then I’m going to drop the mic :-)

    1. Now I’m wondering if there’s any chance you’re one of my colleagues, because my company is the same way! :-) I think that makes it tons harder, because it’s not like you’ve been there for 20 years but watched a revolving door of people — you have serious history with these folks! And yeah, I don’t expect most of the folks to stay close — though I do think we’ll stay connected on Facebook and such. And I really do hope you drop an actual mic! ;-)

  31. This is fascinating to read. I have no loyalty to any place or job. I was raised moving very frequently. As an adult, I’ve lived in variations on two cities/towns. The longest I’ve lived in any house was 3 years. I did that recently. I also have had a strange career trajectory. The longest job I’ve ever had has been my own business that I do nights and weekends. Everything else has been far more transient. Organizations close, I move for school, there’s no economy when I graduate. I’ve been temping since 2012. I’ve only worked for 4 agencies in that time, but the projects last anywhere from a day to 1 year plus.

    I literally cannot understand your dilemma. Nothing has ever felt permanent in my life.

    1. I also get what you’re talking about, because there’s been a lot of transience in my life, too! I’ve moved a ton, including with this job, and you’re actually making me think that that could be a big part of why leaving will be tough — it’s actually been the most long-term thing in my life, not counting people I’m related to. ;-)

  32. Totally going through this as I’m counting down the months. Been with my company for over 13 years, and have been treated great by them. Just having a conversation with my boss yesterday about marketing strategies. On one hand I want to give honest feedback to help our company have success going forward, while on the other I don’t want to be part of these efforts and definitely don’t want any marketing around me since it will be a waste of their time and dollars. I even struggled with turning in reimbursements for things like renewing my license, since I’ll only be there for several months and it almost feels dishonest to have them pay for the whole thing. I can’t wait to turn in my resignation, not b/c I can’t stand my employer but rather b/c between these types of internal issues and trying to keep the blog anonymous, it often feels like living a lie a lot of the time. I think life will be much happier when I can just be honest and be who I am.

    1. Oh, amen brother! I wrote about the double life a while back, but it’s totally that. Mr. ONL calls it the “Telltale Heart” syndrome, and thinks I’m going to feel guilty and confess at some inopportune moment, because the stress of the secret plan (and secret blog) is legit. So I completely get all of this. At least we’re both close to the end of the charade! Sending you strength to get through it. :-)

  33. When my wife left the work force in November she left the only company she’d ever worked for. It’s even where she met me. That was a big hurdle but ultimately the people she has the closest relationships with still email and go to lunch from time to time. The rest I’m not sure she misses now that it’s two months in the rear view mirror.

    1. Aww, you guys started as an office romance! I love that. :-) We’re already remote employees, so we don’t have the luxury of those office lunches and such, which means we have a head start on figuring out which friendships are built to last — but I bet there might still be some surprises when the time actually comes.

  34. I had 17 years with my company when I retired so your comments about loyalty really resonated with me. Most of my executive committee had been there my entire tenure. It felt like a (dysfunctional) family for sure. I had the advantage or disadvantage of having telegraphed my intentions a bit too much so no one was surprised but all wished I’d “hang in there another year–we’ll do some fun stuff I promise!” What surprised me was how genuinely jealous people were but they also knew I lived differently from them and didn’t think they could do it.

    I had a great job and loved it 95% of the time. But as I got closer to giving notice, things that didn’t bother me a year before started bothering me. It’s like adolescence–our brains prepare us to leave before we’ve left.

    I timed my departure to reduce the disruption as much as possible–I had mentored my replacement for years, I left in the slowest season, no major projects were imminent, stayed longer to cover for a vacation etc. The day I gave notice was one of the best days in my life–I felt incredible pride that we were able to set ourselves up for this and I felt valued as my boss practically begged me to stay another year.

    Your relationships with your work people will change, you will no longer be underfoot and on their minds. You and they will have to make more effort to connect. 8 months into this retirement thing and I’m still trying to figure out how to stay connected. Many of my former colleagues read my blog and text with questions or feedback. Anyone in your world that doesn’t understand why or how you did this has two years of articles to read–that should keep them busy!

    1. LOL — You’re so right that there will be plenty of reading material here for anyone who’s curious about how we did this. ;-) It’s great to hear your story of how you left things, Liz, and to know how proud you felt after you gave notice. Fingers crossed that’s how it feels for us, too! In some ways, we’ve already experienced the friendship transition because we’ve worked remotely for years, so the folks we were destined to grow apart from are already more distant. It will be interesting, that’s for sure! :-)

  35. I think your nervousness about quitting is a really good sign. As an adult, i rarely get nervous. When I do, its always a sign that i’m about to do something that matters and that I care about. I suspect this is where you are. You care about that job, those people, but its also time to move on. I suspect the reaction will be one of surprise, shock even, but people will ultimately be really happy for you guys. If they aren’t happy for you then they really aren’t your friends. To preface what i’m about to say you should know that I am a strong introvert and my wife sometimes jokes that I’m dead on the inside. Anyways,,,My thought on close relationships at work are that we aren’t as close as we think. Its all in a weird construct of being at work. So although we have ‘work’ bonds with people, those bonds are quickly gone once ‘work’ is gone. I’ve had so many great relationships with people that are literally gone once they walk out that door for a new job or position. So you hear the term work family and things like that but the truth is, based on my experience, is that it is not a family. At most, what was once a strong work bond is now a Facebook friend to keep up with how they are doing.

    1. That is TOTALLY where I am. This is big, scary stuff we’re talking about (walking a way from solid careers! are we nuts?!). And I think you’re right that people will be happy for us. I’m not at all worried about most of our coworkers, who will be happy/jealous/indifferent/whatever, but more the folks who’ve really gone to bat for us over the years. It’s less about closeness there, and more about making sure they know how grateful we are. I think you’re right that most work friendships are circumstantial, and they quickly evaporate, but then again, some of our closest friends are folks we worked with years ago. :-)

  36. We retired at 57. Five years ago. Not hard for my husband. He was retired military and was in the “job” phase and had already reduced to part time. I’d been at my job for 13 years and worked with many of my coworkers for 10 yrs before that through a related company. When the time came to retire, I just told folks we had saved, realized we had enough to retire now and were going to see the world while still young enough to enjoy it. Everyone (except maybe my immediate boss) were thrilled for us. I encouraged younger staffers to save and they could do the same thing. One thing I did do because I was in a key position was to give adequate notice. I told them in Feb, I was retiring in August. That went a long was to ease the transition, hand off work, conduct training as needed. It was a pleasant transition.

    1. That’s so great that your retirement experience — in terms of actually leaving work — was so positive! Long notice like that wouldn’t work for me, though it could potentially work for Mr. ONL, with big financial trade-offs. So we’re still thinking all of that through, but I do expect that we’ll both offer to do a fairly long transition, but I doubt if my employer will take me up on it (Mr. ONL’s might, though!).

  37. Working hard for your employer does not make you a sucker in my book. I would expect nothing less.

    In fact, too many times, I’ve seen folks working for me who believed that they were entitled to raises and promotions. Those come with hard work.

    And I understand your apprehension. Before moving here, I quit a job of 10 years. Long story but the company was about to change directions and I wanted to do something else.

    When I gave notice, I didn’t know what I was going to do or when I would leave and my employer allowed me all the time I needed to figure that out.

    There are still good employers out there. Sounds like you found one.

    1. Thanks. :-) We’ve tried to work hard and not be too entitled, and we know that we’re lucky to have stumbled into careers with companies run by people who truly care. I’m so glad to know you got a lot of leeway to figure things out when you left your last position — nice to hear that the good guys aren’t quite so rare as they seem.

  38. I have been through this recently, and I agonized for months thinking about how I would convey the news to my boss that I was going to step down from my leadership position. To my surprise, he was completely warm and supportive about it. In retrospect, this makes sense. In the past, when members of my team resigned or retired, I responded to them in a positive, supportive way. After all, once someone has decided to leave, they’re gone psychologically and there is nothing you can do about it. And in any case, you want others to make choices that are the best for them.

    It sounds to me like the part that is bothering you is the deceptive aspect of it — you have been planning this for a long time but didn’t tell them. Perhaps you could mitigate this by giving extra long notice rather than the minimum required, and by clearly conveying that you will use your remaining months to develop a transition plan for your team. This is what I did, and I was able to leave feeling that I had I done the right thing for my team and institution, rather than leaving them in the lurch.

    1. You totally nailed it — it is absolutely the secret plan that has me tied up in knots. Your advice is all great, and I’m actively working to build things now that will outlast me, so hope that will be noticed when the time comes. :-) And I’m sure you’re right — people will undoubtedly be supportive… I just also want them to know how much I appreciate it all!

  39. I’ve only been at my job for about five years but I’ve developed a strong sense of loyalty to my coworkers and it will be difficult to quit once I reach FI. I work for a small company and there aren’t many employees here. So you get to know everyone really well. As much as I dislike the daily grind of office work and I think about doing something else, I will still be difficult to actually quit and leave those friendships behind.

    1. Yeah, we can for sure relate to that! And we’re all complicated beings, right? So it makes sense that you could not like the grind of the job but still care about the people. And leaving all of that behind means having to reconcile those conflicting feelings.

  40. The work relationship I just ended lasted a total of 10+ years, over half of my career. Embedded among those bosses, coworkers and contacts were real relationships. When nobody knew of my upcoming plans, I did feel very guilty and deceitful. Starting the “big reveal” was a relief more than anything.

    But a funny thing happened as I spread my retirement news: it was the ultimate litmus test on the strength or weakness of each relationship. Some people who I thought were only business contacts turned out to be true friends. They were supportive, curious and made significant effort to say goodbye. To others I was no longer “useful”, especially since I was exiting the industry completely. The relationship ended almost immediately, sometimes with criticism or bad rumors of what I was doing next. I had to shrug off those reactions and move on. No way I’m going to let them make me feel bad about retiring!

    Enjoy those who are the former and don’t be too disappointed in the latter — there will be a few.

    1. That’s such great insight. We have definitely felt for a while that the reveal will equal relief, because — especially with the blog — the double life is really emotionally taxing. But all the friendship stuff is super interesting — I bet we’ll observe something similar, with the true friends happy for us and other folks writing us off pretty instantly.

  41. Hi, first time commenting but been a reader for a while. I’m catching up on latest posts, so a little behind. I’m 35 and currently at my 4th employer. I also had mixed emotions as I approached quitting my first job after three years, but I knew it was the right thing to do (and it was). My boss at the time was a good man who genuinely was disappointed to see me go, but it passed quickly and the send off was cordial. After that first move, the next didn’t give me any pause. Since you’ve been there a while and haven’t made that jump before, it probably seems a bit unnerving. I’ve had many friends who followed your path. The longer they’ve been somewhere, the harder it was. But in every case after they’ve left the story was the same. It wasn’t that big of a deal, they generally lost contact with most of their “work friends”, and they quickly understood the old maxim “everyone’s replaceable”. That’s not a bad thing either. If anything, it should give comfort that the ship will continue floating without you and you therefore will not be harming anyone else.

    Regarding quitting in your prime 30’s, I’m also heading in this direction. Definitely expect a lot of furrowed eyebrows, but I think all us FIRE folks anticipate that. But the reality is once you go, you’re unlikely to have much contact as months/years go by with most of those folks anymore. The ones you do are truly friends and they won’t care.

    1. Thanks for reading for a while, and for commenting for the first time! :-) It’s great that you have been able to leave subsequent jobs with no weird feelings about it all. I think it’s slightly different given just how long our tenures are and how senior we are, but we certainly know we’re replaceable and things will carry on without us. :-)

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