Breaking the Rules and Sprinting to the Early Retirement Finish Line

Breaking Our Own Rules // On Sprinting to the Early Retirement Finish Line

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day when we remember the sacrifice of those who’ve died on behalf of our country. We’re reflecting on that today, and sending out a big thank you to those of you who have served or who currently serve. We are grateful for you!

When I ran my marathon, my last mile was my fastest. Physiologically, this makes no sense — I was in pain, I was well past the “wall,” my stride had long since fallen apart, and I had actual salt flaking off of my face because I had sweat so much. And it’s not like I was doing much better mentally. The toll of getting passed by grandma after grandma was no small thing. (I’m a slow runner.) Still, I kept a steady eye on my GPS watch, forcing myself to maintain a steady rhythm, knowing the importance of pacing myself.

But something amazing happened when I got to that final mile. 

I could hear the music at the finish line. I saw runners who’d finished ahead of me walking back to their cars, admiring their medals. I could practically taste the beer they were handing out to finishers. And all of a sudden, pacing myself didn’t feel important anymore.

My legs hurt, sure, especially the left IT band that would never be the same after, but I knew they could still kick a little harder. And I was running on fumes, but fuel and rest were just up ahead, and I knew I’d soon be off my feet for as long as I needed to be.

I sped up. 

I ran that last mile two minutes faster than any of my other splits, and passed a bunch of the grandmas who had passed me miles back (sorry ladies!). I even recovered my stride, and things didn’t hurt as much as I crossed the line.

Looking back, I don’t regret sprinting that last mile, or at least coming as close as I could possibly come to a sprint after having already run 25.2 miles (and having been running for five hours). Everything hurt afterward, especially the next day, but I don’t think anything hurt more because I’d picked up the pace at the end. If anything, I felt prouder for having finished strong, instead of collapsing at the end.

You already know this is a big metaphor, right?

As we near that final mile of the ultramarathon that is the journey to early retirement, we’re noticing a familiar feeling…

Breaking Our Own Rules // On Sprinting to the Early Retirement Finish Line -- Early retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, and yet we're sprinting to the finish!

That Familiar Sprint

I realized it last week, as I was waiting to board my second flight of that day, sitting in the gate area responding to work emails, listening in on a conference call and keeping an eye on my blog inbox, while also mentally mapping out a new post. After having gotten up earlier than I needed to for the flight to work on a different side project I’m excited about.

I’ve hit that final mile sprint mentality.

I am not even pretending to pace myself anymore. Like at all.

The Year of No has turned into the Year of Saying No to a Few Things While Saying “Bring It On!” to a Bunch More.

So here I am: in a full-out sprint to December, when we’ll leave our careers and full-time work for good. Which, if you’ve been reading here for any period of time, you know breaks my First Rule of Early Retirement: Pace yourself. (And also, You Do Not Talk About Early Retirement, which is the second rule, too. At least don’t talk about it to those who control your paycheck.)

I am not remotely taking my own advice anymore. On some level, it’s not a surprise. I’m a jump-in-with-both-feet kind of person. I’m bad at doing things in moderation. But we just wrapped up maybe the toughest work year of my life, a year that left me at what felt like a breaking point, and all of that still feels fresh. Last year is why I worked so hard to set boundaries this year.

Here’s the thing, though: it feels totally different now.

Summertime, and the Sprinting Is Easy

Rationally, I know I should feel exhausted. I’m doing a lot more than I could sustain for a long time. But doing too much has never felt easier.

For one thing, the stuff I’m spending all of this time on – even going so far as to proclaim to Mr. ONL that I will not be watching any TV this summer – is all stuff I want to be doing, not stuff I have to be doing for work.

And, though I can’t know if this motivation will last the whole year, the closeness of our end date (less than seven months!) and – perhaps more importantly – our give-notice date (four-ish!) changes how I feel about pretty much everything. Not only do I appreciate work more, but I feel like I have five times as much energy to keep going, even when I should feel worn out and road weary. Exactly like that last mile of my marathon.

Even that normally exhausting work travel feels totally different to me now. I’m appreciating the flying and travel more than I ever have. I’m spending more of my time on flights looking out the window, trying hard to imprint those scenes onto my memory. When things on a human scale look tiny down below, or they disappear altogether, it’s easier to remind myself how unimportant most of our petty human stuff is. I’ll miss having that perspective in my life on a weekly basis. Those minutes between take-off and reaching 10,000 feet, when I pop the laptop open, are some of my best times for reflection. I’ll miss those too.

What’s most surprising is the work stuff. Though I’m still successfully saying no to things where I could give someone junior to me the opportunity instead, I also feel more game generally to take things on. When clients ask me to get them something over the weekend, I don’t bristle like I used to. Instead I think, “This will be one of those things I look back on and say to myself, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have to do that anymore, but it kind of made me feel good and valued in a way.’”

Seizing Opportunities, Even When They’re Too Early

I used to have this vision, though it now feels naïve: We’d quit working, I’d close one (big) chapter of my life, and then we’d start living our retired life, the next (and we hope bigger) chapter. I’d have the things I do now, and the things I do in the next phase, and there’d be minimal overlap.

Now I know it won’t be that clear cut. Things I had planned to do in the next chapter are arising as opportunities in this chapter, way ahead of schedule. But I know I’d be an idiot to pass on them, even if I don’t actually have time to pursue them right now. I’m finding ways to make time.

Because life is never as tidy as we want it to be, something I’ve learned a million times over, but yet have to continually relearn. Opportunities rarely come when we’re ready for them. But we can’t let that stop us from seizing them.

The Benefit of Life Chapter Overlap

As I’ve thought more about it, I’m glad to have this overlap between the career chapter and the early retirement chapter. I think it will smooth the transition considerably. I won’t wake up in January 2018, and think, “What now?”

I’ll just keep on keeping on with the things I’ve already put into motion, and pick up new additions along the way. I’ll spend a lot less of my life on planes and conference calls, but I’ll still be doing productive, interesting work, only on my own terms, and with a lot less concern about whether that work will pay me anything.

Everyone’s journey to early retirement and beyond is different, and we’ll each experience that transition differently. While I’m wondering how I’ll get gold stars in retirement (which is really my way of saying that I still want to be valued for my contributions to important projects), Mr. ONL is stoked to never be evaluated by anyone other than himself again.

But we’d probably all benefit from putting some chapter overlap in place before we jump from one to the next. It’s easy for those of us who blog about this journey — the blog can exist in both chapters. But for the vast majority of aspiring early retirees who don’t blog about it, it’s worth thinking about what that continuity could be. Or even what new, retirement activity you could add now, well ahead of your actual exit date, to fire you up for that final sprint and give you a soft landing when you cross the finish line.

The Toll of the Race — and Self Care

Just as I paid the physical price of running that marathon (and Mr. ONL has paid the price for the four he’s run), we have always known that we’ll arrive at early retirement beat up and exhausted. We’re giving ourselves all of 2018 to sleep however much we want or need to, including spontaneous naps whenever the urge strikes. It will mean we don’t get out onto the trails or write as much as we want to in that first year, but recovering from nearly two decades of work-induced sleep deprivation is more important.

That was always going to be true, whether we kept pacing ourselves this year or not.

Work has already taken its toll on us, with the ever-increasing pressure to be more productive and more profitable that most of feel. We’ll already have to recover from the years of stress and work anxiety, on top of that lack of sleep, so pacing ourselves in the home stretch likely wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

Not that it’s not important to practice self care continually, too — that’s still crucial, and we’re still devoting time to unwinding along the way. But in between the breaks, we’re not holding back anymore.

We Can Hear the Music

January 2018, our first fully retired month, feels close now. It’s not the distant future, a date when we might imagine we’ll see flying cars whizzing around. It’s going to look mostly like right now, except that the snow will be fresh again. It’s close enough that we can schedule things, book flights, put actual plans in place. What the finish line looks like is starting to become clear to us, or at the very least, we can hear the music blasting from that direction.

And when we think about it that way, we get that tingly feeling, the heart racing, the excitement of realizing that this incredible thing is really within our reach.

And when we feel that, how could we not speed up a bit?

What’s Your Current Pace?

My good friend Maggie says very wisely that early retirement is neither sprint nor marathon, but let’s just go with the metaphor a little longer. Where are you in your race, mentally? In that early excitement when it’s easy to start out too fast and flame out? In the middle portion when you’re pacing yourself even though you’d rather be done already? Or close to the finish line when it’s hard to hold back? Anyone else relate to our sprint-to-the-finish mentality — either with financial goals or in actual running? Or just want to talk marathons? Let’s dig into all of it in the comments!

 

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64 thoughts on “Breaking Our Own Rules // On Sprinting to the Early Retirement Finish Line

  1. I’m deep in the middle, pace-yourself stretch, which has never been my strong suit. I am much more comfortable sprinting, both literally and metaphorically! I’m finding it increasingly difficult to stay motivated in my 9-5, especially when the time horizon is still measured in years, not months. I know I’m getting closer to the finish line, but I’m going to need to employ some Jedi mind tricks to keep my head in the game.

    I also like the concept of chapter overlap, and I’m working on testing out what post-9-5 life might look like. It just feels good to be making forward progress! Thanks for the continued insight and inspiration!

    1. My best advice for staying motivated in that middle stretch is to focus on the intermediate milestones (or mile markers, if you prefer!) instead of just thinking about the finish line. There’s no denying that you want to finish the race, and that will take time, but there’s much to cheer along the way, too. And glad you’re exploring the chapter overlap idea! That’s so smart!

  2. I find myself more on the sprinter’s track. But that doesn’t mean I’m not running a marathon to early retirement as I can always adjust my pace according to the scenario at hand.

    It’s kind of like when you are running on terrain, it’s easier to run faster going downhill and harder to run uphill. One might want to sprint downhill at a faster pace and go about the uphill a bit slower to save energy until the flat trails come.

    All in all, I believe in flexibility or in other words, pacing yourself. After all, life is a long marathon, and it’s up to the individual to decide how they want to run it.

    Thanks for the post and cheers to you as you almost hit the finish line!

    1. I like the faster downhill/slower uphill analogy, and that’s a great way to think about pacing. Though I do think it’s safe to say that, just as in running, the pacing is still important overall to avoid going out to fast and flaming out. We’ve definitely seen some folks focus SO much on sprinting/scrimping that they lost their drive to continue. But overall, flexibility is always a smart approach. :-D

  3. Lol, well done Ms ONL.

    Where am I at? Having done a marathon, and a few half marathons, I’m now quite comfortable with just periodically ramping up for a cheeky 10km then chilling out for a good long while afterwards to enjoy the beer and afterparty.

    I’ve proven to myself I can do those longer distances, and am content with the knowledge I no longer need to.

    The running metaphor is a good one for working life. There too I’ve done enough of the hard slog to both know that I can, and revel in the knowledge that I no longer need to!

    Now I (mostly) enjoy a spot of seasonal work to break up my retirement stints. About 6 more weeks of that this time around, then I’ll likely be done for the year.

    Enjoy the sprint to the finish, that first beer afterwards will taste soooo good!

    1. Thanks! I feel the same way — did the long distance, and I’m good now. No need to keep re-proving I can do it. ;-) I admire you for being able to do stints of work and retirement — that’s an idea we came upon when we were already so far into our “marathon” that it felt easier to just continue and finish. But as you said, that metaphoric first beer at the finish will taste amazing. :-D

  4. I’m not sure if I’m signed up for the race yet, or whether I’ll run in this race or another.

    This summer I have the time to figure out exactly what funds I have to put towards retirement, what my net worth is, etc. I hope to learn more about whether I want to stay in my current profession or to move towards a change; I’ll do my part to figure that out, but for me, a lot is in the waiting–for intuition, a higher power, other inside knowledge.

    1. I like that way of describing it. :-) And not everyone needs to be in the race! Sending good wishes as you think more about these big decisions this summer! :-D

  5. I loooove your running metaphor! :)
    We are so alike (I have a feeling a lot of people pursuing FIRE are) – I can’t NOT jump in with both feet. I’m either obsessed with something, or I don’t give it a second thought. And sometimes that great!
    But other times…like when I’m very early in my own FI journey (yet I’m already 28! What have I been doing for the past 7 years?!), it’s not great. I don’t struggle with motivation, but the journey ahead seems to match that of the Badwater Ultramarathon rather than a regular marathon, and sometimes that can be hard to think about when I have a particularly bad day at work.
    Thanks for the inspiration as always!

    1. You’re far too kind to indulge my running metaphor when what I do with running shoes on doesn’t remotely resemble the actual running you do! ;-) I don’t know if it helps to remember this, but at 28, you’re waaaaay ahead of the game on FI and have such a huge advantage over people who never hear about it or hear about it much later. I know nothing really helps pass the time when we don’t want to pace ourselves, and want to sprint full-out toward our goal, but your finish line will come so much sooner than it will for tons of folks! :-D

  6. Like Grace mentioned above, I too am in the middle. ER is likely 9 more years away but I wish I had the option now. I’m trying to find ways to shift my focus but it’s hard with a big, exciting goal that you’re working towards. You just want it NOW.

    I like my job so I’m trying to keep that in mind whenever I become a little too obsessed with reviewing my investment balances. I’m also reminding myself not to wish the years away.

    It’s tough being a person who lacks patience!

    1. Kate, everything you wrote, describes my situation to a T! At least 9 – 10 yrs from ER, great job but would like to know that I could go now!

      I do regular check-in’s to remind myself that I do have a fulfilling job that challenges me in a good way. Sure the workload piles up at times and I get stressed in the process, but things could be much worse. Just trying to keep this pursuit to ER in perspective and to not wish the years away just because my lack of patience gets the best of me sometimes.

      1. I love that way of seeing it: “not wishing the years away.” That is so, so important, and not talked about enough. We are incredibly future-oriented creatures by nature (more on this in an upcoming post!), so we have to keep reminding ourselves to enjoy the journey.

    2. I think virtually all of us here can relate to that feeling! It takes a whole different level of patience and focus to strive for such a long-term goal — as Maggie would say, it’s so much more than a marathon! ;-) But I love that you’re focusing on not wishing the years away (love that expression of the idea, too!) — that’s all we can do! And then just keep moving forward, little by little. Eventually we get through the miles. :-)

  7. Go for the final sprint at full speed if you feel like it. Most people I know spend the first six months or so of retirement pampering themselves, ding almost nothing, and sleeping a whole lot anyway. It takes about six months for the fact that you are retired to really sink in and then, and only then, do you start settling into a nice daily pace.

    1. Oh that’s totally going to be us! Lazy nappers all the way. ;-) I’ve heard people say it takes at least six months and up to a year to fully decompress, so we’re going to give ourselves lots of time. Great advice — thanks!

  8. I view early retirement as just another way point to grab a water on the Marathon of life. Things continue because you don’t change when you retire. Fundamentally you’ll likely do the same things then you do now, you’ll just have more time to do them should you decide.

  9. I thought for sure you were gong to move up that ER date. I was disappointed when I read that wasn’t the article I would read.

    Remember, you can’t die with it, and planning to withdraw 4% is like planning for another dust bowl.

    I will send you pics from the pool after 7/5. :). Of course we’ll be the only ones there since most of our neighbors will be at work.

    1. Hahaha. Sorry to disappoint. ;-) Fortunately for us, we don’t see dying with unspent money as a tragedy, we see that as a wonderful legacy. But as always, what matters is that we each do what feels right for us! Enjoy the empty mid-week pool! :-D

  10. Love the metaphor! I’ve run two marathons and right now I feel exactly the same way I did as I turned the corner and could see the arches of the finish line. People are cheering (they just had my “going away” breakfast on Friday which was wonderful) and with 24 work days left – I’m in a full sprint too! Full-time job (OK – it’s more than “full-time”), 3 side gig jobs, prepping 3 houses (two for sale and one to move into) and sending kids off to college – I feel just like I did in the last 1/4 mile of the marathons. Exhausted but SO excited – feeding off all that energy right now!

    1. I’m soooo excited for you, Vicki! Especially knowing that your “finish line” has ended up being farther away than you thought not all that long ago… they enticed you into accidentally running an ultramarathon! ;-) I sure hope you guys can get some well-deserved rest very soon!

  11. I love this post! Congrats on finishing the marathon.
    We are firmly in the middle of the race. No debt and a decent nest egg, while slowly and steadily building it up more. You’re right, we can’t wait to be done!

    1. We aren’t *quite* finished yet, but thank you! ;-) And sounds like you guys are well into the middle if you’re debt-free and continuing to build!

  12. Oh man, I sprinted faster than I had ever sprinted before. It was everything I could do to not just call it quits several months early. It was all I wanted. Early retirement was this omni-present state of being that consumed my life, and it got more and more intense the closer I got to that magical day last December. The closer I got, the more I wanted it. Honestly, it wasn’t particularly healthy…I just wanted to quit so damn bad that it’s all I thought about. I know it wasn’t healthy, but I couldn’t help it.

    I know exactly how you feel…except for the work travel part. I always hated that, even close to retirement. :)

    1. So it could get worse! Oh no!! ;-) So far I’m focusing hard on the positivity of work and doing my best to appreciate the “lasts.” And that’s helping. But yeah, definitely keeping the eyes on the finish line. :-D

  13. “Mr. ONL is stoked to never be evaluated by anyone other than himself again.”

    I think I would get along with Mr. ONL based on the comments that get worked into posts :)

    We are transitioning over from the beginning to the middle, just clipping along at a consistent pace. I know we will be sprinters as the end approaches, I am not a very patient person when it comes to what I WANT to do.

    1. Hahaha, I suspect you’re right! ;-) He and I are markedly different on some stuff, for sure including the need (or not) for gold stars! And yeah, based on what’s happened with us, I think the urge to sprint at the end is hard to escape!

  14. I had the pedal-to-the-metal mentality for pretty much my whole career until I reached financial independence. I thought I might maintain the same pace and then leave the work force abruptly, but the opportunity to work my current job on a part-time basis turned out to be much easier to arrange than I thought.

    This fall, I’ll drop 40% of my shifts and salary, beginning a taper that might make for a smoother transition to early retirement.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    1. The transition you’re making happen sounds so dreamy. If we thought that kind of downshifting would be possible for us, we’d be all over it. Because we don’t truly need to go from 65 (or maybe more like 80 — we’re definitely speeding here) to 0. We’d be happy doing down to a nice, easy 35. So kudos for making that happen! (And thanks for indulging the mixed metaphors — ha!)

  15. I’m super-excited for you!!!

    The stock market has been good to us this year and we should be FI in a few months too, though we don’t know what our next lives/careers will be yet. I started blogging with the thought that it might lead me to something long-term, but I don’t have the same gift you do in that arena. So, we’re still dreaming and trial-and-erroring.

    As for marathons, I only ran a half and said never again, but it’s true that the energy near the finish line, with people cheering on the sidelines again after feeling alone for a few miles, made me feel like a whole new person and of course I had to sprint for the finish-line photo ;)

    It has been a few years since I ran, and while I don’t think a long race is ever going to be in my future, I did sign up for the Hot Chocolate 5K with some friends this fall. That seems just my speed.

    1. Thank you!! :-D That’s so awesome that you’re so close to FI! I hope you’ll actually note the occasion, unless when we hit it and only realized it some time later. Hahaha.

      As for running, if you thought “never again” after a half, definitely don’t try for a full. My dumb thing was I ran the half and thought “Bring on the bigger challenge!” ;-) But once was enough for me! Although I could definitely see doing 5Ks after we’re done working — that’s a nice happy distance with no wall. ;-)

  16. The comparison to a marathon is a good one. Will you run another marathon like Mr. ONL? I continue to believe that the micro-retirements (sabbatical) are a great option. We’ve taken 5 of those and while long ago FI, we continue to drift into and out of both retirement and work. It all seems manageable to us and we’ve been able to increasingly blur the lines between the two. Half the year at the Austin downtown home base … check. Too hot in the summer, so off to the Colorado rancho relax-o for three months … check. Then some Airstreaming along the way … check. Still get the executrix experience with plenty of work travel to exotic locations and often bring my wife along since she’s the smart one and retired long ago. Similar to the way you describe (as well as commenters), there is both the feeling of a sprint and calmness approaching any break. For me there is also a rejuvenation that sets in and sometime between a few months and a year, then there is something to try with a new team. Make no mistake, it is not out of boredom … we have loads of things to do and would manage just fine without work. The attitude of how you approach work/play and the boundaries that you set make all the difference. From that mindset we’ve been “retired” and FI since our 30’s. But oh what an adventure it’s been now that we’re in our mid-50’s. Maybe a different acronym describes it FISL (“fizzle”), Financially Independent with Sabbaticals for Life. Keep up the great writing.

    1. After I finished my one, my orthopedist said, “Good job. Now never do anything stupid like that again.” Hahaha. I definitely learned that, while my body may be well-suited to other activities, I am not built to be a runner. ;-) So most likely no more marathons for me, unless I get super bored in my 50s or something!

      I love that you guys have been able to make the FISL approach work! I think it’s better suited to some professions than others, but regardless, it’s great to get more people thinking along these lines. Especially folks who see their FI timeline as being extremely long, like 15-20+ years, I often want to suggest something like what you’ve done to them. If the goal is to have more free time, there’s no reason to save that all up for the end if you could get it along the way instead!

  17. Sprint or marathon… In fact, the journey last a lifetime. When you reach milestone one, you turn the page and start a new journey. For the lack of better analogy: it is like going to a theme parc…you queue for one, then do the ride, you queue for another. Or you decide to take a break from the queue and just sit and enjoy the company. (like caseywsj calls it mini sabbaticals)

    and FISL is a great term!

    1. Yes, the metaphor definitely has its limits! :-) As I’ve written before, the “finish line” for early retirement or FI or whatever else you want to call it is only the beginning of the actual journey!

      1. And thus the challenge is to find a metaphor that expresses this as well. Somthing like, you start to run, aim for the 10K, when done, you might consider a hale marathon and then a marahton and after that, who knows what will be there. Each stage requires thoughtfull planning and preparation.

        1. I wonder if the running metaphor fails there, because it implies that we’re all planning and thinking ahead at all times, when often we are just winging it. ;-)

        2. like the dragonrun I did… no preparation at all, great fun in the end.
          Agreed, running is not the best. the thing is, most things, when you want to succeed, requires an idea, a plan and 80 oct effort and agility…

        3. That’s great it was fun despite the minimal prep! I can only imagine how much pain I’d feel if I tried to do that! ;-)

  18. I’m a sprinter, and PiC is the marathoner, so it’s not even a little surprise to me that that translates to our level and type of patience for getting through money and life goals. I’m not tempted by instant gratification, instead I power through one short sprint after another until the end goal is reached. Imagine my surprise after ten years of this sprinter-mentality striving to see I’d made as much progress or more than the marathoner!

    I tend to think that playing to your stamina preferences pays dividends, even if you only have the rough plan and ending place in mind. I couldn’t ever have predicted what I wanted exactly for my 30s when I was 20 but I knew the conditions under which I wanted them and that was perfect for my mindset.

    More likely than not, I’ll keep doing what works for me, working in sprints and evaluating progress on a regular basis even while knowing I’ve signed up for a marathon level goal.

    1. Ooh, you guys are the real life tortoise and the hare!!! :-D And you make such a great point that I agree with totally. Some people are fast twitch muscle fiber people, while others are slow twitch, so even in a purely physiological sense, we are pre-disposed more toward distance or sprinting. Makes sense that the same thinking would apply to our thoughts and behaviors, and that we should play to our own strengths. I’m definitely more of a sprinter like you, so it’s not surprising that I’m sick of pacing myself and pretending to be a distance runner. ;-)

  19. Been following your blog for a long time but never commented. I like this analogy a lot actually, but where am I in the race? I guess I’m a bit different in that I got to mile 26.2 and am still going. Passed the medal guy, the food and water tables, and just kept going. Reality is I reached my FI number a good two years ago but am too terrified to pull the trigger. Main reasons? I have an 88 year old mother who has many health issues, and an older brother who has type-1 diabetes (got it when he was 3) and also has many issues because of that. Problem is we have no other family, none. I’m blessed to be the healthy one in the family and I’m so scared that the costs for their medical needs – especially my brother since he’s only 48 – will be huge. And oh yeah, forgot to mention that we have a lower-middle class background from Baltimore City and they have very little money.

    So here I am, with well over a million in my stash, and I could easily just stop working, but I’m frozen. A nagging voice tells me that if I do it, and then later my Mom and Brother start having huge medical costs or have to live with me, I would be living in regret, and feel stupid. Life being about ‘sacrifice’ was soooo ingrained in me in my childhood that I feel it’s my obligation to do just that – sacrifice for my family by working way longer than I have to so I can be confident that I’ll have the extra padding to help them when they’ll need it.

    Anyhoo, I love your blog and you have taught me much that’s helped me in the journey I’m on. I too love the outdoors more than anything. I climb, hike, bike, run, paddle, and do pretty much everything outdoors. Spending more of my healthiest years in an office in front of a computer is killing me. But sacrifice tugs at my heart….

    1. Hi Steve — So delighted you commented for the first time! Hi! And I think you have the best reason possible to be continuing the race. We’re huge believers in helping those we love (https://ournextlife.com/2016/03/23/really-for/), and I admire that you’re thinking about how you might need to step in at some point to help your mom or brother. Have you thought about how much extra you might need to save, so you can just revise your number and then let yourself enjoy more free time in the outdoors? Or worked with your brother to ensure that he has the best possible health insurance? I think those unknowns can be scary enough to paralyzing us into inaction, but if we focus on the steps we can take, things generally get less frightening. Either way, I admire your commitment to your family! <3

      1. Thanks for your reply and kind words. Yes, I’ve tried to do lots of extra math but there are just so many unknowns. I witnessed my Grandmother go through full-on Alzheimer’s and require 24×7 care for 3 years back in the mid 90’s. The expenses were absurd and drained everything my Mom had at the time. At 88, my Mom’s mind seems to be fine, but she has many other issues. And the ACA thankfully has helped my brother get insurance easier with a huge pre-existing condition, but it barely covers his insulin and associated needs and on top of it he’s always been depressed with his disease and therefore has a menial job and doesn’t make much money himself. Either way, no time for a pity-party, I just have to make my best estimations and calculations and hope for the best.

        So I’m on my third year of OMY-syndrome and with the recent stock market run it has been encouraging to see my NW keep going up. I’m probably saving 75% of my take-home this year so far, so I’m “full-gas” on padding the stash. Also started a side-hustle that’s making me a little money and hope to grow that.

        Along with JL Collins your blog is my favorite FIRE blog, you guys are doing a great service to those of us who desire to ‘retire’, whatever that is. And I also love that y’all are outdoors people, I may have passed you on a trail before. I’m hoping to finish up the CO 14ers this summer!

        1. Just make sure, if the AHCA passes, that your brother lives in a non-waiver state so he doesn’t lose coverage for his pre-existing conditions! And I do hope you can get to a number, especially with as fast as you’re saving, that will let you feel comfortable taking your foot off the gas. It’s admirable your dedication to your mom and brother, but you deserve to enjoy your life, too, especially given how hard you’ve worked to save and how conscientious you clearly are. ;-)

          Thanks so much for your kind words — that’s a real compliment to be listed in the same sentence as Jim Collins! :-D And when you finish those 14ers, let us know!

  20. I, too, had negative splits for my marathon. The first half was terrible because my cycle came early. It took 13 miles for the pain and everything to get out of me. Then each mile remaining became a joy. I sprinted 1.5 miles at the end and felt like I was walking on air. It was really incredible. The crowd went wild because I came in so hard so late. Thousands of strangers applauded. It was really an incredible experience. I think my financial life will be similar. I began life in absolute poverty. Becoming an adult allowed me work on that first half marathon and get a lot of the pain out, and now I’m growing faster and faster as my body and life adjust to what my pace can be when I am unencumbered.

    I think you are right to begin overlapping. Having a full-stop is emotionally hard for folks; a semi-colon can do wonders for knowing how to connect the main ideas in your life chapters.

    1. Ugh — imagining how un-fun that must have been in the first half! :-( And I definitely think I ran too small a marathon, because there weren’t even enough crowds there to go wild when I got near the end. Hahaha. But glad you got that reaction! And I LOVE that you feel you’re into the second half of the race in your financial life, feeling all of us cheering you on!

  21. Been at the finish line for several years and it is great…..but I found out that I missed the race so now maybe not doing “marathons” anymore but still doing a 5k race here and there…..I have quit using the word retire…just financially independent……doing what I want, for whom I want, when I want for as long as I want…..that is the best finish line.

    1. I love that! Who says the finish line has to be a fixed location? And most people who run marathons do it because they love running, not because they care about the medal they get at the end. ;-)

  22. I am definitely a pacer these days! I also tend to jump into things with both feet, but I’ve learned over the years that when I do that, my family gets burned, because they have less of me available to them. So I’m saying no to side gigs, working less, not taking a full time job. I’m also resting more. I spent all day yesterday resting. Doing very little. Being very unproductive. And a small voice in the back of my head says, “You’re not getting anything accomplished! Get up! Get going!” And another voice in the front of my head says, “You’re resting. Sit here. Do it. Be present.” Constant battle for my type-A personality. But, like you, I’m cherishing views–looking over at the little curly heads and counting the years ’til my little boys are grown. Yes, I have years rather than months, but they go so fast. I’m in it for the long haul so I’m pacing.

    1. I love everything about this. Were we not in the home stretch, I’d be focused on exactly the same stuff (minus the kid focus, of course!). ;-) I think it’s soooo important for us type A folks to make that extra effort to be present and savor the moments that make up our lives!

  23. For me, I need to determine how much money we really need to live on. I’m working through that now to hone in on a number. I’m still adjusting to expense changes after having a baby!

    Once I have that number, I can start to jog toward the finish. I anticipate turning my jog into a sprint the closer I get to hitting our number goal!

    1. So would you think of that as the training phase? Or are you taking a little water break midway through to re-evaluate your pacing? ;-)

  24. Full on flat out freaking sprint for the past 18 months only because I was so close to the finish line already! But really it was 20 years of not exactly following the signs and going down the wrong path many different times only to turn around and get back on the right one. I would say I’ve run two ultra-marathons at this point and just want to be done! My opinion is – training for marathons is overrated! I got in much better shape training hard for 5Ks, with much less wear and tear on the knees, hips and ankles. :)

    1. Hooray for your accidental double ultramarathon! ;-) And you could very well be right about that marathon training — I messed myself up (over)training for mine. Fortunately, I doubt I’ll be testing this out again! ;-)

  25. We just heard the gun go off so of course we are in an all out Sprint with race day excitement. Hopefully at the first water stop we will check our watch and settle into our race pace.

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