gearing up

The End of the Double Life and the Weight of the Lie // Giving Notice at Work

I’ve long described planning for early retirement as living a double life. And for years, we’ve carried around this huge lie among some of the people we care most about, unable to divulge our true mission for fear that doing so would jeopardize our plans.

We knew the lie was there. We knew it was heavy. We just didn’t actually realize how big and how heavy the lie had become until it wasn’t there anymore. And this week, we officially freed ourselves of the lie.

All of a sudden, we both feel so much lighter. And freer. And less guarded. Less afraid of accidentally saying too much, of giving something away prematurely.

Here’s how it all went down.

The end of the double life // Giving notice and leaving our careers forever -- early retirement, financial independence, career, work

There’s No One Experience. Here’s Ours.

I’ve learned in hearing from so many of you over time that every job is different, and the dynamics in every company are different. Some folks warned us that our employers wouldn’t really care, or would say some variation of, “Oh bummer. Moving on…” Or that our work friends wouldn’t turn out to be real friends after we leave. We believed that wouldn’t be true for us, not because we are so amazing, but just because our companies and work dynamics are different.

Here’s more than we’ve shared before:

Mr. ONL has been in his job for 19 ½ years. (Yes, you read that right.) He started right out of college and has had no other employer in his career. I’ve been in mine for 15 ½ years. I’ve had two other employers, but both of those were brief stints. We grew up at our companies, we still work closely with the people who hired us all those years ago, and we are surrounded by many of the people who either were hired alongside us or predated us, meaning we’ve been friends with them longer than if we’d known them for kindergarten through high school graduation. We both work for companies where people stick around because there’s a clear sense of shared mission, a strong work culture, and a palpable commitment to teamwork. In addition to that, we’ve progressed to senior management roles – he’s a partner, and I’m a senior vice president – and have unique skills that add to our value. While of course everyone can be replaced, some people are harder to replace than others.

All of that is why this decision – and actually going through with quitting! – have perhaps weighed more heavily on us than they might have on others.

And we know this isn’t true at many workplaces, but our closest work friends are genuine friends. We both keep in touch with former colleagues, and are accustomed to hearing dispatches at work from the (few) folks who’ve left. The field we work in is a small world, and even those who travel far from it are considered part of the club forever. We’ve wanted to spill the beans on our plan with our friends but knew we couldn’t. All of that has added to the weight, too.

And on top of all of it, this blog has grown into a big part of our lives in ways we couldn’t possibly have guessed when I started opining in all lowercase almost 300 posts ago. When friends at work have asked us about what we’re up to or where we traveled, we’ve had to guard this secret, too. More added weight. (So if you’re thinking about starting an anonymous blog, consider this possibility.)

When the Weight Gets Lifted // Giving Notice

Mr. ONL gave notice two weeks ago, in a conversation I’ve shared with those on the newsletter list. Here’s a snippet from that:

The conversation went just about the way you’d expect between two awkward nerdy white guys – I was nervous, he was stunned, but we soldiered through. I’m guessing many FIRE’d readers have had similar conversations when they gave notice: “Wait, what do you mean by retired? HOW old are you? Are you going to have enough money?” As a boss he truly cares about his employees, and to some degree his reaction was that of a concerned father – “Wow, you’re doing something so outside the mainstream. Are you sure you’ll be okay?” My relief on telling him was immediate and visceral, but I could also tell I was letting him down. And while I expected that, it still leaves a hint of ambivalence in what is otherwise a time of overwhelming joy and relief.

Mr. ONL only had to give notice to one person, but I had to do it with three, and then share the news with the full executive level team via email. And so while he felt that immediate, visceral relief, my relief came in little portioned-out doses, one tiny hit at a time.

My first boss, long-time mentor and woman who hired me was first up, over dinner. My current boss, whom I’ve worked with for years, was second, over breakfast the next morning. And my secondary supervisor was third, by phone that afternoon. All in, it was a 24-hour process, with new nervousness each time. With each one, I talked about our dream, my concern about possible health challenges to come, and how grateful I was for all the opportunities and mentorship. One said she was glad that I’d dropped one subtle hint a year or so ago, so that she wasn’t utterly shocked. The others were more surprised, but all three were ultimately completely supportive and amazing. Which let me exhale just a little with each one. And which made me feel both better and worse – better because I was relieved that none were upset with me, but worse because their support was yet another reminder of how fortunate I’ve been to get to work for an inspiring company full of wonderful people for all of these years. And I know that leaving will be a loss that I’ll feel and mourn. It’s still a loss I’m willing to go through because of what’s next, but there’s no reason to pretend this is all pure happiness and elation.

So for both of us, that heavy lie might be gone, but (temporarily) in its place is the heaviness of the loss we both now have to process. It’s mixed with the excitement of what’s to come, but it’s still there.

Related post: You can love your job and still want to retire early

The Double Life Winds Down

There are still other people to tell, which is why you don’t see our faces and names here just yet. We have a few other team members to tell and most of our clients, and those conversations will bring some of their own sadness. We’ve had many of our clients for years, and consider some of the them friends, too. And the teams we lead are filled with talented staff whose success we feel personally invested in. We want to be as helpful to them as we can be before we leave.

But gradually, we’re beginning to share more of what we’ve been up to for all of these years. We’ve both now shared the blog with a few colleagues. (Hi!) We’ve gotten a few questions about how to do what we did. (Answer: Read this blog! But start with this book.) I’ve shared some of the other top secret projects I’ve had in development. (The first podcast launches November 8!)

All of this stuff that’s been out-of-bounds for discussion is now okay to talk about, and it frankly feels weird.

I’ve typed “early retirement” hundreds of times here, maybe thousands of times. And several hundred more on Twitter. But I’ve said it aloud far less than that, and the words “We’re going to retire early at the end of the year…” felt foreign coming out of my mouth, like the words of a rash, foolish, impulsive person. That’s something we’ll have to get used to, too: saying this stuff out loud, in real life, with confidence, without a hint of implied question mark at the end.

Completing the Mission Without Having Our Cover Blown

I’ve learned a few tricks over time about how to blog anonymously without getting found out, at least by people without access to sophisticated intelligence tools. (I’m not running ONL out of the dark web or anything.) So for the past year, I’ve felt pretty confident that we weren’t going to have our covers blown too early. Still, I stayed off Reddit and other sites that I thought might make us a target. And I didn’t let myself get lazy on the precautions, just in case. And that doxing that we’d always held in the backs of our minds as a possibility never came.

Which means: mission accomplished.

We successfully completed our mission without blowing our covers, and we can now retire from the double agent life for good.

Question Time!

Lots of questions for you guys today, so let’s dive into all of it in the comments! For those who’ve already given notice, was it anything like our experience? Tell us all about it. And for those who are thinking about how you’ll give notice in the future, what are you most afraid of, if anything? Anybody else feeling the weight of the lie and want to share how that’s playing out for you? Or have tips for others dealing with the double agent life? Fire away!

Don't miss a thing! Sign up for the eNewsletter.

Subscribe to get extra content 3 or 4 times a year, with tons of behind-the-scenes info that never appears on the blog.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe any time. Powered by ConvertKit

140 replies »

    • I’m so proud of me for commenting already! I’m so glad I have your posts to read in the middle of the night. Now that I remember what I’m doing I wanted to pop back over and say CONGRATS again!

    • The answer is: Everything. I’m feeling EVERYTHING. And also tired. But soooo grateful and excited!

  1. I’m right in the thick of this right now. Just gave my notice to my employer of 10 years last Wednesday. I truly grew up at this company, too, starting shortly after college and working my way up. Unfortunately, I have more pride in having survived the overwhelmingly negative work culture for that long than a great feeling of constructive accomplishment, and although I do recognize what I’ve gleaned from my 10 years of employment (experience, wages that allowed us to save and start our nest egg, friendships with coworkers), I can’t honestly say I’m feeling much gratitude towards the company. I’m relieved to be moving on and into what I hope will be a much more team-oriented, positive environment.

    Still, it’s very bittersweet. I genuinely like many of my coworkers and my lower level supervisors are being negatively impacted by my decision to leave. Even so, almost everyone has been very supportive and sweet except the top-level bosses who I now know will be jerks right till the very end. I know now there won’t be even the most basic, “Thanks for your years of service” conversation. But I’d really like to leave things in the best shape I can for those I’m leaving behind and trying my best to pass on 10 years of knowledge in 3 weeks. I expected anxiety when I started my new job, but I guess I underestimated just how emotionally taxing the “leaving the old job” phase of the transition would be.

    So, yeah, can definitely relate to the unexpected mix of emotions, but the good thing is that they seem to be mostly positive for you guys at this stage and I’m guessing that given the strong relationships you’ve built over your long careers at this company, you probably will be able to maintain many of those ties. Congratulations on having officially embarked on the first steps into your new life!

    • Sadly, I feel this is more how mine will go when the time comes. We are about to announce our third reorg in three years and the long timers are no longer viewed as the value added resources that created the company’s current revenue stream.

      Sad to see a company that you have spent over ten years with in panic mode, just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.

      • I’m sorry to hear this! Though I’ve been overwhelmed after giving my news by the warmth and sadness from people who I didn’t even know think about me… so I bet they value you more than they show, and they just don’t tell you as much. I bet you’ll get more support than you think!

    • Definitely relating to all the feelings, even the contradictory ones! I hope your last bit at the negative job isn’t too painful, and that your transition into the new one is much more positive. And you have my total admiration for being so focused on leaving things in as good of shape as possible for those you’re leaving behind — so important! (I’ve already sent a flurry of notes that are like, “How can we promote so and so before I leave?!” Haha.) Thanks, as always, for following along with our journey! Sending you lots of good job change vibes! xo

      • I will say that that’s one thing I’m pretty pumped about. My leaving is paving the way for a younger trainee that I think has a ton of potential. She can now grow in her career because I’m vacating the position. She’s really impressed me as I’ve trained her and I hope the experience is ultimately a really good thing for her, even though I wish she could do it in a more positive environment…

        Thanks as always for the good vibes! This is definitely a place I enjoy coming to for positive mental re-calibration. :) And it was so fun to “meet you” (virtually) yesterday! Exciting times! :)

      • I love that you’re creating an opportunity for another woman! And that means a lot that you get that “positive mental recalibration” here (LOVE that description). :-D <3

    • Always try to do a good job, but also a reminder not to put too much of your heart and soul into it for “the company”

      • I disagree slightly. I think as long as you don’t *lose* your soul, it’s always better to put your full self into everything you do. ;-)

  2. Well done both for getting this far and what comes next ! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now & you have helped me think what next, after getting made redundant with 12 years at one company. I’m not going FIRE yet but I’m not jumping back into mainstream careers either – I’m going to short term contract around and find a project to get my teeth into. Your posts have helped me get my financial house better ordered so that I can support my family but also give my self room to breathe !

    Thank you, good luck & keep writing :-)

    • How cool that the blog has helped you think through your next step! :-D That’s the best news as far as I’m concerned. Good luck as you move into this next chapter!

  3. Congratulations! That must feel like such a weight has been lifted. When I left my old school, I was so nervous to tell my principal, and felt like I was lying to all my coworkers when they would make plans for the following year. Once I told everyone, I felt totally free the last couple months I worked there. I was surprised by how supportive my principal was. I can’t wait for your big reveal on the blog!

    • So. Many. Weights. ;-) And you’ve done the double life bit, so you understand! I hopeful these last few months will be positive, but just having the weight off is already a huge shift!

  4. I’m so happy for you that it went well and that you felt supported! I was so nervous giving notice at my last job (which I was only at for a little over a year) that can’t even imagine how you must have been feeling. Glad you’re now over the hump and don’t have to feel like you’re keeping a secret anymore!

    Also, wow, I can’t believe you dropped a subtle hint a year ago…was that on purpose??

    • Thank you! :-) I was okay for most of the day before the first convo, but then turned into a wreck for the last hour. And then I had to rebrace each time because I had multiple folks to tell, which was slightly odd. But all in all, so happy with how it went down and turned out! I’ll say more about the subtle hint soon, but it was definitely in a moment of exasperation! ;-)

  5. That was beautiful to read. I can’t imagine having to hide a huge part of my life for so long, and I can only imagine the relief you both feel. Congratulations on it all!

    We aren’t close yet, but my husband and I have talked about how how we have to tell so many people one on one and how tough that will be. While he may not love what he does everyday, he has met and connected with some really awesome people and it will be tough to tell them.

    This gives me some insight into what he will experience, which is good so I can be supportive. I am excited for your big blog reveal and to see all the big plans y’all have coming!

    • Aww, thanks! And thanks for the congrats! :-) Yeah, it’s definitely been a BIG EMOTIONAL THING for both of us, with just a higher volume of feelings than we both anticipated, and many different feelings at once. So while that might be particular to us, it’s good to expect the roller coaster! ;-)

  6. Congratulations! So exciting to finally follow through with your plan. I’m sure it’s bittersweet since this changes the dynamic here too.

    My biggest fear – not following through. I’ve been talking about my journey for 4 years, but am nervous I’m accepting the rat race. In fact, I’ve been writing haikus for half a year now on mine due to lack of momentum.

    • SUCH a great point. It DOES change the dynamic here on the blog, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t worry me a little. ;-) But on following through, the blog has been great for that. I put it out there three years ago that we were quitting at the end of 2017, and so we had to do it! ;-) Haha. Have you set an end date for yourself? Or is it dollar dependent? I think giving yourself a clear deadline of some sort is important if you’re concerned about never actually pulling the ripcord.

  7. Eeeee!

    I’ll have to do something similar in about a couple years, but I’ll have been in my current department for only 4 years at that point. I do have some fantastic work friends, some of whom I’ve told already (One I told in two different ways, “early retirement” and being “Financially Independent / able to pursue our interests without worrying about money.” She thought the former was a terrible idea and the latter was awesome. Lesson learned: phrasing makes all the difference).

    I’m almost looking forward to talking to my department head, in a good way. She’s so supportive and awesome that I want to say something like “look what I did!”, like with some macaroni artwork for the fridge but way better.

    • Hahaha — I just handed in some pretty rad macaroni art, I guess! ;-) But yeah, something awesome in all this that I hadn’t anticipated was seeing how proud people are of me. I guess I never thought they would be, which was completely dumb and short-sided. ;-) Also, we both used the words “early retirement,” and folks have instantly understood that and been impressed, so don’t give up on the term altogether! ;-)

  8. What an amazing post. I’ve been reading your work for well over a year and you have a relatable story for me. I had put a lot of this together through all your posts (likely one of the big or specialty consulting firms) and had a suspicion both you and Mr. ONL were very tenured with the same company. I completely understand/agree that many of your coworkers/teammates become your friends and it makes this tougher to do, but you know you can/will stay in touch with them.

    Congratulations on staying anonymous, I think its more difficult the higher up you go, but you provide value and perspective that so few can deliver.

    I guess the actual “I’m leaving” conversation is more stressful for you than your manager and mentors. We all have great employees who resign to do something else, its disappointing but you’re ultimately happy for them. Its not my direct management chain I’m terrified about, but its telling my best boss/mentor who’s now the #3 person in a large public company.

    You motivated me to change my handle (since a couple people at work followed Chasesfish) and open up with our story. This is just “different” when you’ve been with one company for your career and have employees, mentors, and clients who think of you and your position at the company as one in the same. Thank you for what you’ve done and enjoy the soft landing into early retirement.

    • Wow, thank you! :-) One of the most wonderful things is that the colleagues who are our closest friends are so happy for us. No hard feelings that we can sense thus far, and just excitement and questions and admiration. It feels incredible because it affirms that those are real friendships, not just work alliances. I suspect you’ll find something similar — that those who truly care about you will be proud of you and want what’s best for you.

      Thanks for the well wishes! Really appreciate it. :-)

  9. You reference a book “But start with this book.”, but I think you meant that to be a link. Which book are you suggesting?

  10. Huge congratulations to you on reaching this most awesome of milestones!
    Reading your story gives me tingles…..this will be us in just a few short months!

    I’ve been ‘practicing’ talking about FI and early retirement by mentioning it to a few folks who have no vested interest – a bartender in our mountain town, the woman who works at the ski shop. Each time I struggle to get the words ‘retirement’ out of my mouth. I feel I have to side step THAT word and come up with some other way to describe it. My practice so far show me that this approach leads to confusion. I’m just going to have to get used to actually saying it!

    As for the double life, I can’t WAIT to be done with that! The only similar experience I can come up with is the first 3 months of pregnancy. It’s all you can think about but you have to everyone else that nothing is happening. This is a damn long first trimester!!

    • Thank you! And I’m excited for you, too! For what it’s worth, I found that just saying “We are going to retire early,” though it felt weird saying it, DID best convey our plans to folks. Everyone instantly understood it, though I also said some of the things we’ll do next (always everyone’s first question). But don’t fear the word! ;-) And I can’t personally relate to the double life feeling of pregnancy, but I can imagine! But yeah, we’re all living the longest trimesters ever. ;-)

  11. Congrats Mrs. and Mr. ONL!

    I can relate to the mix of feelings you had doing this – I just recently early retired this summer from a place I had been 20 years (most of my working career!). I actually told our management team (my boss and his peers) about a year before the big day – but it was a secret to the rest of the company until about 4 months before I ended employment.

    It is hard to leave something you’ve done for so long, yet it was also like a weight was lifted. There was definitely a feeling of new freedom that I felt once the whole company knew.

    And life after fulltime work has been great so far (2 months in). I went into this with other activities already in place – and that’s made the transition easier for sure.

    Anyway – best of luck to both of you! New adventures and life experiences are right around the corner!

    • Thank you, Lance! And I appreciate you sharing that view from over the wall! ;-) we’ve definitely been in careers that have defined us, so it will be an adjustment letting go of all of that. And I’m in total agreement that it’s soooo helpful to have some continuity activities in place so we don’t feel aimless. Congrats to you — look forward to joining the club! ;-)

  12. Congratulations! It’s hard to tell people you’re leaving… it’s like you’re breaking up with them. The next weird step will be when you wake up that first day and don’t have to go to work. :)

    • Oh as for my quitting experience, it was similar. I told folks I was leaving to work on a blog – which is still as surprising as telling someone you’re retiring early. I was leaving a cushy defense contracting job to “blog.”

      But they were completely supportive and I chalked it up to 1) we were friends, of course they would be supportive 2) there’s always a sense of – next person up. People switch companies all the time, so people lose staff all the time. I wasn’t leaving during a high pressure time (in part, by design) so it wasn’t a huge shock to the system.

      • I think the cushier the job, the weirder it is to say you’re leaving it. ;-) And I think the “of course we’re friends” point is an important one that I underestimated in the lead-up. I was so anxious about disappointing all these people I care so much about, but of course they are happy for me and supportive because they are awesome humans and because they know this isn’t something I’d do without years of serious thought.

    • I said in a few of the conversations that it’s like being in love with two people — you love them both, but can’t be with both, so you have to break up with one even though you love them. ;-) Hahaha. (For real, though.)

  13. Congrats you guys! This is so exciting! I’m glad the giving notice conversations went well. I recently gave notice at my current job (I’m starting another one at the end of the month), and I was a mess before it. I always assume the worst. But, my current boss was so supportive, she even gave me a great reference to the new gig! I think that, unless you are in a truly terrible work situation, most supervisors really do want the the best for you – even if that means you no longer work for them. So excited to see what’s next for you!!

    • Thank you! Your giving notice experience sounds similar to both of ours — we tend to brace ourselves for the negative, and then the positive can catch us off-guard. ;-) I don’t know why I let it surprise me so much — whenever people who work for me leave, I’m *always* happy for them, even though I’ll miss them. Why wouldn’t it be the same for others?! Ha.

  14. Congrats! Glad to hear you received support from long time mentors/coworkers/friends.

    It is to early for me to think about this conversation, but I expect some awkwardness depending on how long I am working for that person/company.

    • Like seriously, an overwhelming amount of support. I’m so floored by it all. My big takeaway is to be prepared for a negative reaction, of course, but to reflect on the greater likelihood that people will be supportive and positive… I definitely did not think that’s what would happen!

  15. I had a similar experience, you are leaving? Who’s gonna do XYZ project? Generally no one was very supportive. After a month or so it settles in and any stress from a former life fades away.

  16. Congrats to the both of you! When we gave our notice back in March of this year, there were so many mixed emotions going through our heads. Like you, we had been with our company for many years, over 30 for us, and many colleagues were like family. After giving notice, it was announced via email throughout our company and that’s when the calls came in…… Unfortunately, our top management team could cared less about us leaving(another story) but all our fellow colleagues were super excited and supportive. Now that 5 months have rolled away since we retired, I haven’t regretted our decision at all. Our company just got done with their annual Fall meeting and it felt very strange not being there especially after attending them for all these years, almost as if I was ditching school. Ha ha But now, our adventure in retirement is about to change because we sold our house and we have no idea where we want to live. I think Steve from thinksaveretire inspired us to go on the road and that’s what we are going to do. You just never know where the road in retirement is going to take you…..

    • That is the best news, that you haven’t regretted any of it. (Of course we wonder!) And how exciting that you’re going to hit the road! (Have you told Steve that he inspired you??) Congrats on making the big leap and grabbing life by the horns! ;-)

  17. Terrific news and congratulations on getting to this starting line of your next awesome journey.

    I have been thinking about my departure announcements a lot. In a role where I evaluate science from literally hundreds of companies a year, I am used to saying to potential partners “We’ve made a decision and we’re done”. Not quite like that of course but you get the picture of giving the news that you are walking away. With some folks in my organization, it will be like that – very business like, highly professional. Being part of a big company, the words of Coach Belichick to the Patriots organization, “Next man(woman) up! Do your job!”, spring to mind. No individual is bigger than any team. Whether you are part of a 25-member organization or 25,000 member organization, that mantra remains true.

    And then there is the other side of Mr. PIE’s departure from the workplace. The emotions.

    It will be a very tough series of conversations with so many coaches/mentors/friends who have supported me through difficult times during my career- career transitions or into a completely new role or help and support through very personal challenges that take you to the brink. I have no doubt that I am going to be quite emotional and feel that I am letting those colleagues / friends down by leaving the team. Yet I know deep down that they will be happy for me, because they care about me and my family. Within a month or two, I won’t be thinking about work or the organization but I know I will still be thinking lots about close friends and great colleagues who I’ll stay firmly connected to. That is something I am very much looking forward to experiencing.

    • Wow, hearing from both of the PIEs in one day! ;-) The emotional side is definitely the complicated part, and I 100% understand feeling like you are letting down or seeming ungrateful to those who’ve supported you along the way. That was my big fear. But in the end, they all completely understood and have absolutely floored me with the outpouring of support. Like seriously, I am shocked by just HOW amazingly everyone has taken the news. I cant imagine you won’t experience some of that!

  18. I was so excited to read this post! Congratulations!

    My experience was similar to yours. I was with my company for 17 years and was the second in command in our division. It too is a company with many long tenured employees and long standing relationships. But I had dropped more than subtle hints–so many that I was passed over for a promotion because “You won’t be here as long as _________”. Not the first time my big mouth got me in trouble–probably not the last either.

    I experienced the range of emotions you describe but also a large dose of pride. I feel like that pride helped me overcome the sadness (and the tears!) of those I left.

    I think your friendships will continue but they will change. I live within 30 minutes of most of my former colleagues but don’t see them often. I continue to mentor many of them through my blog and some coaching so that helps. You are wise to mourn the relationships because they will change.

    I’m excited to see what you’ll bring us in the future. Good on ya girl!

    • The pride has been a big part of it, but in unexpected ways! I didn’t go in thinking, “I’m so proud of having made this happen,” but everyone has expressed how proud they are of me for pulling this off, and that has made me swell up a bit. ;-) We definitely know the relationships will change — for one thing, we are across the country from our colleagues! But we can also avoid having those tense work moments together, which also takes pressure off the relationships. So we know we’ll have to find new balance, but we’re hopeful. ;-) Thanks for all the support and advice along the way! xo

  19. Wow, congratulations to you both! We’ve all been waiting to hear how it went. That must be hard, but at the same time it’s great to work with such great colleagues at a great employer. That’s rare.

    Like you, we’re living the lie, but so far it isn’t bad. We’re still early enough in that it doesn’t feel real and we can’t be absolutely sure that we’ll end up retiring early – things in life can always happen to change your path. So it doesn’t feel hard yet. But the HR folks at one job looked at us oddly when one of us said to put 99% of a paycheck into a retirement account.

    But it’ll be amazing to not be living a double life someday. It’s epsecially annoying when a friend or family member wants info about a topic I’ve fully covered on the blog….but I can’t just send over a link.

    • Thanks for cheering us on along the way! I’m sure I was feeling your support while awaiting those conversations. ;-) (And yes, we KNOW how lucky we are to have such incredible employers. It’s why we haven’t changed jobs!) And boy, I know that “it doesn’t feel real” feeling! That was 99% of the journey. ;-) I’m curious, though, why you don’t share the blog with anyone. We definitely have shared it with family and with some friends — just with instructions not to comment or share on Facebook or something. ;-)

  20. Definitely related to Mr ONL’s conversation and feeling as though telling a father figure who was genuinely concerned (and maybe thinking that I’m a little crazy), but no animosity or ill will. I think the things we build up in our minds are often worse than we imagine.

    That said, there are still many other reasons to keep plans under wraps until the right time and congrats to both of you for being able to lift that heavy weight from your shoulders!

    • I bet that’s common that bosses quickly get parental. No one questioned my financial readiness (I guess my colleagues know I can rock a client budget and stick to a plan!), but a few got protective in other ways. So yeah, we definitely still think it was the right thing to only give our notice now, but it went as well as it possibly could, and that means we actually have to do this. ;-) Hahaha.

    • Thank you thank you! There’s still a LOT to do before we wrap up work, but having that weight lifted feels AMAZING.

  21. Your situation was very, very different than mine. I moved around a lot in my career, so I never had the chance to develop those decade-long loyalties. As a result, giving notice in my case was a piece of cake.

    “Hey Boss, I’m quitting at the end of the year. Smell ya later”.

    But I can definitely, positively, most indubitably see how it was much more stressful and, perhaps, meaningful in your case. You (and the hubby) are ending a working relationship that lasted more than a decade. Huge difference.

    Congrats on getting through it!

    • Thank you! And yeah, tons more meaning and emotion loaded in there with relationships that go back that long. (Plus we’re just older than you guys, so there’s more time in our careers generally.) ;-) But I was so much more positive than I ever could have expected, almost overwhelmingly so!

  22. Great job sticking to your guns! Sorry that it’s a sad experience, but it’s all about doing what’s best for you and your dreams. I have to admit I’m really jealous of your work experience; I’d kill for a great culture where people stayed for decades! I can’t think of a greater way to cap off your history of mandatory work. :)

    • Yeah, we feel so lucky to have had the careers we’ve had, with the companies and people we’ve worked with. That’s the part that makes it sad, but the irony is that it’s a happy thing that we GET to feel sad. So many people are just eager to peace out of work and not look back, and we feel grateful to have this much love for our careers. :-)

  23. Ooh, what an exciting time for you two! I can only relate to that sense of relief in that I left my job after 14 years, not to retire but to stay at home with the kids. Still, I was totally nervous during the time while I knew I was leaving and hadn’t told my boss yet. It’s wonderful that you and the Mr. both had such positive work environments, but what an interesting conflict, being so ready to retire early, yet not hating your jobs. Congratulations and enjoy these last two months!

    • So you definitely know how tough it is to leave a place where you’ve been for so long! And yeah, this was never motivated by disliking our jobs or companies — quite the opposite: we probably would have found a way to retire earlier if we worked for anyone else. ;-)

  24. Congratulations on successfully navigating this part of your journey. I look forward to reading more about your transition to the next phase in life post career!

  25. Congratulations!

    I retired last year after 17 years with the same employer. I gave my boss some hints several months before so he wasn’t completely surprised when I gave a notice.

    However, all of my colleagues were surprised and some were even jealous. I did a really good job keeping early retirement a secret so no one imagined me exiting this young.

    Last couple of days at work a few colleagues even tried to make me feel guilty by saying things like ‘oh you are abandoning us’.

    In my case l have learned that my friends at work were not my real friends as soon after leaving l lost touch with them. It’s like we lost the common interest ‘work’ that kept us friends all these years.

    Mr ATM

    • SO AWESOME!!! CONGRATS!! I can definitely see how the mood would turn as you got closer to your exit date, and we fully expect some of the work friends to fall away. But I’m still going to believe that some will stand the test of time until proven wrong. ;-)

  26. Congratulations to you both!

    Now that I know what Ms ONL does for her job I can see it very clearly here. #keepthesecrets

  27. I for one am SHOCKED… that ONL is not run off the Dark Web.
    Congratulations on having this weight lifted from your shoulders. It must feel SO GOOD to know you’re surrounded by these supportive people and that this big step didn’t turn into a horrible experience. You’ve given me hope and courage for my own giving-notice day!

    • Well, I mean, if it was run off the dark web, would I tell you so?? And yes, have hope for your give notice day! Most people are good humans who want what’s best for others, so even if there’s negativity from a few petty folks, I am positive most will be supportive!

  28. This is so amazing! Congrats on the FI goal. We are still early on our journey and look forward to the day we can give that notice. Love the content here and excited to learn about your journey post-FI.

    • Thank you!! My best advice is to focus not on the day you get to quit, but on the life you want to live after — and then figure out how much of that life you can actually live now. (For most of us, it’s more than we think!) Best wishes on your journey! :-)

  29. Ya for you guys! From my own experience I found giving notice and telling my team about me leaving the hard part back in August. After that it all got easier to talk to more casual work friends about leaving. And it got even easier to leave on the final day. Best of luck and welcome to the class of 2017 early retirees!

    • Thanks for the warm welcome! :-D Yeah, the initial convos were definitely the hardest, and the many that have followed have gotten easier and easier. Next week I tell clients, which could get tough again, so wish me luck! ;-)

  30. My leaving work was a bit of a process. New management came in and our industry was in the middle of a recession. We had a bunch of people leaving or were let go by management. The work situation was growing into an unhealhty environment. Also my working remotely and moving across the country had me feeling disconnected. That was also in part due to my 4 years of seeking financial independance. Your mind just isn’t into it anymore and for me I dropped hints non-stop. I refused to take on extra projects or go beyond the normal to be a top performer like I had before. They noticed this and asked me what my plans are, I stated I would be done in a year or two but felt like now was the time. I worked a couple more weeks and then burned off almost 3 months of holidays that accumulated. Nobody really knew that I “retired” because of my financial awakening and the whole early retirement mindset. Heck I bet some thought I was forced out or let go. Oh well I am enjoying life without having to answer to anyone but myself. I worked 21 years in a world where I had to be available 24/7/365 and no I won’t give up my ability to not b strapped to that kind of availability for anything.

    • That 24/7/365 is an aspect that I have totally put behind me and now seldom remember except to feel the relief when I hear of it from someone else. Yes, “won’t give up my ability to not b strapped to that kind of availability for anything”.

    • Oh I can definitely understand the temptation to pull back and not go above and beyond! I know it’s just how I’m wired, but it was super important to me not to do that, and to keep giving it my all to the end, in part because I truly do care about the work I’ve been so lucky to do for all these years. But the “I don’t need this!” thought has certainly occurred to me PLENTY of times. ;-)

  31. Congratulations you two. It has been a joy to share the experience along the way.

    My situation is similar, but without the secrecy. I’ve been at the same firm for 25 years and for the last couple have been talking about a slow down and transition as kids go off to college. There will be no surprises, only continued friendships and an ever decreasing participation in a “small world” industry.

    • Thanks so much! That’s incredible to hear. :-) And that’s so much better for your sanity that you’re able to be more open about your plans, so you don’t have to have the mental stress of the double life!

  32. Here’s to the best of everything for you both. I dropped an email to you with a little extra — hoping you’ll get to it someday.

    I’m very happy for you that a major stress has been removed. I never went through all that as our decisions to retire came quickly and about 3 years early due to what had become unfortunate working environments. My boss (and friend) was supportive but was rather taken aback when I announced my intent to retire (near immediately) to our team that same day in a weekly meeting. I did get lots of push to change my mind but stuck to the decision with only a one-month extension hoping for a better severance deal (nope). Then we were off on a month-long western RV camping vacation for my last 30 days of employment. There were pressures during the intervening last 4 months of work and the sudden adjustment to NOT WORKING, but no regrets. Your odyssey has been very different and yet to be completed, but your final pressure time will fly by and the big marathon is past. Again, best!

    • Thanks, Rich! I got your lovely note and am just a tiny bit backlogged on responses. ;-) And I can see being taken aback just by you giving notice to a whole team rather than one-on-one. (I think I would freak out if a report of mine did that!) But if work had gotten that bad, I can definitely see feeling like you’d reached a breaking point. So glad you feel good about it all and have no regrets! That’s the best feeling. :-)

  33. Great post. Very relatable. I’m planning on giving notice in a few months and super nervous about it. Thinking about just skipping the whole retirement story and saying that I’m taking a sabbatical. Less explaining to do that way.

    • My two cents is not to underestimate the capacity of your colleagues to be stoked for you — I definitely think we’re getting such a positive response because it’s clear we’re not just leaving these jobs, we’re completely changing our lives. Which makes it a lot easier for people to just be happy for us instead of thinking we’re ungrateful or wondering what’s wrong with the company, etc. But I definitely understand the nervousness!

  34. A quote I heard along time ago that has become more relevant the older I get is:

    (attributed to Charles De Gaulle)

    “The graveyards of the world are filled with indispensable people”

    One could adjust this to “the graveyards of the world are filled with people who really thought their jobs were indispensable.” Or “the graveyards of the world are filled with people who thought their companies thought they were indispensible.”

    Another goody: no one ever said on their deathbed “I should have spent more time at the office.”

    Gives a little perspective.

    • While none of us may be truly indispensable, that doesn’t mean we aren’t special to those we have relationships with or that our work isn’t meaningful. For us it was never the idea that we can’t be replaced, but just that our leaving will make an impact. And people’s reactions make clear that that’s true. Life will go on, everyone will be fine, but it’s still an emotional and knowledge loss for them — and for us.

  35. I bet you both feel a big sense of relief. Those initial conversations may have been the most anxiety-provoking, but there were certainly be dozens of awkward questions and conversations in your remaining days. People that haven’t considered the possibility of such an early retirement have a tough time grasping the hows and whys of it all.

    I’m taking a very gradual approach. It started with hints about maybe working part time eventually. Then a conversation that led to me now actually working part time, with the expectation that it would only be for a couple years or so. I’ve been pretty vague about my intentions and plans but am slowly being more forthcoming.

    We’ve interviewed my potential replacement who won’t be available for nearly two years. So much for two weeks’ notice.


    • HUGE relief. And it’s interesting — so far only one person has seemed to struggle with the idea, and everyone else has instantly understood. I fully expect to get questions on the mechanics, but our colleagues understand the toll our jobs take and what we trade off in life to do the work we do.

      And in your case, WOW, *two years* until your replacement can start??! That’s crazy!

  36. I retired early, just over a year ago. Everyone I told, looked at me like I was insane, so then I started wondering if I was insane! I searched around and found your blog and then I realized, no I’m not crazy, there are other smart people out there kicking ass in their careers so they can get out early and enjoy their life too!! Congratulations and I can’t wait to subscribe to your podcast!!

    • Oh my gosh, that’s wild! I’m sorry folks reacted that way. I definitely wondered if *I* was crazy as the words came out of my mouth each time, but not a single person acted like I was. To a person, everyone was impressed and envious. So not only can I assure you you’re not crazy to retire early, but my colleagues do too. ;-)

  37. Congrats, glad it went well. Things are getting real for you guys now… more than just so much pub talk and pipe dreams we all hear so often!

    Good luck serving out notice periods, the second part of “hurry up and wait” often comes into play here.

    • Yeah, we’ll see how the last two months go. It will be interesting! Thanks for the congrats! :-D

  38. Congrats to both of you. Hopefully there’s no cold feet. LOL. You guys have planned this well so I’m positive it’ll all work out well. Good for both of you for having such understanding and empathetic colleagues and bosses. Hope that I have such a good experience as you when I do big announcement.

    • I think if you’ve done your job with integrity and quality and you work in a healthy work environment, then people will respond to you as humans and wish you well!

  39. Late to the party here, but congratulations.

    I often struggle with the duality of the secret-blogger, soon to FIRE life. My strategy is to slowly let more and more people in on the secret, and nudge myself ever closer to a holistic life.

    • You’re not late at all! :-) And thank you! I am super thankful that we’ve had friends and family outside of work who knew our plan, so we didn’t feel like this was totally bottled up — we might have gone crazy if that were true! So the double life was really only at work. And it was necessary there, but better than having a double life with everyone!

  40. I’m glad it went so well! As I work as a temp and for myself, I have none of the fears you have. Even so, I work at maintaining the anonymity of my blog because doxing is terrible and I am still a left-leaning lesbian and lots of folks don’t like that. I’ve met with some local bloggers and some were shocked at what I wouldn’t tell them, including my name. The security minded folks seemed more impressed, because the less you reveal the less you have to conceal.

    • Whoa… I’m super impressed that you could hold back! I went into FinCon last year intending not to say my name, but after saying “I’m Ms. ONL??” awkwardly like three times, I quickly gave in and just told people and then asked them not to share it (which none have! — not that that should impact your decision, which I totally respect!).

  41. Congrats on it going so well for you! I can relate to the emotions from my job 2 jobs ago. Even though I was leaving to do grad school full time, it was such a small company and where I grew up professionally, it was like leaving my family. Over 10 years later I still email my manager from there occasionally.

    When I gave notice to megacorp to come to my current job, it was definitely more tense, less emotional. I had to live a double life for only 4 months then and the weight is crazy. Even though I had more animosity that they forced me to leave, it was still a lot of weight to carry around knowing you’ve accepted an offer at another company but have 2 months for paperwork, background checks, etc… to clear before ou can give notice. That conversation was a diplomatic and professional version of “screw you guys, I’m going home”.

    When I give notice here, even though I’ll have been here less time, it will be more emotional because this place feels more like a family again. Even though i know it will be next man up and I won’t necessarily be missed in most aspects, it’ll be tough telling my bosses and mentors. There are 3 people that know our specific plan and a handful that know “I’m not working until I’m 65” but that’s about it around here. The 3 that know specifics aren’t gossipers, so I’m pretty sure word hasn’t spread because I haven’t heard about it from my mentee, the Gossip Queen, lol.

    • I think it can be both — you can be replaceable (we all are!) and still be missed, maybe missed a LOT. So yeah, of course you’d be worried about letting people down, or just sad about saying goodbye. I can relate to both! And good thing your gossip hasn’t spread! I had two confidants, and both kept their lips tightly sealed. :-)

  42. Why bother revealing your identities at all? Seems like you’d be putting a target on your backs. There are probably so many lowlifes and parasites waiting to come out of the woodwork to rip off high net worth individuals – or anyone with even modest wealth ripe for confiscation – the possibilities are unimaginable!

    • Oh trust me, we have thought about that. But there’s a lot we can’t do here without “coming out,” and I don’t want to have to dodge photos and give awkward fake names at FI meetups and blogger events.

  43. Congratulations and best wishes. I’ll be having “the talk” sometime in the next two years, and am already dreading it. I’m a pastor in a small church, and it will be hard for them to find a replacement. I’m expecting all of the emotions to come up – fear, guilt, excitement, etc. But RE has always been a dream, and I’m feel so fortunate that we can afford to do it!

    • That’s so awesome! And yeah, definitely understand the pressure you must be feeling! When I really struggled, I reminded myself that me leaving might open the door for my employer to find the most spectacular employee of all time who’d be 10X better than I ever was. ;-) Plus, I’m positive they’ll be happy for you!

  44. I’m glad the big reveal went well! Your area is beautiful and will give you no end of outdoor pursuits to fill your early retirement with. I’m fortunate that as a contract worker, I won’t need to put in notice or do a big reveal when/if I RE, just decrease the number of paid shifts I work. As a thru hiker, I’ve encountered many people who can’t fathom affording even a few months without income and have an inkling of how astonished some of your coworkers must be. Congrats and I look forward to seeing your future adventures!

  45. Congrats to you both! I’m sure it’s a huge relief. Crazy that you both have had such long tenures at your respective companies. I can definitely understand how that would add a ton of weight to the situation.

    • Thank you!! HUGE relief and then some. ;-) And yeah, lots of emotion tied up in all those years — definitely complicates things! But seeing now how supportive and congratulatory (and envious!) everyone has been, it’s good validation that we’re doing the right thing. :-)

  46. Yes, I have given notice at my only job that had set hours/a boss (my other jobs are like freelance work so I won’t ever have to have that awkward giving notice experience there, thank God!). My experience was similar to your experience-a little awkward, very nervous, and my boss was also a little suspicious of how I planned to make a living, “wait you’re doing what? and you’re gonna have enough money?”. But also like you, it was such a massive relief to finally end my “double life”!

    • Glad you got the relief of the end of the double life! No suspicion from our folks — just parental concern toward Mr. ONL from his boss (and none toward me, because I’m known for being, well, a lot like what you see here!). ;-)

  47. Congratulations! You took the plunge. No going back now. :)

    Although I have more than five years to go, I told some of my colleagues that I’m interested in money and financial independence. Sometimes I even walk around in a Mad Fientist t-shirt. But actually, most people nod but don’t really care that much. The good news is that I found one colleague who is really interested in investing and he now read Jim Collins’ book and seems to be totally hooked. So looks like we will walk part of the journey alongside, which is great.

    Have fun in your last weeks and let us know about the transition.

    • The most incredible thing about it all was how many people said, “You can always come back.” So maybe there IS going back… not that that’s the plan. ;-) Haha. It’s been interesting getting to the finish line and talking to more folks who observe our community — their response has been along the lines of “lots of people get interested, but few actually achieve FI.” No idea if that’s true, but I bet lots of folks just aren’t paying attention to your shirt, and those that are think it’s a nice hobby but not something you’ll actually achieve. So it’s your chance to prove them wrong! ;-)

  48. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so excited for you both! Nothing like hitting it out of the park. I really look forward to seeing how you enjoy your new found freedom as well as harness your professional skills to be advocates for promoting overall financial & physical well being in our great country on your terms and timelines.

    So glad to hear you were “fortunate enough” to be sad at saying good-bye to your work colleagues. It has been 13 years since I left my professional career behind & I still keep in touch with quite a few of my old colleagues so rest assured leaving the formal workplace doesn’t have to be a hard good-bye.

    Very curious to check out your upcoming podcast.

    • Thank you so much, Isa! And it’s wonderful to hear that you still keep in touch with so many former colleagues — if we’re able to say the same in several years, we’ll be so glad. :-)

    • Thanks so much! That means a ton. (And we just had a few days with Carl and Mindy, and boy are they enjoying retirement.) ;-)

  49. I have been in my job for 14 years and have enjoyed numerous close friends. Last week, I gave notice that I will be leaving in 8 months. (Early notice is pretty standard in my area because it usually takes 6 to 12 months to replace someone.) It was a roller coaster of unexpected emotions for me: I felt like I was jumping out of the lifeboat, while also soaring in a balloon. It was harder then expected to let go of the money stream, and it was such a relief to be taking that leap. The biggest relief for me is the surrendering the “what if” scenarios that allowed me to consider the possibility that I would stay at work 6 more months, or one more year. Frankly, I ran these scenarios in my head so often, that I was starting to feel a bit depressed. Best wishes to you both in your next weeks.

    • Wow, congrats, Daniel! That’s huge! I can definitely relate to that mix of emotions. It’s a lot to process either way when you’ve been in a job a long time, and anyone who says it’s pure elation is lying. ;-) Good luck to you in your final 8 months!