Since I’ve been early retired, I’ve worked much more than I ever expected, but I also earned little to nothing from that work, by design. And separating work from the money — and hustling for reasons other than financial gain — have taught me several huge lessons. Let’s dig into them.
What is “work” anyway? It’s a question that plenty of folks will expend a great deal of oxygen on, and which we won’t answer here today. But we will talk about why it’s problematic when people decide to impose a particular definition of work on others, and what that tells us about our collective messed up relationship with work.
Happy new year, friends! After a bit of a blogging break, I’m back today with a big rundown on all the lessons we learned in the first year of early retirement. The series continues next week with everywhere we went last year, and the week after with everything we’re going to change in 2019.
I’ve had an odd realization the last few months in early retirement: I’d expected to catch up on sleep and exhale all the stress of work and find myself feeling perpetually well-rested and low stress. But in reality, I’m actually more aware of stress and more affected by sleepiness than I was before. But this isn’t a bad thing at all. Let’s talk about why.
It’s 2018, the world is upside-down, we’re retired and we’re… saving for retirement??! It’s true, friends. Despite already saving for retirement and feeling completely solid with what we’ve saved, this year we’re saving even more. Here’s why and how.
Back in 2015, with about two years of work to go, we decided to take a fairly radical step and ban all complaints about work. How did it go? What did we learn? Did it help? Read on to find out!
For a long time, I let myself go down the magical thinking rabbit hole, convincing myself that early retirement would cure everything in my life that needed fixing. And even after I recognized that magical thinking for what it was, I still assumed that early retirement would fix a lot for us, especially things related to work stress and limited time. So how has that actually turned out so far? Let’s take a look.
It may seem like an odd thing to say, but as focused as I was on retiring early for so many years, I’m actually glad that I didn’t retire even earlier than I did. “Why’s that, you crazy person?” you might be wondering. Well read on, because there are a bunch of reasons that just might help others feel better about the work you do en route to early retirement.
It’s easy to observe that a lot of people — not just bloggers — end up working more than they expect to in early retirement, in large part because work feels very different when it’s by choice than when it’s by necessity. So why not plan for that and make your first year of early retirement a side hustle year? The benefits of doing so are potentially huge.
After we realized that we would work in early retirement, we also realized that we needed an easy way to decide if an opportunity that came along was actually work we wanted to do. And we created what we call the “high school rule.” Here’s what that is.
It’s actually here! The very last Monday of our working careers. We’re still feeling a lot, but it feels like something has changed in the last week. And while we have a lot of gratitude we want to express in this last week, we’ve surprised ourselves big time by actually feeling completely ready to make this leap.
We’re 10 work days from early retirement, and are now starting to consider new opportunities that look to the untrained eye a whole lot like work. The whole point of our early retirement was to be able to say yes more, and some of the things we really want to be able to say yes to, money aside. But there’s peril in that — taking on too much, and making it not really early retirement after all. Here’s how we’re thinking about setting new boundaries.
The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” has never been far from my consciousness at any point in my life. I asked it of myself constantly as a kid, and I never really stopped even as an adult in a career. Which might partially explain how I got on an early retirement path. But answering that question — and separating “be” from “do” — is really what financial independence is all about.
It’s official. We’ve given notice at work, and now we’re starting to tell our teams and clients. We expected this to be an emotionally complicated time (no disappointment there), but we didn’t realize that the weight of keeping this all to ourselves had been quite so heavy. Click and I’ll tell you all about it.
When we first formulated a real early retirement plan, it was based on the rigid belief that we’d never, ever work again. Or at least never *have* to work again. And while that’s still true — we haven’t expedited our plan by forcing ourselves to earn income in the future — we now expect to get a much more diversified set of income streams in early retirement. In part because life happens and we’ve made some different choices along the way. And in part because that recession hasn’t hit yet, health care is still up in the air, and it makes sense to keep hedging against sequence risk and health insurance uncertainty.
Those of us on the FI path who are still working have an incredible freedom that most of the working world doesn’t enjoy: the freedom to push for the change in our companies or industries that others might get penalized for pushing for. Better pay, more empowering conditions, parity, diversity, you name it. If we get labeled difficult or squeaky wheels, it doesn’t matter, because we’re on our way out. Here’s how — and why! — to use that power, both for the greater good and for your own legacy.
Today we’re tackling a question that I know a lot of people ponder before retiring early: whether or not to try to negotiate a layoff or severance on your way out, to soften the landing. We’ve given it tons of thought, and have decided that approach isn’t for us — but it very well might be for you. Let’s examine both sides.
I spend a lot of time talking about the nobler aspects of early retirement like how it will give us time to do more volunteering. But can we all be honest? We can do noble things in retirement, but the reason doesn’t have to be noble at all. For us, it’s all about what is most fun, and the answer is: not working. We want to retire early so that we can go back to being kids, but the paradox is that we’ve had to grow up big time to avoid growing up.
In the last several months of contemplating leaving work, while doing a better job of saying no and setting boundaries (woot!), I’ve come to realize something: I truly love what I do. Bad news for a soon-to-be early retiree, right? Not at all! You can definitely love your job and still want to retire early — no insanity required! Here’s why.
A question we ask ourselves all the time is: Do we just want to retire early because deep down we feel bad at working? Even though we’re nothing close to bad at our jobs — we’ve very good at them — we’ve never quite been able to muster the right attitude to do them with total commitment. Which makes us wonder: for those special few who are seriously incredible at their jobs, would early retirement even enter their minds? Come share your theories!
It’s nothing new to say that our collective digital life has made many of us focus too much on signs of external digital validation such as likes and comments. I’ve so far been okay at avoiding that trap, but after we leave our careers, the work I do will be more digital than ever. And given my gold star-seeking tendencies, how can I redefine my self worth post-career without falling into the digital stats trap?
Though we’ve been thinking about all the questions that go with the end of work for months now, we’re late in realizing that we need to be ready to respond if our companies lay on the hard sell to try to get us to stay. We’ve given it some thought, and here’s what it would take for us. What would it take for you?
The fact that we are retiring at the end of this year is getting more and more real for us, and some of that feels scary. But it also feels crazy exciting for obvious reasons, and for less obvious ones like the forthcoming opportunity to re-engineer our lives to reinforce better habits and avoid triggering the bad ones associated with our current work lives.
Here’s a crazy thought: It feels great to be good at things. And if there are things you’re good at in your current work — even if it’s not obvious now that you get joy from them — you might miss out on future joy if you subtract those tasks from your life when you retire early. Today we’re honing in on the things we’re best at, that bring us the most joy, and figuring out how to magnify that joy in FIRE.
Right now, nearly everything in my work life is set up to remind me that I’m (deliberately in quotes) “important.” How will our egos handle early retirement, when all of that goes away? Will we feel invisible? How can we let go of the fake importance and focus on replacing what truly matters to us? Let’s dive into all of that.
The question of when to retire this year — Work the full year? Retire sooner if we hit our numbers? — has been on our minds big time for many months, ever since we realized how ahead of schedule we are on our savings plan. But we’ve made peace with working the full year, and here’s why.
Thanks to some recurring power outages, we’ve had a lot of time lately to talk about what’s on our minds. And something that keeps coming up a lot is anxiety about what it will be like when we quit — not our post-work life, but the actual act of quitting itself. We know this feels tougher to us because we’ve been in our jobs a long time and are invested in them. Today: When loyalists contemplate quitting.
Happy new year! The last year of work was super stressful for us, and we’ve been mulling the question of whether we should or even can care less at work — and whether that would solve the problem. But, we’ve come to a different conclusion about the root of the problem, and it’s giving us a new directive for this year. Welcome to our 2017, the Year of No, preamble to our retired Life of Yes.
Anyone aspiring to retire early can list off a million reasons why we want to quit working, but what’s interesting is that most of those reasons have to do with work culture, not with work itself. On some level, we all crave the meaning and satisfaction that come with work, but the realities of modern work are very different from that work ideal. Learning to recognize the difference between work itself and work culture — and likewise the difference between job burnout and a true dead end career — can help us zero in on why we want to retire early to begin with.
We’re thinking a lot lately about asking for more — asking for the compensation we deserve at work, and asking more of ourselves. And now, it’s official: in 2016, we successfully did both. Today, the story of how I negotiated for more money at work, and how we rose to the higher challenges we’d set for ourselves this year. Do we consider 2016 an unqualified success? Read on!
Something that’s on our minds lately — especially when I’m traveling for work — is all of the perks that we’re going to lose when we quit our jobs in 2017. For us, an upgraded level of travel is chief among those, but the perks we enjoy from work are different for each of us. What perks do you get now that you’ll miss when you retire?
Our early retirement plan has gone through a lot of iterations, but one thing has remained constant: our insistence that we never want to have to work again. But we’re starting to realize that we’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. Come join us as we trace our journey to our recent epiphany that we will earn money in the future, even after we retire.
We get the question a lot: “How do you stay patient en route to early retirement?” But we’ve realized that’s the wrong question we should all be asking. The biggest predictor of happiness in the journey to early retirement isn’t how patient or impatient we are, it’s whether we stay engaged or let ourselves disengage at work. That’s why we now say: Don’t check out early.
One of my favorite parts of FinCon was getting the chance to talk to bloggers who are ahead of us on their FIRE journeys, including several who are already retired. I asked them all if their last year of work was harder, and answers were mixed. It all seemed to come down to how much they cared about work in the home stretch, and it has gotten us wondering whether we can care less to make our last year less stressful.
One of the ideas that’s having a major moment these days is the notion that we should all be pushing outside of our comfort zones. We all hear proclamations like, “Quit your job and travel the world!” Or “Stop wasting time in that boring job and do what you love!” Today we’re talking comfort zones and whether we always need to get out of them.
We have said from our second post ever that our vision for early retirement has never included mandatory work. And we’ve been more vigilant about this fact than probably any other in our early retirement plan. We’ve shifted our investments, we’ve changed our timelines, we’ve debated when to give notice, but we’ve never wavered on the no mandatory work idea. But… that might be changing.
Though we weren’t personally all that impacted by the 2008 financial crisis, we learned a lot of lessons from it second-hand. As we get closer to early retirement, we’re reminded of the biggest one: We can’t always bank on being able to go back to work if we need to.
It’s not my favorite thing about myself, but I have come to accept that I am heavily motivated by the idea of getting gold stars, i.e. some form of recognition for my work. Today I’m contemplating what it will look like when work, my primary source of gold stars, is gone.
I recently had a realization that I now think has been influencing the entire direction of my life without me realizing it. And it’s completely related to our plans to retire early. Turns out I have always resisted mixing creativity and money — here’s why.
Over the years, we’ve gotten better at travel than just about anything else. So today we’re going off the financial path for a sec to share our best life hacks for staying healthy while traveling. Questions welcome!
We’ve gotten a lot of money advice in our adult lives, and quite a lot of it seemed totally convincing… until we examined the philosophical question underlying that advice. How we learned to tell whether that reasonable-sounding advice is actually good or not.
The current debate in the ONL house is when to quit our jobs. Barring a major market correction, we feel pretty good that we’ll hit our magic numbers ahead of schedule next year, possibly as early as Q2 of 2017. But of course before we can quit, we have to give notice. And that brings with it a whole bunch of other questions. Here’s how we’re thinking about them.
We’d all love it to be otherwise, but getting to big financial goals is mostly a matter of letting time pass. Rather than sit around feeling impatient all the time, and let that suck the joy out of the journey, we’ve found some strategies that help us pass the time without getting quite so antsy.
Do you think there is a meaningful difference between the terms financial independence and early retirement? Let’s dive into this distinction without a difference, and what it means for the personal finance community.
As we get closer and closer to early retirement, we get more excited. But it’s not all puppies and ice cream sundaes, either. There are some definite ups and downs that have come along with our journey, and sometimes we each handle them differently. Here’s how we navigate that as a couple.
if you watched yesterday’s super bowl, you couldn’t miss all the speculation that peyton manning is going to retire after this season. what’s incredible is that peyton has the rare privilege of choosing to go out on top, on his own terms. not many people, in sports and in regular working life, get that choice.
we have felt for years that, if something tragic happened and we died unexpectedly, we wouldn’t have a whole lot to show for our lives, or at least not the things that we’d want to be remembered for. rather than lament whether or not our accomplishments match our aspirations at this point in our lives, we decided to be the empowered authors of our own purpose. here’s what we mapped out.
we’ve been thinking about entitlement, and the ways in which being entitled is actually good when planning for early retirement, and the ways in which it can be detrimental. please help us add to the list!
this week and next are scary weeks for us. these are the weeks when we’ll find out if we’ll be doing a happy dance that we hit our year-end goals, or making sad puppy faces at each other for the next few weeks because we missed the mark. yep, it’s bonus time.
in the financial independence/early retirement space, we know we’re not alone in complaining about work. and with good reason. but we’ve made a decision: we’re done complaining about work.
wow, you guys. though time doesn’t fly when you’re trying hard to retire already, it feels like just yesterday that we started this little blog to chronicle our journey to early retirement (actually it was about 10 months ago), and here we are, 100 posts later! we thought we’d celebrate the day with a rundown on some of the other numbers we’ve racked up while writing these 100 posts.
we feel the sunday blues in a big way. and we know why: not only do we just not love having to work every day, we know that we’re in especially high pressure, stressful, occasionally soul-sucking jobs. but we didn’t just default into these golden handcuffs of ours, and we don’t stay in our jobs because we lack imagination. our choice to stay put in unsustainable jobs is a clear-eyed decision we’ve made, based on considering all of our options and deciding what’s most important to us. the most important thing? getting to our exit date as soon as we possibly can.
just as we did for u.s. independence day, we want to take a moment to reflect on what the labor day holiday means, especially for those of us planning to leave the labor market as soon as we can!
it’s so easy to be blind to our own bad habits, and so to avoid forgetting about the bad ones we’ve recently identified, we’ve started making a list of what we want to change just as soon as work is in our rearview mirror. we’re calling the list our resolutions for retirement, and expect this list to grow over time.
last week we wrote about what we’ll lose when we stop working, which in our case includes a lot of perks. and today we’re sharing the flipside of that. what we most certainly will never ever ever miss about our careers.
another weekend gone, another week begun. we’re both the type of people who were never eager to grow up, who always wished time would slow down. one of us remembers turning eleven, and saying aloud to the assembled celebrants, “okay, i’m good now. i don’t need to get […]
few things in our lives have ever excited us as much as the early retirement that we’re eagerly planning for. but we also feel something that not many people talk about: the ways in which we’re letting ourselves down by retiring early.
people in the pf world talk a lot about the power of compounding over time, and we want to talk about how this power has been made evident to us most of all: in our incomes.
we have told some people our early retirement plan, but not others, and sometimes we feel like it’s exhausting living this double life, trying to keep straight who we’ve told and not told. it’s like trying to keep straight an elaborate lie.
our marriage is the most important thing to both of us, and we have always believed that no job is worth jeopardizing that. so we made a decision: even if we hadn’t hit our goal numbers, we will retire in december 2017.
why doesn’t work travel feel “real”? and, more importantly, how can we make it feel more like travel travel? stand back. we’re about to spew some advice.
we feel strongly that we should all stop talking about how busy we are. that words have the power to shape how we think. but even if we stop saying how exhausted we feel, we’re still exhausted. there’s no denying this.
we realized that in order to earn that money, we had to restrict travel for work, which restricted how much we could commit to projects, which restricted our upward mobility and earning potential.
if we really cared about achieving a lot in our jobs, wouldn’t we want to dress as nicely as possible? wouldn’t we want to look slick and pulled together all the time? instead, the casual world is the better fit for us.
like in the allegory of the cave, we used to see the shadows like everyone else, this illusion that work and earning and buying and accumulating are the only option. now we’ve seen that we can choose a different path for our future. except, for now, work is still our reality.