Last week, the USA celebrated Independence Day. Since we’ve pursued financial independence, this holiday has different meaning. Of course we feel our regular level of patriotism, etc. But we also pause and consider what our financial independence day will feel like. We also evaluate where we are in the process.
Recently, I had a long day at the office. And then the next morning I experienced the first conscious moment of “I’ll miss this when I retire early.” I try not to complain about work. But, I’m guilty of expressing frustrations typical of others at my level in my profession. That’s usually the limit I set on vents. There’s so much to appreciate about what I do for income–it pays well, it’s mentally stimulating, it is the career I always wanted to have, and I worked hard to get here. So why do I want to hit the eject button 20, 30, maybe even more years (my profession has a reputation for workaholism) before others in my field? It takes so much out of me and demands way too much time from activities and people I love more than my job.
Getting back to that moment of contrast, it felt like a turning point. One day I came home exhausted and spent. The next morning while getting a cup of coffee from the breakroom, I overheard a colleague on his cell phone, having a smart conversation presumably with a client. And I thought, “I’ll miss being surrounded by these brilliant people and getting to soak up their magic like this.” It felt incredible to rise above the stress, to appreciate a moment, and for the once feel how fleeting my career actually is.
The mental preparation for early retirement is so important. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. And yes, it is critical that the numbers are right in order to succeed at retirement. As I’ve said before, though, sometimes it’s helpful that we aren’t overnight millionaires. It takes time to plan a life after career.
We’ve done a lot of planning and envisioning for our early retirement life. I don’t think I will feel bored or find that there’s too much time on my hands. I don’t think I’ll feel lonely or lost without my career. But I do believe there are things about having a career, and my career in particular, that I will miss.
That is okay and even healthy. It means I’m doing something that is a good fit, or at least not a terrible fit. It means that every day for the next 57 months does not need to be miserable. Usually I’m focused on all of the things I could do, if only I didn’t need to show up at the office for a paycheck. It was strange to flip that around and think about what I will no longer do without a day job.
On this Monday morning, I’m waking up grateful that I get to head to the office. I have less than 250 Mondays to go, so it’s important to make the most of each one.