It’s official. We’re retired!
Wait. What? How did this happen?
In short, not exactly by choice, then exactly by choice. Let me explain.
Not so long ago, in a land not so far away, my wife and I ran the numbers and officially marked our early retirement date – 2021.
But wait. It’s not 2021 yet. Is it???
No no, you’re right. It’s still 2019. You didn’t fall into a cryogenic bath and sleep the last two years of your life away.
Oh, good. That was a close one.
No, shortly after we put that date on the calendar, my team at work got the call. You know the call. The “thank-you-for-your-service-but-your-service-is-no-longer-needed” call.
This wasn’t entirely unexpected, as the company was going through several rounds of layoffs, but you just never expect that your number will get called…until it does. Our team was in a bit of shock.Were we really so scared of failure that we were unwilling to take even the tiniest leap of faith?Click To Tweet
Sweet and Sour
I went home that day and my wife and I discussed how awesome this news would be for us if it really were the year 2021.
But, alas, it wasn’t.
So I initiated the standard job hunting protocol of updating my resume and LinkedIn profile and started the search for my next corporate jobby job.
But the truth was, it wasn’t all bad news. There were 3 things that turned out to be pretty great.
- We had about 2 years of living expenses in our emergency fund between our savings account and taxable brokerage account. This was money we could get our hands on right now, completely separate from our retirement accounts. Having this much saved certainly wasn’t the case for everyone getting the call, so that put us in a very different emotional position.
- I worked at an awesome company with amazing benefits, so getting laid off included getting paid for 2 full months while I looked for another job. That was incredible! What company does that? We definitely recognized this as a huge blessing because we’ve known people at other companies who literally had to sign papers at the HR meeting and got escorted out of the building by security. This was a much more soft exit.
- One of the first things I looked at in the packet they gave us was the severance pay. Two weeks’ pay for every year of employment. Having worked there for nearly 13 years, that was quite a chunk of change. Another fantastic rainbow on an otherwise cloudy day.
Looking at those 3 blessings, we can see that we definitely put in our share of hard work into number 1, but number 2 and 3 were just benefits of working for a great company. Benefits that we know not everyone gets to experience, so we didn’t take them for granted.
Wow! If I found a company like that I would try to stay there as long as possible.
I agree, and that’s what I did.
During the day I continued doing the job-hunting dance scouring the internal job postings and applying for any that fit my skills, but in the evenings my wife and I sat down and ran the numbers.
We took a hard look at what things would look like if we moved up our retirement date from 2021 to 2019. It turned out it was only a 20-month difference, not a full two years. That made things a little better.
Then we calculated in the severance pay – about 6 months worth of expenses. That took us down to 14 months. I really just needed a job for 14 more months.
Then we found out we were going to get paid for any unused time off we had. I had over 8 weeks of unused time off.
That brought us to 12 months. I only needed a job for 1 more year.
You can probably see where this is going.
Making the Decision to Leap
Every evening my wife and I would talk about the pros and cons of committing to another job for a year vs. just calling it done and figuring out how to cover that gap year.
We decided that if I found a job at my company that I could really love and commit to for a year, then it would be worth it to stay on a little longer.
And I was lucky because over the past 13 years I had made several friends throughout the company, many of whom I reached out to and were actively working to make a spot for me on their team.
There were no guarantees it would happen, but it was nice to know that people valued what I did and what I could provide.
I had several informal interviews for “possible future positions”, but then I got a call from HR for an official interview in a different area of the company.
This interview was with a team I knew nothing about, but the job title was the same as mine and the job description looked just like what I did every day. That sure was convenient.
Ten minutes into the job interview I realized they had posted the job as my same job title, but they were actually looking for a completely different skill set.
I let them know as much.
They appreciated my honesty and asked if I knew anyone with those skills. I gave them a couple of names to pursue.
Ultimately, though, that entire day felt like a sign that our early retirement date had been moved up for us. All day I had these nagging questions going through my head.
- What am I doing here?
- Do I really want to be here for another year?
- What am I doing with my life?
- Why am I wearing this awful suit?
Walking out of the interview I knew I was emotionally done. I was ready to move on to the next chapter of our life.
And so was my wife.