A few weeks ago, after months of really awkward and tense exchanges, my [then] boss decided to make a move that for all intents and purposes was the beginning of the end for me. So on Friday, June 22, the week of Juneteenth, I decided to do us both a favor and quit. At that point, I was on the brink of completing my tenth year at the company and had every intention of it being the last company I would ever work for. But as we’ve come to learn, things don’t always work out as planned. Go figure!
As you may recall from an earlier post, this is the same company that had just undergone a major re-organization; one which I “survived“. However, the ensuing chaos, endless games of “whose on first” and stress began to take it’s toll on me. Anyone who has ever worked in a highly visible, critical and cross-functional role knows that you rarely own the work. Rather, it’s your job to get it done through others which requires strong leadership and fostering a spirit of partnership with other teams.
But if we’re being honest with ourselves, it also requires real alignment, focus, budget, capacity and a long list of other rather obvious things that are required to get $hit done. Without those basics, your efforts are nothing more than a dog and pony show filled with more spin and distractions than the mainstream news cycle. While I can dance with the best of ’em, I simply didn’t have it in me to keep the jig alive…so I quit. The cost to my spirit, body and therefore my family was simply too heavy to bear, so I decided to walk away from it all with my dignity in tact.
Immediately after I quit, I felt lighter, cleaner and more capable of breathing deeply. This was a relief compared to the preceding weeks where I felt smothered, tense and overwhelmed by the energy of unhappy people trying their best to appear productive.
Over the next few days, I was bombarded with signs that reminded me we would be ok. That while there was value in knowing every two weeks a direct deposit would hit my account; it simply wasn’t enough to sacrifice my ability to be the best husband, father and man I knew I could be. Since then, I’ve received several signs that assured
me we made the right decision, despite the speed bump this created for our plan. Here are just a few-
1. Old friends appeared
Remember, Jennelle? Remember when I mentioned her husband was on the brink of landing a huge funding deal for their company? Well, I hadn’t seen him in years and low-and-behold, not even fifteen minutes after I dropped my verbal notice I bumped into him while me and Mrs. r&R were grabbing a celebratory lunch. After telling him the news, he greeted me with a simple “congratulations” and a “I’m really happy for you”. THIS is what people with an entrepreneurial spirit do. No concern about the loss of my golden handcuffs, no expression of concern or wondering of how we’re going to survive. Just straight up, genuine optimism.
2. New friends appeared
A few weeks prior, we received an email from a woman who heard us on the Journey to Launch podcast. Since she and her husband lived near us and knew we had children around the same age, she reached out to see if we would be willing to meet up…so we did and it was great! We sprung the news on them immediately and they were like… “that’s awesome“! Her husband and I connected instantly since we’re both FI (financial independence) nerds and traded war-stories about work, stress and our plans to escape it all someday. Meeting them was a humble reminder that there are cool people out there that don’t think we’re crazy for putting ourselves first.
3. False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR)
Minutes after sending my note out to a handful of work colleagues, I received emails, calls, texts, DMs and carrier pigeon notes from people wanting to know the scoop. Buried within many of these exchanges were confessions of stress, fear and frustration with their own work situation. Words like courage, adventure, endeavors, escape and “ourney were used often. Some of these conversations were heartbreaking because it was clear they wanted nothing more than to leave but they felt…stuck. So much so, the notion of me leaving without another job lined up sounded like I was stating my intentions to backpack across the country barefoot and blindfolded. To me, this is evidence of an obsessive work-culture that supports the idea that one’s self worth, well-being and identity is based on their jobs and/or income. It’s also likely a sad reflection of just how many people are living on the edge and can’t afford to put themselves first, despite outward appearances.
We’d already agreed to take a week of vacation a few months ago; but we certainly didn’t think that one of those weeks would fall within my two week notice window. The front end of that time was spent doing as little as possible. We went to Portland, OR to film our interviews for the upcoming documentary Playing with FIRE, made amazing new friends with fellow FIREwomen, I got my a$$ back in the gym and have consistently had 3-4 solid weekly workouts for the first time in months. I also ran errands during the weekdays while the rest of the world was at work which is always a pleasure. Lastly, me and Mrs. r&R caught a midday movie and grabbed lunch a few times. These simple things are luxuries to us because as working active parents, our work schedules simply didn’t allow for them. Altogether, I’ve eaten better, slept better and have appreciated the slower yet more productive pace of my days. Old habits die hard, and I am still slowly detoxing from a high stress environment but so far, it feels great.
5. Departures abound
A week after I left, my former bosses boss left to pursue “extensive travel”. I’ve heard a lot of reasons for leaving but honestly, that was a new one. I also learned that at least 5 of my close co-workers in other departments voluntary left to pursue opportunities outside the company. Lastly, I got word that another high profile leader on my old team opted to leave. All of this happened within a 6 week period so I’m sure the pressure is even worse for those who are still there.
6. Self doubt
Not gonna lie, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I thought, how are we gonna get the down payment for the house? How are we gonna stick to our goals? What will people say if we don’t do what we said we were gonna do? How will we manage this setback and the rental property vacancy? Then I thought…who gives a $hit!
The fact remains that we’ve been in straight beast mode over the last few years to put ourselves in the position to do precisely what I just did. We paid off our mortgage, car notes, student loans, credit card balances and tax debts over the last two years and live quite comfortably today because of it. Not to mention, the first six months of 2018, our net worth blossomed +$95K.
Oh and three weeks after I gave my notice, Mrs. r&R received and accepted an offer/promotion which boosted our income enough to ensure that she could carry the new mortgage on her income alone. I don’t share that to brag [though she is worthy of accolade] but to remind myself and our readers of the freedom you are granted when you are debt free and live well below your means. This is also the result of buying a home well within our lending limits.
In a nutshell, we’ve worked hard AF, lived small, made trade offs for the last 2+ years to be able to have the level of security most people dream of. While we don’t quite have FU money [yet], we definitely have I don’t have to deal with this $hit money.If life were a game of spades, being debt free is like walking around with a stack of jokers in your back pocket. Trust me ...we will ALWAYS get our books. Click To Tweet