6 signs leaving my job was the right decision

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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.


4. Self care for the win

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

Mr. r&R

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24 comments

  1. This is fantastic! Good for you guys! My husband was fired from his incredibly high-stress job 6 weeks ago. No notice, no warnings, no reason given. It was such a sucker punch that initially put us into a tailspin! But yesterday we managed to pay off the last bit of our debt. For the past 4 years we had been working very diligently to pay off the mortgage, the car, and credit cards. Now we don’t owe anyone anything, and for now we will be fine on the $330 a week that unemployment compensation gives, and the dog walking and online selling income that I bring in. I’ll admit, we have been so stressed and worried! But yesterday, when we enjoyed a bit of cake and champagne and a Dave Ramsey style ‘Debt-Free Scream!’, something clicked inside and and the oppression seemed to lift in an instant. Today, my husband and I woke to a lighter and freer sense of emotional well being. I think last night was the first night since the firing that we managed to sleep through the night! We decided to make today a ‘hedonistic’ day and pretty much just do what we want, when we want. And if we just want to slug out and watch tv all day, we’ll do that. But so far, I’ve had a productive morning, including making a delicious breakfast of home fried potatoes and ham, cheese and veggie omelets. And we enjoyed them at 10 am while the rest of the working world is slaving away. Yes, he’ll need to find another job — he’s too young to retire now and we don’t have “quite” enough of a nest egg built up. But there’s no need to panic. We’ve got time. We figure we have until the end of December, when the unemployment benefits run out, before we’ll need to start dipping into our savings account. Again, congratulations on your very momentous decision !! It sounds like we are on the same wavelength — choosing Quality of Life, vs Quanity of Life. It’s truly the simple pleasures that make life so much more enjoyable.

    • Wow. Thank you for your comment and congrats on this new, “freer sense of emotional well being”. That’s priceless! Just the other day someone asked us why we were pursuing Financial Independence (FI) and one of the key reasons we mentioned was precisely what you experienced this morning. We want more simple, hot breakfast at home versus a coffee in the car while trying to down a granola bar and a bruised banana! As you said…Quality of LIfe > Quantity of Life.

      Best of luck to you!

  2. Congratulations! Forget that dagum cubicle anyhow… We have a lot of similar noise at my workplace these days. I’m hoping to hang on until around this time next year.

    Looking forward to the documentary and seeing your interview. Thanks for sharing some real optimism here.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!

    You highlighted one of the main reasons why FIRE is so appealing to myself, and why I strive so hard everyday to reach it ASAP. It is emotionally draining to come to a workplace 5 days a week, and see a good portion of your colleagues clearly unhappy and simply putting a mask on to hide their misery. It’s not their fault because a lot of work places are like this, but it can be taxing to be around on a daily basis. I cannot wait for the day where I can finally leave the 9 to 5, so that I no longer have to be surrounded by those who look like their life is being drained away every second. Once again, I don’t fault them, but I do wish to no longer have to be in that type of environment anymore!

    • It’s a tough one. We also realize that people can’t really afford to simply remove themselves from a situation. Many of them are so dependent on their income and benefits that they HAVE to toughen up and put themselves in that environment even if it’s toxic. Our hope is to show people that they can carve out an exit plan one dollar at a time. Best of luck to you on your FIRE journey!

  4. Wow, congratulations! Sounds like you’ve both worked hard and sacrificed to put yourselves in a strong financial position. Take the time to enjoy it for a while!

    • Thank you so much and yes…we have. The seeds we planted years ago are bearing fruit and it feels amazing. Hoping to keep plugging away so we can jump all in…together!

  5. “While we don’t quite have FU money [yet], we definitely have I don’t have to deal with this $hit money.”

    That’s also known as “Take this job and shove it” money.

    Congratulations.

  6. This post hit home for me! I did the same thing 5 weeks ago, just quit my job after 6 years of non-stop stress and no growth.

    . When I left, I didn’t have anything lined up and some people were so shocked that I would leave without another job to go to, while others were so happy for me and were encouraging.

    I’ve enjoyed the time off and like you, have run into old friends that are on similar paths and we’re all coming together to make the lives that we dreamed about. It hasn’t been as scary as I thought and I am a single 40-something single mom with teenage sons—but, even with all of that, I am happier and more optimistic than I’ve ever been.

    Congrats to you—-can’t wait to hear what you do with this freedom!

    • Well, I gotta say…Thank you for finding us and and CONGRATS for putting you and your family first. Whatever it is, wherever this leads us, I’m sure it’ll all work out. We have more than enough on our plate as is so there is no shortage of things to do and places to go. Keep in touch!

  7. This is a great and inspiring story. My wife and I are still working on paying off debt. Just paid off her car and should have mine paid off by April!

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