I retired on December 31, 2012 at the age of 30, and haven’t looked back.
After five years of working in what was once my dream job, the truth hit me – I had nowhere to go. I didn’t want my boss’ job, any other job in my company or any job in my field. I decided to quit without another position lined up. With no definite plans to continue in that field, I realized I was essentially retiring from that career. So I threw a retirement party to celebrate my last day. While I said it jokingly, the act of retiring was meaningful to me.
Retirees choose to work for simple enjoyment- my great uncle ran a clock repair business for decades during his retirement until the week he died just because he loved clocks. I wanted the same thing for myself, but I didn’t want to wait until I was in my golden years. I wanted it now.
That day I packed up my office, I promised myself that I wouldn’t just find another job. I would find something I truly loved AND would make a living at it. Now, six months later, I am a life coach teaching people unsatisfied with their jobs how to learn to love it – or leave it and create the life they want.
Are you ready to retire?
Below are the steps that I took to make the move from a job that no longer fulfilled me to a very satisfying career (if you’re not sure if you’re ready to take the leap, take my quiz).
1. Save several months living expenses.
Six months before I actually left, I began saving money so that I could take time off the minute I quit. It was important to me to have a cushion of four months living expenses so that I wouldn’t worry about money and could focus on reconnecting with my passions. Put away money however you can. I added to my existing savings by cutting back on frivolous expenses and consciously depositing money in my savings account every month. Look at your spending and see where you can cut – cook at home, get rid of your daily latte, wait to buy new clothes for a while.
2. Take time to say goodbye
Retiring is laying an identity and a significant part of your life to rest. Even if you hate your job now, at one point most likely you were really excited about it. Take the time to appreciate the good things it brought you, acknowledge the bad, and make peace with any unfinished business you may have. If you don’t you won’t be able to move on.
3. Take time off… for real
Time off is necessary emotionally and intellectually. Your immediate reaction to retiring will be to either 1) fill it with useless activity or 2) start looking for another new job. It’s incredibly important to take time off to do nothing when you retire – otherwise your old habits and beliefs will get in the way of self-exploration, the reason you are retiring in the first place.
4. Just go for it.
Thinking only gets you so far – at some point, you need to test your passions out (as the Live in the Grey philosophy states, “actions trump intentions“). This is the only way you’ll determine which remain hobbies and which you can you turn into your new career.
I went through yoga teacher training because I love yoga, and tried teaching for a while. Turns out I don’t like it. Life coaching was something that had been in the back of my mind for three years, so I decided to start coaching people pro bono. The more I coached, the more I saw how it brought together all of my strengths and how I’m made for it. I love it, and it feels like “me.” But if I hadn’t started trying, I would still be thinking about it and wondering.
I hope these steps can help you plan your own retirement. If you’re ready to leave your job, don’t just quit, retire. Do what you love now! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.