In the process of transitioning out of full-time employment, there were three questions I was asked consistently.
The first came from people around my age and they asked it only when no one else was around: How did you know it was time?
The second was asked only by women and, like the first, was asked only when we were alone: How did you do it?
The third was asked commonly, even in a crowd, and was asked even by people I hardly knew (e.g., my dentist’s hygienist): Aren’t you afraid you’ll get writer’s block?
I’ll answer the first question in this post. To give a fair response to the second, it will go in next week’s post. And the last question has a really short answer: No. I’ll use the post the following week to explain why I’m not worried about writer’s block.
Question 1: How did you know it was time?
Maybe a year ago I was travelling for work and my trip put me in the same city as one of the bank’s senior leaders. He had just announced his retirement so talking about it was fair game. When I asked how he knew the time was right he said he had three questions and when the answer to every question was Yes, then it was time to go.
I asked him what the three questions were and he answered:
- Have I had enough?
- Do I have enough?
- Do I have enough to do?
I lined those three questions up for myself. I wasn’t sure of my answer to the first. I may have had enough but there was more that I wanted to do. I knew the answer to the third as I’ve always had enough to do. I wanted more time to read, to write, to paint, to walk around outdoors. As for the second, I decided I needed more data.
I had met with a financial planner five years earlier and as a result of those conversations I knew the target I needed to hit before stopping. But I wasn’t completely sure where I stood and how to prepare for the shift from contributing to the nest egg to living off the nest egg. I met with an advisor and she helped me figure out that the answer to the second question was Yes.
With Yes answers to the second and third questions firmly in hand, I still had to figure out the answer to the first. I withdrew, I thought, I read, I imagined. On Saturdays I practiced living the kind of day I thought I might like if I didn’t have a full time job.
The sediment settled, the fog lifted, my mind became clear. But more than that, enthusiasm filled my heart. I knew it was time for me to make the shift because the next chapter of my life was pulling me so strongly that it would have taken more effort to stay where I was than to step into that next chapter.
So I stepped.
Friday, March 1st was the last day I was able to define myself according to an employer and a bestowed title. Now my title is the one I gave myself: ‘Author.’
Chewing the Cud of Good
I have renamed ‘Ruminating on Good’ because ‘ruminating’ sounded mechanical, or acidic. I now call it ‘Chewing the Cud of Good.’ I took this photo because I liked the way the full moon joined up with the discs on the P&G towers to form a triangle in the sky. It made me think about spinning planets and moons and how sometimes things line up in clever ways.
PS: This post was delayed as I continued to learn about technology. This time I learned about dynamic IP addresses (my site protector thought I was an intruder) and the importance of clearing cache. After I thought I was finished learning about technology for this go-round, I learned about “missed schedule.” I need to learn more about that because even though I figured out a work around, I haven’t yet gotten to the root cause.