Checking Out Early
It’s been a hectic last few weeks for the Grizzlies, which explains the relative quiet on our end. Mrs. Grizzly and I have both been caught up in the normal year-end madness that typically grips Corporate America in late November. Apparently, important things like year-end planning, financial filings, and pressing court dates tend to pile up before the holidays. We’ve both spent a lot of effort trying to convince ourselves to care this year – no luck yet. Which brings me to the discussion of one problem with putting a date on the calendar for when you will reach Financial Independence. Every day it becomes harder to convince yourself to care about the minutia of your current position.
Should you care?
It’s only a year! Ride it out. Slack off. These words rumble through our heads all the time. But ultimately they’re as dangerous as many of the other siren’s calls of modern American life. The short answer to the question of should you continue to care even as you near FI is yes. Yes, you should care. The long answer is more complicated.
I went through about a month early this year when I had reached a breaking point. Everything was going wrong at my job. Projects were faltering, systems were failing, my team was getting blamed, everything that could go wrong was going wrong. All in all a real shitstorm of a situation. At that point, I really wanted to just start phoning it in from then on. Work from home a lot, come in late, leave early, take long lunches. I could have done it. I have enough goodwill built up that I could easily do the bare minimum and not get fired for the year if will take us to move on. It’s only a year, the HR process for a termination takes six months at a minimum where I work. Slacking off would definitely be in the cards. Why don’t I? I could spend more time with my daughter right now. I could have more time to myself. The answer comes down to a three things for me.
I will actually rate this as the lowest importance of the three, but it needs to be covered. Your reputation will proceed you even after you reach financial independence. The Grizzlies have no intention of lounging around and doing nothing once we reach FI. We want to be engaged. We haven’t decided exactly what that will look like, but I’m personally hoping it’s something pretty awesome and worthy of our attention. But whatever venture we decide to undertake – paid or unpaid – people will find out about us. We hope they find out good things.
The psychological power of good work
Achievement is a state of mind. Being proud of yourself, proud of your accomplishments is often in your head. Having that bank of achievement, that store of self-confidence is critical in whatever you do in the future. When we set off into Finacial Independence we want our mental account to be filled with the knowledge that we did our best work up until the day we left. We want to be proud of what we leave behind if we can. On the flip side. You will remember the half finished work you turn in, you will remember the failed projects. Those memories eat at you, prevent you from performing to your full potential later in your life.
Ultimately, there is one thing that still motivates me when I go to work every day. I really give a shit about the people around me, particularly the team of kids that have found their way onto my team. For some strange reason they look up to me, ask me for advice occasionally. It feels weird, being the old man, the boss. But I really do care about them. I want them to be successful and to achieve whatever dreams they set out for themselves.
A big part of what makes that happen is me showing up every day and engaging. Their success hinges on my effort and my success. They will look good if our team looks good and that only happens if I’m on my A-game. More than anything else, that’s why I still get up every morning. I care about my family, but I also care about all the other people that circle in my orbit. I refuse to let them down just because I’m planning on leaving in a year.