I’m the worst early-retirement blogger ever.
Despite attempting to quit my job in 2014, I’m still working full time and now I just applied for another full-time job.
Hopefully you’ll understand though when you see how cool this new job would be…
That’s right…the Mad Fientist is going to space (hopefully)!
NASA doesn’t hire astronauts often so when I found out that they were accepting applications again, I knew I had to give it a shot. After all, I met the qualification requirements (STEM degree, appropriate amount of professional experience, good vision, etc.) and the average age of new astronaut candidates is 34, which is exactly my age, so surely I’m a perfect fit, right?
I also have some astronaut experience. Here I am during my freshman year of college at UNC-Chapel Hill:
Generally, I don’t consider myself a very patriotic person.
I’m lucky to have been born in America and it is a great place but I cringe when I hear people regurgitate patriotic platitudes, especially when the people saying these things haven’t ever left the country and therefore don’t really have anything to compare it to.
One thing that makes me want to put on an American flag t-shirt, pound a few cheeseburgers, and scream the Star-Spangled Banner though is America’s space program.
NASA has shown what our country is capable of and it epitomizes the absolute best America has to offer.
My love for NASA grew even more when I met up with a Mad Fientist reader (and NASA employee) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for a 2+ hour behind-the-scenes tour.
Seeing real-life astronauts in Mission Control communicating with the astronauts orbiting in the International Space Station was very inspiring.
Sitting in the flight director’s chair in Apollo’s Mission Control room and imagining what it was like during the tense times of the moon landing was incredible!
Touring NASA’s facilities definitely fueled a desire that has been building inside me over the years – a desire to play a part in NASA’s push for Mars.
What does this have to do with financial independence and early retirement?
A decade ago, I would have never considered applying to the astronaut program because back then, I was just a computer programmer and my career track and life track were pretty much set. I’d just work my way up the corporate ladder and then one day, far in the future, I’d retire.
Today, I’m standing on the precipice of a world full of unlimited possibilities. Once I finish my career as a software developer, I’ll have the time, energy, and financial backing to do anything!
It’s nice to plan to read more books, go for hikes, and learn a language when you retire but that’s stuff you can do right now if you just woke up an hour earlier.
Definitely do all those things if you want but why not also think bigger?
Being young and having the freedom to do anything is an incredible opportunity!
I’m more motivated than ever to make a meaningful impact on the world, and hopefully you feel the same, so it’s time to think about what kind of impact that will be.
Get Used to Rejection
The astronaut program is highly competitive (over 18,300 people applied to be part of the 2017 class but less than 15 will be accepted) so in all likelihood, my application will not be successful.
That’s okay though.
When you think bigger, you’ll probably experience more failure than you would if you just play it safe so the more you get used to failing, the less likely you’ll shy away from opportunities just because you’re afraid of rejection.
If my application gets denied, I can always apply again the next time they open up applications or I can think about how to use my skills to work for NASA in some other capacity on the ground.
Or I can choose to do something completely different.
I have some big plans for the Mad Fientist (more on that soon) so maybe making an impact through this site will be a better path?
I’m not sure yet what the future holds but the important thing is I’m starting to think about it now and will hopefully have some forward momentum when I eventually leave my job.
What Are You Going to Do?
If you’re reading this, you’re somewhere on the path to financial independence.
You’ve realized that you don’t have to live the life that everyone else is telling you need to live and you’re instead doing something different and much more impressive.
Hopefully the pursuit of FI has given you the same amount of confidence it has given me and it is my hope that you will use that confidence to start seeking out other big challenges that will enhance your life and the lives of others.
As Todd Tressider said in our recent podcast interview, it’s important to retire to something rather than just retire from something. Why not make the something you retire to challenging, exciting, and highly impactful?
You’ll have the opportunity to do amazing things with the freedom financial independence provides so what are you going to do?