The Power of Quitting

Power of Quitting

I was nervous when I walked into the meeting room with my boss. Breaking up is never easy to do, even when you are the one doing the breaking up.

On my journey to financial independence, I sometimes dreamt about the day I would be able to walk into my boss’s office and quit. On particularly bad days at work, I would think about all the things I would say and that would make the hard times easier to get through.

As I sat there though, chatting nervously about work, I mainly thought about the good things about my job. It’s amazing how you are able to see something in a different light when you don’t feel trapped by it (yet another unadvertised benefit of pursuing FI, I guess).

Finally, after enough procrastination, I just came out with it – “I’m moving to Scotland.”

My boss was obviously shocked but the first words that came out of his mouth actually surprised me – “Would you consider staying on remotely?”

Not the first time

Although I was surprised that this particular boss asked me to stay on remotely, this is not the first time this has happened.

I started my career in Scotland and when my girlfriend (now wife) and I decided to move to the States, I handed in my resignation. Shortly after, I received an email asking if I’d stay on remotely at a ~20% higher pay rate.

When I worked in Scotland, I would have had to beg and plead to squeeze out an extra 1% at my annual review but here they were giving me a 20% bump to work in my boxers and a t-shirt? I obviously accepted and worked happily like that for over a year.

Not even the second time

This is actually not even the second time this has happened.

I got the second job in my career through a technical recruiter in downtown Boston. After working with a particular client for a while, I asked the recruiting firm for a raise and they said they had to “fight hard” to get me a ~4% increase.

When I left Boston to move to Vermont, I was contacted by the client I worked for and was asked to work remotely full time for over 50% more than I was making when I had to commute into the office every day!

It gets even better…

After working in a cabin in the woods of Vermont for a while, I started to go a bit crazy so I decided to apply for a job at the university that was close by so that I could get a Free Ivy League Degree. When I told my Boston boss I got another job, she instantly bumped my pay another ~20% to try to persuade me to stay even longer!

Why am I telling you this?

I realize remote working may not be an option for all of you but the important thing to take away from this story is that having the courage to quit provides opportunities you may not even know exist.

The best way to get that courage is to have enough money saved up to not need the job (even if only for a few months/years).

When I worked at my Scotland job, I would have never imagined that 1) remote working was possible and 2) I would be able to get a ~20% raise. Had I just asked my bosses for either of those things, they would have laughed me out of the office.

When confronting my bosses with the option of either going through the hiring process again and rolling the dice with someone new or offering me a more attractive work arrangement to keep me on, it was a no-brainer for them.

Speed up your journey to financial independence

How can you use this to get to FI quicker? You should work hard at your job, become a valuable employee, and then after a few years, apply for some other jobs. There’s no risk in applying for a new job every once in a while and only good things can come from it. You’ll either find another job that pays more or is more enjoyable or you could use the new job offer to negotiate better terms at your current job.

How did I respond?

The option to work remotely at my current job is actually very enticing. I’ll be able to continue doing something I enjoy (programming) while leaving behind all of the things I don’t (meetings, commuting, being trapped from 9 to 5, limited flexibility, etc.).

Since my house still hasn’t sold yet, staying on will reduce some stress associated with that and will allow me to pad my balances a bit more. I know “padding my balances a bit more” is a slippery slope but I’m confident I’ll be able to pull the plug on the remote working arrangement when it’s not fun anymore.

Also, Mr. Money Mustache’s recent post really hit home with me and made me realize that over the past year, I haven’t worried about money at all. The market’s upward march over the past few years has left me better off than I expected I would be at this stage so I’ve felt completely at ease with money and spending. For someone who has been saving so aggressively for so long, this is a new but great feeling. Staying on remotely will ensure that that feeling continues so I just signed the remote agreement yesterday and as of next Friday, I will leave the office for good but will still collect paychecks.

Speaking of MMM…I told him about the latest developments and that I wouldn’t be joining him in early retirement this month after all. He responded, “As it always seems to happen in early retirement: things end up even better than forecast.” He’s absolutely right.

How about you?

Have any of you had similar experiences with quitting? Has your career progressed faster than expected because your savings allowed you to take more risks?

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