It has been a full week since giving formal notice to resign my job and leave MegaCorp for early retirement. Once that was properly toasted with a glass of fine scotch, it was time to tell everyone else in the office – friends, teammates, and other corporate colleagues. Sharing this news is clearly one of the most looked forward to of FIRE Milestones.
After giving formal notice to the boss, we agreed upon 4/1 as a final day in the office. This gives him plenty of time to find a backfill and manage the transition. Additionally, because he was heading out of the office for two weeks of business travel, we agreed not to issue any formal proclamation until the end of February, although I wanted to tell some friends about it selectively.
You can guess what happened next – news spread FAST. Incredibly FAST.
It was a great lesson in the incredible speed of both the online & offline communication. Friends from outside of MegaCorp started posting on Facebook and other friends read it. Those friends started telling their friends that worked at MegaCorp. Even some senior executives apparently got onto the grapevine, and in the end I really only got the chance to tell maybe 8-10 friends before my phone started ringing, emails appeared, and text messages started buzzing. The messages all started with a ‘W’ and consisted of one of several words: “What?!” or “Wow!?” “Why?!” or “WTF!?”
When I had the chance to share the news in person, I would tell people simply that I’ve decided to “leave MegaCorp soon …” wait for their look of surprise and then drop the “… and retire early” bombshell. Delivering that line with a purposeful pause in the middle guaranteed the maximum effect. Might as well have fun with this, shouldn’t I?
By Saturday morning, the boss decided he should get in front of the buzz with a formal announcement, which I was fine with. He didn’t send anything out until Tuesday night, but after a couple awkward days he finally announced graciously that I “have announced my plans to leave [MegaCorp] with the intention to retire early.” The note went on to talk about the contributions I had made in my three years in this role and was sincere & heartfelt. Soon after the email went out, my Outlook inbox quickly overflowed with another round of W’s from all parts of the company (and all parts of the world). His note included that I would be “working hard until April 1,” which many noted would be quite difficult for him to truly enforce.
More and more people stopped me in the hall or swung by my office with well-wishes and questions. I probably talked to 50 people on Wednesday alone and noticed that people’s reactions were a bit of a mirror on each person I chatted with. In general, the reactions were somewhat segmented by each person’s age:
- Older Colleagues – Were the most excited and interested in my pursuit of early retirement. They were surprised since I am not quite 50 yet, but you could see in their eyes that they were looking forward to soon enjoying their own moment of freedom. They were also interested in my take on 2016’s stock market performance (horrible!) and if that had given me any pause. I’m sure many of them will be on their own way if MegaCorp’s stock can rebound this year.
- Younger Colleagues – These folks were also surprised, but also quite inspired. Not many people leave MegaCorp at my age, but many of them commented that they would also like to save for early retirement. “You’ve shown us what’s possible” said one. I was pleasantly surprised that many of them were quite up-to-speed on the 4% rule, saving more than a third of their salary, and investing in real estate as an income producing asset.
- Same Age Colleagues – Work friends that are within a few years of my age were the most conflicted. Some have it all figured out and have a target of 55 for early retirement. They were happy to share their plans with a smile. Others were completely bewildered and positively confused at how I could retire at age 49. More than one person said that watching me retire early was “positively DEPRESSING” (one especially so!) For these folks – all well-paid, I will note – my early retirement was an ugly look in the mirror. “Sucks to be you” I thought to myself (see Odd Comments & Snappy Remarks)
Overall, people’s reactions were quite positive. One person said “You’re my hero” and another dropped his phone & papers as he was so taken aback by the news. A couple people asked if I would be willing to meet for coffee and talk to them about their plans. One said “my wife and I talked about you last night with great envy” They wondered if they could pick my brain on our FIRE journey and decision to retire early.” Absolutely.
The reaction online was equally rich. Traffic to MrFireStation.com topped 500 visitors and over 4,000 views over a couple days. On my personal Facebook page there were also a lot of congratulations and comments along the line of “I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.” One person suggested I become a Walmart Greeter and another challenged me to “do something really great now that will make a positive difference in the world.” One person independently figured out my posting identity on EarlyRetirement.org.
Altogether, it felt positively triumphal and I resisted the devilish urge to spread false rumors that we were moving to Sri Lanka, had won the lottery, suffered a grave illness, were heading for an Antarctic expedition, or were being prosecuted for embezzlement. Since I am still coming to work for another 6 weeks before making my final exit on April Fool’s Day, I can save these delicious lies for later.
I will close this MILESTONE post by saying THANKS to everyone that has been coming by MrFireStation.com and sending congratulations over the last couple weeks. While many of us comment that it is fantastic to have online connections where we can share our secret plans and learn tips & tricks to reach FIRE, I can tell you that this is especially true when you reach this point in your journey. THANKS!
Image Credit: Pixabay