A careful reader may have noticed that I’ve been a bit imprecise, so far, in describing how long we plan to stay away from steady employment. I realize this is a material issue. Are we starting full and final retirement – i.e., not planning for steady employment again in the remaining years of our lives (which could be thirty or forty or even fifty years)? Or is this more of a “mini retirement”, where we’ll be off course for a while, but at some point, will need to jump back on the corporate hamster wheel for another spin? And, by the way, is this even a “retirement” at all, where there’s a financial plan and adequate resources to support that plan, or have we just quit our jobs with nothing new lined up and are hoping for the best?
Well…. it’s complicated …
My wife and I have committed to each other to take at least one year off before either of us seeks full-time employment again. We put this one year requirement in place because we are both inherently cautious and even fearful folks. By nature, we see the bogeyman around the corner. The minimum time commitment is intended to ensure that neither of us gets fretful, abandons the plan, and jumps into another full-time job out of fear or insecurity.
During this one-year period, our intention is to live life on a fully independent basis (i.e., to use the time as we each individually wish, pursuing such interests and exploring such matters as we each find most compelling). There is no pre-planned path for this year. There are no precise goals or workplans or agendas. Nothing. However, part of our intent for this year is to figure out what we want to do next year, and the year after. In other words, we cannot live the rest of our lives without new sources of income or substantial lifestyle changes – and thus part of our plan is to use our experiences this year to figure out how we want to structure our future.
So, it is definitely true that we are not completely “financially independent” in the sense of Mr. Money Mustache or Early Retirement Extreme, i.e., we cannot live forever on our passive investments at our current spending rate. It is also true that perhaps our decisionmaking involved more spontaneous quitting and less laying of advance groundwork than would be advocated by the apostles of mustachianism and financial independence. However, I wouldn’t call this simply “quitting” because we do have a plan and resources to cover us for a year or more. I also wouldn’t call it a “mini-retirement” because our intent is to shift course permanently – we just don’t know if the end result will be making substantial lifestyle changes so that we can start our true “early retirement,” or embarking on totally new career paths.
We haven’t figured out what the goal is yet so we can’t know the timing. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have better clarity. Fingers crossed!