Friday, July 30, 2010

EE Day – Your Earliest Exit Date

This is more relevant to those who are 2-3 years from taking early retirement or some time off.

For reasons that I don't fully comprehend, even as I started my first job, I was thinking of leaving it and only doing things that I loved full time. (I think the autonomy I enjoyed in my grad school life was part of the reason.)

And after starting work, once I noticed that my savings were starting to accumulate, I became wildly optimistic about how soon I could leave and "be done with the earning phase of life." This was in the mid-to-late 1990's. Y2K was around the corner, and it sounded like a neat thing to be around for, and I thought I could soon leave after that.

But, as I found out, there is a tendency for these kinds of vague plans to keep floating forward. New projects and interesting opportunities kept coming my way. With each passing year, I was planning to get out in 2-3 more years.

Finally, it dawned on me that I had to commit to a date. So that's what I did. I chose a date in the future, printed it on a miniature PowerPoint slide and stuck it to the side of my PC monitor where only I could see it.

As it eventually turned out, I was off by several years. But that tiny printout served an important purpose. It changed my thinking, it brought a finitude to how I viewed my corporate career.

Tip: So if someone asked me today, here's what I will tell them. Go ahead and come up with the earliest date that you can quit, your EE Date. Take a deep, objective look at your finances, consider the health options for you and your family members, and also give lots of thought to why you are leaving your job. And then you arrive at a date. You mark it on your calendar, and you share the date with your spouse and maybe tell a few trusted friends. (You are not yet ready to start mentioning this in your workplace, because it is still all very preliminary.)

Now it is very possible that your EE date will not be when you really get out. It might take a lot longer than your initial estimate. But that is okay.

Coming up with a date changes your thinking in small and big ways. You start seeing an end to your current state, instead of it stretching forever. And that new bit of thinking is worth something.


Dave said...

Very good idea - keeping that EE Date visible each day reminds you and keeps you focused on the Golden Ring. In addition to looking at finances and health variables, it makes sense to consider what your retirement will look like. Will you be traveling around the world? What do you want to be doing? How can you keep busy in a "good way"? Planning ahead of the retirement date lets you better prepare for the changes that will come once you quit your job and move full time into retirement. You want to make the best of every day!

Mike said...

I'm finally going to start commenting here since I enjoy both of your blogs so much. I am about 1.5 - 2 years away from pulling the plug and getting on with my life ! Therefore, this post resonates even more than most.
Hope you don't mind but I recommended both of your blogs today over at the Early Retirement Forum. They were looking for inspiring travel blogs !

Ram said...

@Mike: Thanks for your kind words.

The early retirement forum is where the pro's play. I am just an amateur at this.

The toughest thing about blogging here, I've found is to resist getting caught up in the hype (my own, or others' perceptions) and to keep it as real as I can.

I wish you the very best. Make the most of your 1.5 years. Save up good, and enjoy the aspects of your job which you will miss once you leave it. Learn from the mistakes that all of us have made.

And come back and tell us how yours is going. Good luck, Ram.