The Joy of Working . . . When Working Is a Choice

The job I retired from was with a terrific company.  I spent 17 years working with some of my best friends and even my fake kid.

Each year, the CFO would gather her leadership group–the accounting, HR and IT professionals who reported to her for a “Summit”.  A gathering to share knowledge, communicate updates and, frankly, to spend some time wining, dining and team building.  Attending these Summits was always a highlight in my year–a paid vacation with my buddies.

I retired 14 months ago.  But this year, I was asked to attend the summit.  And wait, it gets better.  I was asked to ***geek alert*** present a short class on one of my favorite subjects–Excel.

Initially, I was both terrified and thrilled.  Terrified because I HATE public speaking.  My hope was that my short speech at my retirement party would be my last.  Thrilled because it was an incredible honor to be asked to return.  I was excited to see my former colleagues and I love teaching people about Excel.  Helping people with Excel was my favorite thing about my old job.

I got over my terror by convincing myself I’d just be sitting at a table behind my laptop screen.  And I was–it didn’t end up being scary once I got started.  It helped that the room was filled with my friends.

It was really invigorating.  The group was super excited to learn new tips and make their processes more efficient.  There was more than one “wow” comment while I was presenting.  How often does that happen?!

And I was asked to stay over–in a beautiful resort and join the group for dinner and shenanigans after my session.  The shenanigans included sake bombs that sent more than one person stumbling back to their room–thankfully, not me.

Oh, and I got paid to do this!  It will help me fund my IRA this year.

I spent a ton of time preparing.  I developed an agenda that allowed both novices and experts to walk away with a couple new tips.  And being ultra prepared helped me get over my fear.  It was so worth it!

If I thought I had to take this on because I needed the money, my fear of public speaking would have been more than a bit paralyzing.  I would have resented the amount of time it took to prepare–especially because I spent way more time on this than I could bill.  Since it was a choice, I could focus on my excitement.

Not needing the money transformed the way I thought about the entire situation.

There are more benefits to being financially independent than I ever expected. 

I expected my financial independence would mean I could replace work with fun activities.  And, yes, I have.

I didn’t really think about being able to pick and choose money-making opportunities based on whether I thought they would be fun.

Last week was a perfect example.  Hanging out with my old friends, making some new friends and being able to contribute again was a rush.  Having people thank me and tell me how they would use what they learned to improve their processes was incredibly rewarding.

Oh and at least one of them wants to hire me to help them one on one.  That sounds fun, so I’ll do it!

But even before I quit my job, my financial independence paid dividends.  My boss was doing everything he could to keep me around.  This gave me a lot more control–I took advantage of it by working from our desert home as much as I felt comfortable.

So I’d say whether you want to retire early or not, save your money.  Save a lot of money.  Save as if you were pursuing financial independence.  The rewards go beyond the ability to replace work with fun–and that’s pretty awesome on its own!

Author: Ms. Liz

A CPA, I retired at 51 and I am helping people create their fantastic futures!

6 thoughts on “The Joy of Working . . . When Working Is a Choice”

  1. Congrats on being asked to go back and give a talk. That is an honor and means you were good at your job (and well liked). Very cool. I imagine once financial independence hits it becomes easier to truly determine who you feel about work. I have told my wife I would like to work for a low income community clinic as I near retirement. The money will be less but to me the work will be more meaningful.

    1. Thanks DDD! It was very cool! I enjoyed my work most of the time–being able to do the fun stuff without the un-fun stuff is a real treat.

      You are wise to think ahead to what will be rewarding once you reach FI. Though I love being retired, I would feel a bit untethered if I weren’t working on my blog and doing a bit of consulting. You can only spend so much time playing pickleball, hiking and biking–especially when you retire early and many of your friends are still working.

  2. Thanks, this is inspiring. After draining our funds to buy a home (which seems to be appreciating), my wife and I are, at 34, saving and investing again. Posts like these help to keep our eyes on the goal – financial independence!

    1. Thanks Miguel!

      I know many bloggers argue against home ownership but it accelerated our path to FI AND helped us create a life we love. Hopefully it works as well for you and your wife as it did for us.

      Being so focused on FI at your age is huge–you’ll be able to make amazing progress so long as you stick to it!

    1. Thanks Mr. 39! This truly was an unanticipated benefit of retirement/FI! Not just for the income (which is great) but also for the ability to contribute and interact professionally.

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