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!