If you go close to the edge, you'll realize what's possible.
In my quest to make my life worse, to ultimately make life more enjoyable, I've continued to look for full-time work to test my resolve.
Every time I step into an interview room, I change my mindset from a guy with financial freedom, to a guy who seriously needs to find work to pay his bills. It is sadistically exhilarating for me to get back into begging for money.
During the holidays, one potential employer locked me up in a conference room for six consecutive hours to interview and video conference call with eleven different people. Eleven! That's ridiculous, especially since I didn't have a break for lunch or a break to go to the rest room.
Talk about a test of endurance – simultaneously being hungry, having to piss, and trying to charm a stranger. Freaking awesome!
Close To The Edge And Subject Myself To Torture
Some might wonder what kind of idiot would go back to work when his passive income surpasses his living expenses by at least 50%.
First of all, it's hard to interview well without practice. I've been out of practice for almost four years now, so I figured at the very least, I could brush off the cobwebs.
When opportunities arise, it's all about being prepared. It's kind of like saving a boat load of cash to deploy if the bottom falls out of the market. See: The Art Of The Interview
Second, I wanted to see if I could still return to the industry I left behind so long ago. It looks like I can, but at a lower tier firm. However, I also discovered there are several people at my old firm who stayed behind while I went off and did my own thing.
They observed how I was able to negotiate a severance package to be free, and now they aren't very complimentary about my return, even if it isn't with them. What they don't realize is that their disdain is exactly what I needed to help keep me free.
Finally, when you step up to the edge, you realize how jagged and disastrous things can be down below. I told myself worst case scenario, if I did go back to work, I'd gut it out for one year to see what their bonus structure was like, and then leave.
Appreciation Rises When You Get Close to The Edge
Whatever we love, we end up always taking it for granted. Relationships take work, marriages especially. Good health can often be forgotten until we catch a cold.
Financial independence is the same way until we actually go through the cathartic process of facing our worst fear of going back to work for someone else.
Although I was still in the running for this particular job, I sent my prospective boss a cordial e-mail that I would be pursuing different opportunities. I told him to keep in touch if things don't work out with whoever he does end up hiring.
And boy, did it feel amazing once I pressed send! I had escaped the allure of money because this job would have paid $350,000 – $500,000 a year.
Quitting More Money Temptation
It's funny, because we had touched base two years ago when he was looking for someone to fill this role, but we never got very far. I was still committed to putting in three years into my entrepreneurial endeavors before ever considering going back to work. He ended up going with someone else back then, and now here he was trying to refill the same vacancy for the past several months.
I've now got a renewed appreciation for financial independence after going through this latest job hunt process. Writing my 2015 year in review gave me the confidence to continue doing my own thing for a fourth consecutive year. I really appreciate being able to control my schedule.
The ability to hang out only with people I like cannot be overemphasized. This is one of the best benefits of early retirement. So much about getting ahead at work is playing nice with people you don't entirely respect.
If you find yourself taking something you hold dear for granted, please go to the very edge and see what awaits if you take another step. You might have to actually fall to really appreciate what you have. Thankfully, my imagination is still quite vibrant to understand how unhappy I'd be going back to an industry I tried very hard to escape.
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