I'm Quitting My Job And Retiring by 40
I have writer’s block. When something is bothering me, it completely stops my ability to write anything at all until I get it off my chest. I struggle with how much of my own life to include on this blog that doesn’t relate to finance. After all, this blog is about my journey out of debt, but I tend to toss in little anecdotes about my life as well. Hey, I’m human. So, I’ve had this thing stuck in my throat for weeks now, and it made me lose my voice. I figure, it’s time to let it out.
I’m quitting my job.
There, I said it. Such a relief.
You might recall that I changed jobs about seven months ago. I was looking to slow down and do something more tailored to my personality. I agonized over my decision to leave my previous employer for the better part of two years before deciding to take the plunge and leave at the end of November last year. I began my current job the first week of December and immediately wondered if I had made a mistake.
There were so many things wrong with the company that I wondered if I had jumped into the proverbial fire. But, change can be difficult for some people, so I thought that perhaps, for the first time, I wasn’t adapting to change very well. I thought that I needed to give the company a fair assessment and figured that I would have a better view of the company by spending at least six months evaluating the company and my position. Almost to the day of the six month mark, I called the VP of HR and told him that I was ready to quit. He was shocked, I guess. Shocked enough to insist on calling me at home to discuss my grievances at length.
Usually, I try to be as politically correct as possible, but hell, what was I going to lose? My job? So I laid it all out, as plain as day.
The company is growing at a rapid pace, and its growing pains are clearly evident. However, the pervasive culture is that of, I’ll call it, “the good ‘ole boys club”, and it stinks. Employees are treated like serfs, expected to come in, keep their noses to the grindstone and leave at the end of the day. The turnover rate (the rate at which employees either quit or are terminated from one year to the next) in some areas is nearing 30%. That is virtually unheard of, especially with the job outlook as it is. Instead of trying to evaluate the root cause of the problem, the assumption is made that the company is not hiring the right people.
But the main problem is that the senior managers have come up through the ranks in this company with no outside access to management training. While they are making good financial decisions for the direction of the company, their lack of management training has created an environment of low morale, except within the executive team. These guys have known each other for decades, and in their eyes can do nothing wrong.
Personally, my job isn’t hard. I’m learning a lot and adapting quickly. My evaluations (constant and annoying) are all positive. Glowing, really. So, when I called the VP of HR to tell him that I was going to quit, he was taken aback. He decided to call me at home to hear what I had to say, unfiltered. When I laid out all of my grievances, he was not surprised. He began work with my employer approximately nine months before I started, and had run into some of the same problems that I encountered. He spoke very frankly to me about some of the problems that he was trying to fix. But, we both knew that culture change would be the only way to combat the problems with that company, and that takes a massive amount of time, and buy-in from senior managers. That would not happen any time soon, and I don’t feel like suffering through the problems with the company to wait for the change.
Through our conversation, the VP stated that he liked my work ethic and the way in which I tackled problems. The feedback that he has received from all levels of management from CEO down had been positive, so he was loathe to lose me as an employee. Instead, he offered me a better position in California. I like, live, love and work in New York City. While I like Los Angeles, I don’t want to leave my family to live there…nor would I ask them to move with me just for a job. I flat out declined the offer.
Since our conversation a month ago, he has checked in with me on a weekly basis, and even offered me another position in the Atlanta area, but again, I am not moving. I will give him credit for trying to address some of my issues, but I know that he is pushing a rock uphill, and it will be a long battle. I did offer to give the company more time, but here I am a month later and I know, without a doubt, that with or without another job, I’m leaving.
I am slowly planning my escape, but I plan on giving the company a decent notice of at least two weeks. They can do with that time what they will. My friend, Sam from Financial Samurai would think me an idiot for leaving without negotiating a separation package. I don’t know how willing they are to negotiate, since, as I work in a particular area of HR, I get to see all of the separation packages and agreements for everyone in the company. Either way, I’ll try to take the advice of Sam’s book and engineer my layoff.
The other thing is that I am really an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve been working for others, trying to fit my square peg into very round holes and it just doesn’t work. I just don’t fit in. I had a conversation with one of two people who I consider to be mentors, and she said that sure, I could work in the corporate world, but at my heart, I would never feel satisfied. When she asked what I would ultimately like to do, I said that I want to work for myself. When she asked for a timeline, I said that I would need at least 5 years to prepare. After all, I have this whole debt thing to pay off before I move into something for myself. I’m 34 now, so 40 sounded like a nice round number.
Her advice was that I should continue to climb the corporate ladder and make as much money as possible to get out of the rat race, but still have something to fall back on in case I changed my mind five years from now. Considering that my friend Joe has always thought of retiring by 40 and effectively did so a bit early by handing in his two weeks’ notice recently, I have a template to go by and don’t think that I’ll change my mind any time soon.
Don’t forget, I once was an entrepreneur and know what the challenges entail. I’ve done it and failed at it and can do it again. You can read more about that in my article for H&R Block. I’m not afraid of trying a second, third or fourth time.
So guys, that’s it. I’m quitting. If I don’t mention it in the next couple of weeks it’s because I’m busy plotting and planning. I’ll let you know when the deed is done, and we’ll figure out where I go from there.