Falling In Line

Up until somewhat recently, it never occurred to me that I was living according to a widely accepted script.

I mean, I just took it for granted that I needed to go into an office every day, get a paycheck from a corporation and pay my bills with that check.

I realized that I’m trading my life—hour after hour, day after day, year after year—for the frustrating “security” of having my expenses covered.

The Dilemma

I’m getting older.  The people around me are getting older—and dying.  The opportunities to go places, do things and enjoy people are withering away by the moment.

But–  I’m still decades away from being able to “retire.”

I owe hundreds of thousands of dollars between my mortgage and student loans.

The acclaimed and tirelessly aspired to golden years are likely to be gray and wrinkled years for me.

I certainly won’t be glowing at 70 years old after spending more than half of my life in a cubicle.

And the bitter coating of it all?  Retirement is not promised to me.

It’s not promised to anyone.

I could die before I’m financially able to walk away from my cubicle.  Or—I could work for 50 years, finally ride off into the sunset – and be diagnosed with a terminal illness 6 months later.  Or—I could be forced out of my cubicle before I’m ready to give it up and need to barely subsist because I was not able to save enough money.

The worst part?  All of these scenarios require me to wait, to put off, to delay and to possibly completely forgo the experience of living life on my schedule, time clock and terms.

When I think about it that way, I realize that’s a really bad deal.

Look at this lovely sunset.  Inspiring in so many ways.  For me, it’s not knowing how many more of these I will see in my life.

When will the sun set for me?  There’s no way to tell.

With this level of uncertainty, I realized that couldn’t dilly dally with the pursuit of my dreams.

However, I couldn’t be mad at the system.  I chose to go to school and rack up the student loan debt.  I chose to buy a home (and it was the BEST decision, truly).

I chose to, up until this point, rely on very traditional income sources which relegated me to a very traditional schedule and life trajectory.

I also could not blame the people around me that raised me, shaped me and encouraged me to walk the path that I have.  They have walked similar roads.

And, for all intents and purposes, the traditional lifestyle works if one is content to place all of their faith on classic retirement.

But I am not content to do that!

I cannot not see myself driving to an office every day for the next 35+ years.

I cannot see myself in thousands more hours of tedious conference calls discussing the latest poorly crafted policy that I would be required to disseminate, support and enforce.

I cannot stand to watch more loved ones die with only 3 weeks of vacation time a year with which to use to see them alive (and then to bury them later).

I cannot put off enjoying my home, my hobbies and my health until I become too old to care about any of them.

But what choice is there?

I have expenses to cover, obligations to meet and people to care for.  I have family under my roof that depend on my income.

It would be easy for me to say that I was stuck.

It would be easy (if not depressing) for me to blame the system and to stay the current course until it was the “right” time to change.

But easy is rarely better.  Easy rarely elevates you to new heights or makes you proud.

Easy, in this case, would make me resent life.

I want to love my life, to celebrate each moment and to have a say so over how I live my days—from now until death.

The future is important.  But there is a lot of power and significance in now, in today, because tomorrow is not promised.

And why should I, should any of us, put off the good times until the end of our lives?

The Solution

So the answer to all of this became clear—I need to quit my full time job.  I need to re-configure my life to better suit my personal aims.  I need to take back my time.

But as much as I burn for this, meeting obligations and covering basic expenses for me and my household is non-negotiable.

This is a move that I want to make quickly—but not recklessly.

I need a plan.  To the drawing board…

Have you thought about redesigning your life?

Related Reading:

Three Days to Grieve

Four Things to Do Before Quitting Your Job

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