Today, I have a guest post to from the excellent Cody Berman who writes at Fly To FI. Before I turn it over to Cody, I have to tell you something about myself.
I started at my first job when I turned 14. It was at McDonald’s for the princely sum of $3.35/hour, minimum wage at the time. From then until the time I turned 43, I never took more than a week off. During high school and college, it was part-time while school was in session and then full-time during spring and summer breaks. I took weeks off here and there, but never more than 5 days at a time. I was hell-bent on earning money and not much else mattered. This wasn’t healthy.
If I could do it over again, I would have slowed it all down. I would have taken longer breaks, perhaps even a sabbatical. And maybe I would have quit completely and worked on other things. And this is why I like Cody’s story so much. At the age of 23, Cody isn’t anything close to financially independent, but he figured out he didn’t like being a rat in the race and bowed out. I’m pretty sure he isn’t making the money now that he did at his corporate banking job, but there’s a lot more to life than a paycheck.
213 Days To Freedom
After my 7-month stint in corporate America, I realized that it just wasn’t for me. For 8+ hours per day, I would mindlessly fill spreadsheets and run analyses in Excel. I was bored out of my mind and felt like my soul was slowly being drained from my body. On nice days, I would stare out the window and wish more than anything that I was enjoying the outdoors.
Not only did I dislike my job, but I had a hellish two-hour commute each way. I was working a corporate banking job in Boston at the time and commuting from central Massachusetts. Don’t get me wrong, the pay was great, but the lifestyle was completely unsustainable. My time was so much more valuable than money.
I worked in corporate America for exactly 213 days and never plan to return. Here’s my journey.
The First 30 Days
The first 30 days in corporate banking weren’t so bad. I was in training for the first two weeks and had the chance to meet and learn from a lot of my co-workers across all different departments. It was cool to finally have my first “real” job!
I was learning new skills every day and felt like I was being challenged regularly. Don’t get me wrong, I was still sitting behind a computer for 8+ hours per day with a brutal commute, but it wasn’t so bad.
The best part about this “real job” were the steady paychecks… I could get used to that! Although I’d earned a decent income in college through my various side hustles, I never knew exactly what was coming every other week (and definitely not nearly as much).
90 Days In
By month 3, I started to assume some real responsibility. I was spearheading small projects, analyzing real deals, and trusted to complete certain tasks. I was definitely still learning a ton, but many of my daily activities were monotonous and repetitive.
In addition to the interesting projects above, I was also in charge of the not-so-fun tasks that “needed to be done”. As the newest member of the office, I should have expected as much. Nevertheless, it wasn’t too too bad.
The commute was starting to wear on me, but I still loved those fat bi-weekly paychecks and felt reasonably motivated.
150 Days In
After 5 months of working (and don’t forget my 2 hours of commuting… EACH WAY) in corporate banking, the long days were really starting to take a toll. Typically, on the train ride to and from work, I was energized and excited to work on my side hustles. At that time, I was running a disc golf company, blogging, podcasting, and freelancing (Doomsday Preppers… side hustle edition?).
Anyway, each day that passed, I felt my energy and motivation slipping away. I would force myself to continue to work on my side hustles, as they would eventually serve as my scapegoat. My performance at the gym was also noticeably declining. My workout sessions became shorter and my energy was a fraction of what it had previously been.
In the office, most of the excitement and “newness” had worn off. Day in and day out, my tasks were nearly identical. I started spending far too much time working on my own side hustle projects at work out of boredom and lack of fulfillment. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up.
Three Weeks Before The Day
Three weeks prior to day #213, I scheduled a meeting with my boss with a pit in my stomach. I told him that I would be leaving the company to pursue my entrepreneurial ventures. More specifically, that I’d be traveling on the road for the next three months on a book tour (shoutout to Grant Sabatier, author of Financial Freedom).
He was reasonably understanding and knew that there was no counter-offer he could make to convince me to stay. I sent an email out to the rest of my team explaining my decision and my plans moving forward. Most of them gave me the ole pat on the back and a sarcastic “good luck”, but seemed to respect my decision.
Some members of upper management were not pleased with my decision and had some not-so-nice things to say to me. I’ll leave those out 🙂
On that final day, day #213, I walked into the office filled with nervousness and excitement. I packed up all of my cubicle swag, returned all my company gear, and made my final walk around the office.
I said my goodbyes to all of my co-workers and walked out the front door with a feeling of bittersweet freedom. The date was January 31st, 2019. On February 1st, I started my new life as a full-blown entrepreneur, and haven’t looked back since.
Why did I even bother writing this article? I know there will be people who leave hateful comments and say things like “Wait ‘til he has to go back” or “He has no idea what he’s doing.” That’s fine. But the real reason I wrote this article was to inspire.
I see so many friends, family members, and other people who enter the workforce and literally watch their dreams, goals, and ambitions slowly disappear. They get so trapped in the day to day, that they forgot about all the things that they wanted to do, all the places they wanted to go, and all the things they wanted to become.
Life doesn’t have to be this way! If you’re reading a post on this site, you probably understand the power of compound interest, saving, and intentional spending. That stuff isn’t just for the spreadsheet nerds to gawk over, it can literally change your life!
If you don’t like your job, are unhappy with your current financial situation, or aren’t feeling fulfilled, there is nothing better you can do than to create the widest gap possible between your income and spending. The wider the gap, the more freedom you’ll have!
Although I didn’t focus on the numbers too much in this article, the entire time I was working in my corporate banking job I was saving 85+% of my income. In addition to my day job, I was literally spending every free minute building up my side hustles. Every additional dollar I earned outside of my day job pulled me one inch closer to freedom!
I know I am in a fortunate position. I know that I’ve never faced racism, sexism, or any kind of real oppression. I know that my story might not be replicable. But, if you take anything away from this article, just know that no matter what your situation is, there is a way out. I urge you to revitalize those dreams, goals, and ambitions from years past. Maximize your savings rate, increase your income, and start designing your dream life.
Thank you Cody for that healthy dose of inspiration!
Find Cody at:
- Blog: Fly to FI
- Podcast: The FI Show
- Disc golf: Arsenal Discs
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/flytofi
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Gwen @ Fiery Millennials says
I’m glad you feel like you made the right choice. Leaving work isn’t for everyone (it definitely wasn’t for me) but you’ve got that hustle in you to make it work. Keep up the great work!
Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted…Monthly Status Report: May & June 2019
freddy smidlap says
i remember i quit my first “real” job. i lasted 5 years and it was a pretty cushy research and development job and it was even a little bit fun. the thing is that i wanted something else. my coworkers couldn’t believe i just quit to move to new orleans without another chemist job in place. i didn’t quit for some grand noble cause or to start a business. i just went to nola, got a job in a bar, and lived my life. i have to say it was the best 2 years of my life and that was 20 years in the rearview mirror.
long story short is that i got another chemist job eventually after i got those wild years out of my system. i’ve been at this job 14 years and don’t even mind coming here. i doubt i would feel that way if i never took that chance a long time ago.
freddy smidlap recently posted…How Did I Get This Way? Mentors, For Better or Worse
I’ve been with my current company for twelve years. It’s been a wild ride — four or five different corporate owners, countless excellent colleagues, lots of opportunity and responsibility, all the benefits of telecommuting, and more pay than I ever expected when I graduated from college with a music degree. But for the last year or two the idea has gotten into my head to get out and go part-time somewhere walkable from my house. Life’s too short to spend the majority of my daylight hours stuck behind a computer.
Cathleen Cooks Stuff says
For some reason, I hadn’t put together “leaving job”=epic month’s long roadtrip in a converted Westfalla van. I kept thinking “wow, you must have lot of leave saved up at your job”, And though I also read you quit your job…I didn’t put the two together until reading this. Your story is quite inspiring, and shows that if you are willing to put the work in, it can be done. Some people may not have the same situation as you (maybe they have a toddler, and a new baby along the way, ahem, and have no time for side hustles or house hacking), but that doesn’t mean we can’t all do SOMETHING to change our situation if we don’t like it. (and sorry if this comment gets posted like 3 times, I’ve been having a hard time seeing it being posted when I add my website, so I’ll just try it without the website…)
Eric @ TacticalFinancials says
I’m glad you had the self-introspective to understand what in the end would let you sustain the life you want to live and go for it. Especially early, before it’s easier to be or feel “locked” into the corporate grind and staring away at a job that will make you miserable. Looking forward toward checking out your blog.
Eric @ TacticalFinancials recently posted…2020 Military Pay Raise
Twenty-two years ago, I was living in southern New Hampshire (Rindge) and went for an interview in Boston… I knew right then that I could never do that commute! Congrats on getting out of the rat race! Although I’ve always avoided any long commutes, I’m now stuck behind a computer 8 hours a day with dreams of getting out. We’re pretty close to FI, if all goes right in the next two years, but sometimes I wonder if I can wait that long. I’m thinking I’ll at least try to take some leave without pay to do some awesome vacations in the meantime!
Michael Crosby says
I’d been self=employed for 25 years. Got a job in my related field (air conditioning) . I made it through two whole weeks of working for the man. I know most here have no sympathy for me, but, when I turned in my truck and officially quit, it was one of those very happy days.
We dream the same but act differently due to fear factors, the kids , the dept, the mortgages and the like.This was inspiring to read, i kept on looking for numbers here only found a percentage.Numbers don’t lie.I was about to remind Mr 1500 days he forgot to post last month numbers.Thanks and lets know how you re doing in future because i want to be you when i grow up!