The Difficult First Post Or Why I Decided To "Retire" at 43
Updated: Jan 13
Its 10am on the 24th December 2019, Christmas eve. My wife is at work and my ever faithful hound Winston is curled up on his favourite seat, half in a huff because I'm not paying him attention, the other half pure unadulterated relaxation.
I've been thinking about writing this first post for a long time, partially out of excitement that I would have finally done "it" but mostly out of trepidation that everybody will think I'm bat-shit crazy.
The "it" in question is quitting my career. Not quitting to go to a new one, not quitting because I hate my job and not quitting because I'm too lazy to work the long hours and endure the endless teleconferences and meetings that just seem to be more and more about less and less.
No, I'm quitting because I've woken up to the idea that I was going to be pretty wealthy if I retired in around 25 years but would probably be a worn out sack of skin who wouldn't be able to fully enjoy it, that I'd look back on life and ask; "Why?" And that my step-sons would end up enjoying all of that wealth but yet 2 out of 3 of them can't even be bothered to send their mother a birthday or mothers day card.
Excuse my French, but fuck that.
Having just written that, it sounds pretty bleak and it probably wouldn't have been that bad. Luckily for me, I don't do "probably", I prefer "almost certainly" or even "without doubt" so I've decided to take control of my future, stop being a passive member of the accepted norm of our society and for the first time in my life, throw caution to the wind and see where it takes me.
2019 has been a big year for me and if I was to look back and say; what was the catalyst for such a big decision? It's not too difficult:
I finally proposed to my now wife Mrs H in late 2018 after "living in sin" together for over a decade. We got married on November the 2nd 2019
We emigrated to South Africa in 2014 from the UK and as I'd made 5 years paying exorbitant amounts of tax, the nice government of South Africa said I could stay and I was no longer tied to my employer in order to stay in the country on a visa.
I received a promotion to a global role with a fancy title (Corporate Vice President no less) in April 2019 which means more work, more stress and goodbye weekends and evenings.
I discovered the FIRE movement which in highly simplified terms says if you reduce your monthly living expenses and then save 300 times those monthly living expenses, you can retire whenever you like and you should never run out of money.
I have a degenerative spinal disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis I was born with and this year it started to be noticeably affecting my mobility. I haven't told anyone that part (until now I guess)
I landed up in intensive care twice in the middle of 2019 with double Pneumonia (which means in both lungs), one of my lungs collapsed and filled with fluid. Brought on by a diminished immune system. In my heart I know I did it to myself with long hours and intense stress at work self-medicated with a regular dose of Rum & Cola ( I didn't want to write Rum & Coke in case you got the wrong idea!).
Now I know what you're thinking, it was the illness, a life changing moment looking up from my death bed and asking a higher power for just one more chance.
Well you're wrong.
I've always had a, well yearning, inside of me to see if I have the wherewithal and the chutzpah (Good word) to make it on my own, with no rules and no help. Just before the opportunity to move to SA (Which I don't regret for a minute) came up in 2013, I was on the brink of throwing in a 15 year job which I truly loved to sit down with 1,000 Great British Pounds and a laptop and see what I could do to make a life. This little episode is the scratching of that very itch, just 6 years later. A combination of all of that "stuff' listed above meant that 2019 was a year where I really, really lived. From being one breath away from death to marrying my soul mate to facing the reality I may be wheelchair bound one day to achieving new heights in a career spanning 25 years and being recognized as an expert in my field.
And then realising it all don't mean shit if you're not living on purpose and dragging every last drop of enjoyment out of each and every day. This really isn't a rehearsal and the first half of the show is over (and no, this is not a mid life crisis either). It's time to scratch that itch and risk it all, what's the worst that can happen, i need to get another job? Big Whoop.
So this is it, the first day of the rest of my life. I still have to work out my notice before I'm truly free but Christmas Eve 2019 is the day I take control and risk it all for a better life.
I'm going to document this journey mostly so I can look back but if it inspires just one person to follow their dreams, I'll have done a good thing. I also find writing to be cathartic (good word), and goodness knows, I need all the therapy I can get!
I hope you'll keep reading and feel free to comment on any of my posts, I'm interested in your opinions whether you're right or not!