Discovering Myself

Looking Out at GC

¡Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I’m not really sure why we “celebrate” this day here is the US, but I’ll be on the lookout for Mexican beers on clearance in about a week or so.   😉  Anyway…

For the last 11 months, we’ve been sharing our journey towards financial independence and early retirement.  News of our upcoming move changed our plans a bit and my last day at work is now August 5, exactly three months from today!  Can you believe it?  I’m trying to stay productive in my job, and to be honest, it’s a daily battle to not completely check out mentally.  My office is made up of genuinely good people, though, and I don’t want to go out like that.

Even with the busyness of the last few weeks, I’ve had some time to reflect on my working career and look forward to what is to come later this year and beyond.  Although we often write about money, this blog is about much more than that.  For me, it has really been about understanding myself and discovering what is important to me and my family.  The money is simply a tool, allowing us the flexibility to reshape our lives to align with these newly-realized priorities.

Through my introspection, I’ve noticed three things about myself.

  1. I do not work well in a large corporate (or bureaucratic) environment.

I’m sure lots of people feel the same way.  However, if that’s the case, I’m not quite as good at faking it as others may be.  As I look around my office, it seems that my coworkers genuinely like their jobs and have no trouble keeping themselves busy.  On the other hand, I have to actively force myself to be motivated.  I am truly disinterested in my job.  And the sad part is I work for an absolutely amazing company.  I can’t imagine many other large organizations that would be this good to their employees.  I am very fortunate to say the least.

And what’s even more interesting is that I felt almost the exact same way during the nearly nine years I spent on active duty and the year I worked as an engineering co-op while in college.  I always did a good job, and it’s not like I completely slacked off or anything like that.  I enjoyed being on active duty and serving in the military, just not the daily grind of inspections, checklists, and training.  That’s why the reserve has been a much better fit for me.

It’s almost like if I don’t have complete control over what I’m doing, I can’t force myself to go all in.

2.  I prefer uncertainty over safety.

The one “job” I can say I’ve enjoyed the most in my adult life was not really a job at all.  I purchased my first individual stock in December 2012.  A few months later, I took a trading class and really got hooked.  By the fourth quarter of 2013, I was following the market daily and trading frequently.  My passion continued to grow and in 2014, I made $35,934.19 trading stocks, nearly all of it in the first eight months of the year before I started my current job.  In total, I’ve made around $60,000 trading stocks, though I haven’t traded much the last year and a half.

Maybe it was just beginner’s luck combined with a raging stock market, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I felt alive when I was trading.  I immersed myself in it.  I loved the market fluctuations and the uncertainty.  I never knew what would happen next.

Contrast this to my actual job.  Show up, go to meetings, type stuff into a computer, get paid.  It’s steady, it’s predictable, and it pays well.  It just doesn’t do anything for me.

I’m not saying I want to be a full-time trader.  Instead, I want the feeling that on any given day anything can happen.

Even with our finances, we’ve never thought much about safe withdrawal rates or whether our money will last.  I’ve always been confident that we’ll just make it work.

3.  I have lots of ideas that I want to pursue.

Similar to the feeling I get from trading, I get excited when potential business ideas pop into my head, which is probably on a weekly basis.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve had numerous possibilities floating around in the back of my mind.  I’d think about them for a while, maybe even jot down a few notes.  Every time, life would get in the way and my ideas would fizzle out and fade into the background.

Aside from the awesomeness of getting to live in the UK for three years, here are a few of the things I’m most looking forward to:

  • Launching and growing a travel blog
  • Consulting small businesses seeking government research contracts
  • Watching out for unique and interesting reserve opportunities
  • Writing more consistently here on this blog

In just a few months, my excuses will be gone.  I’ll have the flexibility to choose what to work on and how to spend my time.  With this new found freedom will come unlimited possibilities and a world of unknowns.  Any time an idea comes to mind, the only thing stopping me from exploring it will be me.

I feel like there’s an entrepreneurial spirit at my core that I’ve been repressing for years.  It’s time to unleash it!

13 thoughts on “Discovering Myself

  1. Mrs. PIE says:

    What great insight. I think that our path to FI really helps to clarify what we want out of life. It puts the big corporation job in true perspective. Mr. PIE and I have been slow to latch on to what we want to do once we reach FI, because the big corporation job sucks so much creative energy and time to even think of an alternative. We’re getting there, and opportunities and desires are starting to filter into the front of our minds from the deep dark depths!


    • Ditching the Grind says:

      I feel you on the creative juices part. I’m drained after being at work all day and just want to chill when I get home. Keep letting those desires emerge from the depths. I’ve found that once I get in a creative mode, the ideas just keep flowing!


  2. Brian - Rental Mindset says:

    Congrats! With the new-found freedom there can be too many options. I recommend just starting with 1 or 2 of your ideas you want to pursue and put all your effort into them. You can always revisit the other ones later.


    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Great point. I know a couple of things I want to do are going to take a lot of time, especially upfront. Other things, like my reserve duty, are going to happen regardless. I’ll just need to be careful about biting off more than I can chew right from the start.


  3. our next life says:

    I love posts like this — it’s great to learn more about what makes you tick. And on the corporate stuff, I think you’re exactly right that most of us just learn to fake it, which is a questionable real world skill. It definitely makes me sad when I think about ending our careers, and realize that one of the strongest skills I will have developed over a 16-year career is pretending to enjoy the work. 😦 But as you said, I think that’s also super normal. I’m sure there are *some* people who genuinely enjoy that environment, but most of us are really just working for the money or the weekends.


    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Thanks. At least we, and what seems like a growing number of people, have realized that traditional 40 year careers don’t have to be the norm if you’re willing to take control and make a few small changes.

      And speaking of skills, we’ve probably all gained more than it seems sometimes. I know each time I’ve switched jobs and looked back on them a few months later, I have found that I learned a lot more than I realized while in the position. I’m sure that will be the same case for you.

      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      I’m really excited for what lies ahead! And this may sound odd coming from someone looking to go off on their own, but I don’t even care that much about the potential money aspect. I just want to see if I can do it. It’s the challenge of creating something out of nothing.


  4. Steve @ Think Save Retire says:

    Man, I am so, so much like you. I’m definitely the risk taker in the family – in fact, if it were up to me, we’d be retired and traveling the country NOW, but my wife, perhaps the much more sane one around here, is requiring more work before we can pull the plug. I like your style, and I definitely like your attitude. You just want to get out there and look around…plotting your course only after you’ve had the opportunity to glance about and take it all in on the spur of the moment.

    You and me both! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      We’re definitely on the same wavelength. Oftentimes going through your posts are like reading my own thoughts. I figure if you’re smart and opportunistic, things will tend to work out in your favor. In all honesty, if I didn’t have a wife and kids, I would’ve been done with this work nonsense a long time ago!


  5. Mrs. Mother Dirt says:

    I stumble on your blog in the WP reader and read a few posts. Your description about your unhappiness in your work and always having many ideas at once resonated with me. I look forward to reading more. Congratulations on your first free lance gig. All good things!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It has been almost 3 months since I left my full time job and I’m still figuring out my new life. I’m enjoying my newfound freedom and hopefully will continue finding short term projects to work on. Either way, I can’t imagine ever returning to the corporate world!

      Liked by 1 person

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