November marks one year since I sold my financial advising firm and walked away from career stress.
How would I sum up the past year? Freeing and Frustrating are the two words that come to mind.
Freeing because I was no longer under the watchful eye of a regulatory authority. I no longer had to keep up with constant changes to procedures and policies that changed without notice. Ahh, no more traffic jams and no last-minute cancelations after hours of preparation. I’ve turned a walk-in closet in my home into a small office and my commute is about ten steps. Finally, I had full control of my schedule and could do as I please throughout the day. I’ve been starting my days earlier than I did when I was going into the office every day. My sleep is more restful, and I’ve made time to get healthy. I also had the time to take a father-daughter trip to Canada with my daughter before she headed off to college. And I got to drive her to the University and settle her in, too. I went on a vacation to Mexico. A real vacation. Not a long weekend, not a conference I treated like a getaway, a relaxing week-long vacation. Those are things that would not have been possible before a year ago.
Now all I need is a cell phone, internet and a laptop and I can work on one of my many projects. I am keeping my mind and body active and healthy and I am loving it.
It has also been somewhat of a frustrating year as well. I have a mind that likes to be fed. That was one great facets of my previous job life. I stayed engaged and focused day to day so I could keep up with the financial industry and the tools and ideas that are ever changing to help my clients and my business succeed. Then for the first few months of retirement I found all these great lifestyles to explore and learn about, so I focused on that. Where did I want to spend winters? Off grid? In an RV? So my ever active mind which is trained to be looking for ideas, solutions, and plans, entered new territory, but maybe with less direction.
(I did try meditation but that didn’t work so well and now I have forgotten my mantra so there goes that.) I’ll keep trying to slow it down but, in the meantime, I don’t know who is more frustrated, me for never having the perfect idea before the next one comes along, or my partner Deb who has to listen to them ALL.
The second frustrating aspect of the past year has been customer service. In my career, I prided myself and held my employees to a high standard when it came to client service. Now, other than the guy that helps me with social media, everyone that I have some type of professional relationship with has fallen short. Way short. Are all retired people treated like this?
And let me just say, I am a very easy going person. My personal role model is Alfred E. Neuman from MAD Magazine – “What, Me Worry?”.
Lawyers who promised to have the work done in a week took six weeks and wouldn’t return calls or voicemails for up to 2 weeks. The guy that said he’ll help me with a side project tells me he forgot he said he’d help me on the actual day he was supposed to deliver. Then the big one, an ongoing series of delay after delay with a launch that cost me a significant amount of money, time, and energy. I kept up with my schedule and my deliverables were always on time. The delays were avoidable and were met with excuse after excuse. Needless to say… I’ve learned a lot about the free market and the world of entrepreneurship – and have learned my lessons on trusting the wrong folks and will be much more careful in the future.
I’ve been frustrated, but not angry. What would getting angry do to solve the problem? I’m retired, so now I just joke about it.
What have I learned?
I’ve learned a lot about stuff I knew nothing about two years ago. I wrote a book, I write a weekly blog and I have created tools to help guide and educate people on how to retire early like I did, including the Online Course that’s about to be released. Everything that I’m working on is new to me. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I plan on launching a podcast and getting more active with videos. The podcast and videos are a big jump because I tend to be more of an introvert. I’ve learned that when stress is eliminated, or greatly decreased, life can feel pretty freeing. Add learning and doing new things to that lower-stress mix, and the formula is pretty great.
Would I go back and change anything?
I would have worked a little harder on my debt. I still have some debt that I would have preferred to have paid off more before I left my career. But, when I sold my business a year ago, I was barely hanging on mentally. No, not that – I was losing it. I had finished the book “Retire Early What are you waiting for?” in October of 2017 and when you write a book about retiring early your mindset is changed. I had already mentally checked out of my career a year earlier, I was ready to move on to “Act 2” of my life.
What three questions do I get asked the most?
- Every day I get questioned about health insurance costs and solutions and how that fits with retirement – especially EARLY retirement. Unfortunately, there isn’t a golden answer at this moment, but I do have lots of ideas on the topic, this blog I wrote is a great place to start and I cover the topic in the book, of course.
- The next most asked question goes something like this: “Can I retire on X (dollars)?” This is a difficult question to answer because it gives me only one component of their DIAL (Debt, Income, Assets, Lifestyle) so it’s impossible to answer without knowing more information. That’s why I created coaching packages and the upcoming online course so that I could spend more time seeing the whole picture and giving the person an educated answer. Or using the course they can compile their own clear answers right in front of them and go back to it as needed.
- The third is, “I have $250,000 in a 401k. Can you help me with this?” The frustrating part of these questions is since I’m no longer investment licensed I can’t give specific investing advice. I do help my coaching clients work with their financial advisors on setting objectives and goals. I also try to cover general ideas in the book, blog and Facebook page to get people thinking in the right direction.
I truly miss helping people with the specific advice. I have a year left before I must decide whether I want to reactivate my licenses. If in the next 12 months I can figure out a way to be helpful without lifestyle restrictions I may or may not reactivate. But for now, I’m still basking in this new approach to controlling my own life and I do know of a few very trusted advisors that I can always guide people towards, and sleep better at night knowing they are taken care from that side of the field.
Have I been bored?
No, not really. There have been some stretches here and there but overall, I’ve been spending time on projects and learning new skills.
Have my thoughts on Retiring Early Changed?
Not at all, I love my freedom. The only idea that has changed is my future plans. My initial plans were to sell everything and roam around the US in my RV for a while and then move to Central and South America. That could still happen, however, I’ve been more focused on keeping a small home base here in Asheville, NC and going out west and building an off-grid cabin somewhere. I’d still roam around in the RV. Instead of living full-time in central or South America, perhaps a 90 day stay in a different country each year would do the trick and be tons of fun. But remember, my overactive brain… those comments I just wrote will change next week, my partner Deb is sure.
I am going to release an online course. I am going to put out a podcast. I am going to start on another book. You might say “Eric, that looks like you’re working full-time again.” No, I am keeping my mind healthy while filling an income gap. And, it’s tons of fun.
When I look at doing a project, I pass it through my test. Here’s the test.
If I do this project, can I still:
√ Do what I want?
√ When I want?
√ How I want?
√ From where I want?
If it passes the test, I do it.
Let me know how I can help you get there, rewrite your story, and seize your own freedom.
Live free my friends