Conversations in our house lately have focused on when we can we really pull the plug and embark on our Lifestyle Change. Not maybe, but really, really, like “Well, what about next year?” type of thinking. It’s gotten pretty real, and pretty crazy if you’re not thinking outside the box and don’t want to get out of your comfort zone. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so for new readers let me quickly catch you up in the next 4 sentences. I know, I probably won’t make it in 4 sentences, but I’ll keep it brief, I swear.
This started with our industry downturn (Oil and Gas), which got us really challenging everything and getting ready for the fact we may both be out of work sooner than later. This led to realizing that if we both get laid off, finding a new job that’s equivalent around Houston is not practical, so we brainstormed what else could we do outside of Houston. This led to a fair number of “out west mountain” sorts of jobs, and Mrs. SSC revisiting all of her spreadsheets and coming up with multiple realizations of our potential scenarios, which in turn led to realizing we could rent for a few years and de-risk our mountain living dream, and this is where our story begins… (Woohoo, that’s 4 sentences, including this one!)
It’s been a really busy work week for me, and Mrs. SSC has been busy as well, but not nearly as busy. She has a bit more time on her hands to pontificate about Life, the Universe, and Everything else. This has led to much searching online at sites like city-data.com to learn about potential landing cities we may be interested in; searching Zillow for rentals in said towns; recalculating the many spreadsheet scenarios; planning vacations to said towns – wait, those are more like pricing out reconnaissance trips; and many more things related to moving out of Houston. Also, the job searches… Oh, the job searches… I get forwarded any job that is remotely close to anything I may be interested in. For instance, Vernal, UT has a geologist position open, to which I replied, “Honey, that also doesn’t have 4 seasons, they have topography, but think Moab style moonscape environment. I don’t think you’d like it.” Apologies to any readers in Vernal, it’s pretty, just not my kind of pretty. And yes, I have been there; more than once even. Grasping at straws is how I describe the current behavior from Mrs. SSC.
This means my day is then peppered with short 2-3 sentence emails throughout the day bemoaning growing old (we’re only 38 for goodness sakes), life being hopeless, work being unfulfilling, and usually wrapping up with something about only 1 more year of work left, or the more dramatic “We’re never going to get to retire – sigh…”. Yes people, this is my current experience. However, this doesn’t begin to cover the conversations these types of research lead to.
For instance, the other night it started like this, out of the blue mind you:
Mrs. SSC: “Maybe we should trust our future selves to figure it out and just do it!”
Mr. SSC: “Do what exactly? Who are we going to trust to figure what out?” (I’m a little slow sometimes)
Mrs. SSC: “Say screw it and just be done with work after next year. We’ve calculated everything, and if one of us worked even just a little we could figure out the rest. We’re smart, I know we can do it. Let’s just do it!”
Mr. SSC: “So what you’re saying is that we should leave our jobs before we get close to our number you feel comfortable with, and we just go ahead and “live the dream” and figure the rest out as we go?”
Mrs. SSC: “Well yeah, but you know we’ve done the calculations and you know I’m going to be stir crazy not working anyway, so I’m going to have to do something, but why not? Why not trust ourselves and get out sooner than later? All the retirement articles say people don’t save for retirement because they don’t see themselves in the future. But, you know? We practically obsess about our future selves and planning for them, and getting them set up for a nice time, why not trust they’ll figure out how to make it work if we “jump” before we hit 100% of our number?”
Mr. SSC: “Ummm…. Kaaaayyyy…. You know, we can probably just wait until our companies lay us off and get a little bump on the way out the door? If that doesn’t happen then we just keep saving like we have been and keep getting closer to our number. That’s the plan right? So, why not stick to the plan and just stick it out another year or two and hit our number?”
Mrs. SSC: “I sent you a job in MN, it’s teaching, and you could even develop an Earth Science program.”
Mr. SSC: “True, but it’s flat there, and they’re currently predicting a high of 10 F today, and the winter looks like it’s about 7 months long and windy (thank-you city-data). Oddly enough, it has a really high crime rate too, so, nnnnooo on that job in MN.”
A little more back story – I know exactly why Mrs. SSC is thinking like this, because this is where I was before I quit that company and went to my new one. For new readers, we used to work at the same company before I left. I’m much happier at my new place, and I love my new company environment. BUT, I was as miserable as Mrs. SSC is now, before I left my old company, and unfortunately with the industry as it is, that’s not really an option for her. She’s pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place in an unfulfilling job, at a company that couldn’t care one bit about her (not that I think any big company does – it’s just business) but they killed her loyalty and now she’s just trading time for money. Not a great place to be, so I get it… I’ve been there.
So then why am I resistant to saying, “Hell yeah, let’s go start our new chapter! Lifestyle Change here we come!” I mean, just today on the drive home, someone made an illegal U-turn in front of me, I had to slam on the brakes and slid to a stop right beside their car, and they flip me the bird. WTF Houston, WTF?! Yeah, I could be done with this. But I’m resistant, so the question is why? Is it because I’m out of my comfort zone if we leave our jobs and try a different way of life? I mean we’re all but set up if we quit now. Yeah we’re not totally there with savings, so it might suck at times, but we’re resilient so I know we’d make it work. So what’s my deal?
I think it still goes back to my whole fear of this adventure turning into a situation like I grew up with where we’re broke all the time and struggling to make ends meet every 2 weeks. Meanwhile, I know that won’t be the case, because we’d do things so much differently than my parents, but still, it’s that nagging voice telling me it will be that way. I bet it’s just the unknown, and me knowing that, “Hey, I have a job I don’t just like, but I love and it challenges me, and makes me think in so many different ways, every day. It pays great, I like the social aspect too, and I’ve got a good title, and people come ask me about problems they have and how to fix them. I love that, getting challenged with a “cold eye look” at someone else’s problem and offer a different way to look at it.”
I think I’m scared I’ll miss my job. I really like what I do, and how much I get to help other people figure out problems, along with figuring out solutions to my own problems. Added bonus, I’m really good at what I do which makes it even more enjoyable.
Maybe I do need to trust our future selves more, and let them figure out how things will go. We won’t know how they’ll be because it’s all just speculation, and mathematics tied in with a lot of optimism in the stock market, the economy, our own health lasting, and so many more things we can’t control.
Like most retired people say, “I wish I’d done it sooner” maybe I should think more like that and get on with living life and not just “hamster wheeling it” down here in Houston. Stay tuned, because changes are afoot and the box is slowly breaking as we’re figuring out our exit from this current lifestyle.