Slowly Sipping Coffee

You’ll Never Know if You Don’t Try…

Over the weekend, I was catching up on some recordings of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and I was struck by a conversation that went on during the show. The really short setup is they’re looking for something based on a map they’ve found, and they have been digging holes, fairly randomly at one of the “X” locations. When Todd wants to quit digging and look somewhere else, Dirk points out that they’re in as good a place as any to look for their treasure, so why quit. As he puts it, “What if you’re only one shovelful away from finding it but you stop. You’ll never know, will you, because you gave up. What you’re looking for could be right there, and you walk away right at the worst moment. I’m trying to say, You’ll never know if you don’t try.” That last part really stuck with me in relation to our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) journey, recent career changes, and even a new venture concept I came up with a few months ago. Let’s start with the FFLC aspect.

Try and Try Again

When this FIRE (Financially Indpependent Retire Early) idea was first proposed to me it came from the shocked cry of a co-worker that had been using Mrs. SSC’s retirement spreadsheet, years before we knew about the FIRE concept, and it sounded like this, “What?! You guys are retiring at 45?!” This was literally the first I heard of it and dismissed it with a, “Nnnnooo, that doesn’t sound right” because I didn’t believe it either. I didn’t even want to try and believe it, that’s crazy, right?! After a few years of Mrs. SSC explaining things repeatedly, I still wasn’t convinced because it kept sounding like we were trading our nice life for a life of struggling to make ends meet living off of “very little.” Fast forward a few more years, and Mrs. SSC showed me a couple of years of spending tracking that proved we only spent ~$55k/yr. That’s when I finally saw the light and got on board with our FIRE journey. Sorry to take so long Mrs. SSC…

Such a negative monkey...

I was such a negative finance monkey…

She Kept Trying

What if she hadn’t been so persistent and kept at it, and instead just given up on this whole FIRE concept and embraced our “comfy American” lifestyle? Well, she would be stuck in a miserable job not able to take a 2/3 paycut to go teach. We’d still be on track to retire before 65, but I’m guessing we would be in totally different place financially, and she wouldn’t have been able to “afford” her taking such a dramatic paycut. Much less, be a few years away from our FFLC date. We like FFLC because we’re not really looking to retire early, as others have also come to discover, rather, we want a lifestyle change that suits us better than this crazy hustle bustle one we’ve built for ourselves.

This could've been our car and family?

This could’ve been our car and family?

Our first step towards FFLC was Mrs. SSC taking a teaching job at a local university. Since then the schedule change has been amazing, and life has gotten better all around. This wouldn’t have been possible without the first step – trying. Trying to accept we didn’t have to inflate our lifestyle just because we could afford it. Trying to reject the notion of “you work until you’re 65 (or 70) and then retire.” Trying to make our lives better now, because we didn’t like them the way we’d made them.

It started with trying.

Why Quit Trying Now?

A few months back, I went on a field trip to W. Texas and New Mexico and it was awesome! I hadn’t been out in the field really, since I left grad school. I forgot how much I missed it, and how much I liked being out there and seeing geology, touching rocks, and seeing relationships that I normally only see on a computer screen, where it’s easy to lose perspective. During that weekend, I got an idea about a side venture that may turn into something that could be monetized later on, but would let me keep doing geology – field geology after we “change our lifestyle”.  When I ran it by Mrs. SSC she thought it was a good enough idea that she’d even front money for it. Yes, Mrs. SSC agreed to invest in my idea! Holy cow!

So dramatic!

So dramatic!

Then I started researching it, and felt overwhelmed by the prospect of starting it up, figuring out the details, delivery method, etc… I was killing myself with the details, and especially the monetization aspect. I thought I had the client(s) picked out already, I saw the vision for this, and how it could prosper, and after putting more work into it, I’m not so sure that’s the right vision. During this whole process, I came across this quote by Ray Kroc founder of McDonald’s:

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Rray Kroc

Do. Or Do Not. There is no Try.

I realized I’m attacking this vision all wrong. I’m looking at it from a money making standpoint and currently, it’s failing. I need to put this vision together from a “I love doing this” standpoint and figure out how to monetize it later. I’m the customer, so what would I want from this idea. That’s where I need to start.

I tried and I failed, and after regrouping, I realize, I need to DO.  So I’m done sitting in neutral and being stuck in “paralysis by analysis” mode and start working on this. There’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of habit to get built into my schedule to make this grow. It won’t start if I don’t try. What if I’m only one shovelful away from hitting the treasure? What if it’s right there in front of me and I turn around before taking those steps? If Mrs. SSC hadn’t kept trying to get me to see that FFLC is possible, we wouldn’t be where we are today. She kept trying and didn’t quit, so now it’s my turn to do the same. I know it will be a lot of work, but that reminds me of another great quote.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison

So much geology going on!

So much geology going on!

Do you have anything you want to try but are stuck in neutral with? What are your thoughts on moving forward with this venture and working the rest out as it comes along? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

45 thoughts on “You’ll Never Know if You Don’t Try…

  1. Ellie @ The Chedda

    I absolutely agree with this. I spent about a year puttering around about starting a blog, but just DID it one day and now I’m a blogger. Same with FIRE. I think most people reach some kind of critical juncture where they make some major changes to simplify their lives and go for FIRE.

    Have you expanded on Mrs. SSC’s teaching gig? Is she an adjunct? I’m curious because I’m thinking of taking on a few adjunct classes at our local community college as a way to downshift my career in a few years.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      See – maybe it should have been titled “do or do not. Don’t try” hahaha. Same here with the blog, except Mrs. SSC had been lurking on all the FIRE sites and just passing along any good reads to me. When she mentioned we should start a blog, I was like, “Yes, let’s do it! What will we call it?!” We chose our name started working on it and it was up and running in a week or so. But, Mrs. SSC was driving that bus, lol.
      Now I mainly write and maintain it, and it can be a lot which is why I’ve been dragging my feet on this other side project.

      Mrs. SSC is in an odd spot – so she’s an associate professor, not adjunct, but not tenure track. I think they call it instructional faculty? However, she has the freedom to take on grad students, do research, etc… just not required to. She’s been getting all kinds of stuff coming her way with professors wanting to work with her due to her geophysics and petroleum background. it’s a really sweet setup – it’s just in Houston, lol.

      We’re hoping to parlay that into a similar gig or maybe tenure track if she gets back into research and likes it, like she has been doing already… Hopefully, somewhere outside of H-town with mtns and 4 seasons preferably. :)

  2. Lee

    Love that quote, it made me laugh! (“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison”). My husband and I love our jobs/careers… both of us are scientists… so, love our jobs, which is great, but what we get stuck on is how to get a passive income stream going. We’d love to continue on the path we are on, but with a side hustle that will provide (however little) for a long time. So. Stuck in this pattern: brainstorm ideas all the time, and start working on the design of an app or something to that effect, find all the problems with it along the way, scrap the idea and go back to the drawing board. We have been doing this for a good 4 years now:) Luckily this unsuccessful pattern is just for a side hustle and not our actual income stream, but it still gets frustrating. Especially when you really start working on the details of an app only to find out the someone just released a similar app 2 weeks prior, etc. The struggle is real.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, that’s a good quote. I like my job and career as well, just trying to figure out how to stay active with it when I quit and we move. I ahve other ideas as well, but this one seems to be sticking around.

      Maybe you guys should follow up on Mrs. BITA’s app suggestion, “Rockster” – Tinder for Geologists! Bwahahaha My fellow colleagues have all thought it was hilarious. :)

      I’ve googled my idea and there are some “competitor sites” out there, but man, eesh!!! The graphics are horrible, the interface is clunky, or they have a handful of low res 24k jpeg pictures, and no geological info. I found a site with the visuals I would want to ahve, but their info is lacking, so it seems like there’s a niche there to fill. Definitely a lot of opportunity.

  3. ChrisCD

    When in college a “few” years back, recycling paper paid some decent change. I would get up super early and go around collecting it and then drive to the center. I also had a paper route and then left college and also had a full-time job. I did what I needed to do. I didn’t mind the hard work.

    cd :O)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yep, I think back to college and working from 1pm-2am and then class from 9am-noon or 3pm some days and think, “How the hell did I have that much energy?” I think it stemmed from “need to” not “want to”.

      It’s hard disrupting comfortable for “unnecessary work.” I think that’s why this has been slow to take off. That and trying to find a focus for it, but I think I’m good with that for now.

  4. Tawcan

    I’m with Ellie as well, went back and forth on whether to start a blog or not. So glad I decided to and getting to know more people within the FIRE community.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      When we decided to blog, it was decided on a Friday and we were posting stuff the next Friday. I didn’t realize how much work it would be. Now that I’m aware of the work involved i think it’s made me waffle more on this endeavor, lol.

      I’m glad I decided to blog as well though, looking forward to FinCon!

  5. Jacq

    I need to start an LLC for my yoga teaching. But the LLC vs Sole Proprietorship stuff feels overwhelming. I have a book from the library, I just need to read it! Then there’s the daunting idea of picking a name for my business. It’s all the big decisions, and making a commitment – yet, I agreed to teach the classes in 2017, so the commitment isn’t -that- big. I need to stop procrastinating.
    I should just do it, and let the rest shake out, because with this yoga stuff, it does seem to happen how it’s supposed to.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Ahh, yes, the LLC and name. This time I’ll make it something applicable to the business, unlike our blog name. It’s applicable in that we want to get to a point where we can “slowly sip our coffee” rather than rush around hecticly all the time, but does nothing for google searches on early retirement, investing, savings, etc… Bwahahahaha

      Things we didn’t know before starting a blog. :)

      LLC’s are pretty easy to start from what I’ve heard. Just google “how do Is tart an LLC?” I’m sure they’ll direct you to websites where you can be up and running in under an hr, less if you know your name already! Good luck!

  6. Mrs. BITA

    More evidence piling up every day of us being kindred spirits. Gently is next on my queue of things to watch. I’m excited and apprehensive. I don’t really believe that Adams’ writing can be translated to the screen, but I’ve only heard good things so far (from all of three people, but still).

    I’m intensely curious about what your idea is for your venture. A Tinder service (Rockster?) where the lonely or the kind of people who absolutely can’t keep plants alive are matched up with their ideal Pet Rock by a world renowned geologist? That is my current best guess.

    P.S. Kudos to Mrs. SSC for being so very patient with you instead of hitting you upside the head and shouting “HOW HARD IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND?”. She is clearly made of finer stuff than I am.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Haha! I know right?! As far as Dirk Gently goes – it’s good, but don’t expect D.A. to come to life. The actorrs picked are quirky and likeable enough, and there’s a lot of phraseology that’s very Adam’s-esque – for instance that whole dialogue I shortened to 3 sentences was about 3 minutes and a full paragraph typed out. I didn’t figure too many people wanted to plow through all of that to get to the point. :)

      I did a spit-take when I read about your Tinder service idea. I pitched to my co-workers as “Rockster – Tinder for geologists” and they thought it was hilarious. Every single one… You may be onto something. :) The brown thumb getting matched to a pet rock sounds like a good idea too, but maybe a different name, as I’m hoping someone follows up on the “Rockster” idea, lol.

      Yes, many kudo’s to Mrs. SSC for putting up with my lack of trust in actual numbers. In my defense, I’d JUST reached the point in life where I, for once, wasn’t worried about bills on a monthly basis. I was 30, and that shit gets stressful… Then she’s talking about wanting to live off of $25k per year, and I’m like, “NO! I’ve lived off $25k per year, it sucks! It’s not glamorous, I don’t care what some Moustache says.” Seriously, she picked a bad website to start me out with, bwahahaha. I shut down at that point, but fortunately she didn’t. I wasn’t against saving, but quitting our jobs to live off of “that little amount” I saw as ridiculous.

      So yes, many kudos to her for sticking it out, saving a lot in the background and then just showing me, “Look, we have been living off $X amount, have you felt stressed? Anxious about money? No? Okay then.” That was when it dawned on me that it was for real and we wouldn’t be dramatically changing our lifestyle or changing it much at all really. We’d just have a lot more free time in it. :)

  7. Steven Goodwin

    This is a great reminder whenever we come to a crossroads wanting to slow down or quit something. What if we are so close and just not know it! It’s funny because we have ups and downs all the time with our finances, but we are generally heading in the correct direction.

    I’m still constantly repeating objectives for my wife and reminding her “why” we’re doing money the way we are. After reminding her, she’s more apt to stay on track! Gotta keep the end result in mind!

    Thanks for the great read!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Exactly, that’s what I took from it, what if I’m this close to making something great, but it doesn’t happen because I never start it?

      Mrs. SSC reminded me a LOT in the beginning of the “why”, as I was all, “Why not, we can afford it?” and she’d respond with, “Yes, but we don’t want to afford it.”
      I too was more apt to stay ont rack when she’d remind me. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  8. Fervent Finance

    I always have little ideas rolling around in my head. The biggest one lately has been opening up an RIA (financial planning business) and I’ve actually begun the steps to get certified to do it. The problem I have is I’m still quite a ways away from FI. Obviously it’s much easier to not think about the money if you’re really close to FI. My dependence on a paycheck is definitely weighing on my decision to start anything else right now. Plus my day job often takes up nights and some weekends.

    I wish you the best in your project and hope you share more!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thats been another thought in my head as well. I haven’t looked into getting certified because I know I’d really, drag my feet on that one, but especially around the office, I get a lot of joy out helping people realize investing isn’t scary or super complicated. It’s like my love of teaching people just spreading over into Finance. However, I’m more intimidated by financial stuff than i should be even now.

      I hear you on being really busy with “real work” and not ahving time or energy to put to a second effort. Currently, that’s not my case, but it sounds like 2017 is going to be busy again, so we’ll see. That’s why i think the geo stuff has more of a shot than the financial stuff because I already know most of the geo stuff. :)

      Good luck with getting certified, and I’ll keep things up to date as they move along.

  9. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    This is an excellent point. You can analyze something from 30,000 directions, but you won’t really know the truth of it until you take the plunge and just do it. I guess I’m stuck in that right now with my career. It’s well-paying but a little soul-sucking, and I’d love to do blogging full-time instead, but it’s a little scary to take such a big paycut. Le sigh.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I think a lot of careers can be well paying but soul sucking. Even in my last job at megacorp, it got very soul sucking, for myself and Mrs. SSC. A different company has changed that aspect, but man, I hear you on that aspect. That big paycut was scary.

      Good luck with figuring out your direction!

  10. Mr. PIE

    We did not know that we would start a blog. I guess we did. And we were amazed to see it get some traction. So we did actually do something instead of analyzing it up the wazoo. But then we also did something else and put it on pause. It’s been a whole lot more fun doing it all even though we are frustrated as hell we can’t devote more time to it.

    I’ll be fascinated to see what you have cooking up as an atenaitve source of busyness/work/income/fun /all of the above.

    Been trying to convince Mrs. PIE to launch into high end cake making and decorating when we hit FIRE. There must be a market for those willing to spend silly amounts of money for such exotic creations.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Hey, good to hear from you! Hope things are going well with you guys!

      Ha, after only 2 years, I’m just starting to “analyze it out the wazoo” but by that, I mean, I’ve only started using some analytics and SEO – sparingly when it doesn’t annoy me or cause too many changes, lol.

      I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress, however, it will be pretty slow going. I’m excited about it though.

      I’m sure you could find a market for high end cakes, and the skills are definitely there for Mrs. Pie.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yep, that’s El Capitan in the Guadelupe Mtns. I also got a cool shot of it from the plane, I was on the right side, we flew over it as the sun was setting. It’s pretty sweet!

      Thanks for the well wishes!

  11. Mrs. COD

    Great, inspirational thoughts! Love the Yoda quote, by the way. So much of life is about trying what scares us, when we don’t know for sure how it’ll pan out. How true that if you quit trying, you’ll never know how close you were to success! This is where we are in many ways right now. I’m trying the SAHM gig, didn’t know how I’d like it, it’s harder than expected, but I’m so glad to be doing it. I’m learning I may need a few days a week to work, to get out of the house, to challenge myself in different ways. But if I hadn’t quit teaching, I might not be pursuing freelance writing and proofreading (in which I am not guaranteed success, either). Mr. COD is taking a risk and going for college and grad level teaching jobs. It’s new, it’s challenging, and he is so excited. Here’s to trying new things, especially when it’s scary!

  12. Mr SSC Post author

    Thanks, and after putting the Yoda quote in there I thought, “wait, I’ve been saying try this whole time and now I’m saying there is no try, just do it?” Clearly i decided against retooling the whole thing, lol.

    I expect switching to SAHD is going to be harder than my current job in a LOT of ways, but I’ll be excited to try it out. I got to volunteer at our oldets’s holiday market at his elementary school last week, and i had fun. I really want more time to be able to do that stuff and be more active in their schools, even though that sounds odd. Like, “No, I want to drop my career at my peak earning potential to go volunteer for stuff at my kids school…” See, it even looks weird writing it, but I’m excited to get there at some point.

    That’s great that you guys are trying new things too. This was partly sparked by another volunteer there that was talking about how she went from SAHM mom to open 3 different Papa Murphy’s restaurants and after a few years decided, nope, I’m good and went back to SAHM. Her husband was on his second career after almost 15 yrs at his first one, and that got me thinking about Mrs. SSC is on her third career, if you count my restaurant years as “career” I’m on a 3rd, and this new venture may not turn into anything but a hobby, or it could spawn my next career.

    It’s awesome that people are taking chances and trying different things and not sticking with the norm or something just because it’s comfortable. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

    Good luck with your writing and proofreading and Mr. COD’s new teaching jobs!

  13. Go Finance Yourself!

    I love this way of thinking. Either commit 100% and do it or don’t do it at all. I was on the fence for a while on starting a blog. There are so many great blogs out there that I didn’t know if I could do it myself. I finally took the plunge and did it this year and I’m happy I did as I’m having a blast sharing my knowledge and building my site.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah I’ve been seeing similar stories about starting blogs, and think it has to be a “out of love” sort of situation.

      Will let you know as things progress, but yep, it has to be full commit or forget about it. :)

  14. TheMoneyMine

    I’d say go for it!
    It sounds like there’s a lot of potential in your idea and possibly very little risk. Why not start?
    Also would you regret not trying somewhere in the future?
    Make a list of the 5 things you can do right now about this idea and start. When you’re done, do 5 more. It makes it easier to start and stay focused on doing.
    Good luck!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, there’s little risk, just some capital outlay in the beginning, but a lot of potential to become something bigger.

      I like the 5 things list recommendation and will definitely attack it from that angle. Thanks!

  15. Full Time Finance

    “The only way to guarantee failure is to never try”. So long as the barriers to entry won’t risk you losing your current economic stability I’d say go for it. What is the worst that can happen? You learn something new perhaps and you have good stories. The best you find a new lifestyle. You can analyze something to death, but the reality is a large number of your assumptions will be wrong. That’s why its important to build a flexible plan and be willing to roll with the punches.

  16. Fruclassity (Ruth)

    This is all terribly exciting . . .and it is EXACTLY what financial freedom is all about. In my case I am trying – or rather, DOing – something. I’m in the process of self-publishing a children’s book that I had thought about for a l-o-n-g time. I have loved it, and whether or not it makes money, I have gone for it. Being in a much stronger financial position now than we have ever been has certainly made this possible.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s awesome, congrats! I think I needed to adopt that attitude of “whether or not it makes money I need to go for it.” Currently, that money making side isn’t panning out, or seems like a tough road to hoe.

      I agree, being in our financial position, like you, makes it easier to focus on this because I’m not dependent on it becoming a revenue stream. Even more chance to say, then what are you waiting for and work on it, lol.

  17. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    I’ve been spending the last few months trying to figure out what type of biz we can do that will allow Rick to be able to leave his company if he wants to. I need to look more at the “love” factor and less at the “money” factor. Thanks for the clarity!!!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Glad I could help! Seeing that quote and shifting my thinking about the project in that way made a lot more things come to light in how i wanted it to turn out. Regardless of how it would generate revenue, if at all.

      Good luck on figuring out your venture as well!

  18. ExploreMountainsOnSkiFoot&Bike

    Your photos brought back many memories for me. Those big oil funded geology field trips were very informative and fun. Spending weeks on classic outcrops with world experts was very engaging and a rewarding experience from my petroleum geology career. I attended the carbonate sequence stratigraphy field trip in the Guadalupe Moutnains years ago. There is good hiking in the national park too – the Texas high peak and McKittrick Canyon.

    Your caption “So much geology going on!” is a tad understatement. You didn’t want to post the annotated photo with the onlap arrows, pinching untis, sequence boundaries and flooding surfaces?

    Best of luck on your pet project. I am looking forward to seeing what the project is and becomes.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Those field trips are pretty awesome! It’s funny and sad that what got me into geology was fieldwork and being outdoors and now minus a few weeks every couple of years, I’m a glorified computer monkey… Sigh… However, this pet project is looking to reverse that trend for me.

      I have the annotated slide for my “post field trip” knowledge share, but didn’t want to “nerd out” and put that one in there. It’s nice knowing someone else can recognize all of that stuff too. :) I couldn’t think of a better caption or shot from that fieldtrip to show, how much geology is going on. That whole canyon was awesome to hike through.

      Thanks for the well wishes!

  19. Elephant Eater

    I have been stuck in neutral on multiple projects that I want to tackle in FIRE. Mrs EE and I just discussed this past weekend that I need to prioritize the one or two that I really want and prepare to start on them next year when I leave my job. Really exciting to be getting so close!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I understand that totally. With this one, it’s tempting to think “I’ll have more time to devote to it then” which is true, but there’s also a lot of groundwork i could be doing now as well. You’re right, it is nice being close enough that these kinds of projects can start getting some traction or even out of neutral.

      Good luck on your projects!

  20. Mrs. Groovy

    Good for Mrs. SSC for impressing upon you that FIRE is attainable!

    As I read your words about becoming overwhelmed with your new venture idea, I thought “UGGHH, who needs that”? BUT with the shift in perspective, to doing it out of love, a new world opens up. I think many of us who are not depending on our blogs for income, sometimes feel similarly – i.e. why the heck am I working so hard at this? Then we remember – we don’t have to, we want to, which makes it an entirely different beast.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, thank goodness she has “stick-to-it-iveness” and doesn’t give up easily. :)

      You became overwhelmed? You should try seeing it from inside my head, this is the abridged version lol. It’s no wonder it was a “this is a great idea!” to “this is a non-starter!” so quickly.

      But yes, like the blog, I had to shift my thoughts back to, I should do this because I want to, not because I need to generate income with it. Let that take aspect care of itself.

  21. Miss Mazuma

    Such an insightful post – I have stopped myself from doing so many things when I come across a glitch in the thinking. Usually it revolves around insurance…like, what if I started a dog walking business and a dog died. How could I prepare for that?! Yet, people start dog walking businesses everyday. That analysis paralysis stops my dead in my tracks while someone can walk right past me into the job that I would truly enjoy doing. You’re right – there is no TRY. I’m so glad you finally saw the light in Mrs SSC FIRE plans! :)

  22. Amber tree

    Thx for sharing.

    There are some ideas in the back of my head that I just simply should do in stead of thin,ing about the what and how. Somehow, I never make it. I make a deal with myself: I try to ltake a step for one of these today!

  23. ZJ Thorne

    I have a book in my head that I’ve been trying to get down on paper, but I keep getting stuck on not having the perfect framework. I should just start writing and edit out all the surplus later. Editing has always been easier than writing for me.