This is a refresh of my “I quit” post from July 2012. I came back to work from a leave of absence and told my manager that I was done. I added some updates below but didn’t really change much. This summer, I’m taking a bit easy and refreshing some old posts. Enjoy!
I did it! I handed in my two weeks notice to my manager on Monday. I’ve been with my current employer for 16 years, but it was an easy decision. You’ll see why as I share what happened over the first six months of 2012. I haven’t shared much of the story here because I think most readers expect me to “retire” in 2013 when I turn 40.
Now that I have taken concrete action, I feel free to share more. I’m sure long time readers could tell something was in the air because I wrote quite a few passionate posts recently.
So here is the story. First of all, I got a bad annual review for the first time in 16 years this April. This wasn’t entirely unexpected because I really did not perform well in 2011. My motivation was gone and I was dragging. I anticipated the bad review, but it was still hard to swallow. Who wants to hear that they got a D in class? This bad review set off a chain of events that led to the resignation letter I handed in last week.
Before we continue, let’s talk about my health in early 2012. The truth is I have been feeling terrible for a long time and I place the blame squarely on the job. Here are the problems I was dealing with.
- Shoulders – My shoulders were always painfully tight. This was due to sitting in front of the computer for 8-12 hours per day. I consulted with the ergonomic department and they came out to adjust my chair and workstation. However, that really didn’t help much so I sought additional health care. I went to see my doctor and got a referral for physical therapy. I had about 15 PT sessions which really helped and my shoulders are feeling almost normal now.
- Eyes – Over the last year or so, my right eye became blurry and fatigued after a long day in front of the monitor. By the end of the day, it becomes almost impossible for me to read documents and emails. I have pretty bad myopia and I have been putting a lot of strain on my eyes for years. I saw several optometrists about this, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. However, I know my eyes feel better when I spend less time on the computer.
- Headache – I was having headaches all the time and it sucked to feel that way so often.
- Back – I’m sure all office workers have to deal with lower back pain at some point. I don’t like it. The ergonomic furniture helps a bit, but it’s just too much sitting down. The body isn’t made to sit down for so many hours.
- Dizziness – I had mysterious dizziness for a while. I think this is due to stress from my engineering career.
- Depression. Here is the big one. I was really stressed out due to the performance issue and increasing pressure at work. Here are some symptoms that I had – insomnia, chronic fatigue, short temper, weight loss, and problems with concentration. Normally, I am an easy-going guy and I rarely lose my temper. In 2012, I was behaving like a jerk all the time. Thankfully, I’ve never had any thoughts about death or suicide.
*2020 update – I’m 8 years older, but I feel so much healthier these days. Stress and long days in front of the screen are terrible for your body.
Medical Leave of absence
OK, where were we? Right, I got a bad review. I was pissed off and talked to HR about my options. I asked if it is possible to get a severance package and go our separate ways with the bad annual review. The HR told me they only consider that option if an employee had multiple bad reviews. I work in the highly profitable core area of my company and there is no layoff plan for my group.
I also talked to my manager and asked him to look into a severance package, but he was not helpful. It seems he’d rather keep me working at a lower performance than finding a replacement. It is difficult to find an employee with the right experience for this engineering job. I also think he liked having a scapegoat around so he can use up his quota for poor performance review. The perfect annual review should have 5% superstars, 5-10% bad guys, and the rest can be in the middle of the pack.
Since I have been a long time employee and had good reviews previously, HR suggested a leave of absence instead. At this point, I felt terrible and went to see my doctor. He gave me two weeks off initially, but I was able to obtain 10 weeks of medical leave. Fortunately, I was smart enough to buy Short Term Disability insurance which replaced most of my paychecks during the MLOA.
Warning: The official cause of the medical leave was depression. If you are tempted to fake depression, I wouldn’t do it. This will go on your medical record and it might affect your health care options later on.
Handed in my two weeks notice
During the time off, I talked to a psychiatrist and continued my physical therapy. The talk therapy actually helped solidify my decision to quit and begin a new chapter. The only deterrence I potentially had was our finances. Anyway, my return to work date was last Monday and I decided to hand in my 2 weeks notice right away.
You know the old story about the frog and a pot. If you turn up the temperature a little at a time, the frog won’t notice it. That’s what it was like for me. The pot was heating up and I was malfunctioning for a long time. After 10 weeks off, I won’t jump back into that pot of boiling water. If I didn’t get the extended time off, I probably could grind it out until next year. Financially, we would be more ready next year, but I think we’ll be fine.
The job was no longer a good fit for me. The expectation for a senior engineer is different than for a junior engineer. The manager expected a lot from me and I just wasn’t able to deliver. At this point in my career, I needed to be a multiplier and work through others. Unfortunately, that’s not my talent. I am good at my own job and enjoy being an individual contributor. I am terrible at the whole multiplier BS. The job was not a good fit anymore. I have no motivation and the only reason I went to work was for the paycheck.
The only thing I regret was that I couldn’t get any severance pay. Financial Samurai released his book, How to Engineer Your Layoff, two days after I handed in my notice. If I didn’t take the medical leave, his book would have helped me negotiate for a severance package. I think I would have a good chance of getting a severance package if I last the rest of this year (2012) and get another bad review. However, it is 10 more months until next April and that’s a really long time to be stressed out and depressed. This would in turn, cause Mrs. RB40 to be stressed out as well. It isn’t worth it.
*2020 update – I’m glad I quit when I did. The only way it could have gone better is if I could turn off my emotion. I’d stop caring and avoid working until they fired me. However, I couldn’t function like that. If I go to work, I’d want to contribute and I’d be stressed out.
Anyway, I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel euphoric since I handed in my resignation letter. I have a spring in my step again and I’m getting my confidence back. The job is actually a great job, but good things don’t last forever. The worst case is that I’ll have to go back to work once baby RB40 starts school. On the other hand, if I can be build up some income from this site and perhaps pursue other self-employment opportunities, I’ll have the freedom that I always craved.
This one was pretty long, but I hope you enjoyed it. It’s surprisingly cathartic to write this down. Now I’m really ready for the new chapter in my life. Thank you everyone for your support!
2020 update – My blog income increased tremendously since 2012. This year is a tough year, but I’m still making some income. Self-employment is a great bridge to full retirement. We haven’t had to withdraw from our retirement account so they had time to grow. If we can keep this up until we’re 55, we’ll be set for life.
How are we doing?
Early retirement has been great so far. Life is getting better for me every year. Our kid is growing up fast and he is in school now. That gives me a lot more time to work on my projects. We’ve done very well financially as well. Our net worth doubled since I quit working full time in 2012. You can see the latest updates here.
8 years after early retirement – Oh wow, time flies. Life is still great. Retiring early was the right decision for me. I have zero regrets.
Pandemic update – July 2020
I had to homeschool our son when the COVID pandemic hit. It was really tough at first, but we adjusted. Our net worth took a big hit when the stock market crashed, but it has recovered by July. Also, our cash flow was beaten up. However, we live modestly so we didn’t have to dip into savings. All in all, we are getting through this pandemic with minimal damage. However, the situation is not looking good in the US. The number of cases is on the rise again. The government continues to screw this up royally. The rest of the world is doing so much better than we are. At this rate, I seriously doubt school can reopen in the fall. I am not looking forward to more homeschooling at all. Please stay healthy.
*See my guide – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should. Starting a blog changed my life. It provides some income after retirement and it’s a great way to build a community. Those are the two biggest problems after retirement. It’s a great way to use some of your free time.
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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Originally posted at https://retireby40.org/my-two-weeks-notice/