Here I am in 2017, still working at the post office. Every day, I keep reminding myself of all the reasons that I continue to work there:
- My coworkers
- A nice bi-weekly paycheck, direct-deposited into my bank account
- Health insurance
- A pension (if I can stay there until I turn 60)
- Paid vacation days, holidays, and sick days
- A fairly consistent 35-hour-a-week schedule that allows me to escape the office by noon most days
- Not being chained to a desk
- Sundays off
But every day, I’m also bombarded with the reasons that I hate working there:
- Getting up at 4:30 a.m. (despite my inner body clock’s protests)
- Working 6 days a week (including every Saturday)
- The 25-mile/25-minute commute each way (in what seems like daily snowstorms lately)
- Recurring bouts of fatigue, sickness, and depression
- Office politics
- Mind-numbing repetition and drudgery
- My dry, cracked, filthy hands (and Oh My God the paper cuts!)
But the biggest deal-breaker for me? Complete surrender of my personal freedom and the inability to make my own schedule.
For the longest time, I think I’ve been waiting for some kind of sign to tell me that it’s time to finally move on. I wasn’t sure what form that sign would take, or if I’d even recognize it when it came. But last week, as I was stuffing mail into PO boxes, it finally hit me, like a lightning bolt out of the sky:
I dream about quitting my job EVERY DAY.
In fact, I spend hours thinking about:
- When will I quit?
- How will I quit?
- What do I need to do to prepare to quit?
- How much more money should I have saved?
- How soon can I pay off my mortgage?
The list goes on and on, and the thoughts swirl around and around. I’ve read dozens, maybe even hundreds, of books about it. I’ve made spreadsheets. I’ve agonized and obsessed. For years. And not just at the post office, but at pretty much every job I’ve ever had.
And I finally realized, that’s my sign.
I need to be free. Free to wake up when my body wants to. Free to eat breakfast sitting down. Free to schedule my days as I see fit. Free to go to my nephew’s wedding on a Saturday without a signed permission slip from the postmaster. Free to pursue rewarding work that matters to me.
Ah, Peter. I don’t think I’d like another job either.
My schedule has been determined by someone else since I started first grade — 40 years ago. I’ve worked for someone else for 30 years. Enough! Financial security has always been my #1 priority, but self-employment has always been my #1 dream. And lately it seems like my deepest longings for freedom and autonomy have begun to overpower my insecure needs for a regular paycheck and the promise of a pension.
I’ve built a solid financial foundation over the years by keeping my expenses and debt low and adding to my savings whenever possible, so I know I’m in a good position to take the leap soon without too much risk. I always knew this time would come, and I wanted to be ready for it. I don’t have every detail figured out yet, and I probably never will, but I’m getting closer.
The goal I’m working toward this year is FREEDOM. And now that I’ve put it out there, I’m counting on you all to help me out, and hold me accountable.
“Leap, and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs