Less than a year ago I was working a full time in a job that I didn’t 100% hate but knew that a great salary was keeping me there. I also knew that it was keeping me away from the part time business I was running.
I wasn’t sure if I could make it work. Could I do what I love full-time?
That’s why I can resonate with David’s guest blog but it’s not the only reason.
David’s story is one which includes choosing the right path for you and seeking expertise (and content to inform his decision). Maybe David’s way will be the right one for you too.
Ever wanted to leave your paid job and do what you love instead?
There are a few possible ways you could go about it:
- Save up enough money to create a buffer to live on for a few months
- Be very generous and rely on it coming back to you
- Work on your dream after-hours and on your days off
But there’s another way.
A safer way.
And that’s the route I chose.
Choosing the day job
I actually enjoyed my job (most of the time). I liked the steady salary too.
Great people. Nice environment. Good benefits. Fancy job title.
In a word…stability.
But deep down I wanted to be free to do my own thing.
You know…creating passive income streams and stuff like that.
So what was stopping me?
It was those things I’ve just described. Especially the steady salary bit.
And there aren’t too many people that I know who make a good living out of “doing what they love”.
So I stuck at the J.O.B.
And continued to dream.
I found a way out
After the initial shock, on the surface, my manager seemed quite pleased for me. The truth is, I don’t think he ever expected me to tell him I’d be leaving.
People in their fifties don’t just leave a steady job. But here I was giving him loads of notice. And even suggesting a replacement engineer. I had it mapped out.
But, right now, by my own words, I’d committed myself to leaving.
No turning back.
The clock had begun to tick.
Who had you fallen out with, David?
So why had I decided to leave an interesting technical job with a steady salary and nice benefits?
Was I fed up? Nope.
Had I fallen out with someone? Nope.
Were the long, unsociable, 12-hour shifts getting to me? A bit. Especially having to work Christmas Day most years.
My wife, though, was concerned about the long night shifts. We were like passing ships in the night. As I arrived home after a night shift, she was going out of the door on her way to work.
“Good morning, Luv. How was the night shift?”
“OK, thanks. I’m tired now, though.”
“Maybe see you this evening before you go to work… if I’m home in time.”
But that wasn’t the main reason.
The reason I’d decided to leave my paid job at this point in time was really quite simple. And it began with a question to a chap who lived nearly 400 miles away.
There’s always a way
I didn’t discover the good news immediately. First, there was a process of building trust. Here’s how it happened…
I came across a financial planner who was giving away heaps of practical financial information on his podcast.
Not just the basic stuff. This was quality financial content. The sort of stuff for which you’d expect to pay lots of money to an advisor for.
As Pete’s story unfolded, I discovered that I actually knew his uncle. What a coincidence!
So, of course, I made some enquiries.
“Yeah! Pete’s a great guy, and very clever,” said his Uncle Steve.
Well, you’d expect him to say that, wouldn’t you! But I trusted Steve.
So I contacted Pete. And I asked him the question which changed my destiny. Let’s roll back the clock.
I was 18 when I was talked into parting with my cash
I had just turned eighteen, so I was qualified to join the company pension scheme. Funny, isn’t it…
40 years later, I can recall the conversation by the steps in the corridor of that 1970s prefabricated building. Opposite the dark corridor which led to that mystical salaries-and-expenses office where I’d not yet ventured to explore…much too risky for a young 18-year-old in the 1970s.
“You know, now you’re 18 you can join the pension scheme”
“Pension? Aren’t they just for old people?”
Actually, I didn’t say that – but I’m sure that’s what I was thinking.
Anyway, memories aside… Ron must have been convincing. Either that or the age difference had given him an air of authority.
So I signed on the dotted line. And I began to put some of my meagre, hard-earned salary into my first pension fund.
That was it. The habit started to form.
The power of compounding
You know where this is going, don’t you!
Throughout the next 40 years, I saved into various pension funds at whatever place I worked. Those big black-holes where you’re encouraged to put some money because “it’s tax efficient, and one day you’ll need it”.
Well, fortunately, I believed all that pep-talk. And I tried to save diligently into those pension funds, whilst taking advantage of the employers’ generous contributions! At one company we were even encouraged to choose the funds our pension money was invested into. That was great fun.
All the annual statements were neatly filed away in a tiny filing cabinet at home. But I’d absolutely no idea how that would translate into a retirement pension.
- When could I retire?
- How much would I get?
- How much could we live on?
- Indeed, could I ever afford to retire?
- Should I buy an annuity?
- And what are these new “pension freedoms” the Government was talking about?
Was it expensive to discover my future?
I’d no idea how much a Financial Planner would charge for his services.
You see…up until now I’d only ever experienced financial advisors who took a commission from a policy or pension they sold us. So their fees were effectively hidden. After getting some bad financial advice from one financial advisor many years ago, I’d decided to make all my own financial decisions. And it had gone well up to now.
But retirement is a completely different ball game; any mistakes made now could affect the future badly. So I knew expert advice was needed.
Pete’s pricing was clear. And I’d already decided I could trust him. So we set to work.
“What are you looking for?” he asked in the first of our Skype calls.
That was easy.
“Can I retire at age 60?”
Lots of questions followed – “What pension plans do you have? How much do you need to live on? What’s your tolerance for risk?”
But some days later, with the aid of his incredible computer programme, Pete had processed all the information, all the pension plans, all the data.
“Do you want the good news?”
“The good news is: yes, you can retire at 60”.
Then he talked me through the graphs.
But they were hard to follow. Not because I couldn’t follow graphs. My mind was racing, trying to come to terms with the fact I could retire 6 years earlier than State Pension age. How do you concentrate on graphs when someone breaks that sort of news to you?
My wife, Christine, was a happy bunny too. At last, we’d be able to find time to see each other again.
It gets even better
Six months later, I got back in touch with Pete.
“Pete, can I ask you a silly question?”
“Yes. What’s that?” he replied.
“What if I put my notice in tomorrow? Will that work?”
What a question! If I’d asked that question to a politician, can you imagine them giving me a yes-or-no answer? It wouldn’t happen, would it?
But Pete patiently asked me some more questions, and entered the new data into his computer programme.
“Yes, you can. And here’s what will happen…”
This time, I followed that graph like a hawk! It was too good to believe.
Christine and I discussed all the options. And we decided on an action plan.
Time to make a move
So that’s how I found myself in the impromptu meeting with my manager. I’d already prepared the opening line:
“Paul… I’ve found myself in the fortunate position of being able to take early retirement. And that’s what I’d like to do.”
So at the age of 57 3/4, I left regular paid employment and said goodbye to a secure job.
So was it worth it?
Do I have any regrets? What about getting worried? Do I awake at 3 am and ask “what have you done?”
Actually, no. I thank God most days.
Even now, as I write, 8 months on, I still find it hard to believe. Do I spend my days watching Jeremy Kyle?
Ha! No chance!
Anyway, who said I was “retired”? I’ve just started. The fun has begun. The real work has just commenced.
The passion has been ignited.
Now I’m doing what I enjoy…what I’m passionate about. And that’s a combination of working for myself, a bit of voluntary work, some exploration and travel.
Work wise, I’m finally getting to develop and expand those passive income streams and create new ones, affiliate marketing, writing, blogging, creating websites and producing content.
But listen. Even if I don’t make much money from it, I’ve got my pension to give me the stability. That stops me waking up at 3 am in a cold sweat! That suits my personality perfectly.
‘Cos, you see, I’m not the adventurous entrepreneurial type who loves uncertainty. Nope, I like certainty. I put things in boxes. That’s me. That’s how I’m wired.
So I would have found it very difficult not to have some security.
Doing things this way has allowed me to follow my dreams – without the 3 am shock.
Can you leave your job?
So what are your aspirations? Do you long to leave your job and work for yourself, but you’re too scared to take the leap?
Maybe, like me, you prefer to play things safe. And security is more important than adventure.
Listen. I’m proof that it can be done. There may be a way for you too.
A different way. “Early retirement” certainly wasn’t obvious to me. I would have laughed at the idea.
“Retirement? Me? Haha… I’m much too young to retire…. I’m fit, healthy, active…. I go to the gym, me, don’t you know… I’ll never retire…”
But I discovered that “early-retirement” was actually a practical tool to enable me to fulfil an ambition. A safe way to take a leap of faith. A parachute to prevent free-fall.
So, as the saying goes…think outside the box.
Maybe “retirement” or “early retirement” or “phased retirement” is the way to go for you too. Or perhaps part-time or flexible working will work well while you develop your own business.
One more benefit
I can’t end this without saying thanks to someone who created lots of free content which started the ball rolling. You see…if Pete Matthew hadn’t created Meaningful Money, I might still be working for someone else, oblivious to the fact that I could be doing what I love instead.
Pete has made loads of helpful videos and recorded hundreds of podcasts, giving away oodles of valuable financial information and expecting nothing in return (except the great feeling that he’s been helpful to people).
Pete’s aim wasn’t to get new customers for his business.
No, it was to make easy-to-understand financial information available to everyone.
What an excellent motive. But by doing so, he gained me as a customer.
And I gained the lifestyle I’d dreamed of. Win-win.
But isn’t that what content marketing is about?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic too.
- Are you a full time business owner or do you run your business part time with another ‘job’?
- Have you made the leap from full time employment to run your own business? What approach did you take? How did you overcome those fears?
Please share your experiences below and feel free to ask if you have any questions.
About David Withington
In 2016, David took early retirement from a 40-year career in telecommunications – but he’s still a bit of a geek.
Now he spends his time doing what he loves. That includes blogging, affiliate marketing, building websites and creating passive income streams. Oh, and exploring a lot more than he did when he was tied to a job.