I’m going a little bit off topic this morning but if I don’t write this post, I think it will continue to follow me throughout my journey. As I’m writing the first part of this article, I’ve been on the road for 44 days already. 44 days… this doesn’t sound like a lot. In fact, it just sounds like a big vacation, right? We started our trip on a big roll going from one place to another like we were almost being chased. I remember, we were so excited to discover the world and experience everything. Without any surprises, after three weeks we were burning out. I remember I had the same feeling when I did my first trail run. When I heard the start signal, I was running my life for the first 2km. Then, I started to lose my breath and realized I wouldn’t run like that for another 7km. This is when I slowed down, without stopping, to get a rhythm that suited my body. This is exactly what we did when we stayed at Wainwright. At that time, there is a question that came back to me. A question that I can usually make it fade away quickly by going back to my busy life. But now that we have taken the decision to slow down, do less things, but enjoy every single minute of our day with no sources of stress whatsoever, the question echoes in my mind all the time.
What do you want to do?
This is a simple question isn’t? almost too simple to answer it. We usually ask this question when we wonder if we are going to the movies or to the restaurant tonight. Or on a sunny day during the weekend. What do you want to do? This is an inoffensive question that doesn’t implicate much the person answering.
I want to read,
I want to run,
I want to blog,
I want to have people over my place and have a good time.
Those are simple answers focusing on the next few minutes or hours of your day. We sometimes try to answer this question for the next few days or few months if we have bigger projects.
I want children,
I want to take a course,
I want to change job,
I want to upgrade my house,
I want to go on vacation,
I want to leave for a year.
But have you tried to answer this question thinking about the rest of your life?
What do you want to do?
The eternal dilemma
I’m well aware I’m fortunate blessed at many levels. When I read those “changing life” books, they often relate to people hating their jobs or being miserable at what they are doing. I’m not really there. I actually enjoy my job. I love working in the financial industry. But I’m wondering if this is all there is about life. I’m happy where I am but I wonder if I could be happier. I mean, while I’m traveling, I’m feeling alive. I rarely feel that when I go to work. I’m thinking that it is maybe because I’m not working for myself. Maybe it’s because it’s not my own business.
When I left for a year, I’ve been offered a promotion when I come back. The job is amazing, it pays very well and yet, I’m not sure I want to take it. A few months before they offered me this promotion, I had made the decision that I wasn’t coming back. I had decided I would take the big leap of faith and work solely on my websites. But now, I’m hesitating… again. I’ve been hesitating for the past 5 years to quit my job to try my business. Each time I was about to take a decision, I was given an opportunity to get a better job at work.
Back in early 2012, we bought 2 websites and I was ready to quit my day job. We were about to have our third child and I had the opportunity to stay at home on “parental leave” for 7 months with a pay check. Then, I got a promotion and decided to keep my day job. A few months later, our online business collapsed by 70%. Google changed the rules of the game and we weren’t on the winning side. During the next 2 years, the sites were barely paying our operating expenses. Then, I became motivated again by my traveling project. I decided to work nights and build a stronger business model that was not relying on Google to make money. Two years later, I’ve succeeded enough to finance my trip without any worries. In fact, I’m not worry a bit about money for the upcoming months and I will even have enough to enjoy a comfortable villa in Costa Rica for 3 months.
But as my dream is slowly getting accessible, I feel I’m chickening out again. I don’t make any sense since I’m afraid of failing while I already prove to myself that if I work harder on my sites, I make more money. But there is a limit of how hard I can work at night when I spend my days also working hard at my day job. I’m a performer, I can’t help it. I have to succeed in everything I do. If I keep both sources of income, I need to perform at both as well.
Fast Forward on Day #146
Roughly one hundred days after my first reflection, I’m now convinced of what I want to do. After going through an impossible road in Guatemala where I nearly killed my family, I decide I want to do great things when I come back. I want to achieve new challenges. It has been a while I’m thinking about this promotion they offered me and I think it’s the smartest move to make. After all, I would now be in a position to make between 200K and 300K each year. I could easily live on 100K and put the rest of my paycheck aside. I can do that for let’s say 5 years and put at least $500K on the side. At the age of 40, I could quit my job and do other projects. This sounds like a perfect plan.
I then decide to call my boss and tell her about the good news: I’ll be ready to jump on this new train toward financial freedom! My boss is excited but the conversation doesn’t turn the way I expected it. The bank is not ready anymore to open the position. The classics “things have changed”, “it is now a challenging time for the bank” are clouding our discussion. I tell her I can start my course (to get a specific license for the new job) when I stay in Costa Rica to be ready upon my return. She tells me it won’t be necessary as she really don’t know when she will be able to open the new position anymore. Bummer. I don’t know what to think anymore. I know I don’t want to come back at my old job, but I’m still scared of leaving it for nothing but a few websites…
While you travel during a long period, there are several changes operating within yourself without you noticing. It takes time to disconnect completely and then, it takes more time to process those changes deep inside you.
This is what I experienced while sitting on the beach in Nicaragua. This was our last step before going to Costa Rica. During those 10 days, we experienced a Tsunami alarm and we waited patiently to see where Hurricane Otto would hit. Fortunately for us, both the Tsunami and the Hurricane passed their way without hurting us. For 10 days, I sat each morning and stared at the beach. No books, no music, no talk. Nothing. Just me, the beach and the infinite amount of waves hitting the coast. At this very moment, I processed the most important change in me; I’m not scared anymore.
I have gained the ability to embrace my fears and welcome them inside my heart. I have learned how to define my fear, dissect it into pieces and control it. I’m feeling invincible. I realize that while I like my job, one day I will wake up and I’ll be 50 or 60. I will surely be wealthy, but I will surely deeply regret not trying to start my own company. I will live with this strong regret of having letting one great opportunity flying under my nose. Not taking the right train. For this reason, I decided to quit a 6 figure job and live passionately.
Quitting a Fake World of Security
When I announced on this blog that I was going to take a sabbatical to travel the world with my family, you were many to congratulate me and I was touched by your kind words. However, there were also others telling me that it was a reckless decision. By leaving, I would jeopardize my solid financial situation on top of putting my family at risk.
Today, I’m convinced those people are reading this and telling themselves: “OMG, this poor kid has it all wrong. He is leaving the perfect job behind in a world of uncertainties. He is running toward bankruptcy”.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but we are living in a fake world of security. You think your job is safe? That your pension plan is safe? Think again. This is all illusion. How much control do you have over keeping your job? I’d say none. If upper management decide to cut your division, you will go down with your colleague with no words to say. I rather become “upper management” and be 100% responsible of what will happen with my job.
What about your pension plan? Ah! Let me tell you a little story about that. When I started working at the bank, I was 23. There was a rule where I could retire by the age of 58 or 59 with a full pension instead of waiting until the age of 65. This was a rule for people who started contributing at a very young age like me. It was some kind of reward for their loyalty I guess. A couple of years after the 2008 market crash, the bank ran their algorithm again and noticed that they couldn’t afford this kind of generous offer. What did they do? They simply cancelled that rule and put everybody on the retirement age of 65. In other words, I lost 7 years worth of retirement overnight. Then I started asking myself: what could possibly prevent my employer to change rules again in 20 years from now? The answer is scary: nothing. If you look at the state of most defined pension plan across the country, you will notice that most employers are running into the same kind of problem; those pension plans are underfunded and there is no way out but playing with retirement rules to get out of it. Your pension plan is far from being safe and counting on it seems like a reckless decision to me.
While I made peace with my decision back in November 2016, that was only in April 2017 I announced it to my employer. I wanted to wait for a good timing for me and for them. A 2 months notice sounds fair to me. I dialed the number and the phone rang…
I actually told my boss I called to tell her I quit, she told me “that’s funny, but I’m not surprised”. She expected that I either come back at the bank completely changed, or decide to do something completely different. She told me that I was the kind of guy who demolishes doors, gets things done and that I was a performer… all qualities that made me good at my job, but that also leads me to start my own business today.
At that moment, I didn’t feel afraid or anxious. I felt free, achieved and Zen. Interesting enough, my online business doesn’t make enough to support my lifestyle at home yet. But I don’t mind. I want to live my dream and see how it goes. I want to live a life full of passions and I want those passions driving me.
At work, one thing was driving me above all; teaching my clients about personal finance, more especially about investing. By leaving my job and going “all-in” in my websites, I will be able to not reach a few hundred people, but to reach thousands of them. I want to empower you to control your money and reach your goals.
Why did I wait so long to tell you?
The answer is quite simple. I wanted to come back home, set my office and start different projects first. I wanted you to already feel the wind of change on this blog and see how I was becoming more present. I wanted you to feel that I’m “all-in” in this adventure and I couldn’t do this on the road. Now that I have my new office at home, a lot of things will continue to be improved on this blog in the upcoming months and I’m also working a lot to bring Dividend Stocks Rock to a whole new level. Speaking of which, we have upgraded the whole site recently with strong new features, take a look!
This blog will remain about dividend and my investing journey, if you want to follow my journey as an online entrepreneur, I will give great details about it on my new site Chaos 1981. On this new blog, I will explain how I intend to reach financial independence by creating an online company.