As with most of my former colleagues who moved on, I am often elated and highly supportive to know that each of them are progressing towards bigger and better things in their career. While I would be lying if I said I wasn't a tad bit envious, I'm often excited by the fact that my "network" is expanding and that my positive relationships with them may lead to future opportunities for myself... hopefully, haha.
So when I finally got to Dan's office after much anticipation to learn about the juicy details, I was shocked at what I learned. It went something like this:
Dofu: Congratulations (with a big smile reaching out to shake Dan's hand). Sorry I missed the announcement at the team meeting. So, do you mind sharing where you are going next and what exciting new role you will be taking on?
Dan: I have some things in the works. (grinning back at me).
Dofu: Wait, you mean you resigned without securing anything first? Wow, that's a powerful statement.
Dan: Yeah, life is too short. What I'm doing now isn't making me happy and I'm not getting the support from this place.
Dofu: But still, I thought we've had many discussions in the past that a job is a job and you mentioned several times how you didn't want to move on because this place gave you great flexibility and a high salary for something you can do in your sleep. What changed?
Dan: Yeah the people at this place and culture are toxic.
Dofu: Oh sounds like something happened to trigger this.
Dan: Yeah, I was being blamed for things that were not my fault. So after speaking to my wife, and knowing that we have a 401K that has grown substantially over the last 18 years, we decided that we can live for 4 years if we needed to tap it. She is supportive that I get out of this hostile environment.
Dofu: Sorry to hear that... (Then we went on to reminisce at all the wonderful accomplishments we've achieved together in prior years and wished each other the best with promises to keep in touch)
Shortly after I reached out to one of our former colleagues (Let's call him Ron) who used to be part of our team to inform him of Dan's departure.
Dofu: Hey Ron, hope you are well. Dan just resigned from the team also.
Ron: Wow!! I am sure he got incentive to do that.
Dofu: Yeah it sounded like everyone was beating on him and he quit before he even landed anything.
Ron: I can confirm they were gonna fire him but he took the option of resigning for 'personal reasons'
Dofu: Speechless (shocked and in awe).
Long story short, you never know what curve balls life will throw at you. This is why I'm even more focused on "reclaiming power and responsibility for my success" through Financial Independence (FI) via high savings, low expenses and disciplined investments.
The irony in Dan's situation is that two managers ago, he was the golden child of the group and loved as one of the top performers. Under new management, he is considered under-performing. This can easily happen to any one of us. FI is more than just early retirement, it's about taking back control and power for managing our own destiny so that we never have to be subjected to other people's whims or perceptions of us. In the case of Dan he had 4 years worth of savings albeit in his 401K which allowed him to resign in lieu of collecting unemployment, I have over 10 years. :-)