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Leaving the Workforce at 29: Where Do I Go From Here?

I focused on early retirement my whole adult life. Whether it was hanging out at the Early Retirement Forums [1] the Retire Early Home Page [2], the old Motley Fool Retire Early forum [3] or the Vanguard Diehards Forum [4], contributing crazy amounts to our retirement plan [5], managing our asset allocation [6], or creating retirement checklists [7], I always had one goal in mind: exiting the work force.

I have less than a month until the big day and I’m panicking. I can’t quite describe the exact emotion, it’s a mix of anxiety, sadness, fear, and doubt all rolled up. It’s almost a feeling of emptiness.

This isn’t about missing work, it’s about changing the entire way that I align our personal finances to meet our goals. You see, ever since I was 16 [8] personal finance has been one of my favorite hobbies. I’ve had lots of mini-goals [9], but all of them centered around the main goal, quitting [10] the work force.

What happens after you meet your goal?

The problem is that I actually met my goal, the big one. And now that the excitement has worn off, I feel really disappointed.

I hit the “personal finance peak” and now I’m getting ready to head down the other side. Over time, I’ve found comfort in the climb up the hill. I know how to save money, live frugally, navigate retirement plans and taxes… but what I don’t know how to do is live the financial life on the other side. I’m sure it will come with time, but right now the feeling is a bit scary.

I’m happy and excited about my new life. Of course, I’m going to enjoy what I get to do with all my time – my kids, family, and other interests I haven’t had any time for. That part doesn’t concern me. It’s the relationship with money that is changing.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Obviously, I’m going to stick around here and continue to write about the stuff that made the climb up the hill successful, but I’m a planner, so I’m trying to come up with a new “goal” to replace my old one. Feel free to give me ideas…. I’m all ears.

Lots of times in our life we deal with transition. Maybe my way of handling transition is to make excel spreadsheets with lots of columns and dollar signs. I just don’t know what the column headings should be…