When others heard that I gave my resignation and was leaving a corporate career after nearly two decades, several people expressed that I “was brave” and that they “couldn’t do what I’m doing” even if they wanted to. I totally understood them – I felt the exact same way just three years ago.
I was trapped. Trapped by my lifestyle, my pride, and my debt. I wanted luxury items and cool toys bought on a whim. I identified with my job title and position at work. I loved my new car, credit card rewards, and big house. Even after I knew that I was ready for a different way of life, I struggled to surrender these attachments.
The path to financial independence is simple and hard at the same time.
I didn’t see how I could possibly change myself or my lifestyle to the degree I thought was necessary to start a new career. Further, how could I expect my family to change when I struggled at it? The answer was to give us all space and make one change at a time. In this way, the path unfolded naturally.
Shortly into this journey, I stumbled across minimalism and a book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m no minimalist, but with the idea that belongings should have purpose and/or spark joy, I began my reduction.
As I worked, and the heaviness of my stuff lessoned, my family wanted in on the action. Together we edited nine large garbage bags of items right on out of the house. This then led into a reduction of subscriptions and shopping. I didn’t want to bring in new items, to fill up the space I worked so hard to empty. As we decluttered, I felt freer in mind and spirit.
With fewer things to maintain and pay for, our monthly cash flow increased. This allowed us to make significant progress against our consumer debt. That wish to reboot my life and career started feeling more and more possible.
Then we got to a point where we didn’t want to reduce any further. Our lifestyle was still beyond that of a single income, so the next step became clear. We had to build up our savings.
I call this building my runway, because I see Picture It Personal Finance as a plane that is ready for takeoff. I need the runway, or time, to become profitable. For my conservative and risk averse mind, two years of living expenses was the “runway” I needed – so that’s what we saved up.
Circling back to the people saying that I’m brave and that they can’t do what I did, I tell them that they absolutely can. Yes, a leap of faith is required, but it’s not like a death-defying leap over the Grand Canyon. It’s more like leaping off the high board knowing that the pool is there to catch you.
For any of you who want change, but don’t think it’s possible, I’m here to testify that it is possible! You can do this. I know you can, because I did.