Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
Do you regret quitting your job?
I do not, Anonymous.
That’s not a decision that I made lightly. In Chapter 12 of my book (Passion Saving: The Path to Plentiful Free Time and Soul-Satisfying Work), I examine the possibility that worse could come to worse and that I would not be able to provide for my family. I say that, in those unlikely circumstances, one has to conclude that that was what was meant (by God or by Evolution or by The Fates or by whatever you believe in — I believe in God) to be and that my wife and my children have to learn whatever lesson they were meant to learn from the experience.
Tolkien was an orphan. He could have given up on life when he lost first his father and then his mother. He didn’t. He put his loneliness to a good purpose. He developed the fantasy world that became Lord of the Rings many years later, a trilogy that some list as the best novel of the 20th Century. I don’t believe that those sorts of things happen by accident. I believe that Tolkien was meant to write Lord of the Rings. The opportunity to develop the special skills needed to write it were presented to him when he lost his father and mother. He could have said “no” to the assignment, just as Frodo was tempted to say “no” to his assignment. He said “yes” and that changed history (as did Frodo in the imaginary world in which he said “yes” as well).
I wouldn’t have been able to develop the Retire Early board into the most successful discussion board at the Motley Fool site had I stayed at my corporate job, Anonymous. I wouldn’t have been able to write “Passion Saving.” I wouldn’t have met all the wonderful people that I met at the Retire Early board and learned from their stories. I never would have been put in circumstances in which I had to work up the courage to stand up to Greaney. I never would have met John Walter Russell or Wade Pfau or Rob Arnott or any of the others. I never would have developed the five calculators at this site or have written the hundreds of columns or have recorded the hundreds of RobCasts or any of the rest of it.
I was meant to leave that job at that time. I was meant to remain there for nine years accumulating the assets that permitted me to do all the wonderful stuff that I became empowered to do as a result of leaving that job. But I was not meant to remain there until age 65 or whatever and to collect a pension. Taking that path would have killed me or turned me into an alcoholic. I am sure.
Being sure doesn’t mean that one never has doubts. What makes life hard is that, even when one is sure, one can entertain doubts from time to time. There is no instruction booklet for life that we are handed when we are born and can follow to reach a successful conclusion. We have to figure it out as we go along. So I won’t say that I never stop and think about the question you asked.
What I say is that every time that I stop to think about it, I reach the same conclusion — it was the right thing to do and I do not regret the decision. That’s what I mean when I say that I am “100 percent sure.”
I hope that helps a small bit, my old friend.