Staring at Your Future

Every day I head into the office via train or bike and each day is similar to the next.  There are days that I look at people on the train as they get off and wonder how long they have been doing the same routine, wearing the same suit and tie or skirt and blouse.  If I looked out this same window every morning for 10 or 20 years would things really change?

In the morning I very seldom will see a smile on a morning commuter’s face it is certainly not the morning norm.  Most are listening to music and podcasts, others are playing games on their phone, while others are reading on a kindle or turning pages on a paperback book, and some are just staring out the window and thinking.  I wonder if they are thinking about the day ahead at work.  I sometimes think about the day ahead at work and do my best to stop this nonsense in its tracks, I mean I get paid while I’m at work not thinking about the excel sheets on the train and planning for the day ahead.  Is it possible they are thinking about how great or difficult things have been recently?  I wonder if anyone is thinking that they cannot keep doing this for another 5, 10, or 20 years?

As I get off the train I am weaving through traffic to get to the outside light, somehow attracted like a moth to an outside lamp.  During this weave through traffic it looks as though we are all going through a march to the light, one by one we walk through the platform to the escalator.  It is a rarity but some take the stairs and a few take the elevator, but we all do it almost in unison like a march to a drum we all know the beat to.  We are all in a hurry to escape the train, hurry past the platform, and step or wait on our escalator or stairs to the outside light.  Each day we hurry to the light, maybe we are all trying to be early at our jobs to impress our boss or we are trying to hurry so no one notices we are late.  We all seem to be hurrying to the light with a briefcase, messenger bag, or briefcase by our side carrying lunches and important documents and when we get to that light we are in the same hurry to our jobs.  How long can we be in a hurry to get to work?

There are days I am the guy in a hurry, wondering why the tourists or chatty Cathy’s are walking as slow as my grandma with a bad hip, are you not all aware I am in a hurry to get to my office.  I sometimes get mad at those who are not aware of their surroundings, catch me before coffee and I might just tell you about it.  Does that make me the crazy guy who just needs to calm down?  Yes. Although I have gotten better, those days are very far apart from happening, most days I am the one laughing with Mrs. Even Steven and asking if we can get coffee together.  I listen to her thoughts and concerns as she starts the day; you see I’m really a relaxed person I like to think that one of my strengths is remaining calm in pressure situations.  I wonder if you consider life a pressure situation if you need to be at work for the next 40 years.

When I arrive at the office, I’m checking the clock to make sure I made it on time.  It’s funny how one cares not so much about being late, but having a conversation that you arrived late.  Honestly I could show up an hour late, wouldn’t bother me very much, but having a conversation with your boss about this action of tardiness is like listening to your least favorite music on repeat for an hour.  I don’t like to listen to music I like on repeat for an hour, so I arrive on time, over and over.


Looking good Ali!

When I walk to get my morning coffee, a highlight for my day, I have a few more smiles and laughs as I walk through the concrete jungle with less worry and cares than most.  The morning walk whether with co-workers or by myself as I stare at the people around me is enjoyable.  As those around me make the necessary steps to work some more rapid than others as they get off this train or that bus, but all seem in a hurry.  My morning coffee is a highlight because I look at life a little differently.  I stare at those around me and wonder if that person is me in a few years or many years down the road?  I sometimes see the small older men in business suits and the briefcase before I was born and have one of two general thoughts:

  • This man loves his job, he is 60, 70, or 80 and gets up every morning to come into work and say hello to Geraldine his secretary and Robert his colleague.  Sure the walk takes a little longer, but the chance to work is a blessing each and every day.
  • I feel sorry for this man, he is 60, 70, or 80 and he still have to come to work every morning.  Most of his colleagues are gone now; many fresh faces have replaced those that used to be around him.  It must take this man forever to walk to work at his age as his pace is at a slow crawl, I worry that this man has no choice or doesn’t know anything else but to work each and every day.

This could be me, I could be the old man in the suit walking downtown on my way to work 30 years from now.

When I get into the office I see individuals of all age ranges, from fresh out of college to more gray hairs and closer to retirement age.  I wonder less about the college kids, most of them are happy to be at their first jobs and getting a paycheck in the bank every 2 weeks.  I can’t help but think about the 50 plus crowd, what are their plans?  I hear subtle jokes about never retiring and I want to yell back that you can retire, you really can.  I don’t have first-hand experience, but I will soon, please read my early retirement blueprint and let’s see what you can do to get there.  My first-hand experience is lacking but there is more people just like me striving to reach financial independence.  Some keep detailed spreadsheets,  but like myself love seeing the big picture on Personal Capital a site I find myself checking more and more to see my net worth grow as I get closer to the day I am able to remove myself from the morning commute for good.  When do you think the morning commute will stop for you?

Co-workers that are in the 18-35 range I don’t think much about in the retirement space, I highly doubt many are thinking of packing it in and buying an RV to whisk down the road to Montana and camp for the month.  When I look at the 55 year old down the hall, I worry that I could be looking into the future.  Am I going to be here 20 years from now, taking the same train to work, grabbing the same coffee and deciding if buying a coffee is in the budget?  I have plans to avoid this situation, as I plan to retire early.  I have many doubters and those who do not drink the Kool-Aid like I do, but each day as I pay off my student loans, ditch my Mercedes Benz and the car loan to go with it, I get closer and closer to my income being greater than my expenses.   It’s sometimes a reality check to see those walking the same steps to work, taking the same train, and going to the same office.  It certainly makes you look at your future.

If you are traveling down the road wondering if your next step is towards financial freedom, it’s time to look into your future and what’s around you today so you can change your tomorrow. Getting the big picture all in one place with Personal Capital has really helped me see what I can do with my finances today and in the future.  If you don’t know where you are today, how do you know where you are going in the future?  If you’re looking for a great way to track your net worth, analyze your portfolio fees, manage your cash flow, and get a handle on your finances for today and the future, sign up with Personal Capital today.

Do you see someone at work that you are afraid that could be you in 10 or 20 years?



18 Responses to “Staring at Your Future

  • As someone who just got back from a wonderful trip to Montana (although not in an RV, YET), I have definitely been in this situation before. I realize everybody’s situation is different, but ultimately, we all have choices to make in this world. Seeing a 65-year old guy working for a living at a job he clearly doesn’t give a crap about is about as sad of a situation as I can imagine. I’ve worked with plenty of these people.

    And really, really don’t want to become one of those people. And, I won’t. Neither will you. 🙂
    Steve recently posted…Make cheap, kick-butt picture frames that look like clipboardsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      I like the positive attitude of not becoming the employee who is sitting in the chair at 65 and needs to work, it can be a sad situation, I agree.

  • This is one of the reasons I love my job. Every day is different. I have a lot of autonomy and I get to do and study stuff I love. That said, I do have a feeling of dread as I get older. I wonder how I rationalize this love of the job with wanting FI and potentially retiring early. I am not sure I could do it b/c my job is such a big part of my identity. Interesting dilemma.
    Jason recently posted…I’m Taken A Few Days OffMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      This is just my opinion on teachers/professors but having the freedom of summers off ( I know it’s not entirely off, but way more off then my current summer schedule) and I think that gives this profession those that work longer. I think time off can have a lot to do with job satisfaction.

      On your point doing different things in something that you really enjoy can make the work satisfying. I would say talk to me in 10 or 15 years and if that is still the case with your job then I wouldn’t quit, I might take a sabbatical but I wouldn’t leave something that I really enjoy.

  • I have to admit that some days I do have these thoughts. The idea of continually going to the same place everyday for 30 years is a little overwhelming. That is why I want to get to FI so I don’t HAVE to be that person. If I get there and decide that I still want to work, I am okay with that. I just don’t want to be in the position that I have to do anything. I want the freedom to spend time with my family if that is what I want. Not to only be able to have experiences with them 2 weeks out of the year because that is all the time I am allowed to have off.
    Thias @It Pays Dividends recently posted…The Weekly Dividend Payout #1- Signs You Are Financially StableMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Preaching to the choir on everything you said Thias. Having the freedom to make choices is so important, not being required to take the same commute and turn on the same computer day after day.

  • Dude, I have no doubt that you will not be in that same routine for the next 20 years. You have a plan, and a man with a plan is in the drivers seat to his future.

    Excited to see what you start doing with all the extra money you will have now that your student loans are paid in full.

    Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…The Email That Lead To A $60,000 Increase In CompensationMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      I like that talk about being in the drivers seat, you are right have a plan and the future is yours!

  • I doubt you’ll be the guy in the same office 10-20 years from now. From your posts, you may be out of there by 2017! I work with a lot of those older guys, and I ask, “why the hell haven’t you retired yet?” Most always it’s a money issue. Either they want more, feel they need more, or are playing catch up from not saving enough early on in life. The younger folks, I’ve found a handful that are thinking about early retirement but most just think “that’s a future me problem.”
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Layoffs are Looming! Would you be ready?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      I wonder how much of it is a money issue and how much is a lifestyle issue? I like the vote of confidence on not being the guy hanging in the office in 20 years, cheers to 2017 or 2020, either way;)

  • Oh man, that’s me when I see older co-workers. Yes, you can retire!!! I work in government and we have a very good pension. And even with that pension…many STILL don’t retire because they “need” their FULL income. They apparently can’t leave on anything less. I will admit that the pension is a bit of a golden handcuff for me. It’s a lot of money to give by leaving early. And being that I don’t plan on living in a lower cost area, I’m a little nervous about pulling the early FI plug.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…I’m Frugal…Now What?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      That’s really interesting, you would think that if you are receiving a pension at say 60% or 80% of your salary, the rest of your time would be spent saving/investing to cover the remaining 40/20 percent. I understand nervous, I hear it from Mrs. ESM all the time, just have to keep drinking the kool-aid and pop through that wall to FI.

      • You would think that but that’s not the thought process in the mainstream. It is sadly the complete opposite. They see the pension as their SOLE retirement plan and many don’t save for retirement and will rely only on the pension in retirement…and so, they’re not ready to leave on 60% of their income.
        Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…I’m Frugal…Now What?My Profile

  • I know people at work that have chipped in 20 years doing the same thing over and over. What’s worse is that they’re doing 10 – 12 hours a day for the past 20 years. This is not something I see myself in.

    There are also people at work that have made a lot of money but are still working because they wanted the power and have too much ego to lay low and enjoy life. I’d rather enjoy life myself. 🙂
    Tawcan recently posted…Another reason to be financially independentMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Power and ego what a deadly combination. I do have to remind myself to stay humble as it is one of the steps towards enjoying life in my humble opinion.

  • Oh man, this definitely scares me!! The partners I see at my firm are exactly who I picture myself turning into, but I absolutely know for a fact that it’s not what I want. Most days I feel like I’m one end of a magnet walking into a building and group of people comprised of it’s polar opposite.

    It’s not necessarily bad work, but its exactly that image of becoming one of the older people I see here is what repels me, and keeps driving these thoughts of just jumping ship and doing some freelance or part-time work to break that tractor-beam career path.

    And a beautifully described journey to work – almost couldn’t be more accurate description of my experience, especially the late-talk issue and morning coffee!
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…A visit from my 45 year old selfMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      You should make sure the ask the 45 year old self if those guys and gals are still around?! I’m sure we are thinking similar things as time goes on with career focus vs freedom focus and what meets our happiness needs.

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