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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aw Rats! Is it time to go? No, Hold Fast

Recently I went through that “a-ha!” moment where I questioned what the hell was I doing working. I love my job. I have no work troubles. I get paid fairly. My co-workers are fantastic. Yet, I’m unfulfilled. I watch as others in my company are being recognized for 25 years of service. 30 years of service. Hell, 2 had 40 years of service! Thinking about that, I imagined how I would feel at those numbers. Personally, not good. Professionally, I’m at 20 years of earning a paycheck now, but 40 years at one company? Woah. That is when the “A-Ha!” regarding the rat race kicked in. It firmly clicked in my mind the dangers of the Rat Race.

Fortunately for me, I have my escape plan. We are changing our life. We are going to hop on a sailboat and go. We will be voyaging around the world. But that is still 2.5 to 6.5 years away. Other than more money in the bank, what will be different in 2 to 6 years? My feelings won’t be. I’m still wanting more from life. That begged the question, why don’t I just pack it in and go now. Go now and break away.

My wife and I did some serious discussion on the option of just walking away, right now. The risks are many, but manageable. The discussion then focused on resolving if we wanted to take those manageable risks now? Or could a few more years make them less of an issue? In our case, a few more years might be worth the work-life unfulfilled feeling being sustained. For example, our youngest, Dy, is 1.25 years old. While there are families with 2 month olds on board, another year or 2 added to Dy’s age would increase her safety quite a bit. Her coordination would improve and she will be better able to communicate. Other examples include having Val get RPK or Lasik to improve her eyes, potentially eliminating the need for glasses. That would certainly make her enjoyment of the voyage go up. Then there is the whole money thing. Every day of work adds more cushion to the voyage bank. The trick is, of course, to not find so many of the above that one never sails away. In the online living aboard sailing forums, being trapped in the risk-vs-more time box condition is cautioned frequently. It is noted that there are people whom have been planning and preparing to take their trip for 30 years!

To help each day be more fulfilling, what I’ve done is compute exactly how much voyage time I earn with each day that I work (I took how much I’m putting away each day for our sailing trip and I divided it by how much it will cost per day to sail). When the Rat Race feeling starts to creep up, I remind myself of why I’m working and how much more time voyaging I’m earning. This has helped a lot!

It looks like the Rat Race will continue to have this Rat chasing the prize for a bit longer. However, this Rat isn’t after the same cheese as everyone else. In fact, it isn’t even cheese, it is wind for the sails.

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