Let's face it: We've all thought about it, haven't we? To be at the point where we no longer need our full-time job and we're ready to call it quits – early retirement-style. Yup, our I Quit letter.
Most of us won't storm out of our offices in a blaze of glory, cursing out our boss and flipping the secretary the bird. Of course not. After all, we are responsible people, aren't we? We're going to do this like the professionals that we are. And, that might include writing a letter.
And, that letter might detail exactly why we're doing this.
All the things that we loved about working, but also why we've chosen to step away from our careers.
- Solving challenges
- Working with smart people
- Learning new things
But, there are also things that we don't like, such as:
- Stupid deadlines
- Meaningless performance reviews
- Weekend work
I've gone through this. As an early retiree who lives the life of a rich retiree, the day I told my boss that I was leaving was one of the best days I've ever spent as a full-time worker. I was respectful and professional when I told my boss. I took the responsible route.
But, let's be honest…I also kept a lot of how I truly felt inside. All the crap that comes along with working in corporate America.
Here's the letter that I wanted to send (but didn't!). What does yours look like?
Here's what my “I Quit” letter would look like
Dear Mrs. Boss,
I am writing to inform you that I will be stepping away from my position at the end of the year.
Actually, it is more than that. I am not just quitting. I’m retiring. I am done with the rat race and all that comes along with it. After 13 years of being a professional, I’ve had it.
I honestly did the absolute best job that I possibly could for you over the years, but seriously, the corporate environment in this country makes this whole process gut-wrenching.
Please don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I haven’t enjoyed the hours of meetings that I sit through every day about nothing, or meetings about other meetings, or meetings at 4:30pm on a Friday, or listening to overpaid and scared-for-their-lives managers demand this and that from their staff in conference calls as they “lay down the law”, often in poor audio quality.
Or how everything changes every freaking week, rendering the work that I did last week to be entirely useless and requiring me to personally undo or redo work that I already did once under a whole other set of requirements, possibly from a different set of managers with different priorities and pet projects.
Or the lunch-time “all hands/all staff” meetings that we are all forced to attend but not allowed to record on our timecards in exchange for a free lunch of pizza or sandwiches, loading us up with carbs and spiking our blood sugar levels to keep us awake for the mind-numbingly dull show that we were forced to attend and then fight to stay awake once we return to real work.
Or that damn secretary who thinks she is my boss because her boss is my boss. I mean, seriously, what the hell is that about? Did you tell her to pull that crap?
Or those non-stop emails where everybody replies to everybody and you truly, truly don’t give a wit about any of it except for that one line that might actually pertain to you in email number 14 and then somebody drops by your cubicle to ask you if you “got the email”.
Or the two guys who won’t stop bitching about their lives to each other over the cubical walls and carrying on conversations as if they were at lunch or somewhere other than work where people around them might just need to concentrate on something other than whether or not their weekend trip to Costco was successful or not.
The unrealistic project schedules due to aggressive bottom-line business objectives. The “prepare for weekend work” bombshell on a Friday morning. The insistence that we travel over the weekend so it is on our time even though we’re blowing basically an entire damn day for the company.
Nah, it’s not any of this. Promise.
In fact, I have grown to love the blinding inefficiencies of business. I love spending more time wading through the bureaucracy of organizations than actually doing my job. The “Information Assurance” training vids straight out of the 1980’s? Love those! The “Importance of keeping information safe and secure” slides? Totally, I dig it. And the anti-harassment videos that helpfully remind me that playing grab-ass with my coworkers in the office is a frowned up action? Appreciate that!
Or being forced to work with someone who couldn’t possibly care any less about what they do and never responds to a single email, or has willingly cemented themselves into the same position for 15-freaking-years, stuck in their ways and without a shred of legitimate skill left, demanding everybody else do things their way from a textbook straight out of last decade.
Really, this isn’t so bad.
In truth, I find much comfort working with retirement-aged folks with nice cell phones and expensive wrist watches who bitch about how little they are paid or how much of a pain in the ass their wife is or what stupid thing their kid did last night or how nightmarishly horrible their lives have become and how lucky I am to be young.
Or witnessing my coworkers actually think that they are the best engineers in the history of the world, and how the company reinforces that with insipid “we rock” events that generally turn into “let’s dump on our competition whilst we ever-so-sensually stroke our own…egos” festivals. No, this stuff is great!
It is not the mindlessness of work, either. Actually, I have thoroughly enjoyed the mountains of busy work I’ve done over the years as a professional as I lie in wait for some careless cog in the wheel to “process my paperwork”.
And the fact that Microsoft PowerPoint has somehow become the de-facto application to present absolutely any kind of information possible, and standard company computer policies that demand adherence to the use of restrictive “office productivity tools” even when superior alternatives exist?
Or the gratuitous regurgitation of business-approved but completely meaningless buzz words like “repurpose”, “alignment”, “innovative” and “streamline”?
Or the fact that management views anything other than typing stuff into the computer to be “idle” time, and there is no such thing as “rest time” during the day lest you actually step outside and walk away from the office?
This is gold! I’m not retiring because of this.
And it is not the mindless ritual of churning up a fresh, steaming pile of self-aggrandizing gibberish during employee reviews every year either. I appreciate the fact that this asinine process is more of a pain in the butt for you than it is for me.
But you and I both know the goals and achievements on those things are complete B.S. I don’t care about them. You don’t care about them. That whole employee review process is the model of inefficiency and waste cloaked underneath a thick pile of organizational decay, and the thought of my raise being determined by a simplified 1 to 5 scale? This is the stuff of geniuses!
And by the way, you know that I’m choosing easy goals that I could accomplish in my sleep just so I can mark that one as an achievement next year. And you don’t care because you want your staff to be achievers so it reflects better on you.
Everything that we all do to put that check in the box for the sake of paperwork and to rationalize someone else’s job? I love every minute of it.
Despite how much I love virtually everything about corporate America, when it comes down to it, I am retiring because I would literally prefer to do absolutely anything other than work full time – ever.
My gut has been wrenched long enough.
Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.