Why We Might Chicken Out

There, I said it! The words no one planning busily for early retirement wants to think, let alone say out loud (or write on a page). “What’s she thinking?” I hear you say. In planning for financial independence and early retirement Mr. and Mrs. PIE have got it all together. They have their finances set, a date in mind and the kids will be alright.

But don’t we all have doubts now and then?

Be honest now. Have you ever wondered, even very briefly, if you’re doing the right thing? Do the ‘what if’s’ creep up on you occasionally? Is it hard to imagine the changes and directions your life will take?

I’m not about to shoot down everything we’ve been planning for. Not by any means. I believe we really have got it all together (well, a good chunk of it at least). I just wanted to put a voice to the occasional nag in the back of the mind. Give it a little air time. Dust it off and see what it has to say. That way the little nag won’t become a big one – or creep up on us unannounced at a later date.

So let’s go, let’s list those reasons and see if we can rationalize them

It will be hard to let go of all we have here

We’ve lived in our house for nearly 17 years now. It’s the first house Mr. PIE and I bought together, not long after we’d taken the big plunge and moved to the US. We’ve done a lot of work on it, upgraded, furnished and decorated as we want. We’ve had two kids here and there are a lot of memories tied up in this place. It’s home. It absolutely will be sad to sell our home and most of its contents and move on. There’s no doubt about it.

Is that enough to make us chicken out? Let me answer that by telling you how much we love our mountain home that we will move to. How perfectly it is located and how beautiful the views are. How the kids love climbing trees and running about the yard. We furnished it from scratch, it was a blank canvas and we love what we’ve done with it.

There is no way either Mr. PIE or I can imagine spending our early financial independence years still living in the ‘burbs. There’s no benefit to living here beyond its location for commuting to our respective jobs. Yes, it will be bitter sweet to say goodbye to our first home, but even sweeter to move permanently to the mountains.

Letting go of work

This goes beyond letting go of the routine of work that we’ve been getting up in the morning and doing for a combined total of over 40 years. Work has the benefit of making you feel useful. That you’re contributing to society. Mr PIE and I have been in pharmaceutical research for the whole of our careers. I have to admit, there is something satisfying in knowing you’re doing important research into developing new medications for patients. Even after a bad day I can remind myself of that and feel (marginally) better. The nag at the back of the mind likes to ask what it will be like to no longer get paid for doing something useful. Proving your worth by earning money in exchange for your expertise.

Does the chicken get a look in on this one? The answer might come in the form of some plans I have for a volunteer / side hustle opportunity. I’ve been volunteering for two years now at a local middle school, helping out by teaching some chemistry classes once a month or so. I have every intention of continuing to do this and even to grow my teaching experience. I’ll get to use my field of expertise doing something I have found that I love. It may even have the potential to turn into a paid gig if necessary. Big change? Absolutely! Nerve wracking? Yup! Getting to do something just because I like doing it? See ya chicken!

Letting go of the pay checks

This isn’t about the comfort of having a regular paycheck. I fully trust in our savings and planning to replace that. This is the big ‘what if’. What if something unforeseen goes wrong (insert natural disaster, war, disease, financial ruin). The big nag at the back of the mind here is that Mr. PIE and I will have physically removed ourselves from a location where we can return to our current careers. Short of building a lab in the basement Breaking Bad style, I will have physically removed myself from the option of doing the type of work I do now. There’s no going back to what I know.

Shooing away the ‘chicken of doom’ here is a little harder. This is the kind of thing that makes you question if the whole thing is just a hair brained scheme. The ‘what ifs’ could keep you up all night if you let them. It’s all about not letting them.

The ‘what ifs’ are based on the fear of the unknown, and that’s fair enough. After earning a living for many years doing the one thing I learned to do at university, figuring out what else I can do to earn a living is hard work.

The rational mind that is not afraid of the unknown knows that both Mr. PIE and I have the flexibility and the smarts to apply ourselves to pretty much anything. It also knows that getting a good view into the future from our current vantage point is always going to be difficult. The rational mind knows that you have to take the leap to understand what the future will look like. It takes some confidence in your own abilities, and not letting a nag settle into your mind in the wee small hours!

Will we chicken out?

No, nope, not on your life, no, no, no!

I think that’s clear?!

I hope what I’ve done here is aired out some of the uncertainties that probably sit at the back of our minds a lot of the time. There are others of course, most pretty small and not even worthy of a paragraph! Any big life change will come with doubts, and it would be crazy to pretend that they are not there. We just need to make sure our rational mind is engaged to deal with them.











  1. I think it’s a good mental exercise to question yourself. Challenging your opinion makes you think through the reasons why you are doing something.

    I’m glad you guys are still completely for FIRE. 🙂


    1. thanks! yes, it’s a mental exercise. I think it’s important to dust off the doubts now and then to see if they are real!

  2. Thanks for the post! I think about these all the time too and I’m still years away. I’m not sure how exactly I’ll be when it’s time to actually pull the trigger but I’m sure it’s nerve wracking. The ‘what if’s’ are what would get me the most but you gotta take that risk and live and enjoy life!

    1. yes, ‘pulling the trigger’ sounds like such a big deal and a momentous occasion. I think that in reality the biggest part will be announcing that I’m quitting work – and I’m actually looking forward to that part! The rest of the ‘trigger’ process will be just that. Part of the process. It won’t happen all at once, house sale, moving, settling into a new place will all be over a period of time just as our planning is now.

  3. We won’t chicken out – but I think we could ‘one more year’ it. Mostly, I just worried about healthcare costs, and with the two young children, I could see ourselves wanting to build up an ’emergency Emergency Fund’… just to be sure that the kids don’t have to suffer for our choices.

    1. You’re right. Kids make us ulta-conservative about all of our planning. ‘winging it’ isn’t in our nature, and even less so with kids to think about. What’s important is that you really are ready when you do pull the trigger. If that takes ‘one more year’ then that’s ok!

  4. Steve at TSR wrote a post today about how he isn’t second guessing his decision at all which is a funny coincidence. I think that’s it’s great to air out your concerns early so there are no surprises later on. Personally, I’ve been in this FIRE game for about 2 years now and not once have I thought this wasn’t the right thing. Sure some things we’ll take getting used to, but not once have I actually thought I’d work in corporate America for another 20 or 30 years

    1. thanks! I just headed over there to read- what a coincidence!
      You’re right, we can be uncertain about what we’re planning, but for us too, the thought of continuing in corporate America just isn’t an option!

  5. I understand where you are coming from. But, I am also of the opinion that, while we may find some level of comfort or purpose in what we’re doing with our lives *NOW*, that doesn’t mean that’s the only way that we’ll ever find comfort or purpose. There is so much out there, so much to see and experience, so much to do and enjoy…your sense of “comfort” will develop along with your new lifestyle, and you will begin to realize that the feeling of purpose is literally all over the place. Whether it’s volunteering, working part time or not working at all, you might find that there is BETTER purpose out there somewhere, perhaps that more directly affects people, or animals, or anything else.

    I think you have the right attitude about all this. It’s great that you have comfort and purpose now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something BETTER after you give yourselves the chance and opportunity to go and find it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re right, the comfort zone is an easy spot to be, but not a good place for trying anything new! I think part of the issue is being able to visualize what the future may look like. getting away from the ordinary day to day stuff is the the first step in being able to see new possibilities.

  6. I like this comment, “The rational mind that is not afraid of the unknown knows that both Mr. PIE and I have the flexibility and the smarts to apply ourselves to pretty much anything.”

    So while it’s a good idea to continue thinking about this as it is a big decision, you never know what life will bring. You may think you’re taking a risk by retiring, but maybe the risk is staying where you are too long.

    As you said, with your preparation and experience, have no doubt that you can deal with any of life’s curves.

  7. Oh you’re right! The real danger is staying where we are for X number of years. Now we’ve begun to think about a different future, the ordinary is simply no longer an option!

  8. We all have self doubt but it is good to know that you are sticking to your plan. We all need to rationalize everything and that is part of such a major decision. Glad to see you sticking through that initial doubt! You have a solid plan and a great house picked out, sure those doubts will go away once you actually do it.

    1. Thanks! I think any big decision comes with a bunch of doubt. You’re right about the house. We haven’t been there in a while and I miss it like an old friend. That in itself tells me this is a good decision 🙂

  9. We have some doubts as well. Giving up a steady paycheck, and more importantly, the health insurance and other benefits we have available is a big one for us. We often think about the people around us who have already retired and are now subjected to Medicare. Most are not happy with it, and the thought of going on Obamacare scares us even more where it’s territory has yet to be explored.

    On the flip side, we have no concerns about boredom in retirement and look forward to traveling and seeing the world. We are eager to have the time to discover more passions. – Mrs. FE

  10. You’re right. Obamacare has been a great leap forward in even making early retirement possible, but it’s still a big unknown and could change too. I get a lot of comfort in the fact there are so many great blogs out there detailing how the plan works and how to get the best out of it. There are people living this already and it’s so easy to learn from them.
    We’re excited about possibilities too. It seems every week I think of something else I want to do when I’ve got the time. Today I decided I need to learn Spanish when retired. Or Italian. We’ll see!

  11. Good to list all these times. When you know the reasons you might not go FIRE, you can take the right action upfront. I like the reasons to give up your job and go after a new adventure that scares you a little…! kudos

    1. Thanks! It’s easy to know when you’re ready to be done with what you’re currently doing, but not so easy to figure out what you should be doing!

  12. Thanks for stopping by, it’s great to ‘meet’ too! Feel free to reach out with questions and comments!

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