Giving thanks: a truly great reason to reflect

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Introduction

Next week is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. This is typically a time to reflect upon the many things and people for which we are thankful. While the ways in which we observe the holiday may change this year given the pandemic, it is no less – if not more important to take the time to consider all the things for which we are grateful. It has now been just over five months since I left the workplace, and I would like to take my 20th blog post to do just that. This is a different kind of post compared to those to date, but I hope you will find value within. Writing this has been a very positive experience for me.

I am thankful for my family

My wife and daughter are the center of my universe. They have always been supportive and patient with me. While in the workplace, I often worked long hours and traveled frequently. This was rarely easy for them and at times, incredibly challenging. My wife and I knew this was temporary, as it was always our plan for me to retire early. That didn’t make things any easier to manage during those years, yet complaints were rare. I have never known the right words to express my sincere gratitude to them for the endless support I have felt.

I am grateful for my parents, and how they sacrificed much to ensure that me and my siblings had a strong start in the world. I cannot imagine how challenging it must have been for them to navigate parenting at a much younger age than Lorri and I did. I’m thankful that they always supported my education, as well as my many hobbies and interests growing up. While we have lived apart for many years – and I do feel bad that work has taken me far from them, my siblings, and other family, the one positive thing this pandemic has done is remind us all of the value of “getting together” often, even if only virtually via Zoom.

I am thankful for my entire family, whether presently or in memory – my two siblings, the great family I gained through marriage, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; everyone! We were close and were together often growing up and I have many fond memories from the times we shared.

I am thankful for my friends

I feel fortunate that some of my best friends are those I have identified by that label for nearly 35 years! We are far from thirteen years old at this point, yet we can so easily fall back into the same conversations and fun times we had way back then, all these years later. Again, I am grateful that the tragedy of COVID-19 has brought us back “together” via our weekly Happy Hours sessions over Zoom. Particularly since leaving behind the social element that comes with the workplace, I find our gatherings vital to maintaining sanity.

It’s easy to malign college fraternities by associating all members with the terrible behavior by some among our ranks. That said, I am grateful for the great group of smart, caring, and fun guys with whom I went to college, and remain in regular contact with even today. I am privileged to call you all my Brothers. TEPs are Tops!

The other friend group for which I am incredibly thankful are the close friends I made throughout my years in the workplace. Fast-paced tech companies, including startups, can be pretty stressful places to work. One of the things that made that not only bearable but quite enjoyable, were the friendships made along the way. I have been fortunate to know so many talented, fun, and wonderful people, some of whom remain very close friends.

I am thankful for mentors and teachers

I have previously written of my gratitude for the strong mentors I have known, so I won’t repeat all of that here. That said, I am grateful for those teachers who truly cared, and from whom I learned much. Great teachers can never be paid enough given how impactful they can be on young lives. I am also thankful for the managers and mentors I had in the workplace, all of whom positively influenced my development and impacted my chosen course throughout my career. My path to FIRE assuredly would have been different – and perhaps substantially protracted, had I not known these talented and caring people.

I am thankful for my former colleagues

Leaving the workplace has made me realize just how much I appreciated working with so many talented people. It’s easy to miss just how impactful these relationships can be, and to underestimate the loss that comes with retirement. I learned so much from my former team members, peers, and managers over the years. It’s a huge change to no longer see these people on a daily basis, to have meetings with them, to travel with them, and work together on projects. I am grateful to have known nearly all of them, and am thankful for all that I gained from our interactions.

I am thankful for everything

As I have written before, I feel so fortunate to be in the circumstance I am in. I achieved financial independence at 46, and left the workplace a year later. While I did not grow up wealthy, I am truly privileged to have everything that I did. Importantly, I had the full support of family, lived in a part of the world with all the amenities needed for success, and had access to people and things that could accelerate my path. Didn’t I still have to work hard to get where I am? Of course I did! But that doesn’t change that I had a leg up over the majority of people on this planet and I never lose sight of that.

In full transparency, this blog is often awkward and uncomfortable for me to write. It’s weird “talking” so frankly about matters so personal and central to my life, knowing anyone can read them. I keep doing it because I’m at such an unfamiliar stage in my life, and this really helps me process the associated emotions. That said, I do hope that others find value in what I write. I remain grateful for any and all feedback that is shared with me.

This post has been a bit of a different one for me but it’s provided me yet another opportunity to reflect on where I am today and how I got here. Thank you for being with me on this ride. Be well, stay healthy, and I wish you all the best in achieving your goals. Mahalo.

What are you thankful for this year?

image credit: “DSP 147: Thank You! 2007-10-11” by vernhart is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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