Let me explain why I am proudly just another Corporate Has-Been and share the overlooked aspect. It’s beyond financial. A conversation with an ex-coworker reminded me of that. “You were at the top of your game, traveling the country, influencing national standards and the go-to engineer for the company’s multi-billion dollar revenue stream. Now you just casually stroll through life. What happened to you?”
Ouch… I had to think, is that really what he and some others are thinking?
Sadly yes but it’s what I think that matters.
Proudly Just Another Corporate Has-Been? What is there to be proud about?
Think about the definition of Has-Been: A person or thing that is no longer effective, successful, popular, etc.
Why should I be proud of that?
You see, I am now powerful. OK, in the eyes of the unaware corporate enslaved there is nothing for me to be proud about. In fact I may be seen as a loser from anyone still in that corporate world where title and salary is seen as the true measure of a person.
For too many people this is a world where you measure your accomplishments and success by the amount of revenue you can produce or retain, the amount of data that can be processed without defect or loss, the number of billable clients you can land, the size of the department and employee count that are under your control, the number of deals you can close, etc. It’s the all too common career mindset view of what a real winner is.
You get to also be measured by consumer measurements. The size of your home, the snob-status of your automobile, your exotic vacation factor. Then there are all the little trappings of life. Like your cell phone and plan; your Cable or Satellite TV package, fashion choices, the bicycle you ride, etc.
For those in the world’s consumerist and career minded track, people are measured by how well they keep up with the Jones’s to satisfy their social class peer acceptance and all of its perceived view of success.
I am proudly just another Corporate Has-Been because I know that is all horse crap
There is pride for my successfully living a frugal lifestyle beyond the reach and concern of what others think and my becoming a super saver. Thus earning my freedom from the rat race. But there is something else that must be done to proudly go where few go.
It is important to get this right and become our own rock. We have to be confident and with purpose. Don’t think for a second that everyone we know is going to celebrate our decision or understand retiring early to a free but frugal lifestyle.
When it comes to those close to me who are confused about my pitching the big-time I get it. I was once the unaware corporate slave who didn’t realize I was climbing farther and farther into the rat race trap. Always climbing and volunteering for more responsibility or accepting my corporate masters dumping it on me. All for some promised or falsely perceived corporate status and career mindset prize.
The cruel truth is until you reach the point in the trap where you are no longer able to move, of which I mean have a life outside of and free from the pay-check source, you don’t even know you are in a trap.
An all-consuming trap of both job status and possessions with its associated debt. All geared towards some false feeling of success and approval from our social class peer group. It is all taught to us as being the normal way of life. Make money, spend money. Make more money, spend more money. A vicious cycle of dependency. Job, paycheck, debt, stuff.
So I understand why my unenlightened ex-coworker pal sees my early retired lifestyle as a wasteful casual stroll through life.
I can also see why my early retirement lifestyle looks like nothing for me to be proud about in the eyes of the trapped. Even though they can’t understand me I can empathize and understand them. I was once them.
The Overlooked Aspect to Proudly Being a Corporate Has-Been: Our Ego
Every occupation has its trappings and meaningless life measurements of success. They are either self-applied through years of working with career mindset conditioning and/or by our close circle of influences.
Certainly it takes financial independence to proudly just be another corporate has-been. But to win at this game it also takes letting go of our ego. It takes both. Having one covered without the other isn’t going to cut it.
There are all kinds of people sharing tips on the financial side of things. This site has plenty written about it. But the overlooked side is all in our heads.
Think about it. There are a lot of people who make a lot of money and are set financially for life. Enough to be financially independent even if they are irresponsible consumerist. But if they lost their job, title and career based identity they would be miserable. That career title and all they felt important would be gone and their ego will hammer them. Money is no problem but their head is a mess. This can happen to anyone at any income level and often does.
This is especially a problem when the corporate world is finished with people who are still clinging to it. I have seen many who were financially secure discharged with every business and economic bump. Some never really recovering from a depressed self-worth.
Even people who successfully planned their retirement can and do suffer a loss of self-worth if their ego hasn’t been addressed. A conversation like the one I had with his shared negative perception could have anyone questioning their reason for retiring early. Certainly it could challenge retirement happiness.
How to Tackle your Ego in Early Retirement and Proudly Embrace being a Corporate Has-Been
Here is how you can proudly be another Corporate Has-Been.
It takes time to reinvent your self-identity. It is easy to link our identity with our jobs. I have turned down some great opportunities to come back and do what I have retired from.
Early in my retirement I would think how I could easily do a job similar to my long career and my ego would push me to investigate it further or at least question myself until my gut told me otherwise. It took time for my ego to let go of who I used to be and the false need to reprove myself.
I purposely retired early while on the top of my game. Sure I took some hits but I won the big game and walked away. I knew I didn’t want to continue serving the soul damaging corporate system and that there was a more meaningful way to live. Yet I still had my ego telling me I could still play the game at the same level.
Fortunately I was able to quiet and now control my ego. My ex-coworker’s comments didn’t rock my world or early retirement lifestyle. It reaffirmed the reasons I am on the journey that I am on.
When I started my encore career it was all within a passion driven mindset. When it no longer met my interests and desires I quickly retired again. Ego did not have me walk into another career mindset trap and stay longer than I wanted to.
Ego Management Tips
Forget about approval from others
Concerning ourselves with what others think allows ego to mess with us. Our ego loves being told we are popular or admired. This human need to feel accepted by our peer group does nothing but misdirect us down wrong paths. It leads to irresponsible behavior.
How many have been financially ruined by keeping up with the Jones’s or wasted their lives and relationships chasing an all-consuming career? The answer is too many. By retiring early we are responsible for our own self-worth and new life with purpose. Don’t allow ego to have you treat that irresponsibly.
Stop Greed to starve Ego
Greed is Ego’s super food. Know when enough is enough and start living life on your terms. Ego loves to drive us farther into situations that we don’t enjoy or even hate being in. If you feel the need for more stuff and more money than you really need then ego is alive and well.
When I was looking at starting my encore career I took money off of the table and only viewed the opportunity from a passion driven mindset. Then once the perfect match came my way I negotiated salary appropriately for the position. Our time is finite. Trading our time for money shouldn’t be ego driven.
Let go of what we were
I think anyone who was successful in their career, even if they grew to dislike it, will have thoughts of returning to prove they are still a top performer.
Let go and be thankful of what we were and tell ego not again. Time for something new and more meaningful to dedicate our finite time to. Refocus all of our energy and drive that gets us to early retirement to passion driven pursuits.
If it’s a return to a prior position then at least do it differently and more aligned with your values. Not what you decide it was time to retire from.
End the comparing and competitive urges
Ego’s sibling is envy. It can happen to anyone. Together these two sibs can be very powerful. Seeing others accomplishments or possessions may make our ego want to have it too at all costs. That’s the problem with this. It WILL COST TOO MUCH. Wasted time chasing the wind. There is no top in this kind of ego driven endeavor.
It is nothing more than chasing your tail. There will always be someone better and you will always be looking over your shoulder at who is coming up behind you. Allowing ego to make your life a competition with others will only lead to unhappiness and frustration.
A better strategy: Count our blessings and stick to our plan.
To my misguided ex-coworker I may be wasting a productive life. However instead of letting him lay a downer on me I just told him
“I am proudly just another Corporate Has-Been. How happy are you in the trap?”
“Happy? What does that have to do with anything?”
What makes me proud is that I did it. Putting the rat race behind me with my early retirement has been the most enjoyable adventure of my life. I don’t care if from a corporate world perspective that I am now no longer effective, successful, or popular. Their point of view is a false measurement of success.
If I could describe the way early retirement freedom feels it’s like being a kid again but without having anyone telling me what to do all the time. When someone THINKS they can tell me what I need to do I get to laugh, mock, blow a kiss, agree only with any good advice, or silently ignore and mentally dismiss them. Try doing that as a corporate slave.
In all honesty and full disclosure, I do still have to submit to any law enforcement and the rules of the universe even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. Oh, also my wife which may fall under the rules of the universe.
If you have the financial side of early retirement and escaping the rat race figured out make sure you also get your head straight and tame your ego. I say tame because aside from Gurus, you can never conquer it.
It will be a process and it will surprise you. I feel that after leaving the corporate world I will always be in recovery. Were ego and career mindset trappings will always raise its head and tempt temporary wrong thinking. The trick is to be aware of it and stay focused on what really matters. That being the rest of my life on my passion driven terms.
Have you ever found that your ego is pushing you in the wrong direction or leading to unhappiness?