Coming Out as F.I. Some Secrets are Okay

After years of keeping my financial activities and plans close to the chest, I came out as financially independent to friends, family, and at work. I quit a high paying corporate job, sold everything that wouldn’t fit into a car and left the country! Here’s how it all went, why I don’t regret keeping my dreams sheltered from the world, and what I would have done differently.

Incubating My Dream

For years, I dreamed of F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence Retire Early,) escaping my cubicle and traveling the world. But I hid my dreams, like Golum hid his precious. Not confident, I felt people might think my aspirations were silly, and crush my will to pursue them.

It seemed dangerous to dream out loud, so I went underground. I went on-line, read blogs and books, listened to podcasts, watched YouTube videos. I found gurus, inspirations, and gathered all the knowledge and information I could about my desired new life.

As time passed, as my ambitions became more real, and I became more confident, I started dropping hints to people about my covert interests. I tested the waters out among friends, trying to subtly test if they were familiar with the concepts, goals, heroes of my secret obsession. 

I was generally met with blank stares or unenthusiastic murmurs. On the rare occasions that someone was like, “oh yeah, the 4% rule, I’ve heard of that,” I was too freaked out to continue much further. I wasn’t strong enough yet to come out with my plans!

All the while, I was quietly optimizing savings, investing, creating passive income streams. I had roped my partner in on the venture, and together, we schemed and planned our cubicle escape!

Coming Out

After almost a decade after the inception of my dream, my partner and I “came out.”

“We’re F.I.!” we shouted from the rooftops!

Just kidding. Actually, we said something more like “we’ve saved enough money that we feel comfortable quitting our high paying corporate jobs to go travel the world for a while. A year, two…maybe forever, if it all works out.”

The Professional Responses

I had my script all ready in my head when I logged into the zoom call with my boss that day. Once we exchanged pleasantries, I said, “I have some exciting news, I’m moving to Mexico!” A loooooong pause ensued.

I’d have a beer with my former boss any day, but he wasn’t a stellar manager. Long story short, with the amount of hints I’d given and other circumstances at work, it really showed how little he’d been paying attention to me that he was actually surprised. 

That was the immediate confirmation for me that I had made a good decision!

Later, I walked by an office buddies desk, I could tell something was up. I popped over, as one does in the office, and said “so you’ve heard…”. To which he angrily replied, “everybody talks about it, but nobody actually does it!” in regards to me quitting. He eventually suppressed his true emotions enough to be able to say the perfunctory congratulations.

I felt so bad. We had been in the corporate trenches together. I felt like a soldier leaving a man behind.

The office suddenly turned into a WW2 scene in my mind. Bombs going off around us, bullets whizzing by, with nothing to protect us but silly, ill-fitting helmets. Him, stuck in some sort of gory booby-trap, as I fled.

Perhaps I could leave a trail of breadcrumbs for my fellow cubicle inmates? Shawshank Redemption style, I could leave an artifact for them to find and they could reflect on the verbal clues I’d dropped all those years. Like Andy Dufrane, I’d be waiting for them on a pristine beach near Zihuatanejo.

I did have one co-worker seek me out upon hearing the news. She confided that she, too, had some dreams similar to mine dancing in her head. We talked all things F.I.R.E. for over an hour. I was like a kid on Christmas, getting to talk about Roth conversion ladders, geoarbitrage, and sequence of return risk!

Eventually, my last day came, and I walked out of the office building for the last time; no badge, no laptop. My cubicle days behind me.

The Friends and Family

Telling our close friends was difficult. We had a great social life and group of friends that we did not want to leave. But our plans to travel the world meant that we would no longer be doing trivia Wednesdays, meeting at the dog park, or going out for beers on a moments notice.

Our friends new that we were aiming to travel more someday, didn’t love our jobs, had purchased rental properties to provide passive income. However, most were still absolutely surprised when we pulled the trigger on our plans. I supposed many likely thought that we were just blowing hot air.

There were some people who expressed jealousy. “Oh man, you guys are so lucky, I hate you right now!” But were generally happy for us.

Some, you could tell, were dubious. Outwardly they said nice things, but you know they were thinking, “idiots, they’ll be back looking for work in a year, totally regretting this decision.” Not that I blame them – that’s a completely rational response.

Then there were some who took it hard, as if I had punched them in the gut. One very dear friend’s reaction, in particular, I will always remember. Her jaw dropped and her chest fell as the air went out. The look in her eyes was as if I had just strangled a kitten and handed her the lifeless little body. I felt so lucky to have someone in my life who enjoyed having me around, and terrible that I had apparently blindsided her.

I’ll sum up my family’s reaction with one small anecdote. When my mom told my uncle he said, “don’t call me for ransom money when she gets kidnapped.” Yep, that about sums it up.

But in the end, the lesson I took away was that you can’t control how people are going to react. That’s up to them, and usually has more to do with them than about you. People are at different places in their lives, have different experiences. And let’s face it, we’re really all too wrapped up in our own lives to pay much attention to others – and that’s okay!

Before we left, we had lots of good times, going away parties, and made plans for how to keep in touch. Having no jobs, we’ve been able to devote more time and energy to friendships. We’ve actually gotten closer to several people in our lives since coming out.

One Year Later

Its been about a year since I came out to the world, unveiled my financially independent status for all to see. Would I do anything differently? Yes and No. I don’t regret keeping my financial life private for the most part. But I do wish that I had recruited other people outside my immediate network to help me with my financial journey sooner.

Why I Don’t Regret Sheltering My Dreams

In a world that thrives on sharing every aspect of our lives through social media, and we’re encouraged to “bring our whole selves to work,” non-disclosure can feel devious. However, I think it’s perfectly okay to keep secrets, especially when it comes to your ambitions and aspirations. It can actually be quite necessary.

First, let’s address the harsh reality; you are likely to encounter naysayers, killjoys, and cynics. Its often not malicious, quite the contrary, it usually comes from a place of love. They want you to “be safe” for both selfish and selfless reasons. Family and friends may not want you to take risks, take nontraditional paths, because they love you and don’t want to see you hurt. They may also want you to maintain the status quo because its most comfortable for them.

But when your dreams are still in their embryonic stage, they’re vulnerable, akin to delicate seedlings susceptible to harsh weather. They need time and space to evolve and strengthen. It’s okay to incubate your precious dreams, away from the prying eyes and opinions of others. You need the opportunity to refine your goals, solidify your strategy, and build the resilience needed for the journey ahead.

As far as at work, I have no doubt that I would have lost opportunities, compensation, and maybe even my job, had I been honest about my aspirations. I was a manager, I knew very well how things worked when deciding bonuses, promotions and what loyalty was demanded. Businesses do not exist to give employees jobs and help them develop in the ways they want. They exist to make a profit and will use employees as they can. Your job is a tool, not your friend.

I Should Have Recruited a Dream Team

So how do you grow your dreams and aspirations into a reality without the help of friends and family? Who do you turn to when your normal support system is not best suited to help you? Realize you don’t have to do it alone!

I joined online groups and forums. It did make me feel like I was not alone in the universe. They’re great for inspiration and support. But for actual advice, it’s a bit like asking the peanut gallery. It was more distracting than helpful.

Reading books, blogs, watching YouTube videos was kinda like having a mentor, but there’s a lot to wade through out there. Its hard to know the good from the bad and ugly. And its a purely one-sided conversation, so there’s no push to action or accountability. I had plenty of “imaginary friend” type conversations with my F.I.R.E. mentors, but I wish I had some IRL.

In hindsight, I wish I had gone outside my network of people and recruited a “dream team” to help accelerate my personal and financial growth. I now see how valuable outside perspective and specific expertise could not only have made my journey faster, but also just much more pleasant! Luckily, I had my partner, but I could really have used a coach or mentor. Much of my struggle and pain could have been avoided.

Honestly, I didn’t even know a financial coach was a thing until just a few years ago. Financial coaches are akin to personal trainers for your fiscal fitness. They provide tailored guidance, helping you set realistic goals, create actionable plans, and stay accountable. A financial coach can assist in identifying blind spots in your strategy, refining your budget, and optimizing your investment approach.

I have gone to fitness classes for years, and totally seen the difference having a coach makes. Had I had the benefit of the same type of personal relationship and expertise geared specifically to me and my financial goals, I could have saved a bunch of time and tears. Bringing others in would have made the dream more real, sooner.


I do feel so much better now, free from a workplace that might punish me for my aspirations, and living my dream life out in the open for all to see. But I don’t regret keeping my personal dreams close to the chest for most of my financial independence journey. For the sake of my loved ones, though, I wish I had been stronger sooner, to be able to give them more time to process coming changes.

While we all need feedback and people to help us achieve our goals, unfortunately, the people around us are often not the ideal applicants to fulfill the roles we need. They are inherently biased.

If I could do it over again, I would have sought out the right people to help me achieve my dreams sooner. Doing so would have been an acknowledgment that my dreams for a different life were valid and serious. I think that would have super-charged the dream incubation period and I would have been resilient enough to handle people’s possible negative input.

How about you? Do you have a dream you’re incubating? Do you feel like you have your dream team? Have you come out to people and faced well-meaning criticism? I want to hear about it! Comment below.

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