Pain is Temporary, Quitting Lasts Forever

I have raced road bikes for about 10 years now. One of the quotes that was tossed around a lot within the cycling world is as follows:

Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever ~Lance Armstrong

In cycling and racing in particular this quote is used to say never give up, never give in. You always have a little bit more to give. To look back after a hard race and see that you lost because of not making the move at the correct time is demoralizing. As everyone says, hindsight is 20/20. You look at the opportunity lost and feel that you had more to give at the time, even though the pain seemed unbearable.

From Cycling to Work Perspective

Let’s look at this from an atypical perspective. We will apply my personal favorite cycling quote to work life. From cycling, we see the pain component of the quote as a neutral or positive, while the “quitting lasts forever” component as definitely negative. I am proud to never quit races. However, when looked at from a point of view of the atypical life of freedom, then “pain is temporary” is the negative working life, while “quitting lasts forever” is early retirement bliss.

The main takeaway from Lance’s quote is never quit. Does resigning from your day job to pursue a life of freedom constitute quitting?

I would argue no. Resigning from work is the start of a new beginning. We are not quitting, we are moving on to a new part of life where we can make the choices that make us happiest without our employer looking over our shoulder and questioning every move we make.

However, Lance says “quitting lasts forever”. The FIRE community longs for the forever of early retirement. Our retirement will be 2-5x longer than the typical American, and will be filled with many more wonderful memories. From exploring the world to actually getting to raise our children, the freedom that “quitting lasts forever” allows us to experience it all. While we are a slave to working life, we are not able to experience the prime time hours, those wonderful sunny hours in the middle of the day, because we are stuck in the office grinding away on some project. For those of us on the journey to financial freedom, we get to know that the “pain is temporary” and can view freedom on the horizon.

Opportunities Lost?

If we apply the same logic as cycling to the work life application of this quote, will we look back at working once retired and wonder about opportunities lost? Every decision we make can be second-guessed. Did we make the “right” decision? If I stay another year and I can save another $100,000 and we could be better set for financial freedom, do I stay or do I go?

Looking back on every decision there are always opportunities lost, but we need to believe that the opportunities pursued are the right ones. When we leave working life, we trade money for time. We trade the income of a steady working job for the 40+ hours per week we were spending at the office, not to mention innumerable hours commuting. When we choose one path, there are always others that go un-chosen, but we cannot dwell on them.

When we quit the working life, which is only one opportunity, work, we open ourselves to the freedom of choice to so many more opportunities. Yes, there is the work opportunity lost, but it is still there if we choose to go back. Work will always be there and we can return if the will or the need so desires. However, when we gain 40+ hours per week of free choice, we can choose from a near infinite set of possibilities. Whatever we dream of can be made true.

Today in My Journey

This quote rings true for me nowadays. Today working is pain and quitting, which is the end goal, shall last forever. It is yet to be decided when the quitting date will be, but I can already see it on the horizon as our net worth increases and side income increases. One day, in the not too distant future, I will be able to join the rest of the FIRE community where:

The pain was temporary and freedom lasts forever! ~Mr. Atypical

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