Hey everyone! Today I have a great guest post for you by RHMM of RightHandMoneyMan.com. EVERYONE is talking about early retirement right now, so I think it's really interesting to see a different perspective on it. This post definitely made me consider what my definition of “retirement” actually is. Enjoy! ~M$M
Early retirement is all the rage right now in personal finance. There are literally thousands of websites and blogs documenting different people’s progress toward this goal, and everyone is just clamoring for the day they no longer have to answer to “the man.”
As I read others’ thoughts and walk my own finance journey, I’m wondering if we’re missing the mark just a bit.
I’m not knocking any of you pursuing early retirement, but I do want to offer you a different perspective.
What is Retirement?
First off, what are we chasing when we talk about retirement? For most of us, it seems like we’re envisioning a life on the beach with a drink that has one of those little umbrellas in our hands and our cares far away.
We get to sleep without an alarm clock, hop on a plane whenever we want, and no one needs a thing from us.
I would suggest that “retirement” for the vast majority of people means the total absence of work.
Read also: What Would You Do if You Retired Early?
Early retirement, then, is reserved for those of us extreme people who are willing to lick a lettuce leaf a day for our grocery budget and never buy our kids Christmas presents.
Retirement is still a very new concept in our society. If you go back even just 100 years and try to explain the thought of reaching a point in life where you get to stop working, you’d probably be met with some confused expressions.
To be honest, not working for three or four decades sounds like it would get pretty old to me. I’m not really interested in just hanging around till I die. Let me explain:
I’m a producer, not a consumer…
I enjoy working. It brings me a ton of satisfaction and purpose when I put in a full effort, step back, and see that it produced something that wasn’t there before. Meaningful work brings me a ton of purpose.
This ranges from landscaping my yard to serving my non-profit to creating a website to help people with their finances. I am motivated to bring things to people’s lives, as well as my own, that improve them. You know what it requires to make that happen? Work and resources.
What I think a lot of us are trying to leave behind isn’t work in general, but just work that we don’t connect with.
For me, financial independence means one thing above all else: FREEDOM. I want the freedom to choose my own path.
I don’t think of retirement as the day that will come when I just sit around deteriorating until I die. My definition of retirement is having the resources to be able to do work on my own terms.
When I no longer need the income from a job, I’m free to objectively pursue the business opportunities that mean the most to me. Having enough money to “retire” puts me in position to start something new or to take a risk that someone needing a steady paycheck can’t.
I’m FREE to make a difference. A life’s work is what I’m interested in building, not just a retirement savings.
Read also: What Does Retirement Mean to You?
It All Works Together
I think too many of us over-compartmentalize our lives. We have our family, job, physical health, hobbies, spiritual life, a cause we support, etc. Somewhere along the way, we let someone convince us that work was stealing time and energy away from the other compartments.
Meaningful work that brings passion and energy to you rather than draining it from you actually feeds the other areas. Early retirement is being in a place where you’re able to follow that passion, work with purpose, and make the world more awesome because of what you produce.
Yes, I want to go to the beach and hang with my wife and our (future) kids more often. Of course, I want to be in full control of my schedule. But for our family, we want to get to the end of our lives and be proud of the body of work we’ve built.
We want to leave behind a legacy that has made a great life for not only our family, but countless others.
I simply don’t think I can accomplish that in just a few years. I think it’ll take me right up to my dying breath.
However, If I’m living in freedom along the way, it won’t feel like the “work” so many are trying to escape.