How smart does one need to be to retire early?

How smart does one need to be to retire early?

How smart does one need to be to retire early?

    Occasionally, I like to re-read some of my older posts from the blog. This little "gem" was written during my second full month blogging - way back in December of 2014. It's a little rough around the edges.

    I hadn't yet found my voice. I wasn't quite as confident. And, I was still working a full-time job, though my wife and I were very much on our way toward financial independence and early retirement.

    Today, I'm reposting this sucker - without any edits. I want you to see how raw this was. How much I wanted early retirement.


    Life is pretty damn sweet right now. While writing this blog post, I am spending a quiet Wednesday afternoon on our back patio enjoying the beautiful 75-degree air on this most perfect of fall days in southern Arizona.  The sky is clear, winds calm and the mountains to our north are about as beautiful as they can get.

    Steve and Courtney - Maui

    Occasionally I look around, squint my eyes to avoid the sun's punishing glare and take note of exactly what direction that chirping bird in the distance is coming from - pretending such knowledge is meaningful and necessary in my life.

    I may observe the ripples of the water in our pool, following the ring-like reflections of light as the water slowly circulates underneath the surface.

    This is my Wednesday afternoon.

    But, it wasn't always like this.  Just a few months ago, I was held against my will in a cold office building staring into a computer screen or attending another blasted meeting.

    As the Director of Information Technology (that I had soon quit!), I had the corner office. I suppose that was the mark of success. Anyone who has the corner office must be a badass businessman - smart and effective.

    I will never forget that job - not for its salary or luxurious office, but for its ability to make a person realize what is truly valuable in life, what priorities are meaningful to them and how much bullshit is truly worth the effort.

    As I ponder what life was like before I quit and took a less stressful work-from-home job, it has become more clear to me lately that simply being smart has nothing to do with success in life.

    My occupation of that corner office was hardly the mark of my intelligence, bravery or badassery.

    Instead, it signified my willingness to let my work life be controlled by others and frighteningly revealed how much of my happiness could be reigned in.

    Hands off my happiness, damn it!

    I want my happiness completely out of control, revved up on steroids and charged with heart-pound excitement. Or, maybe I just want the pure and simple ability to sit on my back patio on a calm Wednesday to enjoy the fresh air and time outdoors.

    My wonderful absence from an office this afternoon has less to do with how mentally powerful I am and much more to do with the change of direction I took this year, putting financial independence and true happiness first and foremost in my life.

    Maybe the world isn't my oyster after all.

    Perhaps my mission in life is not just to consume - to robotically commute to and from work every day in shitty traffic, burn through gas and crank the radio up in some veiled attempt at getting my mind off the fact that I was, yet again, stuck in a car.

    Prioritizing financial independence is an admission that the standard order of things just isn't working out any longer.

    Am I smart for choosing this path? Did my unmatched intelligence and supreme greatness lead me down this road of simplicity and bliss?

    Hell no.

    Make no mistake about it - this is pure economics. What I am doing today is a prelude to what I hope to do for a living in just a few short years.  There is a job out there called "Enjoy your life completely stress-free", and I am determined to get that job.

    I applied earlier this year.

    Here's a secret that the job ad doesn't say: Anyone can get it, regardless of your education, experience, knowledge or general intelligence.

    I am a regular guy. Aside from what my mom might think, there is nothing special about me or my situation. I do not have above average intelligence, nor do I believe that I am superior to anyone.

    The difference between me and most is very simple - I have taken a different path towards achieving happiness and success.

    To me, success is not defined by money, nor is my ability to retire influenced by income alone.

    How important is retirement to you?

    To me, retirement is more important than squeezing every dollar out of the economy that I could. I like my lifestyle simple. I am not perfect, but with each passing year, I am getting closer and closer to where I want to be...nay, to where I NEED to be to achieve a final separation between me and working for a living.

    Life is good, and it never takes some "smart" 33 year old jackass guy sitting on his back patio on a Wednesday to realize all that life can truly offer...if you let it.

    This post was originally published December 2014 but has been updated and revised using the Revise and Republish strategy.

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    Steve Adcock

    774 posts

    Steves a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence.