I don't believe in early retirement

I don't believe in early retirement

I don't believe in early retirement

I don't believe in early retirement because the term "early retirement" just doesn't tell the whole story. It never does.

I don't believe in early retirement

    I am done with the idea that early retirement is truthfully what I'm doing. The fact is, I'm not "retired" in the traditional sense of the word. Though I've always admitted that I'm still very active in my passion pursuits, I'm also pulling further and further away from being "early retired".

    Don't get me wrong, the retirement police haven't finally gotten to me. My keyboard wasn't stolen by some punk wearing a backward hat and high-top shoes. I'm not the victim of leaving my Facebook profile up and available in a big office, allowing any of my coworkers to post not-so-flattering status updates on my behalf as I grab a snack from the break room.

    Not that that's eeeeeever happened.

    I just don't like the phrase "early retirement" because that's not what the vast majority of us are actually doing.

    Especially me.

    I don't believe in early retirement

    I don't believe in early retirement because the term "early retirement" just doesn't tell the whole story. It never does.

    Over the years of blogging on TSR, I've tried my best to use a much more appropriate descriptive phrase for my status:

    "Retired from full-time work".

    I still believe that's the absolute best way to describe whatever it is that I'm doing around here. I retired "from work", but I didn't just "retire".

    I certainly didn't retire from life or from being productive.

    It's true that I don't have a full-time job. In fact, I don't really have a "job" at all. That's exactly how I want it.

    I never want that part of my life to end. Ever. Jobs suck.

    But, that's not to say I'm sitting on my ass all day petting our dogs and getting fat, dumb and lazy, either. In fact, I'm more active than ever.

    This blog is now getting well over 100,000 page views a month. My email list is growing significantly. I'm busting my ass to turn this little website into this "big" website.

    Why? Because it's a challenge. It's something fun that I like to do.

    I've monetized it, too - like I talked about in my frequently asked questions page, I'm sorta over "passion blogging". I've passion-blogged for nearly 20 years now, and I'd like to start tying blogging together with a little cash flow.


    We don't need the cash, but honestly, it's enabling us to live a much more relaxed lifestyle. We go out to eat a bit more. We visit breweries all around the country. We aren't quite as anal about buying avocados every once in a while.

    Perhaps it's a custom-built life instead

    Jillian from Montana Money Adventures wrote about this topic recently. As eloquently as ever, she describes what it's like to build a different life for yourself - not a "retired" life. But, a different one.

    A custom-built one.

    I wanted to create a life I would never want to retire from.

    "There would be 4 basic characteristics to this life I would never retire from," she wrote. Those are:

    • It gives me my most ideal lifestyle
    • It’s let’s me “win” in my pillars of meaning
    • It pings my deep motivations and values
    • It’s fun, restful, and challenging

    I love it. These characteristics hit on the major elements of what "early retirement" actually mean, starting with the most important.

    The most important element in ER is building an ideal lifestyle. One that works the best for you. One that makes you eternally happy to be alive and anxiously waiting for the morning to come.

    Early retirement isn't about what you're leaving behind. It's about what you're going to. Your new life. Your custom-built life.

    Your custom-built life is like a new career.

    When you retire early, you aren't just quitting your job. That's too easy. Let's get more realistic, here.

    What you're doing is changing (and improving) your career.

    Early retirement is a career change

    Stay with me, here. Careers need not be tied directly to having a job. Instead, a career is essentially the areas in life that you spend the vast majority of your time.

    That's it.

    For most of us, our jobs happen to be where we spend the majority of our time, and thus, it makes sense to tie your career and your job together.

    But, that doesn't mean this connection is cemented in the idea that you gotta have a job before having a career. Like, forever.

    Here's the kicker: If you feel like you need a career change, then begin working on that change before you get there - especially if that change involves no longer working a traditional job. It's easy to say, "I'll do that whenever I retire", but it's much tougher to actually put that plan into motion when those promises that you tell yourself don't have any momentum when you finally do change your career.

    Just like you might take classes or read books to prepare for a career change that involve working a full-time job, this same preparation applies when you're nixing a job altogether.

    A common example is health and fitness. "I'll work out once I retire". Maybe you will, maybe you won't. There's no way to tell, and believe me, it's easy to guess at what you'll be doing after quitting your job.

    As always, guessing is the easy part.

    Putting those pieces into place before quitting your job, however, helps to solidify those new routines into your life. Start now...continue later.

    Changing your career, instead of retiring early, completely transforms your outlook on life

    "Okay Steve, so this is just a matter of semantics? Who cares?"

    Not exactly. I mean, yes - in a way it is. Just like I believe minimalism is the wrong word to describe that movement, I also believe early retirement to be the wrong phrase to describe what many of us are doing.

    It's more than just semantics, though. Like I've written countless times before, life is a mind game. Once we completely control our minds, our lives instantly become way the hell more fulfilling.

    We become smarter people. More bold. Infinitely practical.

    Once we shed the idea that jobs and careers are synonymous, we begin to look at early retirement in a whole new way.

    Suddenly, we're no longer "done".

    Instead, we're simply choosing something else to spend our time on. Earning money is no big deal because, for most of us who possess practical skills and the time to pursue those skills, money is very often the result.

    Establishing goals also become much more normal...not just something that you used to do at work. Even if those goals involve making money, that's fine.

    Whatever motivates you.

    For example, one of my goals for this blog is for it to completely cover our living expenses. We're nearly half way there and I've only been "retired" for two years. Less than two years, in fact.

    In other words, once we begin to think of early retirement like our new career, we subconsciously shed the restrictions that the term "retirement" applied to our lives. Like waking up early. Or earning cash.

    After all, we can't make money and have goals after retirement! Retirement is a time for us to perpetually relax and not give a shit about, well, anything.



    Steve Adcock

    774 posts

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