Sometimes, I believe that early retirement is sorta bullshit. Well okay, not the concept of early retirement, perhaps just its implementation. The truth is this level of freedom won’t work for everyone.
That’s strange to think about, isn’t it? Freedom that won’t work for certain people? But, it’s true. With freedom comes an additional layer of responsibility, and that’s something that many of us struggle with.
Not all of us can handle freedom. Or the stress of NO cash flow.
If we think the definition of retirement is sipping a Sex On The Beach (which is delicious, by the way) and dipping our feet into the sand, then please, by all means, don’t retire early.
It’s most likely not going to work for you.
Is early retirement bullshit? Maybe.
It could be. The level of bullshittiness will depend entirely on the person. I can safely say that it sure as hell isn’t bullshit to my wife and me, but for you, it could be.
So, here’s the deal: Don’t touch early retirement with a 10-foot pole if you fall into one of these categories.
1. You have no purpose
OMG, I cannot stress this enough.
I hate how this one sounds, but for many of us, it’s true none-the-less. Yes, you might hate your job (or hate working altogether, like me). Trust me, I get that. I feel ya, brother (or sister).
But, you’ll find yourself miserable (and possibly broke) if you retire too early in life without something there to fill your mind’s space.
Remember: When you don’t have a job, YOU have to fill each and every minute of your time with something at least reasonably productive. Even if you don’t like your job, it still provides a base level of structure that most of us need in our lives.
You hate what you’re doing, but you still know what needs to get done.
Remove that structure from your life and you’re forced to replace it with something. Hopefully, something better. But still, something. Most humans can’t go through decades of their lives with nothing to do.
That doesn’t work.
2. You are risk averse
I believe in taking risks, but I also know that I represent only a piece of that risk tolerance spectrum. There are many who don’t. They shudder at risk.
I also believe that the younger you are, the better prepared you’ll be to take risks. All types of risks. Why? Because you most likely have enough time to recover if something goes wrong. Terribly wrong.
But, think about it this way. What if nothing goes wrong? Then, you just spent an additional decade (or two, or three) of your life doing something that will make you genuinely happy.
And, stress free.
Those of us with less stress tend to live longer and need less healthcare. We’re happier people and get along better with others. Heck, we might even have more friends when we’re free of stress.
The benefits are amazing. But, I’m also not naive enough to believe that early retirement isn’t a risk. It is. Something can go wrong.
The more risk averse you are, the less likely that early retirement will be the best option for you.
Instead, consider these options:
- Take a less stressful job (even if that means less money)
- Look for part-time work instead of your full-time job
- Go on more sabbaticals to rejuvenate yourself
3. You suck at self-discipline
I’ve mentioned the F-word before. Freedom.
With freedom comes an additional layer of responsibility, and part of this mix includes self-discipline. The discipline to avoid impulse buys and to keep your spending in check and time filled with productive pursuits.
The discipline to find hobbies and stick with them. The discipline to take charge in your new-found life and design your new lifestyle around the principle that your time is valuable. Because, it is. Your time is extremely valuable.
If you can’t keep yourself from doing stupid shit, or spending your money on stuff without a deep-seeded value attached to it, you won’t be productive in early retirement.
And, you’ll probably fail. Count on it.
4. If you love what you do
But if you love what you do – and I mean, a genuine mother-f’ing love, then early retirement might not be your best option.
After all, cash flow is sorta cool. If you have a job every day that you thoroughly enjoy and can’t see yourself doing anything else, then I’d say you’ve got it made in the shade, pal.
And, job well done!
5. If your self-worth is wrapped up in your job
My wife Courtney suffered from this one, and to some degree, still does. She was always the smart one out of her siblings. She was the straight-A student, a perpetual honor role member and, naturally, in the band.
She prided herself on using her brain in pursuit of accomplishments and that bled over into her career. Before she retired, her primary focus was to replace the source of her self-work from her job to something else.
But, it won’t be quite as easy for some people as it will for others. Self-worth is a super fickle thing. It’s not like a pencil that we can just pick up and move somewhere else.
It’s derived from some subconscious brain-magic. It’s one of those “it is what it is” things, and it can be super tough to break it.
6. If your health is bad
Health expenses continue to be one of the top costs of early retirees, and although I hate the fact that this is true, it’s something that doesn’t get a lot of focus around the early retirement community:
The better your health, the more successful you’ll be in early retirement
In the United States (and many first-world countries), healthcare isn’t cheap. In the U.S., we have an insanely complicated mess of a system that saddles too many of us with confusing bills that seem to rack up every time a doctor breathes.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the doctor’s fault. They are pawns in the system. The problem is the system, but that’s a topic for another day.
The fact is the healthier you are, the lower your healthcare costs will be. Period.
What do my wife and I do about healthcare? We use Liberty.
7. If you are full of hate
Early retirement is one of those glass-half-full sorts of pursuits. If you are a Debbie Downer and just hate everyone and everything, then you won’t succeed in early retirement.
Unless, of course, you build a survivalist-type bunker in the Wyoming wilderness and hunker down waiting for the next apocalypse, which might take several years before it hits. But if that’s your thing, have fun with that.
I have found the wide majority of early retirees are happy people. We like to smile. We enjoy doing things…the sunshine, exercising, relaxing.
We don’t walk around with a frown cemented to our face.
If that’s you, then stop that. Chances are that you have it pretty good, especially if you live in a first world country and are reading this article right now.
There are plenty of people out there who are plagued with the stress of wondering where their next meal is going to come from.
Put things into perspective. Set yourself up from a foundation of positivity. Then, think about early retirement if that makes the most sense for you.
What say you? If there are any that I missed, let me know in the comments. And, were you able to overcome any of these in early retirement?