“Life is too short. I wanna have some fun now.” Or, maybe it goes something like “Life’s short, live a little”. However it is said, the underlying point remains pretty clear: don’t delay your ability to spend some serious cash. After all, “life is short”.
And you know what? I agree. I 100% agree that life is too short and, well, let’s have some damn fun before it is too late, shall we?
Working until you are 60 or older does not sound like much fun to me. Life is short, so why spend the most productive years of your life in an office? Live a little, damnit. Live!
To me, the best way to ensure a lifetime of having fun is to not work a day past your 40th birthday (or, perhaps better said, be financially independent by then).
Imagine for a minute hopelessly trying to blow out that trick candle that one of your jackass friends placed on your 40th birthday cake and thinking to yourself how freakishly awesome life is going to be in your 40s and beyond not commuting into an office, answering to managers, filling out status reports or delivering PowerPoint presentations. Ladies and gentlemen, this sounds like a hell of a lot of fun to me!
Or how about the ability to pick up and travel whenever you want while you’re still young enough to make that 20-mile hike through the Rocky Mountains, or that 100-mile bicycle trek, or that rock climbing expedition that you have always wanted to do in South Dakota…whenever the heck you want?
This isn’t exactly what people had in mind, though.
When someone tells you to “live a little”, what the large majority are telling you to do is spend more now. Quit delaying gratification and have that expensive glass of wine at dinner, or order that juicy prime cut steak, or get those $2000 Final Four basketball tickets, or that $50,000 BMW or…
“After all, you might die tomorrow”.
And strictly speaking, they are right. You might die tomorrow. Or today. Or next week. Bad things can and do happen to all of us. But, does that mean we should live like typical Americans and work until we’re 60 or 65 before we finally call it quits, all because something might happen? But a job when 60? That doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
It is also not my definition of “living”.
A question is begging to be asked: if life is so short, why are so many people willfully sentencing themselves to decades of additional work during the most productive and capable years of their special little lives?
It’s true, life is short. Life is way too short to spend a good 30 or 40 years (or more) in an office building, even if that means the occasional vacation, Final Four basketball game or commuting into that office in an expensive car.
Instead, how about a month long trip to Patagonia every Spring? Then, you hit all the national parks west of the Mississippi River over the next few months. Crash at your house over the summer, then hit the national parks east of the Mighty Miss during the fall and take in the explosion of fall colors throughout the Northeast, finally making your way down to Florida for a couple weeks (or months) of wintering at the beach? Oh, and all in your 40s, not your 60s.
Okay, now THAT sounds like fun. That sounds like so much damn fun that I cannot wait to hit that beautiful financial independence point in my short life and really begin to open up my world to all kinds of beauty and natural wonders.
Let’s not forget that these kinds of active and exciting adventures keep us young too. While it’s great to experience some of these thrills when in you’re 60s, it stands to reason that it is BETTER to experience them when you’re much, much younger. You have more time to spend enjoying your natural world. You get to come back later and experience the things that you might have missed the first time. When you do finally hit 60, your lifestyle over the past 20 years will probably leave you in excellent health and full of energy and ready for more.
And the best part is you’re still young and ready to experience a lot of those more active adventures that might turn more problematic as we all grow older.
And so, allow me to alter the often-used “life is short” into something that much more accurately represents MY definition of living.
Life is short, retire by 40.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.