Maybe it’s because I was confined to the couch all last week with a migraine, and maybe it was because there was recently a fresh wave of “Early retirement will kill you!” headlines, but I decided to really dig into this question of whether early retirement could actually be bad for us. Here’s what I found.
Our lives lately have looked slightly less than, er, adult. Some days we wonder why there are no grownups here to tell us what to do, instead just leaving us alone to do as we please with no structure whatsoever. It’s marvelous, of course, or at least marvelous for now, but we’re certainly wondering: At some point are we actually going to adapt to this new unstructured life?
We’ve evolved a ton in our vision for early retirement, starting with only a vision of what we were retiring from, to now having a clear vision of what we’re retiring to, and making a big shift in the role we see work playing in our post-career lives. But even though we plan to work after this year, we see it as so different from “real work,” because unlike almost everyone else out there, we will be totally free to fail at whatever we do. A look at our new and revised definition of early retirement, and how the freedom to fail has helped us get here.
I definitely fell into magical thinking for years of our retirement planning, thinking I’d have time to do everything I’d ever dreamed of after we quit: travel the world, write novels, learn a gazillion languages, solve world hunger — you get the idea. But after talking to many early retirees, I’ve had to accept: Time will always be limited. And if I care about accomplishing goals or living a life of meaning, it’s crucial to go into retirement with an eye toward making time for what’s important, and ruthlessly cutting out what’s not.
Today we’re talking mission statements, something that most companies have, but which few individuals or families do — which is a shame, because they can be super helpful in keeping you on-track to reach your biggest life goals. Think of your mission statement like a compass or GPS that helps you find your way if you ever start to wander off the path.
Here’s a crazy thought: It feels great to be good at things. And if there are things you’re good at in your current work — even if it’s not obvious now that you get joy from them — you might miss out on future joy if you subtract those tasks from your life when you retire early. Today we’re honing in on the things we’re best at, that bring us the most joy, and figuring out how to magnify that joy in FIRE.