Early retirement definitely has it’s challenges. Saving up the required amount of money to retire early is no easy matter . Having the right amount of health insurance in place also requires significant planning. These days, people are also having children later, giving rise to the so called parensioner.
Instead of heading into retirement debt free and with limited obligations, the trend of modern retirees is to head into retirement with substantial children’s expenses that still remain to be paid, whether its education, housing for children or something else. Celebrity couples have started this trend, but I expect that it’s something you will see more and more of.
Beyond even all these financial considerations the biggest question in my mind really is what will I do with the rest of my life?
Traditional retirees may have 30 or so years that they have to get through retirement. Most are probably retiring with other friends. There are active social circles to help manage the transition to retirement (consider retirement villages that retirees head to). Try doing all those same things 20 to 30 years earlier without that type of a support circle. That’s pretty challenging for anyone to deal with.
Retiring early sounds pretty good. But the reality is that it’s not necessarily for everyone. Don’t underestimate the effect that years of cultural conditioning can have on someone. We’ve been trained to keep busy, be productive and be engaged.
Being freed of those shackles sounds pretty liberating, but it may lead you to extreme boredom and confusion if you don’t manage that extra time properly and have something to do with yourself.
Finding out for yourself why you want to retire early is going to be a critical part of making your early retirement successful. So before you decide to retire early, what options should you consider and how do you find out what it is about traditional work that’s driving you nuts?
How about another job?
I think it’s important not to confuse dislike of your current job with “work dissatisfaction”. Work in the traditional corporate sense is pretty fulfilling for me. I love the challenge and the intellectual stimulation of it. But I could see how that could all very quickly change with a new set of responsibilities or a boss that was a tool.
People don’t generally get laid off where I work, but they can get plonked into areas and roles where they have no desire to be in and where they don’t have the skill sets to do the job! That can pretty quickly lead to frustration if you don’t manage that properly.
But when all is said and done, the right role in the right company can bring great job stability, intellectual satisfaction and some pretty good benefits such as health insurance, 401k matching, bonuses and a stable salary. The socialization benefits are also a possibility if you enjoy the company of the people that you work with.
The great thing about all of this is that you get all of these benefits without the risk of needing to start up your own enterprise, something that carries considerable uncertainty. Thus, before giving up on the concept of work all together, it may be worth considering whether your needs can be met through other roles.
So if it’s something that’s situation specific about the current job that is driving you nuts, consider other jobs instead of dropping out of the workforce entirely.
Consider Consulting or part time work
Another issue that most of us have with traditional 9-5 jobs is the lifestyle. I used to have to deal with very demanding hours at work, which would drive me nuts. That was probably some of the motivation to develop an accelerated back up plan that I could leverage. Sometimes, its the long commute that has you beat. Getting through an hour of bumper to bumper traffic can leave you exhausted before you even start your working day.
There are other options though. It may be possible to restructure your work commute by trying to score a work from home opportunity. Let me tell you that being able to do even 1 or 2 days a week makes a HUGE difference if you can structure something like that.
My wife tells me that telecommuting can actually make up for an otherwise shitty job! Just not having to go through the stress of commuting and being able to do this from your own home can be big a relief for people.
For many of us, having a more flexible working option may not be possible, in which case you’ve got to consider other options. If moving to another job isn’t an option, shifting to a different type of work style for a period of time can let you see other possibilities before giving up entirely.
A friend of ours shifted to part time work, just because the stress of full time work was too much for their young family. I’ve known others that have enjoyed the flexibility of consulting. You work on your own schedule, without much of the office politics and still get to do the work that you enjoy.
So if its the lifestyle of work that is a problem, there may be other options that you can consider before you exit the workforce.
Take some time out !
You may just be a point in your life where you are in a rut and need a break. Taking some time out to do a course can be a wonderful thing. I remember feeling exactly that way about 10 years ago. I was completely burnt out from a very demanding job that I’d only been in for a few years.
My skills were very focussed in a specific area. It was going to be tough for me to move around to other jobs easily. And I was very well paid in a very specialized finance role. All of those things left me in a rut where I was tired and burnt out with skills that didn’t make it easy for me to move around. So I was a virtual prisoner in my job. I decided to break free of the shackles and explore other options.
Coming to the US do an MBA was the perfect time of life change which allowed me to broaden my options as well. A virtual break for an extended period, a new change in environment was all I needed. I rejoined the workforce when I was done and was completely rejuvenated. I realized that it wasn’t work that was the problem. It was the situation that I was stuck in that was the issue.
I took steps to change that, and I’ve been pretty contented for the most part since then. Reskilling opened up a bunch of new, fresh options that allowed me to get more out of work than I was able to before. Of course doing some additional training or taking a course isn’t without considerable financial cost. It set me back quite a bit, but given my ability to switch things up, its been well worth the expense.
Doing another course isn’t an option for everyone. Taking an extended break for 6 months or so can give you a good idea of whether you’ll even miss the workforce or not. I’ve often found that I get pretty bored and edgy after just 2-3 weeks away on holiday. It becomes too boring for me. I long to get back to work.
Maybe its that I haven’t discovered a suitable way to monetize my passions outside of work yet. In any case, work always draws me back. Getting some clear perspective away from your regular routine for an extended time away can give you some clarity. You may discover that all you needed was a good break.
Starting your own thing
After you’ve considered all the other possibilities of remaining in the workforce or retraining, maybe you discover that your real passion is to do your own thing. So what do you do?
While necessity is the mother of invention, getting up and quitting your job to start something isn’t the right option till you’ve established that you can successfully monetize your passion. There’s been many dreamer with an idea that has discovered the reality of launching a concept and making a serious go of it is pretty tough.
Scaling this up on the side while you are still well employed in your day job makes complete sense to me. You’re somewhat free of the pressures to have to stand something up when putting food on the table doesn’t depend on it.
I’ve never understood quitting a job to become a blogger when someone still is unproven. That’s a bit of a recipe for disaster in my view. I also find that some of my experiences in the workforce actually help me think through many of the things that I write about. My blog without my work or vice versa wouldn’t be a very rich experience. I find for me its really 1+1 =3.
In any case, taking some time out to test your concept, and scale it up somewhat can help ensure your transition out of the workforce will be successful. The thing with many of these internet businesses is that its a game of eyeballs before you can successfully monetize.
Growing traffic first and then working out how you monetize later can mean needing to invest for 2-3 years before you see any return. And thats if you’re lucky. You may pivot a couple of times before you settle on monetization that works. So trying to do all this without a solid income behind you can be recipe for disappointment.