Early Retirement Is Not the Goal

Why do you do what you do? What is your end game? Is it that you want to quit your regular job and run a business of your own? And then what? Is it that you want to own a million dollar house in the nice part of town? Is it that you never want to another day in your life, leisurely making your way through the rest of your days on sandy beaches and sunny climes?

For most people living in North America, the expected norm for retirement age is right around 65 years old. Some people may choose to retire a couple years earlier, some people may find it necessary to work a few years longer, but that’s right around what we “expect” to be “normal.” Just like how we “expect” a normal work week to consist of working from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. But normal is just another word for average or mediocre, isn’t it?

It’s not at all surprising that so many people, regardless of the type of work that they do, have dreams of early retirement. They dream of the day when they can get out of the rat race, the day when they’ll no longer have to endure the morning commute or put up with an over-demanding boss. It sounds much more appealing to go for a stroll on the beach with someone you love, right?

With this objective in mind, the more motivated among us may start to put a plan of action in place. They’ll look for extra side gigs where they can earn more money. They’ll brutally cut back on their expenses in an effort to grow their retirement fund. They’ll live like paupers so they can retire a few years earlier than 65. They’ll suffer now for perceived future gains.

But is this really the path you want to take?

It turns out that the idea of retirement is much more desirable than retirement itself. For a lot of retirees, retirement isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Research has indicated that complete retirement (at any age) leads to a 5 to 16 percent increase in mobility issues and a marked decline in memory and cognitive skills.

That’s because the work you do, assuming it’s reasonably challenging, engaging and meaningful, is what keeps your mind sharp. Your brain is a muscle like any other and it will atrophy from lack of use. In other words, you’ll lose it if you don’t use it. There’s a reason why some of the most successful and passionate people in the world continue to “work” well into their 70s and 80s and beyond, if they’re so lucky. Working, contrary to popular belief, is what keeps them “young.”

For some of you reading this, getting into professional blogging or Internet marketing may look like a path toward early retirement. These strategies may yield a system of passive income streams that almost run themselves, freeing you to pursue whatever else it is that you want to pursue. But this also lends itself to laziness, apathy, and a growing burden of meaninglessness.

It’s not that you need to retire from the world of work early. It’s that you need to redefine what “work” really means to you. With the amount of money that people like John Chow and others like him are making, they could very comfortably retire right this moment and never work another minute in their lives. But that’s not what it’s all about.

The end objective isn’t early retirement. The end objective is to find something you enjoy doing with the happy side effect of continuing to generate income to support your lifestyle. In this way, the real end objective is perhaps never to retire at all.

Because the sooner you give up on life, the sooner life will give up on you. What will your contribution be? what will be your legacy? How will you keep things fresh and exciting?

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