The Reality of Early Retirement
Some days ago I wrote about how to prepare for early retirement. Today let us dig deeper into the reality of early retirement. What are some of the inevitable truths of early retirement that we realize only later?
I read this article by the Financial Samurai. His story is pretty similar to mine. Like me, he was a banker for many years too, till he decided that living a life taking orders from people was not what he wanted to do.
Early retirement gives you the freedom you yearn for. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want – at least theoretically.
Sound like a great life, doesn’t it?
Is it really so? Let us look at some of the not-so-glamorous reality of early retirement.
The Reality of Early Retirement
Suffering from an identity crisis for an unknown period of time.
Your job titles are incredibly addictive. They are also your identity. The loss of your identity will bother you for a long time – from a few months to a few years. Saying that you no longer work often requires you to swallow your pride. You lose the chance to make that incredible first impression.
My Story: I get what he is saying about not having a job title. You always have to explain what you are doing to people. It is the inability to be able to make that first impression on people. I have to do that all the time.
I still haven’t figured out how to convince people I am still the same talented, intelligent person I was while I was working for some people who did not deserve me. Yes, I have suffered from no longer having my job as my identity crutch.
You will be stuck in your head.
You suddenly have a lot of time on hand. With so much time, you naturally start to become lazier, less productive. Even your motivation tends to suffer. To top it all, with all this time you start to second guess yourself. What if I run out of money? Do people think I am a loser?
My Story: Of course I have more time at hand now – about 55-60 hours every week that were earlier spent on my job. I spend about ⅔ rd of that on my current work. Does that mean I am lazy for the rest of the time? Nope. I spend that time doing things I want to, things that make me happy. I get to decide how I want to spend my day.
Purpose and intent have replaced stress in my life. This meant an improvement in my well-being and physical health. I knew I did not want to completely give up working. What I wanted to do was to give up on a corporate job where I am doing as directed by someone else.
There is a chance that you can become lazier and get used to lower state of activity, which too will leave you feeling fulfilled. But that depends upon you – the goals that you set out for yourself and what you want to do.
Were there occasions when I questioned the choices I have made and the decisions I have taken. Yes, there were. These only forced me to become more diligent and self-disciplined.
People will treat you as a weird misfit.
The Financial Samurai writes about people not giving you the same kind of respect as others who grind away at a day job. You are looked at as a slacker.
My story: I have felt the same way. While some of my friends and family hesitate to say it, others have made their views known very obvious. They think I am doing nothing. They do not know the reality.
My income has nose-dived. Still, I am able to and do continue to pay for my share of the household expenses like I always have. Our lifestyle remains much the same as before I quit on the day job. I fight this prejudiced mindset every day.
You will be disappointed you are not much happier:
You have the feeling of being permanently happier upon leaving a job that you dislike. The article says “having the freedom to do what you want is priceless. However, you revert to your natural state very soon.”
My story: I thought I would feel the same happiness when I stopped working full-time. The reality is that from the moment I took that decision, I have fought an uphill battle in order to change the perception some people have about me. The happiness was ephemeral.
That being said, I find real advantages in my current lifestyle. Advantages like improved health, better time planning, improved self-discipline. These are because I am doing the things I want to, at the pace I set for myself.
My boss is not there to piss me off, but other things do – injustice, people taking undue advantage of their situation, traffic rules being broken – these still get my goat as much as earlier. In that sense, I did not drift away from my natural state anytime.
You constantly wonder whether this is all there is to life.
Retirement can be boring. Early retirement means that you have to deal with this boredom for many more years.
My Story: I do get bored from time to time. I read books but then I need to take a break. My daughter gives me a sense of purpose. But with her away at boarding school for 8 months of the year, I don’t have much to do. This blog gives me that sense of purpose, direction, and drive that I need. I leave little time to get bored.
Is early retirement on your radar? What are some of the things you fear?
Photo by 90 jiang on Unsplash