Why did I retire early - what was I thinking?!
Yep, I retired early when I was 47 years old, and I'm now sitting here trying to recall why I did that.
Looking back, I fell out of love with my job, the industry I was in and the way that much of the corporate world was behaving. Wow, it certainly sounds like I was on quite a downer at that time!
I could have looked for another job, changed industries, changed locations, and probably a number of other options as well. But I didn't, I just quit my job instead, and all of a sudden I was "retired early". So now I have more time for myself to think about things and to reflect on them, and today I'm reflecting on what on earth was my thought process back then - why did I retire early?
OK, so maybe it wasn't quite as random or disorganized as I've made it sound. I had a white board that I wrote stuff on - look, here it is:
Hmmm now I've looked back at the whiteboard, it seems that's not quite the detailed planning exercise that I thought. So, perhaps I did kind of stumble into early retirement.
Why am I having these thoughts today? Well, earlier this week, I was on a car journey listening to a radio talk show about retirement. Various people were phoning in saying they thought it was great, terrible, nonsense, impossible and all sorts of other things as well. It made me think about things, and it made me think about how people might view me.
It's interesting that when people ask what I do, I say that I'm retired, but I feel a bit awkward saying that. It's not really that I worry what they will think, although we all care about that a little bit, it's more that I think it makes me sound like I'm old and that I'm not doing anything. And both of those things are not true. I'm not old, and I find myself being very nicely occupied thank you.
What I want to say is that I've retired early from the corporate world, the world that society expects us to be part of for a long time. But what I absolutely haven't retired from is life, in fact quite the opposite. I've no doubt that being "early retired" now lets me do and get more out of life than I had previously imagined. An example is my round the world trip plan - I've made the RTW trip outline plan to start next July, and now have to start figuring out the detail and booking the airline tickets.
Then there's the other part of the equation - Financial Freedom. Having monitored our spending for the first nine months of my new life, I'm pretty confident that we can live nicely off our passive income, so I'm just about ready to say that we have attained Financial Freedom. We can't do everything, a Ferrari would not be a good idea, but we can pretty much live the way that we want to. This isn't something that we just stumbled on, but something that we worked towards for quite some time. I don't claim to be a personal finance expert, but we have done it as I describe in my how to retire early post.
I think something that helped in our journey to financial freedom is that I've always been a bit or a worrier. Mainly about providing for my family, would we have enough money, what if I lost my job, would Sally and I be financially OK as we get older and reach "normal" retirement age? My worrying nature however has turned out to be a good thing, because it was what spurred me on to save, make some investments, and generally keep moving towards that financial freedom goal. I see many blogs out there that are based on frugality, and while I enjoy reading them, and also use some of their suggestions, we didn't do it in a frugal way, I like to think we always kept a reasonable balance between saving and still living a good life.
Back to the radio talk show. It's actually quite interesting to listen to what people have to say, their different points of view, although sometimes listening to those who are saying that your life is wrong can be a tad frustrating! But my view is that early retirement, or shall we say the outcome of achieving financial freedom, is that you get to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it. Surely that's the whole point! And that's what I'm doing right now, and with our travel plans for next year, that's what we'll do then, and after that, we'll make it up and enjoy it as we go along. Hey, that sounds like the kind of life that I want to lead.
I've just remembered, this ramble started off with a question. Why did I retire early - what was I thinking? My answer is that I retired early so that I can choose to do what I want, when I want. For this year and next, I know what that will be, after that, I'm not so sure, but it will be something exciting. It will be my choice. If at some point in the future I decide I want to work some more, then I can do it if I wish, on my own terms, as an employee, or in some self employed role, or for a charity, or probably a whole heap of other options. It's down to me, what I do is my choice, that's why I retired early, and that's why, albeit only just nine months into it, I'm loving it, and don't want to change it.
I think that the next time someone asks me what I do, instead of saying that I'm retired, I'm going to answer by saying that I have "taken control of my life". I think that sounds like a much better description, but I suspect they'll just look at me as if I'm crazy🤣
My last word, I have an admission to make. I said earlier that I am very nicely occupied and, it's true, I am. But my admission, or admissions are that earlier this week, I found myself Googling "should I sweep or dust first", and the other day I was almost overcome with excitement finding there is a thing called a color catcher which means that I can wash light and dark colors together. Who says I'm not living the dream😜