I often hear people say “I can’t wait to retire,” or “I want to retire young- by 40 years old.”
It seems that most people, whether they own their business or are working for others, dream of that day when they are eligible to retire, usually by the age of 60.
What do people really mean when they say “I want to retire”?
To retire means to leave one’s job and cease to work.
Once eligible, a retiree gets a fat paycheck that’s supposed to allow him to live for the rest of his life without working for money. Weekdays are replaced with unlimited weekends. Eighty-hour work weeks are replaced with days spent doing the things they dreamt of- live by the beach, read a book all day, watch TV series all week, play video games day and night, spend more time with family, travel the world, start a dream business, be a painter, be a writer, get 9 hours of sleep everyday.
In other words, to retire means to live a life doing the things a person loves to do.
With this definition, I am officially retired. Since I left my job seven months ago, I’ve spent my days doing ‘the things I wished I had the time to do’ when I was still working- take voice lessons, attend a silent meditation retreat, read and write everyday, attend dance classes, create healthy desserts, paint over my notes, practice yoga daily, plan for my wedding, get married, be a housewife and relocate to another country.
At age 29, living the life I once dreamt of when I retire by 60, taught me an important lesson of ‘Living my Dreams Now’.
Get a glimpse of how it feels to actually live your ‘dream life’ before dedicating 20, 30, 40 years on a career that’s main purpose is for you to earn money to afford your dream.
Dream of starting a business once you get your retirement paycheck? Why not start a business on the side to learn if you enjoy being your own boss.
Dream of traveling the world once you have the time after you retire? Why not save up and take an extended leave and do just that. See if this lifestyle suits you.
Dream of being a writer once you get the peace of mind after you retire? Why not take an career break to do exactly this. Be a writer. Write everyday and see if this is what you want as your career.
Seven months of being a retiree allowed me to see which of my dreams made sense and ones that didn’t; which ones I’d pursue and ones I’d drop; and, which ones I enjoy and ones I don’t.
I dreamt of becoming a housewife to finally be able to live a peaceful, content and happy life. After a month of being a housewife, I realized this is not the way for me to gain peace, contentment and happiness.
I dreamt of taking voice lessons to see if I can develop my talent on it. After finishing a beginner’s course, I realized that it was not for me.
I dreamt of finishing reading dozens of books. After reading for hours everyday for the past months, I realized that too consumption is counterproductive. It turns a great habit, reading, into a distraction.
I also realized the things I loved doing everyday. I enjoy doing my daily yoga practice, meditation and morning pages. I enjoy cooking, creating desserts, reading and writing. And right now as I live my dream of relocating in a different country, I am enjoying the freedom, diversity and adventure it brings.
Quoting Tim Ferriss on his book The Four-Hour Work Week,
“People don’t want to be millionaires— they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. Ski chalets, butlers, and exotic travel often enter the picture. Perhaps rubbing cocoa butter on your belly in a hammock while you listen to waves rhythmically lapping against the deck of your thatched-roof bungalow? Sounds nice.
$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?”
You don’t have to wait for years to live your ‘dream life’; You can ‘retire’ tomorrow- in your own terms. You also don’t have to quit your job to do this; You can create your own opportunities: save up; pool your vacation leaves to create a long break, take an extended vacation, a sabbatical, a career break or a mini-retirement. And start living your dream.