A Taboo Topic
I know that I talk about my financial plans for the future a lot on my blog, but in my personal life I do my best to avoid this topic unless specifically asked or if it somehow comes up in conversation. This is especially the case when working with patients. Controversial topics are generally avoided at all costs in the clinic because a lighthearted, funny conversation seems to promote the healing process (n=1 study pending). Cervical mobilization and personal finance discussions don’t exactly go hand in hand. Inevitably it comes up occasionally either with patients, coworkers, or friends that don’t know about my plans to retire early. When people find out, they generally ask one of three questions. Those include:
- “If you retire at 30 how will you spend your time?”
- “How could you possibly afford to live for 60 years without working?”
- “Retire at 30? Won’t you be bored?”
Addressing the Issue
The first two questions I completely understand, as retiring early is obviously a fringe concept, and at 30 is basically unheard of.
How to spend a long retirement is definitely something to put a lot of thought into since, even though a life of leisure sounds great, having no clear goals could easily lead to depression. After all, common advice given to retirees is to retire TO something not FROM something.
Considering how to finance a long retirement is also a major hurdle. However, anyone that is considering this goal hopefully has already got that (at least mostly) figured out. Explaining that plan to others is a bit more difficult. Saying something along the lines of “saving enough to be able to live off of investments” usually is a satisfactory superficial answer… without trying to explain the concept of safe withdrawal rates or Roth conversion ladders.
The question that I’ve never really understood is the last one. “Won’t you be bored?” The first time someone asked me that, I was a little surprised and didn’t know what to say. Being bored has never been something I’ve worried about or even really considered with early retirement. I have a long list of things that I want to do, learn, see, and accomplish, once I’m not spending most of my day working for money. In fact, I always assumed that others dreaded going to work because they had other things they would rather do as well.
Since I first got that question, I have thought a lot about it and even second guessed my plans. Maybe I haven’t given enough thought to what happens when I run out of things that I want to do? Maybe I really will be bored at some point? How terrible would that be to work and save diligently to reach early retirement— only to be bored with your life?
How Will I Spend My Time?
After a lot of thought and consideration, I have come to a conclusion. Will I be bored eventually once I retire early and do everything that I have planned to do? Of course not. The possibilities with unlimited free time, good health, and not having to work to cover my expenses are endless.
Here is a list of some things that I plan to pursue in my retirement:
- “Slow travel” internationally 1-3 months at a time in different countries
- Travel to all 50 states in the U.S.
- Spend more time with family
- Reach the summit of all the high points in the lower 48 (possibly 50, but we’ll see…)
- Learn Spanish
- Learn to play the guitar
- Get back into playing chess competitively (a childhood hobby of mine)
- Learn to ballroom dance
- Hike the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail
- Compete in a power lifting competition and a physique competition
- Write on this blog to help educate and motivate others
- Learn to garden
- Experiment with diets and eating schedules to find what works best for me
- Find the sleep schedule that works best for me (I’ve never been a morning person, and despite years of fighting it, I think I will embrace it after retirement)
- Practice meditation and yoga
- Learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Take a class on wood working
- Become more proficient with simple car repairs
- And finally, have kids and possibly home school them!
Once I consider all of the things I want to do, instead of wondering if I’ll get bored, I start to wonder, “How will I have enough time for it all?!”
Discovering Your True Passions
I think that many people let their job become their identity, so the concept of no longer working at such a young age seems scary and foolish. If you have a career that you love and is truly your passion, then that’s great, and even once you were financially independent you could continue to do that. But you wouldn’t be financially “obligated” to be there, and you would have so much more flexibility. However, unfortunately, I meet far more people that have a job that they don’t like, yet still fear being “bored” if they didn’t have a job. There are so many possibilities out there with an extra 40+ hours/week and less worry about money, how could you be bored?
I think that everyone working toward financial independence/early retirement should sit down and make a list of all the things they want to accomplish. Early retirement, or any retirement for that matter, isn’t about sitting on the couch and watching Netflix and the news. It’s about exploring interests that you didn’t have time to explore while working. It’s about improving your health and lifestyle without the constraints of an 8-5 M-F obligation. It’s about learning what truly brings you joy and makes you happy.
What will you say the next time someone asks you, “You’re going to retire at ______? Won’t you be bored?”