When most people think of retirement they imagine their last day on the job around the age of 65, they imagine having worked hard for 40+ years saving what they can and relaxing for the rest of their lives or maybe taking a part-time job. However, there’s a new concept of retirement emerging. It was there all along, in fact, but people are learning new ways to approach it. This concept is that retirement is simply freeing yourself from work you don’t want to do. Reaching the end goal of your grind. Whether that means finding work that you’d be happy doing for the rest of your life, working for yourself, making enough to stop working early and following your passions, or just learning how to live without much money. In today’s world, all of these things can be a form of retirement, a form of freedom.
Some people don’t realize the gravity of this opportunity. This is the greatest offering, the greatest promise of a free society. The ability to achieve complete, or near to complete, freedom of action.
In developed countries, especially the U.S., we have the opportunity, the chance, to grind out a daily schedule of something you don’t want to do, to get to a point where you’re only doing what you want to do. It’s true that for some this chance is way slimmer or even non-existent and that is a major problem that I’ve written plenty about but today I want to focus on this chance and what it looks like to take it. Some people don’t realize the gravity of this opportunity. This is the greatest offering, the greatest promise of a free society. The ability to achieve complete, or near to complete, freedom of action. What does freedom of action mean? It means being able to make your own schedule, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It means being able to wake up every day and have the ability to decide what you think your time will be best spent on. It means no non-negotiable obligations, no job you have to be at by a certain time and until a certain time. It means everything on your calendar was chosen by you.
Again, most people imagine this as a 65-year-old retirement but it’s completely possible to achieve this before then and through numerous ways. Does it take work? Of course, but it may even take less work than what you’re doing at your 9–5. It may also take a complete reorienting of your priorities, values, and life in general and maybe picking up a few new skills. If you’re like most people, you don’t enjoy the day-to-day grind but you’ve settled into it. Here’s how to change that.
Mark Twain is famously quoted saying, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is the first option and possibly the most difficult these days. Whether it be a job you don’t exactly feel good about, you don’t enjoy, or you aren’t passionate about. All of these things can make day-to-day life feel like an obligated grind. However, it’s entirely possible to find jobs you enjoy and possibly your dream job. It may take some education, training, or working hard for a promotion but if it’s what you want then that short grind to the longer end-goal is worth it.
For some people, even if they aren’t doing something they necessarily love if they get to choose their own schedule and vacation days, that’s freedom enough.
The next way people often approach this is by starting their own business or becoming a freelancer. This method takes a lot of initial work but once you get rolling you’re ready to enjoy your chosen freedom. For some people, even if they aren’t doing something they necessarily love if they get to choose their own schedule and vacation days, that’s freedom enough. Another option, of course, is to start a business doing something you love which increases your experienced freedom even more.
The next way is becoming more and more common in today’s world. People are choosing to aim for a 65-year-old retirement sized stack of cash about 30 years earlier. Whether that means putting in 80 hours a week for 15 years, catching the right opportunity to make your million, or working hard to make a new product or business that’s a big enough deal to settle-down from. This takes hard work and/or innovation usually, and occasionally luck of timing. While many of these may be risky as there is no sure-fire way of achieving them, one way to guarantee you’ll have a decent amount of money earlier than most is by frequently investing any extra money you have.
Better yet, if you’re able to invest some money while you’re doing this, you’re checking all the boxes of freedom now and setting yourself up for more freedom in the future.
Lastly, it’s completely possible to experience a high amount of freedom without having a lot of money or even working much. In most places, you can work a part-time job and live modestly while still enjoying a lot of the things you like to do. Additionally, if you’re inclined to travel, saving up for a van or transit can actually save you a lot of money due to not having many bills or rent. This allows you to have the freedom to go where you want but also allows you to not have to work frequently as your expenses are low. The work you do need to do can be solved by finding a temporary job wherever you travel whenever you need the money or finding a job/starting a business you can do online or over the phone. Better yet, if you’re able to invest some money while you’re doing this, you’re checking all the boxes of freedom now and setting yourself up for more freedom in the future.
To know which path you’d rather take and what you want to do will take some reflection and the results of that will likely serve as motivation and excitement to start towards that. Return to this spot when you feel it start to wane.
Retirement should be synonymous with reaching the American Dream, it should be synonymous with living your best life. The end goal of life isn’t just to save up a bunch of money and do work, whatever it is, until you’re too old to do anything.
There are many forms of retirement and as long as you find one that maximizes your experienced freedom, then it doesn’t matter how much money you have, how old you are, or what you’re doing. Retirement should be synonymous with reaching the American Dream, it should be synonymous with living your best life. The end goal of life isn’t just to save up a bunch of money and do work, whatever it is, until you’re too old to do anything. Figure out what it is that your best life would look like and think about it frequently as you work towards it. Not only will it be motivating but it will also likely shift and get clearer as time goes on. I’d bet that almost no one’s imagined best life is a 9–5 until 65 that pays the bills. What could a whole world of people chasing their best life and their unique offerings look like? Start with yourself to find out.