Why Retire Early?

Most of the time when I tell someone I hope to retire in 12 years, the first question they ask is, “why?”. I think I’ve learned my lesson now, and I am less likely to tell someone I want to “retire” – instead I opt to say I am “striving for financial independence.”  Even after re-phrasing, the most common question from those who are in on the secret is still, “why?”. I guess people don’t initially or instinctively understand the drive to get out of the rat race, and as someone who loves my job, it makes even less sense to the consumerist masses that I want to opt out.

Why quit work that you enjoy after reaching financial independence? In reality, I might not stop working – like many people, I think consulting and freelancing on my own terms sounds lucrative and flexible enough that I’d still pursue some work.  If I am completely kicking butt and having fun in my career in 12 years, I might not stop at all. But that gets to the root of the entire philosophy… if I have the money and low expenses that render me capable of being independent, I am free to choose. I can stop my career any time I’d like, and my driving motivations no longer concern money. There are so many numerous things I’d like to do in my short life that there may not be room for work anymore:

  • Family & friends: one of my goals is to improve my relationships with family and friends, and I have a lingering sadness when I don’t make time or put in the effort to connect with the people who are most important to me. Being free from a traditional work week and having flexibility will be an awesome boost to my ability to nurture as well as create new connections.
  • Community building: helping connect my community by fostering friendships, organizing events, and improving outreach & overall fun for everyone in my world is important to me.  I do some of this now, but my time is limited, and therefore so is my commitment to the community building tasks that I am passionate about.
  • Play:I don’t spend enough of my time just really enjoying life and soaking up the awesomeness that can come from a day of playing. It’s sad that I can’t tell you the last time I made a fool of myself at karaoke, or laughed so hard it hurt.
  • Entrepreneurship: I have an innate nature to brainstorm and cultivate business ideas (good or bad, so far they are all mostly unproven) and I’d love to dedicate more of my time to entrepreneurial endeavors, whether successful or not.
  • Create. Let my hobbies thrive: I have many hobbies that could all certainly utilize more of my time and energy – in return, I will almost certainly be happier & more energetic by investing in them – really there seems to be no downside to indulging the hobbies I really enjoy.  Many of my favorite things involve tapping into that creative part of me that is often ignored at work, and the fruits of the creative process are rewarding.
  • Explore: of course, like most people, I’d love to travel and see the world. If done in a leisurely and well-planned way, this is not an extraordinarily expensive or superficial endeavor, and I am sure I would enjoy it very much.  Not only would I like to explore the parts of the world I haven’t yet experienced, I also find great value in exploring the places, people, and history around me every day.

I realize that sometimes this type of writing seems idealistic and whimsical, but I believe positivity is important. I’ve only recently allowed myself to start dreaming big, and I am now realizing the awesome power of setting concrete, positive, and important goals in my life. While not a traditional “bucket list”, the listed items above are my big picture motivations toward retirement and financial freedom.  Without them, I might as well commit myself to a life of mindless buying and working.

As these goals and my path become clearer, it also is becoming very obvious how and why I was mired in depression and listlessness only a few years ago, and how easy it can be to remain stuck in that state. If you have found your path, raise a glass with me to our dreams and eventual freedom to live an awesomely empowered life – cheers!

I’d love to hear your driving motivations for financial freedom in the comments :)

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