Are you looking forward to the day when you can finally pack it in and leave behind the drudgery of the workplace? When you can spend the rest of your time doing what you love and enjoying the life you want to live?
If you’re like many people, the idea of retiring early is the ultimate dream. But it may also seem like an impossible reality. There are always bills to pay and nest eggs to build up.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that it’s very possible to retire in your 40s. I retired a year and a half ago at the age of 43 and have never looked back.
Why Retire Early?
Believe it or not, not everyone wants to retire early. My father-in-law could retire any time he wants, but he feels that his job keeps his mind sharp. For others, they like the importance of their work or the camaraderie in the workplace.
Let’s look at some reasons for and against retiring early:
Pros: You’ll have more time to get in shape; You’ll reduce stress; You’ll get better sleep; You’ll have a better sex life; You’ll travel more; You’ll work on something cool like a novel or screenplay; You’ll connect more with your family & friends; You'll have more time for volunteer work; and the list goes on and on.
Cons: Your friends who are still working might hate you; You might get bored occasionally; and um, that’s about all I can come up with right now.
I always wanted to retire early, but I thought early meant in my 50s. It wasn’t until I took a sabbatical from work that I realized how great it was to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.
In my blog post 7 Reasons to Take a Sabbatical (& How To Pull it Off), I describe many of the wonderful benefits of taking time off from work. Things like getting into shape, reducing stress, reconnecting with your partner, traveling more often, and connecting with nature.
When I wrote that post I was 8 months into my sabbatical. Although I was enjoying every moment of it, I assumed I would go back to work eventually.
After a little over a year of not having a "real job,” my wife Allison and I had an epiphany. We crunched the numbers and realized, based on our annual expenses, that we had enough money saved up to go ahead and retire now. Woo hoo!!
If you need one more reason to retire early, think about this. When you’re on your deathbed, are you going to regret that you didn’t spend more hours at the office? Or that you didn’t write up more reports or go to more meetings?
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, spent years working in palliative care with dying patients. She put together a famous compilation of their top five regrets. One of the top regrets was simply “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” Bronnie summarized it here:
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."