When I say retirement is overrated I’m talking about traditional retirement. The idea that after working for 30 to 40 years we are going to find ourselves with riches and a utopian life just isn’t what it used to be. When I started my job at Apple I thought to myself, “Is this where I’m going to spend the next 30 years of my life?”
Well as you know that’s not what happened. When I think about my decision to leave my job a lot of factors played a part. I forgot how I began reading the book Early Retirement Extreme. However, it was the start of my shift in perspective on what real living means.
When I was working my conventional job I longed for adventure. I wanted to travel and see the world. I wanted to spend time with my family. I wanted my life to be exciting again. But, like most people I accepted that I needed to wait until vacation or retirement to have those experiences. Well after reading Early Retirement Extreme as well as an array of other books and blogs I realized, now was the best time to live out these desires.
Why do we wait until retirement to allow ourselves to do what we really want? Because the generations before us did and in general people hate change. Speaking of change, when you get used to working 8 or more hours a day, five days a week for 30 years, it’s not easy to retire one day and all of a sudden plan trips around the world. If you’ve ever observed actual people in traditional retirement, sure some of them travel. However, the majority of them seem very bored and unsure of what to do with themselves.
Travel Isn’t Everything
I always like to ask people what they would do if they did not have to worry about money. 99% of the time people say that they would travel. People also see retirement as a time to become the jetsetter they always dreamed of. The truth is, however, that if you’re not traveling now, chances are you won’t be in retirement.
Traveling is great and I do love it. However, I also love the comfort of being home and surrounded by familiar places. I know I wouldn’t be happy constantly traveling. Those who truly love to travel do it. They don’t wait until retirement. But if you don’t realize this now, once you’re in retirement you might find yourself traveling because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. When in reality you may be like me and simply enjoy being home.
Money Also Isn’t Everything
As a society we have a skewed perspective on money. Most of us believe we don’t have enough. Even more of us believe that we can’t afford the things we truly want. Money is not the problem. The problem is that most of us don’t even know who we are. We don’t know what we truly want out of life.
Because we don’t know what we want out of life, it’s easier to accept what society tells us we should want. 30 years of work and then a blissful retirement. A new home, a remodeled kitchen, those shoes or that purse. If you love your job great. If you don’t, however, why are you wasting precious hours of your life? Live the life you want now. A life that makes you excited to wake up. A life that you truly feel blessed to live. I believe that that is what true retirement is all about. My life changed when I realized that I could have all of that now.