Is this what early retirement would feel like?
Has the lock-down made us rethink about when we want to retire?
Hello fellow Protagonists,
As a key worker I have been particularly interested in the general responses of people who are currently staying at home during this lock-down. I appreciate the situation we find ourselves in is a unique one but I do hear people itching to go back to work.
I cannot be the only person who has daydreamed how amazing an early retired life would be like. All the freedom and choice in the world. Every day would include a casual, easy-paced morning with no alarms set, cooked breakfasts and some light reading. And don't even get me started on the serious amount of nerding to be done. Surely I wouldn't feel the need to work?
I have read articles highlighting how early retirement is something that people need to think about seriously before aiming for and starting. The term “mini retirements” came up where we are encouraged to take periods of time out of work, long before retirement, to see how we would cope with the change of pace. For those who are currently not required to go to work, this would seem like the ideal opportunity to experience what a mini retirement would feel like.
If we think about it, certain aspects of retirement would be very similar to the lock-down. If I were to retire now, in the day time I would need a whole new set of friends as mine would be working. I would need to purposely fit in exercise like walking, which I may have been doing as part of my job. I would also have to force myself to stick to the usual hours that a human being tends to stay awake, to avoid becoming a vampire.
On top of this, If we considered going out for meals most evenings, then unless we retired due to a lottery win or large retirement pot, we would not be able to keep up and afford that form of lifestyle for long. If our lunch breaks used to be spent having a coffee with colleagues would this still occur if we didn't work with them?
Bearing in mind the average age of retirement, is it more realistic to say that all my friends would be 70 years old, meeting up at 6am, playing chess in the park and offering out Werther's Originals. I suddenly don't trust contactless payments anymore either.
Perhaps one reason for people wanting to return to work is that some of us link our purpose to our job. Not that this is a negative thing, we just may need to be prepared to readjust what our purpose becomes if we no longer have to work.
Maybe early retirement is not what I am searching for after all
Grant Sabatier, who retired at 30, in an interview with Business Insider puts the concept nicely into perspective for me, stating "I wish I knew that retirement isn't the goal - having more time is."
Freedom and time sounds far more positive and flexible than retirement. The beauty of freedom and time is that we do not have to wait until we have built a substantial investment portfolio to start achieving these in our lives.
Speaking of time, something both me and my wife have found absolutely life changing is reducing our commute times to work. At one point we both had a commute of around an hour each way. Mine is now 25 minutes and my wife's is 5 minutes! We both frequently reflect on the clear difference this has had on our mindset and general happiness.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, conducted a study where people identified how they felt in each given activity the day before. For those questioned their commute was rated as the worst time of the day, followed by work, then the commute home. A 1-15 minute commute appears to be the ideal benchmark to aim for.
I know not everyone is in a position to change their commute. Maybe there is something else that could put some time back in your pocket. Perhaps consider getting your weekly shop delivered to your house or making a deal to work from home once a week.
I find peace in the thought that no matter how rich we are, time doesn't change for anyone.
Money can save you time on a task but it can never add more minutes in an hour.
So early retirement does not have to be the only goal for us who are looking for more freedom. There are ways where we can all save ourselves some time that we can start to implement a lot sooner and Buff our overall happiness.
Let me know if you have recently changed your commute or something else with a similar impact? Does a mini retirement sound like something you could try?