At various times in our lives all of us come to a fork in the road – that place where we need to make a decision about where we want to go for our future. Picking a career, choosing a spouse, or determining whether or not to have children are examples of these significant junctures. We all want to create a lifestyle of meaning, no matter where we are in that juncture.
We think that choosing to retire early rather than working for a couple of more decades which is the conventional choice, is a personal decision not unlike the ones listed above. This change in your life direction has consequences – not only for you, but with your relationships.
Recently we read that if you decide to retire early, the worst thing you could do is to surprise anyone invested in your current lifestyle. If you do rock the boat, trouble could follow, as you are forcing these folks to question their own life’s path.
In our particular case, we did upset the applecart, and apparently our decision to live a lifestyle of our choosing instead of fitting in with convention, challenged everyone we knew. What we considered to be a personal decision had the side effect of throwing everyone into unwanted self-reflection, and some felt threatened or were generally unhappy with our change. But we wanted to create a lifestyle of meaning in that decision-making process.
Who would have known?
Retiring early – or obtaining financial sustainability sooner than your friends – will have the by-product of making you stand apart from the crowd. Many find this position to be stressful.
We understand that some people feel more comfortable fitting in with the crowd, but we think that some things we must conclude on our own.
Personally, we took two years planning our exodus from our working life and did not tell anyone about it until we gave our notice at our jobs. We did not want the naysayers to distract us from our goal and chose to work out our doubts and concerns about our future life between ourselves.
The future impact of your retirement – building a lifestyle of meaning within your financially independent lifestyle
Your relationships will be impacted by your intention to retire, especially if it is before the socially-accepted age. So it’s important for you to have a plan to create a lifestyle of meaning in order to fill in any blank spaces that your decision has created.
Keep in mind that once you remove yourself from your career path – with all the discretionary purchasing power that it includes – certain doors may no longer be open to you.
If watching your peers collect their second or third home, drive Maseratis, give generously to charities and be selected to become directors of significant public companies is going to grind on your own sense of self-worth, this is something you must weigh carefully before you chuck your lifework for good.
If you leave your profession early, you may not have as many conventional post-work opportunities. However, the choice of early retirement allows you to determine for yourself how you want to utilize your particular set of talents and abilities. This can be immensely freeing and gratifying.
Useful questions to ask yourself are “what will you be doing with your newfound time? What areas in your life carry significance to you?” Build on your answers.
Some people choose to mentor or volunteer abroad or at home in their communities. Others invent digital apps, write books, learn new languages or go back to school. There are those who choose meaningful travel, going on archaeological digs, visiting the world’s holy sites, or starting a boutique travel agency which brings a limited number of travelers to exotic locations, thereby opening their perspectives.
Just as worthy, some pursue avenues of personal value such as gardening, learning yoga, spending time with the grandchildren and family or getting involved with animal rescue.
It is imperative that you use this gift of personal free time to edify your morale, confidence and self-respect. If you allow yourself to slip into insignificance in your own eyes, it is guaranteed that you will be unhappy. It doesn’t matter so much what you do, so long as it holds satisfaction and meaning to you.
It’s a delicate balance between succumbing to peer pressure to stay at your job or pursuing what you value most. Life does not stop when you cross over from the world of work to one of Financial Independence.
Rather, this new direction can bring delight in ways you have never known before.
How do you create a lifestyle of meaning at any age? Share your advice with the Frayed Passport community!