Should you pursue early retirement?

This may seem like an easy question, but I’m convinced that the answer is not necessarily easy, and is not the same for all people.  While I know I want my family to achieve financial freedom by June 2021, the reality is that I don’t anticipate a conventional retirement of playing golf and lounging around all day.

In his book, The Happiness Equation, Neil Parischa points out that there are 4 S’s we derive from work; Social, Structure, Stimulation and Story. He goes into a bit more depth on each topic, but the gist of his theory is that we need the social interaction, structure to our days, mental stimulation of completing tasks, and the stories of the companies or organizations for which we are working in order to feel happy.

I can’t disagree with any of Parischa’s points, and when I consider my pending financial freedom, I realize I will need to satisfy those human needs I had been meeting from work through some other means besides a normal 9-5 job.  This was an interesting realization to me, as when I first began thinking about financial freedom, I had this idea that I would sit around all day doing nothing, and I would be happy in that situation.

Since reading Parischa’s book and a few others, I’ve come to imagine a different life once my family has reached financial freedom.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a better idea of the items I plan to leave behind once I leave the work force (primarily office politics, stupid pointless bureaucracy, dependence on an employer and boss, etc.) than I do of the lifestyle I have at that point.

I also read The 80-20 Principle by Richard Koch, and he put together a really interesting framework for people to consider what type of work would be best for them.  There is a vertical axis that represents person’s need for achievement, while the horizontal axis is divided into different types of organizations or structures in which the person should work (working in large organizations, self-employed, and employing or organizing others).

The combination of these two books got me to realize that while I think we should all strive for financial independence sooner rather than later in order to have the option to stop working for a time, or take a lower-paying position that we may enjoy more, early retirement is not for us all.

I think it’s key to realize what drives us when we are making big decisions, like changing jobs or quitting the workforce altogether.  I know myself well enough to realize that most of the work-related stress I’ve had and my desire to reach financial freedom quickly stems from me not particularly liking working for other people or having people work for me. There are people who desire power, and enjoy ordering people about and organizing them to complete tasks, but I just do not get a lot of happiness from this.

I prefer to not need approval or get approval from anyone; independence is what I crave most.  I also do not have a strong need for achievement.  I know this in part because I know people who do have a strong need for achievement, and who prefer working in large organizations or managing others, and I can sense that I just don’t have the same ambition or desire in those situations as those people have. I’ve still managed to get promotions, and do well in corporate life, but admittedly, not as well as some peers of equal or less (in my humble opinion) ability.

Before reading Koch’s book, I would sometimes wonder why I just didn’t have same desire to move up the corporate ladder as others had.  I wondered why I was so detached and un-engaged on occasion, but now that I know Koch’s framework, I understand the reasons, and understand that I am better suited to working as an independent contractor or consultant of sorts, or not working at all.

How about you?  Is it early retirement or bust for the readers out there????

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