Perhaps it is strange that I am writing a blog post about retirement, considering I’m only 21. I’m not writing it because I feel like I already want to ‘stop working’ in the traditional retirement sense. In fact, I feel more motivated than I ever have been. I am writing it because I have recently decided that retirement is bluffing. I have decided to let out a call to rethink retirement. process which involved examining what it actually is, what it really means and where it should really fall in life.
To many, including myself until very recently, retirement is some mythical land far in the future where you can sit back, relax and finally do whatever you please. You can visit that place you have always wanted to visit, do some meaningful community work, maybe just sleep-in to your heart’s content. That beautiful, seemingly intangible place however seems to be moving further and further away with the retirement age continuously increasing due to rising populations.
What if it was different?
Not too long ago I was first exposed to the idea of Rethinking Retirement in Tim Ferriss’ book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek‘. Here is a short-story from the book that really caught my attention:
The Mexican Fisherman story
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while”. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
The story really made me rethink the concept of retirement and whether trying to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder is really worth it.
I did quite a big digging into the subject and found some interesting things, some seemingly obvious things and some things that I didn’t even know were possible.
THE INTERESTING – A Retirement Calculator
How easy it is to retire extremely early with a bit more saving and some investing in the right places. Better put, The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement. This article is not only interesting but also a game changer. There is also a detailed post I read about how much money you need for retirement. It offers a fool-proof retirement calculator and if you are thinking you need millions to make working optional for the rest of your life, you are in for a very pleasant surprise.
THE SEEMINGLY OBVIOUS – Do what you love
‘Do something you enjoy’. ‘Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life’. These are well-known sayings that many people dismiss as a luxury or something that isn’t really achievable. Work isn’t meant to be fun, right? Maybe it can’t always be fun, but it should at least be regularly rewarding and satisfying. That way, at least you aren’t waiting until your old age to finally do all of the things that you put off.
THE (IM)POSSIBLE – Mini Retirements
Instead of one long, lengthy retirement, you spread mini-retirements throughout your life to set aside time to do that interesting project you have always wanted to do or to take a 3 month trip to South America in your 30s. Whatever it may be.
Sound impossible? Thankfully, it isn’t. And many people are already doing it.
Tim Ferriss covers this quite extensively in the rest of his book 4 Hour Work Week and also on his blog. He dives deep into negotiating a remote work location so you can work anywhere as well as building passive income streams. These forms of income earn as you sleep so you can take extensive time off work in whatever circumstance. If you want to find out a bit more on this, see also the fantastic: SmartPassiveIncome.com.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider how you look at retirement, what it will involve and if you want to start channelling your inner Mexican fisherman earlier than you thought.