The First Steps to Stop Dreaming & Start Retiring – NOW!

Fantasizing about retirement is a favorite past-time for just about anyone who has ever held a 9-to-5. But that dream of what lies ahead is starting to look a whole lot different these days.

How I was Looking at Retirement

I used to look at the end goal of retirement as something off in the distance. Something that would happen around the age of 65, and maybe, just maybe, if I was a good little worker, maxed out my 401K every year, and played all my cards right I could get lucky and bump that up 10 years or so.

But then I started to think… OK, so I work and save and retire and then sit around. Is that what I really want? That may sound great to some, but I want a whole lot more out of life than earning the right to sit on a couch all day long. OK…OK, so I can sit on the couch all day, but use my retirement money to travel the world and sight see. Nah, that’s not quite it either. That is not living a fulfilling life, it’s preparing for death!

Shifting my Perception of Retirement

Retirement can be an exceptionally motivating goal in your life if you simply look at it in a different way. I’m starting to look at retirement as ‘the freedom to do something I like that others have a demand for… and get paid to do it’.

How is that different, you may ask?

Destroying the ‘No Obligation’ Retirement Dream

happy retirementI think the main difference is that the traditional view of ‘retirement’ is that you become 100% free of obligation and never have to work to make another dime in your life.

But how much fun is that? To slave away during the most productive, healthy, and demanding years of your life just so that you can say you don’t owe anyone anything. Should that be anyone’s goal? Wouldn’t you like to bump up your retirement 20, 30, or even 40 years?

The Opposite End of the Spectrum – Just Do what you Love, Dude

At the opposite end of the ‘no obligation’ spectrum is another group, who, ironically, thinks that your entire life should not carry any obligation. It’s those who say, just do whatever you love the most and the money will come.

If your favorite activity is hiking or riding a bike, well, there’s a ton of people out there who also love those things and will never see a dime from doing them. You have to be realistic. Don’t use your love of a hobby as an excuse to live off the scraps of others. We all know people in our lives who fall into this category.

Find your Marketable Hobby

But there’s a happy medium between the two. You see, there’s hobbies, and then there’s marketable hobbies. I love writing and I love personal finance. I’ve found both to be marketable hobbies because a lot of people need help writing and marketing and a lot of people love to chat about personal finance. I like my day job, but in creating this blog, I know that should I ever decide to leave my day job, I could probably carve out a pretty respectable living on my own doing a variety of different things. I’ve also discovered 5-10 other peripheral skills/activities that I like doing that others are willing to pay for.

And you know what? That makes me like my day job even more! That piece of knowledge takes the pressure off. It gives me more flexibility to focus on what I like doing at work versus doing something that I don’t like to impress someone else.

Now doesn’t that sound a whole lot more achievable and appealing than sitting on a couch all day?

My Challenge to You

Let’s try a little exercise. I’d love to see your responses in the comments and have a great discussion about this. Use this as an opportunity to throw some ideas out to the community and get feedback or advice. More on this topic in posts to come.

  1. What do you like to do with your time? Are others willing to pay for that? (let’s keep this clean).
  2. What are you good at that others are willing to pay for and you’d probably like doing more than what you’re doing now?
  3. Now, what barriers do you need to eliminate to ‘retire’ and pick and choose from what you just listed?
  4. What examples of following their natural interests (and getting paid) have you seen from others in your life who have been successful?

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