Retirement is an archaic construct. I don’t get it.
You supposedly work for back-to-back decades with a four-week vacation in-between each year. You’ve got to get a piece of paper for an education before you can qualify to work. Then you enter in some low-ranking job, probably working for free or minimum wage.
You bust your chops. You impress everybody you encounter. You do the right thing. You stay off social media and make sure you don’t talk too loudly. But you talk loud enough so people don’t think you’re weird, or lonely. You keep plodding through work like Big Foot. You’re slow, steady, and take heavy steps. Your dreams are mostly put on the back-burner.
You love to write, or paint, or climb mountains. Except you ignore these joys in life in favor of work.
You put placeholders for things you love, to look forward to ‘one day.’ One day is a fancy way of saying, “I’ll do it in retirement.” I see it with writers all the time. They want to publish their first piece of work online but then message me and say they are too busy to do it. Their job is in the way of their dreams.
They can’t spare one hour to see what might happen if they take the plunge and do something they’ve dreamt of since they were a child. Future thinking robs them of this moment’s joy. It seriously brings me to tears sometimes, and I’m not saying that for effect.
In many ways, I often wonder whether retirement should be placed at the end of your life rather than the start.
If all else fails then you do the steady-work-plan right before you exit this world through the cemetery. It’s not so crazy when you think about it. To wait until retirement is to wait until the last mile before death. You’ll feel dead before you even get there.
Why I Want to Retire as Soon as Possible
I want to retire asap. Like, I would retire tomorrow ideally from the endless board meetings about revenue.
I am 34-years-old and already completely jaded, confused, misaligned, shocked, slapped, shocked and then slapped again by corporation life. The point isn’t to get a camper van and travel the world drinking corona beer. I want to retire from the need to acquire money.
I want my life to be so fucking simple that food and shelter don’t dictate my decision-making.
I want to be a free animal again. This isn’t a rebellion against evil. I’m literally dying to focus on a different form of work. Work I do for free. Work that transcends my tiny mortal self.
The word revenue messes up my sleep. I don’t get it. Revenue is a measurement of time. Revenue is an information system. You can’t dedicate your life to a time allocation, information system. It doesn’t make any sense. You’ll go crazy.
Work that transcends yourself isn’t focused on numbers.
You’re not a monkey counting bananas at the zoo. The monkey with the most bananas at the zoo isn’t the most successful, or doesn’t drive a Lambo. Monkeys don’t drive Lambos. If I could talk to my monkey cousins then I’d find out what it is they seek. One thing I know for sure is monkeys don’t seek more bananas, so why do humans seek higher revenue numbers on a screen?
People think I’m nuts at work when I say this: I want to pick a job and not ask what the salary is. I want to pick a job and keep switching. I want to annoy every recruiter on earth with 6-month career blocks, instead of the conventional 5-year career blocks you see on a perfect resume.
Job-hopping should equal joy.
You shouldn’t pay a penalty for being disloyal to a company. Disloyalty should be the standard. People who stop moving often die inside, while still doing their work. Job-hopping is movement. Movement is a sign of life.
You Don’t Need to Stick It to the Man
I go to the dentist once a year to get my teeth cleaned. I don’t know my dentist very well. He puts things in my mouth and sticks drills in my teeth. I shut up and pretend to enjoy it.
Last year he gave me a packet of piksters. They’re these tiny little toothbrushes to brush in between your teeth instead of using floss. I asked him whether I could reuse them. He said, “yeah sure, stick it to the man why don’t you!”
Stick-it-to-the-man culture isn’t the answer.
A boss, corporation, or job doesn’t oppress you. You don’t need to cheat the system or get an unfair advantage. Why?
You opt into the system. You decide to buy stuff you don’t need so you end up stuck in a job you don’t want to do to pay for stuff you don’t really care about while smiling at your neighbor Jane and her pain-in-the-ass partner who always makes everything look so goddamn easy. You decide to accept the boundaries as is. You decide (often accidentally) to get mentorship from those who are institutionalized and can’t see it.
What I’m going to do is opt-out of the system. Freedom is a mental construct, too, just like retirement. You’re taught to think you need all this stress, and work is the antidote to pay for it all. It’s not, though.
Imagine If You Chose Work Based on Its Impact, Not the Paycheck.
This is the point of my retirement philosophy.
Impact doesn’t need to be grandiose either. A friend of mine changed his work life so he could spend more time with his three kids. He traded the cubicle for a part-time job at his kid’s kindergarten, so they can put face paint on each other during morning break and he doesn’t have to show up to a Zoom call right after, looking like a knob.
The impact from his kindergarten work doesn’t affect you and me. But it does affect a small few who he cares about. Impactful work is far more motivating than any amount of money.
We want impactful work but often we talk ourselves out of it. Impactful work comes disguised as a risk. It doesn’t always pay the highest. Impactful work can be offered to you by, frankly, a weirdo.
Writing helped me make an impact. Once I discovered it, it became a drug more potent than all the money in the world.
Here’s to the Early Retirees
This is what retirement can be.
You can give up conventional thinking about work. You can choose wild descriptions of work. You can break every rule. You can defy the puppet mentors. You can ignore the LinkedIn influencers. You can create your own definition of work.
Retire…so you can go right back to work, with one slight change: a disregard for the amount of government currency you receive.
The real currency is the meaning you tap into before you die. The rest is B.S.