Not Alone

“You are crazy!”

“You can’t do that!”

“But you are too young!”

Those are just a small sample of some of the reactions I’ve seen to my early retirement plans, as you may have noticed they are not particularly encouraging.  Actually I would save the majority of comments I see on websites that have a story on early retirement are negative.  You can argue the why of that until you run out of air, but in my case I’ve actually cease to care about the negative comments directed at myself.

What I don’t like about those negative comments is I wonder how many early retirement dreams were cut short before they ever began because that sort of feedback.  You have to keep in mind that those of us who are discussing our plans publicly are a tiny faction of the overall who just did it and didn’t tell anyone.  After all if you are willing to insert a little lie like “I work in private wealth management,” no one will ever know.

The major problem in the beginning for most people is the isolation.  With the typical person being negative towards the idea of early retirement, it is rather hard to meet someone who will talk to you as if it could happen. Or even provide some useful feedback on the crazy ideas running around your head.  Oddly, I think that is why I got interested in blogging myself: I wanted to share and discuss my ideas.  What I didn’t consider was how helpful it was to have someone read a post, leave a comment (good or bad) and indirectly tell me: you are not alone.

The journey to early retirement is a long one.  In fact, decades is the normal time frame.  So having doubts and being a bit lonely in the journey is entirely a normal feeling at some point.  It can be hard at the start to be so excited by the concept, but have no one around you to talk to.  So thank the heavens for the internet and personal finance bloggers!  Here at last is a group of people who you can talk to in forums, on blogs and now with conferences in person.  We can learn from each other and finally have someone tell you: you aren’t crazy, but have you considered this?  Again it will be rarely spoken or written, but it is still there: you are not alone.

So the next time you run into someone who is new to the idea of early retirement, try to be patient with them.  Not all blogs are the same, they will find one geared to their particular level eventually, just be nice to start with and remember to imply if not tell them: you are not alone.  We understand and welcome to the club.

11 thoughts on “Not Alone”

  1. It’s the word ‘retirement’. What I understand you are proposing isn’t retirement, it’s changing careers to become a writer. I don’t like the word ‘retirement’ and I have labeled myself as ‘autonomous’ instead. Now that I no longer work at my original career, having attained freedom to do so, I make my own choices and mostly do as I please without reporting or being watched by others. You may be confusing people with your use of ‘retirement’, which people seem to consider the end game, whereas you are merely transitioning from one career into another.

  2. @Jim – I understand your point of view and I rather like the word ‘autonomous’, but I prefer the word ‘retirement’ since I’m not planning on making anything from my writing. I don’t have any objectives for books written in a year or a publisher to keep happy so calling it a career would be rather generous. But use what ever word you like best. Sounds like you are in a great spot yourself.

  3. @Jim, if people consider retirement to be the end game of doing noting then I can understand why they abhor the idea of retirement. I think of Tim as a Hobby Enthusiast.
    @Tim; keep using the retired name. If people have a problem with the term perhaps they need to examine why. Sweeping it under the rug isn’t doing the naysayers any favours, its only allowing them to avoid looking at life from a different viewpoint.

  4. I retired at 38; in 2004. I faced first hand the looks from people; when they asked what I did. Retired. I found it amusing. Even now at 51, some seem surprised.

    I enjoy being retired, all my time is my own:)

  5. I understand what you’re saying… lots of people are incredulous that my husband and I traveled the world for the better part of a year with our three young kids. That we then returned home, sold our big house and moved into an apartment 1/3 the size (yes, with three kids), sold one of our cars and are actively planning extended international travel. People just can’t get their heads around it.

  6. I retired 8 years ago at 45. I received some of those questions initially, but I wasn’t bothered by it. Let them all be jealous of me, I don’t care.

    You have to be a bit of an outlier to retire early because it goes against the so-called “Life Script” which includes getting married, going to church/temple, living in a house, working until 65, and having kids. None of those things are true for me, being a single, childfree, retired-at-45 atheist. (I do live in the suburbs but in a co-op apartment complex.)

  7. @barbe, I did the normal things; lived below my means, brown bagged it only bought one new car. Big mistake! Every car since, has cost less than the one before. Little things can add up. As the saying goes, look after the nickels and dimes; and the dollars will look after themselves.

  8. I am 41 and aspiring to be financially independent by 45. I am single and have been living simply for the past 10 years. I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment, I have no car, no pet and no debt 🙂

    Like you, I do get incredulous stares from people when I told them how young I want to stop working. I stop talking about retirement plans these days. Who those of us who are not born with a silver spoon, 2 ways to reach financial independence quickly in life 1) live simply and save up 2)invest money wisely early in life and let the money grow!!!

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