Welcome to Q & A Wednesday on Millionaire Habits, where I answer one of your weekly questions for everyone’s benefit. Have a question?
💡 Question: “I retired early at 49, and I’m bored, discouraged, and my wife is annoyed with me. Maybe early retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, huh?”
This was an uncomfortable email because it hits squarely on the biggest downside of early retirement, and it’s a trap many people fall into.
If you have a dream of early retirement, you need to read this email.
Because I’ve known people to get divorced after early retirement.
Or get super bored.
Or lose all motivation.
In this email, I will tell you exactly what the problem is and, better yet, exactly how to NOT fall into the trap.
How To Avoid The Early Retirement Trap
Here’s an uncomfortable truth about early retirement: It’s not a “fix-all” solution to every one of life’s problems.
That’s right, it’s not duct tape.
In fact, early retirement has a way of making problems worse.
After all, you’re home every day. So is your spouse. If you get on each other’s nerves, guess what?
Your problems will get worse.
If your job is your only hobby and you quit, you will spend all day with nothing to do. Bored. Purposeless.
This is the early retirement trap. We know what we want to retire from, but not what we’re retiring to.
Why most people want to retire:
- We hate our boss
- We don’t like our job
- We despise work travel
This part is easy, isn’t it? We know what we don’t like.
But, here’s the more important question: What will fill your time when you have all the time in the world?
Until you can answer this question in detail, you have no business retiring early. Keep your job (and your income) until you figure this out.
I cannot stress this enough.
This is the early retirement happiness bell curve.
Imagine what a bell curve looks like:
We begin the journey on the left side of the curve. This is where we’re still working full-time, and our happiness is low. We want out.
Eventually, we reach early retirement. Yay! Our happiness is on the rise. We’re going up the left side of the bell curve. We’re sleeping in every day. Catching up on Netflix. Taking a nap at 2 pm. Just enjoying life.
But then, something strange begins to happen.
As we reach the top of the bell curve, our happiness begins to level off. We no longer feel as happy. Every day is the same. At night, we feel like we didn’t accomplish anything. We just sat around.
If we let this go unchecked, we reach the very top of the curve.
Happiness has stopped.
And worse, it begins to decline as we barrel down the other side of the curve. We begin to feel less happy. We have no purpose. We begin to realize there are only so many days we can veg and watch Netflix without anything else to do. Anything to make us feel accomplished.
In other words, we need a purpose.
We need a hobby.
You don’t want your early retirement to look like a bell curve. You want it to look like the S&P 500 one-year graph:
In other words, things won’t always be peachy. You’ll have bad days. You’ll be frustrated. Early retirement won’t let you escape life.
The key is to keep your happiness level going up over time. No sharp spikes in either direction (those are unsustainable).
We accomplish this nice, steady upward trend by having hobbies. Trying new things (cooking, gardening, weight training, etc).
If your job is your only hobby, keep your job until you find a hobby.
Thank me later.
See you in your inbox on Saturday,