Setting Goals for Early Retirement

goal-plan-2In the words of the Twisted Sister video I Wanna Rock, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”  That’s an excellent question.  We hear it throughout our lives.  We are asked as little kids, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  We are asked in a job interview, “What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?”  It’s good to have goals.  Without goals and something to aspire to, how do know what to do to get there?  While it’s good not to have every minute of your life planned out, I don’t think it’s good to live life completely aimlessly either.  Of course goals can be specific, but they do not need to be.  The further out, the more generic they can be.  As time passes, you can refine your goals.  As you do more research, you can refine you goals.  And of course, just like a kid who’s asked what they want to do when they grow up, even adults are allowed to change their minds.

I have a goal of early retirement.  That is my goal.  Knowing that this is my goal, it means I need to work towards financial independence.  I want to be FIRE.  Financially Independent, Retired Early.  I do not want to keep turning the hamster wheel in a cubicle.  I want to work to live, not live to work.  There’s just not enough time in the day to do all the things I’d like to do.  And spending 8-12 hours in the office, and another 2 hours commuting, there’s not much time left in the day at all.  I want to do leisure things while I am still physically and mentally able.  I’ve seen too many friends work and work and work, and finally near retirement, only to have developed some illness, some even leading to an untimely death.  I don’t want to be “that guy”.

So much time!

When you’re not spending 8-14 hours a day at work and commuting, it really opens up the possibilities to do the things you didn’t have time for.  Things that you wanted to do but didn’t have priority.  You can do the things you only dreamed of doing, because they were so far down the priority list.

What can you with all of this new found time?  Retired doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t work.  You could stop the high-stress job and do something else that interests you but you never pursued because it wasn’t enough income.  You could volunteer at a non-profit:  Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the local food shelter, your church, a local school, daycare or library.  There are countless charities and non-profits that would love to have you.

You could stay home and do all the things that you didn’t have the time for:  Working on the yard.  Gardening.  Neglected maintenance on the house.  Home renovation and improvements.

Other self-development activities:  Learn another language.  Learn how to play an instrument.  Write a book (or a blog!).  Go to the gym.  Do yoga or Tai Chi.  Go for a walk/hike/bike.  Do something really crazy like bicycle 30,000 miles across 40 countries.

This brings up my favorite post-retirement topic:  Travel.  Let’s travel the world.  There so much to see outside of our home town, our home state, or our home country.  So many different and uniquely beautiful places.  So many different and uniquely beautiful cultures.  Many people say they want to travel more.  They try to accomplish this while still working, but how much can you really see in a one week vacation?  Many people in the USA are limited to two weeks of vacation a year, and maybe, after many years of staying at the same company, they may be rewarded with three or four weeks of vacation.  I say that’s still not enough.  In retirement, there are no time restrictions.  You can slow down and really take in the places you visit, not just whisk from tourist trap to tourist trap.  And by retiring early, you’ll be more physically able to do so.

So, how will you see the world?  Will you take it slow and travel by bicycle?  Motorcycle?  Buy an RV and tour the National Parks and 49 states? Fly from country to country, staying in fine resorts, or on a budget staying in hostels?  Live aboard a sailboat, going from country to country?

In order to know where we’re going, we need to set goals.  By setting goals, we can then plan the next steps are on how to achieve them.  And nearly as important, by having goals and dreams, it helps us keep our eye on the prize.

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