What’s Your Retirementality?

It’s Friday, so it’s time to get inspired. Imagine leaving the office tonight and never coming back… The weekend just goes on, forever. What would you do? Tomorrow and Sunday (Superbowl Sunday, as it was) would probably be pretty standard. But when Monday comes, then Tuesday, and you still aren’t going back into the office. What would you do? Well, that’s retirement, folks. So it’s time to start thinking about your mentality toward retirement…your retirementality.

I must first give credit where it’s due for the term “retirementality.” It’s not my term. I am stealing it from the book The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams….at Any Age You Want by Mitch Anthony (that’s an affiliate link to Amazon). I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to retire (which hopefully is everyone)—it only costs a penny (plus shipping). In a nutshell, Mitch encourages you to envision a retirement that suits your lifestyle—whether that means you’re working part-time, volunteering, golfing 12 hours a day, or sipping Lime Ritas on the shores of the Greek Isles.

Yes, I can already hear you…

“Eric, did you get into the homemade liquor, again? What are you talking about with ‘working’ during retirement? That means you’re not retired.”

Au contraire, mon frère (that means, “on the contrary, my brother” in some foreign language)

Take my old man, for instance. He’s an early retiree in his own right, and nobody would ever mistake him as anything but retired. But he has decided that since he loves the links so much, he works part-time on a nearby golf course—shaggin’ range balls and doing odds and ends in exchange for some sweet greens fees and, since he doesn’t live in Myanmar, he also gets a respectable hourly wage. So, along with his mailbox being severely neglected from the see-the-grandkids excursions and volunteering, he’s found that his own retirementality includes some working.

The Retirement Definition

Webster’s defines “Retirement” as such:

re·tire·ment – noun – the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.

I don’t really agree. “Ceasing to work” sounds more like the definition of “death” rather than retirement. I don’t know a single person, retired or not, that does nothing. By that strict Webster’s definition, I’m not even certain it’s possible to be retired at all, unless you’re in an assisted-living facility and you have a “Days Left To Live” wall calendar that just ticked into the single digits. Because he’s still part-timin’ it, Webster would say that my dad is not retired. But, when I took a summer off when I was 16 to golf and do nothing else, I was retired.

I will counter Webster’s definition with my own:

re·tire·ment – noun – A state of living in absolute ownership over my time and lifestyle, within which I pursue goals and perform activities to further my happiness. These acts are at my leisure and discretion and they may or may not produce income. Presuming, though, that any potential income generated from said activities is not needed to support my lifestyle.

Now, that’s a definition that I can cozy up with. When I’m 34 and I say goodbye to the corporate grind, I see myself doing a lot of things with my time—some of those things might actually make money. If I need that money in order to live…well, then I’m not quite retired (I’m not expecting to need any side hustle money, but it’s possible). But, once my passive income fully covers expenses then, baby, I’m retired.

What is My Retirementality

I haven’t yet become popular enough to garner any “haters” in the blog comments, but I have received a fair amount of skepticism regarding my motivations for even wanting to retire extremely early. So, today I’m going to offer a succinct list of the reasons why I want to retire.

Be a Full Time Dad

This is, by far, my biggest motivation for wanting to retire early. I take a lot of cues from my dad, and this is one that stuck with me. If you’ve read my About Me page, you’ll know that my dad worked for the Boy Scouts for his entire working career. In addition to probably keeping a couple thousand kids out of juvenile detention, he also got about a million parents to spend more quality time with their kids than they otherwise would have.

At what we called “School Nights For Scouting,” we would gather parents together in a school’s auditorium or cafeteria and encourage them to enroll their kids in scouting. To do so, we’d have two kids get in front of everyone and hold the ends of a long piece of tape.

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The narrative would go like this:

“If you’re in this room, then you have a boy that’s probably 5 to 7 years old. You might be thinking about how much time you have ahead of you in your child’s life. I want you to think about that, though. Pretend this length of tape is your child’s lifetime. It’s a very long life that will be full of experiences, challenges, good times and bad. But, unfortunately, you probably won’t be around for the last 20 years of it (cuts off 65-85 piece on the right end).

Through today, you’ve been a parent to your children, but it’s generally been a one-way relationship. Your kids are probably just coming into their own, developing their own personality and interests and feelings. Those first five years or so are really just a care giving phase (cuts off 0-5 piece).

After your kid graduates high school, you’ll certainly still maintain a relationship and see each other, but, for the most part, the values and beliefs you have at 18 will stick with you for a lifetime. As your child gets into relationships, marriages and careers, your own influence over their lives will diminish and the world starts to shape them (cuts off the huge 18-65 piece).

And even during high school, as your kids get into their late teens, they will spend more time with friends, go on their own trips, start working, and they might be heavily involved in sports or clubs. Your time with your kids is very strained, and they start getting on their own schedule (cuts off 15-18 piece).

Here’s what the tape looks like now.”

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What I want you to understand is that the amount of time in your child’s life where you influence them, guide them, and teach them is actually very short. It will be here today and gone tomorrow. Scouting is a program not just for the kids, but for the parents as well. The activities, campouts, and events we’ll do are an opportunity to make some great memories, moments, lessons and experiences with your child in this short bit of time where you, as a parent, are a huge part of their life.”

In addition to this activity being just a total buzzkill, it does get parents thinking. We hope the end result is that the parent takes this lesson to heart and enrolls in the scouting program.

In my own life, I want to ensure that my wife and I get to spend a lot of time and make a lot of great experiences with our kids. Could I do this while still working 7:30-6:30 every day? Maybe, but not to the extent that would make me happy. We’d love to walk our kids to school, volunteer in the classroom, be involved in after-school activities, chaperone every field trip, and see all their sports events, recitals, and concerts. A full time job will obviously not quite allow that.

Want to hear a sad story? Look at this picture.

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That’s an iPhone screenshot my wife took a couple of days ago of me and the baby on Facetime. My darling wife Facetimes me at least twice a day for a few minutes so the baby and I can look at each other and make funny faces. I would really, really, not want to have to Facetime her each day for her next 18 years because “Daddy’s gotta go to work now.” I rather get actual face-to-face time.

Last year, Mohammed El-Erian suddenly resigned as the CEO of PIMCO–a multi-million dollar a year job–after his 10-year-old daughter presented him with a list of 22 milestones in her short life that he had missed. First day of school, soccer matches, parades and PTA meetings. For all these things El-Erian believed he had a good excuse for–but the point of it all was obvious. Too many of us have our priorities in life all whacked out. You commit 80% of your time to a job that doesn’t care about you. The world won’t change when you leave that job. The company will move on. The commitment of time to this business entity is totally unmatched in appreciation. Just today, a man at our office had a ten-year anniversary with the company. How did we celebrate? There was a cake.

This man has given ten years of his only life to this company. Yes, he’s gotten money in exchange for all that time, but that ten years is probably one-eighth of his whole life, and maybe one-fifth of his free, healthy, adult life. He’ll never have that back–ever. And he got a cake. And this is all considered normal and acceptable in the “blue pill” version of life. If I gave my daughter or wife ten years, it would forever change them and yield countless happy and fulfilling memories. Our little baby turns one-year-old next week, and I already feel like I’ve missed so much.

Six Other Things I’d Love to Do In Retirement

This is going to be sort of a haphazard list, as my desires and wants change often. But, if I were retiring tomorrow, these are the things I’d love to do:

Write: I’ve been blogging regularly now for about two months and writing on SeekingAlpha for just about two weeks, and I love it! I love talking about stocks and writing about things that I think can help people. I like being the master of my domain (name) and controlling what goes on here at Retire29. I hope that I can develop a readership and continue to connect with others in this online community. If I get paid a little to do that, awesome! But I’d do it even if it were free.

Learn…

…A Foreign Language: I’ve always wanted to go to a foreign land and be able to acclimate to the culture.

…To Cook: Do a little culinary schooling so I can eat deliciously for a lifetime. I’ll take it.

…An Instrument: Maybe the piano or the guitar. I’d love to play Einaudi’s Nuvole Bianche before I die.

Read: There are very few books I’ve read that I didn’t like and my reading list is a mile long. I’d love to read one book per week.

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Tristan da Cunha — The Most Remote Location on the Planet

Travel: This is the one that’s on everybody’s list. I want to step onto Antarctica, to swim in Loch Ness, to see the Northern Lights again, to visit Tristan da Cunha, to live in Thailand—and the list goes on. I want to be a traveler, not a tourist. To experience the lifestyle and embed myself in a place, rather than just go there to sightsee is showing true appreciation for the world we have.

Exercise: Lord help me if I waited until retirement to start exercising—that’s not what I mean by this. I would like to do some “bucket list” kinds of exercising things, like swim the English Channel, do a full Triathlon, walk through Death Valley, and hike the Appalachian trail.

Golf: As cliché as it may be, I do really enjoy a round of golf. Nowadays, the five-hour commitment just isn’t realistic with a wife and baby that like to have me around on weekends. When I did golf on the regular, I enjoyed it immensely. Few things in life are more satisfying than the feeling of the ball coming off the club just right.

For now, I can only keep working, writing, and Facetiming the little one until the day comes when my portfolio of dividend- and interest-paying assets is doing all the work on my behalf.

What will you do in retirement?

Thank you for reading!

Eric

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