Retire At 21, Feel Like An Idiot At 22

Dear Trusty Employees,

It is with great sadness that I announce my impending departure from our Company. I have decided to retire from all business so that I can put my feet up in the leafy suburbs, desperately attempting to convince myself that there’s more to life than work.

I’m sure you will have many questions. Why now? Why so young?

Please accept my decision. It shows that I’ve achieved more than you in a shorter space of time.

I am greatly looking forward to tackling the next challenge in my life: puberty.

Yours truly,
Young Retired Dipshit

Many people consider retirement the reward for a lifetime of turmoil. It’s the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow. The day of reckoning when we can say “I’ve done my bit“, and stop worrying about surviving from one pay cheque to the next.

The Internet age has spawned a generation of online entrepreneurs who are capable of retiring in their 20s. Does Mark Zuckerberg need to worry about his financial future? I suppose he does if he likes to keep track of his billions.

Even though Zuckerberg can retire, I’m positive he won’t. And there’s good reason for that sentiment.

The next step after retirement is death.

Who would want to retire in their 20s? The idea gets bounced around with prestige and glamour. There are websites dedicated to the ambition of retiring young, but I shudder to imagine how somebody capable of assembling the finances so young would react to the transition of pottering around a garden and writing Christmas cards in September.

It’s a paradox if ever I heard one.

When you have nothing left to work for, you have nothing left to live for. Anybody who believes otherwise might as well go hang out with Macaulay Culkin. Smoke some pot, watch Home Alone 2 and revel in your own waste of potential.

Time and time again, I have friends cross-examining me on the nature of my work. In their eyes, I’m retired. I make money online, which is as good as twatting around on Facebook while the dollar bills grow in my fridge, right? They’re wrong.

Even though I work in comfort, there’s rarely a second in the day where work isn’t close to my thoughts. It follows me around like an infection that just won’t shake, so why don’t I learn to forget about work and switch off? It’s simple. I don’t see work as a bad thing.

If you take a human being and strip him of his desire to work towards a goal, what do you have left? An empty shell that’s retired and ready for death. There isn’t much of the person left over.

Work doesn’t have to be employment as you and I know it. It can be charity-based volunteering, or even just a commitment to stay busy. However, the retirement yearned for at unhappy office cubicles is no more than a desire to believe the grass is greener on the other side. It rarely is, and retirement is seldom the experience you crave.

What you really desire is work that you can believe in. You want to spend energy completing tasks where you give half a shit about the end result. Who doesn’t? This is the great illusion of retirement. Giving up a mundane chore isn’t going to fill the void in your life. That void exists because you haven’t felt the passion to get out of bed at 8am out of choice.

If financial independence was all we longed for, millionaires would be happy and averagely paid employees would be jumping from office blocks. Happiness is not a flexible hours agreement, or retirement altogether. It’s the desire to get out of bed. To do something with your plain existence and convince yourself that retirement would only get in the way of all the things you have left to prove.

If that means changing career, go right ahead. We spend a third of our lifetimes at work, or thinking about it, so it makes zero sense to be working for the wrong reasons. The day you wake up and don’t feel an urge to work towards a goal, that’s when you have problems. That’s when retirement will become the death of you.

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About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

7 Comments

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  • great post–definitely agreed from the start. retirement is only for people who DON’T LIKE what they’re doing. If you like your work and are passionate about it, well you’re kind of retired already!

  • You’re associating retirement with those 60-somethings who are too old to do anything besides tend to their gardens and do nothing all day.

    I’m planning to sell up projects in my late 20’s or so and call it quits. Probably not forever, but until I’ve had enough of non-work related things.

    Living by the beach somewhere in Cali, surfing, scuba, parties etc. How about skiing/boarding in Switzerland? Exploring places living in a different country for a few months then moving onto the next one without worrying about making sure your taxes are in order or having your work suffer from the random time zone differences.

    I’m not saying when I do sell up and have no responsibilities business wise I’ll do nothing til I die, I’m saying not working towards a business related goal is not the death of you.

    /badenglishgfy

  • Great post Finch, you’ve hit upon a topic that will make most of us dream of what we could be doing if we weren’t busy buying/ selling/ trading this ‘tinternet thingy or making money from affiliate marketing.

    Personally I feel work is more than trading time for money, although it does help pay the bills & buy toys for a three year old, as long as the balance is right & I think sometimes this is the key!

    @Justme, if you can afford to sell up in your late 20’s and jet off & do what-not then great do it – its the ultimate dream, but you may find yourself working at having fun, meanwhile the rest of us will carry on working to have fun!

    Cheers

  • @justme – It sounds more like you’re taking an extended break rather than retiring from work. Nothing wrong with that.

    I found personally during my last 8 months traveling that work meant a lot more to my happiness than I initially thought.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with this – too much idle time and you can end up wondering what the point of it all is is, really. I think multiple mini-retirements are great, and working online gives you the option of taking a month or two’s break several times a year – I do think I probably abuse that a bit, but then when I work I lapse back into being a workaholic 🙂

    It’s about having a purpose really, and at different times that can be very different things to you – as has been mentioned it could be something alturistic like volunteering your time, personal like learning to scuba dive or work related like getting another page into the top ten. What really makes a successful online job is one that gives you the flexibility to move between goals as and when it suits you rather than hammering away in the same rut 9-5.

  • Work is life, if nobody worked society would be in ruins.

    But just work and no play is not life, if you retire young you have to fill it with something just as time consuming as a normal job or your going to end up in the gutter.

  • Hey Finch you are spot on, no young person actually wants to retire, we all need some sort of purpose even if its a self serving one.

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