How To Retire In Your 30s … Without Selling Your Soul

Recently, I came across an article at WikiHow entitled How to Retire in Your 30s which pledged to describe a plan by which a person could retire by their 40th birthday in only six short steps. For the most part, the article is spot-on but out of touch with reality. Let’s take a look.

1. Define the dream, while documenting the reality.

I agree completely with this opening step. Make a clear plan for what you want to do with your life if you retire. Once you’ve defined that, figure out how much it will cost you: what will you need financially to be able to afford that lifestyle? Of course, this type of thinking is what everyone should do, regardless of the age that they want to retire. Retirement planning is a key part of a healthy financial life.

2. Make a LOT of money.

This is where I begin to diverge from the article significantly. This assumes that the key to retiring at forty is working at a high paying job that you loathe so that you have a lot of money when you retire. I disagree completely with this perspective. Why? Most people who are paid huge amounts of money and are employed by others end up in jobs that stress them out so completely that they are left as empty shells of their former selves within a few years of working there. If you choose to follow this path, you’re in for at least a decade of complete misery and a strong likelihood that you’ll alienate everything truly valuable to you, including your soul.

The real key to financial success is seeking possibilities to earn money doing what you enjoy doing while working jobs that don’t drain your soul. What did you define that you wanted to do with your life when you retired? Did you want to write a great novel? Did you want to travel? Did you want to play a lot of golf?

Instead of working at a soulless job to earn more money, work at a job that leaves you invigorated at the end of the day so that you can explore the possibilities of that passion. For me, I once dreamed of retirement where I would write the great American novel. I believed that I would have to work like a dog in order to do this. Instead, now I’m working on honing my writing skills by blogging in my spare time. Not only am I earning extra money from blogging, I’m learning what my skills and weaknesses are as a writer and I’m starting to make some writing-related s. This process is occurring right now in my spare time, not existing as part of some far-off dream.

3. Take breaks whenever you can

Oddly, this directly contradicts with step two. When you choose to take on a job in which you’re employed by others with the sole goal of maximizing income, you basically choose to eliminate the concept of breaks from your standard of living.

4. Lower your expenses.

This step is completely true for anyone in any stage in their life, not just someone thinking about early retirement. Toys are just that – distractions from your goals.

5. Invest wisely.

Again, this states the obvious that should apply to anyone, even if they’re not seeking to retire early. If you want to make your own money, invest for yourself. The higher risk you take on, the more likely you are to make a lot of money with your investments.

6. Keep your eye on the mark.

In the terms of this process, keeping your eye on the mark means maximizing the amount of cash you’re bringing in and saving each year. Yet I’m not convinced that this is the mark you should be focused on if you want to retire early. So, let’s rewrite these steps.

1. Define the dream, while documenting the reality.
2. Find employment that doesn’t drain your soul.
3. Spend your spare time investigating your dream and what you can do to make it work for you.
4. Lower your expenses.
5. Invest in yourself by doing what you can to increase your earnings from your passion.
6. Keep your eye on the mark; i.e., keep seeking what you are passionate about.

If you follow this path with an open heart, you can easily retire at forty without having to work a soul-suffocating job. The biggest myth about getting “rich” in America is that it requires you to sell your soul; if you feel like you’re selling your soul at any price, it’s not worth it.

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