One of the first steps to being able to retire early is to know why you want to retire. What do you want to get out of retirement that is different to now? What is the point?
In other words – what are you aiming for?
There are two main reasons why I’ve included the relatively easy step of “Why do I want to retire early?” as the first of the five steps to achieve your goal of retiring early. Firstly if you don’t know what you are aiming for the chances are you will never get there. Secondly if you know why you aiming for a certain goal, it can help you keep motivated to retire early. And it’s the second of these points that this article focuses on.
Why I want to retire early
About a month before I realised I needed to retire early I actually took some tentative steps towards it. My fantastically generous and cool aunt gave us a gift, and also said I should really check out what my long term financial plans for my wife and I were. I got me thinking a bit so I increased my pension contributions by 5%, put £5k of the money she gave us into an investment, and set up a direct debit to top it up by £400 each month. All good steps, but honestly I didn’t really have a reason. I just thought it would be a good idea and might mean I didn’t have to work until I was 67/68 years old.
Within a month though that all changed when suddenly I knew that I wanted to retire early. I wanted to be free to enjoy my life to the full with a holiday home in a great location. I wanted to be able to use the skills I had to help people and worthy causes without money being a consideration. Most of all, I wanted financial freedom.
Suddenly my whole perspective had changed.
You need to have a reason
Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.
This is human nature, it’s the way we are wired. If we know why we are doing something, we will be much more likely to succeed. If I asked you to run a marathon tomorrow would you finish? Would you succeed? Probably not unless you happened to already be a good runner. After a few miles, if you even bothered to turn up, you would think “What’s the point? Do I care if I don’t finish David’s made up marathon?”
But what if I told you if you finished the marathon I’d give you £200k? Or that if you didn’t finish the marathon Alan Sugar said he would personally hunt down and kill every red squirrel left in the UK? Now you have a motivation! Now you have a reason! No matter how tired you were after 20 miles, even if you were walking slowly you would carry on. You would know the prize is worth the pain.
If we want to achieve anything difficult in our lives we need to have a reason. Sometimes that reason is fear, but in the case of retiring early the reason and the goal is the freedom that we can achieve.
And the goal will be different for each of us.
- It could be leaving a job you don’t like,
- going on endless holidays,
- spending more time with your family,
- playing more golf,
- or helping others in ways you can’t when you are working full time.
It doesn’t matter what your goal* is, it matters that you believe it and want it.
* Caveat. If your goal is to retire early so you can spend the rest of your life collecting discarded bottle tops, that could be a goal not worth having.
Having a goal pushes us forward
When we have a goal in our life it motivates us and pushes us forward. Our mind is set on it – we are excited by it. The challenge is keeping that motivation going year after year. Because life gets in the way. We get tired, we get distracted, we struggle and find things difficult. This will happen to all of us trying to retire early.
Having clear goals that we can keep focused on though help us stay on track. It gives us the energy to get up and try again even when things start to go awry.
Before you start pumping loads of money into savings accounts, make sure you know why you are doing it. Only then can you keep motivated to retire early.
So why do you want to retire early?