Growing up, the family business was a mortuary. At seven years old, I was helping my mother move dead bodies. I never thought it was weird because I had grown up in that environment and I didn’t know any different. That experience left me with two lasting memories. The first one is I am very aware life is short. I saw first hand kids younger than me dying as well as twenty and thirty year olds that died way too young. The second lasting memory is that I know I am going to die. Hopefully it will be many years from now but that is not guaranteed.
After I left college, I embarked on a 24 year career as a financial advisor. That career took me from training in NYC to Raleigh NC then to Asheville NC. I experienced a lot of success over my career but at age 48, I found it was time for me to walk away.
I have to say, I woke up last year.
You see, I lost my sister almost 4 years ago to cancer at age 51. My father, who I never really knew at all, died at age 52 and last year I lost my ex-business partner. She was 47 years old.
The days, weeks, months and years have flown by as my rinse and repeat lifestyle stayed pretty much the same. I got up, went to work, came home, went to sleep and repeated the same routine. I would attempt to be as mindful as possible throughout the day but much of the time I was just walking around like a zombie. Just going through the motions of trying to earn a living and support my family. Even though I owned my own business, I didn’t truly have much freedom.
As a financial advisor who specialized in helping people retire, I started looking at the experiences I had over the years with people I had advised. Pretty much every other day, couples would come into my office with a goal of retiring at age 64 or 65.
I remember thinking to myself about a year ago, why is everyone so focused on age 65 to retire?
Was it that advisors, like myself, weren’t pushing people to retire earlier? I concluded that this generally wasn’t the case… likely due to the practice advisors use which is normally to ask what people’s goals are and then help them reach their goals. We tend to react to a clients goal and help them reach it. “Oh, you want to retire at age 65? We can help you with that.” Perhaps advisors aren’t being as proactive as they should be in helping clients retire early. However, the biggest reason for age 65 being the gold standard age of retirement is that what society expects. Society has pushed us all to think that 65 is the age you should retire.
The death of my friends and family members combined with me analyzing the way society pushes people to think about retirement, put the wheels in motion to my own early retirement. It was the seed that started me off writing the book “Retire Early…What are you waiting for?”
Throughout the book writing process, I explored what would it take to get people retired at 50 or 55 instead of waiting until age 65. It was an interesting process because I had resolved that I would work until I was 65 and then I finished the book and ended up retiring.
How cool is that?
I walked away from a career that gave me stability but left me with very little freedom.
I chose to get my freedom back.
That’s the why? What about the How?
I must have some sort of inheritance or got millions to sell my business to retire early, right? Wrong. I have worked hard for everything I have and I can assure you I got much less than you probably would imagine an investment firm would sell for. The simple fact is, the business sale will cover about three years of living expenses. (Plus, I have two teenagers, 16 and 18, going to college soon)
My goal is to still work but work only when I want, how I want and where I want. I will be in control of my own freedom and not just melt away in some office until I die.
These days, I’m putting the finishing touches on the book, I’m introducing my former clients to the new buyer, I grew a beard and my mind is starting to slow down from racing along all of those years trying to keep up. You see, it’s not enough to “try to be mindful and present”. We have to arrange our lives so that it synchronizes with that mindset as well!
I’m planning a trip to Tulum Mexico in the near future. It will be the first vacation I’ve had in over five years. Its time to start truly living life.
It’s not too late for you to rewrite your own story…