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Making the decision to retire early is a decision that should not be taken lightly. You should approach the decision to retire early with the same seriousness as getting married, selling your home or having children, with one additional factor, take out all emotion and be practical, honest with yourself and mathematical in terms of how much money you will need monthly to have a great time. It seems senseless to retire early and not be able to have a fantastic time.

This may sound a bit odd but consider that most of your friends will not be available to keep you company during the day. You will no longer have colleagues to shoot the breeze about business with and there will be no business lunches, business travel and all that other good stuff you have come to enjoy about working.

Perhaps you would like to buy a place at the beach and walk your dogs every morning. Perhaps you want to continue working but not have to worry about saving and take vacations more often. Perhaps you just want to dip your toes in the ocean without a care in the World. Whatever it is, you must prepare.

Early retirement considerations

You need to consider every aspect of your daily working life, from the time you get up in the morning, to the people you meet and interact with daily, the customers you speak to, the servers in the coffee shop you go to on your way to work and every other daily, weekly or regular interaction that you have. If you can honestly say that you will not miss these activities and interactions, then perhaps you are ready to move on to the next area of the decision making process.

What will you do all day?

This is the question you need to ask yourself and be very honest with yourself about. If the answer is go fishing or play Golf or some other activity, you need to be mindful of who you are going to do it with. Your regular Golfing buddies will not be available as often as you may like and perhaps the idea of playing with people 15-20 years older than you is not that appealing. What will you all talk about out on the course? From experience with older people in the 70’s for example, there is a lot of chatter about their current health issues, the weather, the cost of food and the general pitiful state of the economy. Please don’t shout me down about this, there are of course those who are active and engaged well into their nineties, I in fact had a grandmother who was an active competitive ballroom dancer well into her nineties. She had dance partners who were as much as 50 years or more her juniors and was in fact her body that gave up before her spirit. It was less than 2 years after her joints became too painful to dance that she died.

If the answer is to play a little Golf and start a part time consulting business using your knowledge and experience, this could be an approach that will be easier to transition with. It is so incredibly important to keep active and engaged. Whatever your idea of early retirement might be, you must try as far as possible to keep some part of your life connected to the World. You could teach or mentor younsters to imaprt the endless years of experience you gathered over your life. You could write a book, even if it is just for your family to read. Too many of us let our stories die with us. Write about your experiences before computers, tell your grandchildren and children about your life experiences, they may not appreciate it all at the time, but what do they know. We have already been through the regrets of not asking our parents and grandparents about their lives.

I had a great grandfather who fought in 8 battles/wars, Including both world wars and the Zulu war, he was struck in the face with a spear yet his story has died because he never wrote it down or a family member never passed it on. These stories are too valuable to let them be lost. I also had a grandfather who started a trading station in the Drakensburg before the 2nd World War. This type of stuff was entrepreneurship in the extreme.

I am rambling but I think you get the idea. Don’t just retire and lay about the place, drink too much and play Golf. Have something to do, somewhere to go and stay engaged.

I think one of the most challenging things is to be so entertaining that your children/grandchildren will put down their mobile phones for half an hour to listen to a story as exciting as the games they are playing. Lets be honest, the 2nd World war was real, men and women fought and died! Tell your family the stories of your early triumphs in business and they made you feel. Tell them about the 80’s and 90’s when you were in business and interest rates were at 23%, bond rates were over 20% and yet you thrived. There was also a time that the Rand was stronger than the US Dollar and we were unable to play Sport Internationally becuase of the Apartheid laws.

All of us have so many stories to tell, tell them and don’t retire early unless you have a plan that is going to keep you busy, engaged and alive.