6 reasons why it is so hard to choose Early Retirement

With my net worth pushing incrementally higher and higher for every month that passes and the resulting transfer of wage slave money 💰 to the stock market, a new set of reflections are starting to set in.

What will I eventually use my soon to be financial independence for? What is it that I am really dreaming of? And why do I find it so hard to potentially make those decisions to ultimately follow through on these dreams.

I have to admit it, I am a dreamer. I am a big dreamer. Through out my life I have dreamt about almost everything that is even remotely possible for a an average bloke from Denmark to dream about. I have always wanted to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I wanted to go into politics and be the PM of Denmark. I wanted to be an adventurous traveler 🧳 and possibly sail the 7 seas. I wanted to run my own hedge fund company. I want to go to the moon. And yet, even though the financial independence levels are approaching all time highs I feel increasingly doubts about jumping off the known corporate fixed income stream.

Which made me ponder 🤔 about the reasons why people (I) stay in the status quo. Why is it that even when people have reached a level of financial independence that would allow them to pursue some of their dreams they choose not to? What is it that makes people so risk adverse that they would rather endure a daily 9-5 corporate rhythm even if they have to freedom to choose otherwise?

After a bit of deep soul searching and grounding I think 🤔 I established some of the reasons that makes me a bit weary about stepping off the treadmill.

1. Leaving a known fixed stream of income.

One of the most obvious reasons for sticking around at the corporate coffee ☕️ machine, is the resulting loss of known fixed monthly income that is coming to your bank account month after month. Personally I am at a corporate mid-level which actually brings in an OK salary. In our family we are at a point where one of us could step off if we wanted, but I guess we are enduring as the eventual loss of monthly revenue is too scary at this point in time. As your responsibilities increase (3 kids here) your tendency to stick around will also likely increase.

2. Leaving the corporate benefits behind.

Let’s face it, working a corporate office job (in a decent country) will bring along a wide range of corporate benefits which will all disappear if and when you decide to call it quits. To me personally I would lose out on 5 weeks of paid vacation + 5 additional vacation days. I would lose out on an 11% retirement scheme. I would lose out on the paid mobile phone 📱 subscription and paid newspaper. I would lose the free 🥗. I would lose out on the 7.5% target bonus scheme. I would lose out on the possibility for paid courses and conferences. And I would lose out on the possibility of paid travel 🧳 to visit our off-shore offices. I would lose out on the paid health insurance and life insurance as part of the combined retirement scheme. And then off course I would lose the daily free coffee ☕️. All in all quite a substantial loss of benefits, which off course could just be translated to a fixed dollar amount and added to your eventual FIRE 🔥 target to compensate.

3. Leaving the possibility of corporate advancements.

Let’s be honest here, I think 🤔 that a large part of why we choose to go to work, and pursue corporate careers is the possibility of advancements. Not everything can be boiled down to money 💴. For some people fame, titles and power is an integral part of the mix. When you say adjo, you also say goodbye to any possibility of further corporate advancement. You will no longer have the possibility of reaching manager level, director level, VP level, SVP or EVP level. And gone is the possibility – the very faint possibility of that Fortune 500 CEO or CFO title. It is gone. When you are sitting at home in your undies, no one will call you out of the blue and offer you the keys 🔑 to the company. I think this one is the one I find the hardest to swallow. Not the money, but the possibility to leave a bigger mark on something.

4. Having to explain your choices to the outside world 🌎.

So even if you have done all your inner works, and come to terms with the fact that all of the above will cease to exist if and when you choose to say farewell corporate life, you will still be asked by all of your surroundings what you do? Why did you quit? What do you spend your time one then? Why would you choose that? What kind of lame retardo, would quit just to sit at home, babysitting the kids? What’s wrong with you dude? In theses SOME times the ultimate test to all these questions will be the update of your LinkedIn profile! Yikes 😱 Like do you really just put it out to the whole world that you are now some freaking hippie loser dude? You really gotta nail the LinkedIn title if you are thinking about quitting. I am still wondering about mine. Leaning towards something with adventurer in it. And entrepreneur.

5. Doubts about self reliance.

Of all the reasons one might think of, that withholds people from pursuing their dreams this one is the one that makes me the most sad. To doubt if you can actually make it on your own. None the less I actually think it withholds a lot of people. Doubting about your own skill set, your own ability to make by on your own. Doubts about your ability to rely on yourself. Fear of the unknown has kept a lot of people in a status quo if you ask me. And it is the one reason that makes me the most sad. Even if you have checked all of the above off, if you are still stuck due to your own inability to believe in yourself is just the most sad 😢 thing. It is probably also the hardest one to change, as it will require some deep soul searching.

6. The risk of miscalculation.

Finally, what if you came to terms with all of the above, and you decided to pursue your dreams – whether that be early retirement or just a significant change of lifestyle, and somewhere down the line it turned out you actually miscalculated. The sheer risk of miscalculation will keep a lot of people if actually making the choice in the first place. That is how risk averse some people are. Off course you cannot escape the fact that the decision to get off the corporate wheel, will take away a certain amount of safety net, and the decision will in many cases be irreversible. What if then, that whole thing turns out to be miscalculated. What if your funds ran dry? And you have to go back serving McD as an 89 yo. What if that LinkedIn update of you taking the adventurous leap of fait turned out to be miscalculated and you had to re-update it to; Floormanager – McD?

These are some of the things I find most scary and which I have to find answers for. If for no one else, then for myself. If I take the leap, then at least I have taken it. If I don’t, then I will have to be able to justify to myself why I am not doing it? And these answers are becoming more and more urgent, as the net worth keeps increasing. I am nothing more but a victim to my own corporate slave career. Sigh 😔.

What is withholding you?

/Minimal5

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9 thoughts on “6 reasons why it is so hard to choose Early Retirement

  1. I had some of the same reflections a few years back. In the end it boiled down to 2 things, both resting on the very firm conviction that I have never cared about what others think about my big decisions in life:

    1) I can’t buy more time
    2) Which decision would I probably regret in the future – staying or not going forward a happier person.

    And since I wasn’t very happy, in 2018 I picked the one I knew I wouldn’t regret and sold my company.

    So here I am at aged 51. Not entirely FIRE yet, but rich enough to be able to do more of what I like most, and have cut back on the brain dead upgrade cycle.

    The money problem is still going away sooner or later and we are not missing anything. I pay myself from savings which are being replenished by the stock market and a little consulting.

    Having 100% control over your time is the most precious thing you can own.

    My goal is to be 100% FIRE and debt free in less than 5 years at which time we will travel the world for a year.

    We will have to sell the house to reach that goal.

    No problem – it’s just a thing and since we are not going to spend a lot of time in it, we can get by with a nice apartment or a smaller house.

    I know people that are multi millionaires (in USD) and still fear the future (in which they are not going to be in for a whole lot of years) – so the stay in the hamstere wheel. That’s just insane…

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  2. Good post. I think a lot of the reluctance may be that people do a lot of their socializing at work. The people I interact with at my office every day have become some of my closest friends.

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  3. Thanks for an interesting post. I’ve had some of the same thoughts on the subject and as a freelance IT consultant have gone a little way down that road. E.g. I have no fixed income, only loosely coupled colleagues, no corporate benefits and a freelance role is a career dead end for most people .. My realisation is that I need something to walk toward rather than flee for the hamster wheel. I have tried a two month break a year ago and it takes great discipline to keep a structure in everyday life and not to fall into disrepair.

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      1. I am a consultant, so I would say “it depends” … 🙂 In Denmark a freelancer can postpone paying the personal tax using a privately held company (ApS). In addition, you can invest in a holding company so you can potentially get a higher return as you invest non-taxed funds. I have mentioned some of the negative aspects. But what should freedom of work be used for? A life full of hobbies? Labor of love?

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