So, Where's my gold watch
We go to school to learn the basics then follow on with a tertiary education to develop our knowledge base and skill set to prepare us for that “exciting” career. Hopefully we have chosen our field well and begin to save a little money. First, to buy that great car (it probably cost more to keep on the road than it was worth), then maybe some nice toys like photographic equipment (this was me), ski/fishing boat, computers, gaming platforms and of course today, VR gadgets, but ultimately we end up making that really big purchase (it’s really a debt), your first home. Motivated by the debt, we continue to work hard, earning bigger salaries and changing jobs many times to advance our careers. We begin to wonder if this is enough and start focusing on the possibility of an early retirement.
For me, I sold out of my business interests at about 35 years old. I was married and had young children. I told myself this decision to “retire early” was motivated by health issues, but in fact I was pretty much over travelling around the world every month for the business, and working those ridiculously long hours when I was actually back in Australia. This together with the opportunity of having several interested buyers for my business meant it was time to except that “Gold Watch” and spend a little time with my children. In fact my gold watch turned out to be an “Underground Cable Locator”, something I have found over the following years, to be far more useful than any gold watch. Reticulation cabling and solenoid controlled retic valves. You try finding them on a large property developed by someone else.
Retiring early. It’s just what I wanted. Was It? Was it what my wife wanted? Well, for me it was like this.
I left work, got out of bed the next day, dressed in my trousers, button shirt, tie and jacket, ready for…. Hmm. After walking around the house and yard several times I thought, maybe we could go out for a nice lunch. “There are only so many of those you can do.”
Basically, I was driving my wife mad. I soon moved on. I decided to have a go at designing and manufacturing an Electronic Scrolling Sign (E-Stika), for use in the back window of a car. I always wanted to tell the driver behind me what they were doing wrong. I thought others would want to do it to. It was a way of “not” losing touch with my industry (electronics, plastics, manufacturing).
But, wasn’t I retired?
After a few years filling that void in my life, travelling around again and generally wasting a lot of money, I moved into the Mr. Mum roll. Driving kids to/from school and their sports activities, forgetting to pack lunches, you know, stuff like that. The kids got older. The eldest was moving on to university. My wife also decided to go back to university to complete her Degree in Education, started 20 years earlier. I think she just needed some space away from me. Remember at the start of our relationship, I worked away a lot (or at least worked long hours), making my involvement in our home life a relatively shallow one. I think this work well for both of us at the time, but now I was around 24/7. Yeah, she needed space, or at least needed to explore here own goals. My roll of Mr. Mum became even more important. She even went on to complete her Master’s Degree.
By this time, all the kids were older, leaving high school for Uni. My youngest said to me one day that she could not remember me EVER going to work. I thought this wasn’t a good example to set, so I decided to go back into business with one of my old partners, designing and manufacturing digital security camera recording systems. We called it “Visual Asset Protection”. Initially, installing and supplying to the domestic home market, but finally, engineering and installing for the more lucrative mining industry.
But again, I thought “Wasn’t I Retired
Anyway, after several years and a down-turn in the market, my partner and I decided to wind-up this business too.
Ahh, “retired again”.
Now in my 50’s I took up Kite Surfing and I tried the retirement thing again. After another health scare, my wife and I decided to travel everywhere and anywhere several time a year for the following 9 years. Lucky we did. Now with the international travel restrictions due to Covid-19 no-one can do much travelling anymore.
In amongst all this travel, I found time to re-skill myself and I started developing Android and Apple apps. As App development is not really recognised as an industry for an “older 50+ coder”, I mainly developed apps for myself. I continued developing software and Apps for mapping and tracking software solutions, and an integrated solution of merging old HF radio transceivers with the Internet and mobile Apps. This was for the AusTravel Safety Network, a club for “retired” Nomads travelling around Australia on extended road trips.
But, I thought “aren’t I retired”.
The truth is, at least from my own experience, an early retirement is a fantasy we all create in our minds. We all want to work less hours, have more free time, and ultimately, “Retire Early”.
The dream is to have “enjoyment” forever.
For me, enjoyment is periodically doing new and different things, but also being able to come back to the things that inspire me, drive me, and motivate me to continually learn new things every day, providing me with a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
By the way, remember.
“Don’t under value the worth of what you already have in your life.”
If you want to read some other opinions regarding early retirement try this link.