During these 2 years is the time when I really understood what it meant to be "retired". I was trying to do some financial sales during this period but I wasn't very proactive with my sales so essentially I was almost doing nothing. However, those 2 years were not wasted. It was these 2 years that I finally understood the pleasures of retirement. Resulting in my desire to get down to retirement as soon as possible.
I had grown tired of my previous employment and I was still relatively young. So I thought, what the heck, might as well leave and try something new at that time before I got any older. Explore for 2 years and if things worked out, fine, otherwise, I could always find a new job. So I left my job without another job. Some people thought I was crazy. A young chap leaving a lucrative job with nothing in mind on what he wanted to do after he left.
I'll not talk too much on my financial sales as I didn't do too well. I know my products. But the market isn't there for people who sell financial knowledge. People don't like to buy insurance or know about financial planning. So the people who do well are those who just push products and hard sell. It's a sad industry. Most people who buy, usually don't know what they are buying.
I'm more interested in sharing the other part of what I learnt in those 2 years. Yea! The "retirement" part.
The first 3 months was stressful. Waking up with nothing to do. Life was always planned previously. Wake up. Brush teeth, wear clothes, go to work. Work til about 6 plus, come home, eat, bathe, watch some TV, sleep, repeat. Life is usually something like that. But at that time, after quitting my job, life suddenly became so unstructured. There was nothing very much to do. I did almost nothing for 3 months. Stressing over my lack of income, watching TV, walking around the house, practically loafing around. I told myself I had given myself 2 years to play so doing nothing is fine. I kept reminding myself that this is only for the interim. The lack of income or direction was only a short period and that I should just immerse myself into this period of my life and not get so stressed to just jump straight back to looking for a job.
After 3 months, life started taking shape. I woke up later. About 10am. I took life really slow. I went for a jog and gym for about 1-2 hours. Came home, bathe, went for lunch or met up with friends for lunch in town. Walked around a bit in town or in neighbourhoods to see how other people lived their lives. Went back home again around 4pm or so. Rested a bit, watched TV, played some PC games, waited for dinner, took a walk around the estate, sleep, repeat. Life was nice and slow. The way it should be. I had a new routine. It was a bit lonely as I didn't have any company but as I walked around, I noticed that there were many retirees doing exactly what I was doing. Except that they were much much older. You can insert some chores, financial meet ups in my routine as you deem fit. But mainly my days were slow and relaxing. I thought, "This is the way life should be."
There was only 1 problem. I could not sustain this lifestyle. I didn't spend much. But I still needed to plan for my future. Getting married, a house, settling down, etc. I needed an income source. I floundered around trying to do other stuff during the remaining of the 2 years without much success. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the fastest way that I could build enough money to sustain this lifestyle was to go back to work, save up, invest, get a passive income and get back into this relaxing life which I enjoyed.
So back to work it was. I went back to work with a new direction. I always saved a lot but never knew what I was saving for. This time, I had a goal. I wanted to save enough to generate a passive income to sustain my retired life. I'll probably do some simple work after I retire in future. Just to pass the day away faster and get some light income. The psychology of having a small income gives a sense of security rather than the necessity of the income. It will probably help me sleep better at night. I'm now on a good pace to my final goal.
Now, when I meet friends/colleagues who want to leave their jobs without a job, I tell them, "Go ahead! Try, experiment! Life is short (and long), it's short such that you have to try as much as you want and not regret it. It's long enough that experimenting for 2 years or so won't make a significant impact on your end." I realized that these 2 years gave me the freedom to think about things without the noise of my job and the feelings of responsibility to hold on to my job for the sake of being employed. But I'd like to caution. That some people cannot hang on past the first 3 months, cos the first 3 months will be the most stressful months, if you're able to get past the first few months of unemployment and get used to the slower life, then you can slowly think about life and take things easy. Problem I've noticed is that many people cannot let things go and take things easy. It's so easy to just go back to work again after feeling the stress of no income. Another risk the the loafing around with no direction. There is a real chance that after leaving his/her job, some folks might loaf around so much and waste their whole lives away. A target number of years needs to be set. Such that if your direction is not found in X years, then to go back to work and start saving more first.
Think about your life. You may be 20 now, 30 now or 40 now. Project into the future when you're 55 following your current path. Where would you be? Most people would have their HDB, maybe a car, kids, sufficient cash to enjoy life, go on annual trips, etc. Life would be a routine.
Now let's try something else. Let's say you leave your job for 2 years to explore.
(I assume low risk exploration. If you set up a big business, invest all your savings and fail and end up bankrupt, that doesn't count as exploring. That's a venture. Exploring is maybe using 10-50% of your savings to set up a small business and grow it as things get better. Or just relaxing your life like take a sabbatical to find out your life calling, etc.)
Where would you be when you're 55?
If you succeed, GREAT! I'll not dwell much on success. You'll probably be happy. Might be rich or might not be rich but at least you're doing work which is your passion. Every day will be a good day.
What's more important is... what is you fail?
Where would you be when you're 55?
Well. I reckon, if you didn't take too much risk and are still financially stable. But just with less savings, then you'll have to go back to work... most likely by 55, you'll have your HDB, maybe a car, kids, sufficient cash to enjoy life, go on annual trips, etc. Life would be a routine.
I believe that those 2 years would not change very much of your life if you fail. If you take take calculated risks. Most people would end up at relatively the same spot at 55 years old even if they fail. So imagine. The upside is great, the downside is low. Why not try? You'll never know.
After I left my job, I now highly encourage everyone who's willing to listen to go and explore their lives. To take some time off to discover themselves or try something they've always wanted to try. There's really nothing much to lose. It's your life. You have to live it to the fullest. You owe it to yourself not to waste it. But as I have mentioned. Don't do stupid things without planning. Leaving without a job and without savings is not particularly smart. Putting all your savings into a business venture as an experiment is not wise. Besides all these, if you've planned well, have sufficient savings, wanted to take a break and re-group or re-calibrate your life, I say, "GO AHEAD!". Give yourself a few years to play around and life the way you wanted to live and try things you've always wanted to try and if it doesn't work out too well, you can always go back to where you are now, and most important of all, at least you've tried.
To end it off, I wish that you...
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
- Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford