Would We Fulfill Our Retirement Dreams Once We Reach Our Goal?

by David Ning · 18 comments

dream bigThe second you finish reading the title, you are probably thinking “Of course YES. What a stupid question.” But I urge you to think about it a little longer and stay with me by reading on.

An gigantic number of MoneyNing readers have the dream of early retirement (myself included!). We want to pursue our hobbies, relax, and stop hearing the boss utter the words “Why are you late today?”. Some of us even have spreadsheets that map out our retirement plan and a detailed schedule of when our dreams will come true. On the worksheet are statistics such as our current net worth, projected return on capital and how much we would have 5, 10, 15, …, 30 years from now. If we are on track for early retirement, this whole process brings us a big smile. The spreadsheet gives us hope, and repeatedly looking over the details gives us motivation to work towards our goal.

Everyone dreams about reaching their $1 million (or $2, $3,$ 5 million, $12 million dollar retirement) goal and retiring early one day. But let’s say you finally reach your mark. Do you think you would retire if you are just 45 years young?

There are so many people with lots of money who are still grinding the daily work, and I always wonder why they did it ever since I was in my teens. Back then, I thought I just weren’t as ambitious as them and left it at that. Now though, I’m not sure if I would retire either. I work hard at growing my business, and that provides a huge motivation for me to wake up every morning. Though managing every moving part can be stressful at times, the occasional thank you and success story you send me through email is more than enough to compensate for the stress. And let’s not forget, the money always helps too.

Here’s another example that seem to support my theory too – people’s wedding. I bet lots of you had a dream of a romantic wedding since childhood with the perfect spouse, falling in love and starting that “happily ever after” life together. Yet, when that magical day finally came, real life issues probably seemed a bit more pressing than you remember in your dream. You likely had to choose between the $30,000 wedding or a down payment for your home (or maybe it was the car). Many of you can probably afford to pay for the wedding, but did you fulfill your dream and or did you choose something else?

Dreams might not be meant for anyone to fulfill. Having them may just be a way for us to create hope, a necessary ingredient to be happy.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Millionaire Mommy Next Door October 5, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Now that I’m financially free and don’t NEED to work, I still follow my passions. The difference now is that making money doesn’t have to be part of the equation. I’ve always enjoyed coming up with an idea, making a plan and making it happen. That didn’t change once I stopped working. I focus my energy now on raising my daughter and ‘making a difference’ in the lives of others less fortunate.

I agree, many people think an early retirement means slacking off everyday. Truth is, the journey is part of the fun.

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The Dividend Guy October 6, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Good post – I often speak with people who say they want to retire early and when I probe them on it, what it really means is having the time to pursue your passions and interests without something like a 9 to 5 getting in the way. As you mention, this comes from being financially free from having to make a working income.

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Sydney Lagier October 31, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Loved this. I have been scouring the blogosphere for commentary like this. Not a retirement article about the money part, but about the actually doing it part.

To answer your question, yes, emphatically yes (and at 44.)

So many people, though, ask me “but what will you DOOOO?”, so your question is a great one, many would not. Many with far more money than I have don’t, so it will be interesting to see the other side–in 7 weeks.

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thehungrydollar.com March 13, 2008 at 9:17 am

I feel that what’s most important is to find whatever motivates you. If this is tracking your progress towards an early retirement, then so be it. Now do I actually believe you will retire early upon reaching this goal? Probably not.

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paulette August 3, 2008 at 1:22 am

For me reaching our dream is a continuous process.

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Finance November 10, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Early retirement is a dream for many people but the most important thing is to enjoy our life before we reach our dream.

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Britanny January 13, 2009 at 7:35 am

You know very often when a dream is fulfilled a person just cannot stop on it. We- people- are created in such a way that everything will be few for us even if we have a lot already. For instance, when I was dreaming about my own house and got it, I realized that now I need one more for my baby. So now I have another goal to achieve. I think without goals and dreams our life would be senseless.

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Veoletta Hayward October 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm

My husband and I did realize our goal and DID retire. Me at 45. He at 43. Our kids are grown and in college. Now it’s our time. We love it. And we are NEVER bored. We bought a 15 year old 30 foot motor home and now RV full time. We just go wherever we want. We stay as long as we want and then we go somewhere else. We will never see Lake Effect again and will never be cold again. We love our new life.

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Jonathan December 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I have to be honest and say that whilst early retirement sounds fun, I can imagine that I’ll be bored. I think for me it’s a case of moving to part time work in the future, rather than simply opting for early retirement completely. The world economic debt crisis also means that the majority of us will be working into our seventies before we can even consider retiring.

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Jean December 11, 2011 at 12:02 am

I think for some people, it’s a case where their work has become ingrained into their body’s daily routine so much that if they don’t go to work, they feel something is missing. I’ve seen people miss work terribly after retirement. Then of course there are those who have reached their targeted savings but want to pad it some more just in case.

-Jean

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Bill Birnbaum December 11, 2011 at 9:21 am

Goals can certainly be a “moving target.” Once you accomplish a particular goal, a person (whether working or retired) can reset his (or her) goal to accomplish something else. In this way, life becomes an on-going adventure.

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JPA December 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm

A good way to test if you would actually like to stop working/focus on your passions when you retire is to ask yourself:

Are you pursuing a mini retirement now?

– do you spend time out of work focusing on your passions?
– do you invest your savings in new ideas/businesses?
– do you share your passions with others and build relationships around them?

I’m always shocked by how many successful business people I know (my small lens is banking) who don’t have hobbies and serious outside interests right NOW.

What do you expect? To just one day snap into a whole new lifestyle after 30 or 40 years of doing something completely different?

Start your mini retirements now.

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Gregorio C. Raborar December 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm

My friend is asking me the same question. What I will do now that I am about to retire? and I simply answered well nothing. Just that nothing. I don’t know anything about my passions or anything like that

Greg

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Marbella December 13, 2011 at 1:58 am

Twice I reached my goal and gone in early retirement. After a few months, I couldn’t sit still and started with new goals. As long as you feel young, you can always set new goals.

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Donna December 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

I retired at 50. Will be 61 in 2 weeks. I went nuts after 3 months. Worked several jobs then got a part time job. Now eight years later I a retired again–not nuts yet. LOL. This time I am just living day to day and appreciating what I have. I still have my health, a roof over my head, and freedom. I guess I just needed a slow adaption to the change.

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Michael April 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm

I am not amazed about a lot of people who commented about early retirement. I’ve heard it all where I worked along-side of 380 workers. I’ve seen a lot and heard a lot of stories on the job 30 years. I retired early three years ago and am really enjoying it. I found so many wonderful things to do and never run out of fun. This is my feeling on retiring early. It is not meant for everyone only for those who can enjoy it. Only for those who think in a free way and how wonderful life can be. Sometimes I look at in a movie I saw a man was released from prison and could not handle it so he committed a crime to go back? He did know how to live life outside of the prison.

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Lifeisdynamic July 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

A very good analogy of the criminal who could not live outside prison to that of of a person who does not want to retire. Life is scary and tough when you are unsure about the future and how to live in the future and what it means for you in your social environment. It is an alien concept and a major lifestyle readjustment which takes preparation for to adaptation – financially, psychologically and physically.

I am fortunate to have a career where I can take long breaks from work and re-enter the workforce casually or full-time if I wish. Such is the demand for members of my profession. However, it can play havoc with financial goals for eventual retirement (not all ‘beer and skittles’)! This is allowing me to psychologically and financially adjust to the change over several years. In fact, while I have my health and the demand for my particular skills and knowledge is needed, I may continue on in and out of the workforce for as long as I can physically take it into old age. I don’t want to retire into oblivion either. We all need to feel valued and be occupied. Besides, the company at work is good for the spirit – like-minded people. The ongoing remuneration is useful to sustain the body and pay the bills too. My children may yet have a legacy!

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Sven March 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I enjoyed this blog post.

I could elect to retire right now. Did all the calculations, and would be fine (with 97% confidence interval…lol). I’m so on the fence that the pickets are going up my buttocks! I do have hobbies (kayaking, reading, novel writing, ukulele), but will I enjoy them the same when I can do them 24/7/365? Or, are they jewels in my life because I relish doing them when I’m not working?

I wish my job was like a pet gerbil: I could take it out and pet it a few times when I get bored, but otherwise, leave it on the wheel in it’s cage.

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