By: Dividend Sensei
My Own Example
This is what I’ve chosen to do. I was originally in the Army Medical Service Corp and training to be a trauma surgeon. However an injury forced me to retire medically (on disability) and it was a very traumatic event for me. An Army surgeon had been my lifelong dream and I had spent decades working towards that goal. To suddenly and permanently lose that calling stripped me of my identity and put me in a deep depression that took me years to recover from. However I eventually changed the way I thought about my involuntary “retirement”. Thanks to my disability pension I could live frugally but comfortably without working ever again. I also had the VA medical system to cover my healthcare needs free of charge.
However I immediately rejected the idea of a traditional retirement of golf or binge watching Netflix all day as a waste of my skills, talent and ambition. Instead I decided to pursue my life long love of stocks and personal finance and became a professional investment writer. Eventually I built up my business to cover three websites, and now am choosing to work the same amount of hours I did in the Army, but as my own boss. I write about what interests me, and thanks to a lot of luck and hard work, I’m making about double what I ever was in the military. I’m actually happier than I was back when I had my “dream career”. That’s because I’ve found a new calling, where I feel I can make a difference in people’s lives, but in a different way.
In the meantime I’ve surrounded myself with friends, family and most importantly of all, puppy; my 6 pound Chorkie. My life is now more well rounded and richer; socially, emotionally, and financially. And most importantly it’s sustainable. I literally have no plans to ever “retire again” and quit doing what I’m doing now. That’s because I love what I do, feel it helps contribute to society, and gives me everything I need to avoid the kind of gradual physical, emotional and mental decline that would lead to an early grave.
Obviously I’m not saying that everyone can or should do what I did. But my point is to not make your goal to quit working entirely, but to quit working on other people’s terms. For me the goal of my retirement portfolio (which I have no intention of tapping for decades) is to provide a source of: safe, generous, and exponentially growing income. Why? Because money is a tool. It’s optionality. It’s a safety net that allows me to help my loved ones if they need it or to pursue other passions I might discover in the future.
At the very least it’s something that can one day I can turn into a perpetual charitable trust that donates half the dividend income to causes I care about to make the world a better place (the other half gets reinvested to grow the portfolio). The bottom line is this: life is about building a legacy, not about working only as long as you have to so you can then stop working all together. Being “rich” doesn’t mean owning a penthouse or a Bentley, but rather having the freedom to live life without concern for material want and able to pursue a rich social, emotional, and psychological existence the way you want to.