Is it possible to live a meaningful life after retiring early, like really early? I think this entirely comes down to the person. I think a person who manages to secure retirement at a young age is a fairly driven individual. I think there is little risk that this person ends up spending all day playing computer games and watching TV.

Many people fear early retirement because they are used to living a life that has been structured by their employers. Get up at 6. Eat food. Get in car. Drive car to work. Sit at desk. Fill out forms. Give forms to other people. Eat lunch at noon. Sit at desk again. Push more papers. Go home at 5. Eat. Crash in front of TV. Go to bed.

Most regular people I talk to think this routine is highly meaningful. And they are looking for something to replace this structure. This is actually the first thing I worry about when someone talks about retiring no matter how old the person is.

It seems that some people are self-starters and many people are not. I believe most people are born self-starters. Most children are capable of creativity. Even if you leave them with nothing, they start playing. They can turn a small rock into an improvised soccer game, a stick into a sword or a bicycle into a spaceship. Most adults have substituted this creativity for this so-called meaningful work that they do filling out forms, pushing buttons, writing memos, … In return they have lost their creativity and their ability to generate their own meaning.

They worry what they are going to do when they retire. Who will provide their meaning for them?

The question you have to ask yourself before you retire.

Can you do the adult equivalent of kicking rocks around?

Originally posted 2008-08-05 08:48:49.