Embracing Early Retirement: Why I Don’t Miss Work

Image of couple travelling and looking at scenery with the text overlay: Early retirement is an adventure!

Retirement isn’t for me. I can’t imagine myself lying on the beach and sipping cocktails all day, every day. I’ll probably get bored out of my mind in less than a month. Why would anyone want to retire early? I’ll never retire! Not me.

Does the above or some version of it sound familiar to you? I’ve personally heard it many times from my own father who says that he wants to work until he literally drops dead. He feels that the minute he stops work, he’ll probably go senile. 

For my father, retirement will not be of his choosing. However, he did eventually retire from his 9-to-5 at the age of 66. So did he go senile as he expected? Far from it!

Here’s why: he actually never stopped “working”. Since his retirement, he has been a busy bee and co-founded another three companies in a span of five years. He’s the chairman and a major shareholder of all three companies, playing the role of advisor/mentor. 

Although he’s no longer salaried and does not play an active role in the day-to-day operations of his companies, he continues to do what he loves — being an entrepreneur. I still see the excitement in his eyes whenever he talks about his latest ventures.

My point is: retirement is what you make of it. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach and without doubt, it’s not a death sentence! For me, early retirement is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. And that is exactly what I will be sharing with you in this article:

  1. What is Retirement?
  2. Why Early Retirement May Not Be For You
  3. I’m an Early Retiree and I Don’t Miss Work

1. What is Retirement?

Let’s first start with the formal definition of retirement. Cambridge Dictionary defines “retire” as: to leave your job or stop working because of old age or ill health.

That doesn’t sound too positive, does it? Instead of an exciting new chapter of your life, the focus is on the end of an era. On top of that, “old age” and “poor health” imply that you don’t have a choice. This might be the case for some, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Honestly, I feel that the word “retirement” needs a total revamp. I know I’m not alone on this. I chanced upon an article from Professor Matthew Kaplan from Penn State University who referenced the term “re-tiring” (as in changing tires) of a car or bicycle and found it intriguing.1 

Although the context in which the term “re-tiring” was used had to do with replacing aged workers, I prefer to see it in a more positive light. As in, when we “re-tire”, we replace the worn tires of our work life with new tires of our “retirement” life.

We should ditch the negative connotations associated with retirement. It’s not the end, but the beginning of something new and exciting. It’s definitely food for thought, don’t you think?

I have to say that Mrs Wow summed it up very nicely in a tweet she posted not too long ago:

Tweet from Mrs Wow: Early retirement isn't boring.

In a nutshell, for Mrs Wow and I, early retirement isn’t just about withdrawing from something, but rather advancing towards something better and more fulfilling.

We should ditch the negative connotations associated with retirement. It’s not the end, but the beginning of something new and exciting.

2. Why Early Retirement May Not Be For You

So is early retirement really for you?

I remember having a conversation with Mr Smug (a family friend whom Mrs Wow and I meet a few times a year) before our retirement and it went something like this:

Mr Smug: “How’s business?”

Me: “Couldn’t be better, but we’re planning to retire next year.”

Mr Smug: “Retire? Why would you want to do that?”

Me: “Why not? It’s always been part of our plan. We have more than enough now and it’s time. Don’t you plan to retire yourself?”

Mr Smug: “Hell no! I’ve a mortgage and two young kids. And I know myself. If I don’t work, I’ll just rot away. I’ll feel like a bloody loser.”

He then went on to say that it’s a waste that I retire so young. He was certain I would get bored in no time and in a way was insinuating that I was making the biggest mistake of my life.

My reaction? I continued listening and in not so many words, agreed to disagree.

The thing that really got me was what Mr Smug said about feeling like a loser. Why would anyone feel like a loser when they retire? 

Then it hit me: some people will feel a loss of identity when they lose their job or occupation, voluntarily or otherwise. This feeling of loss is of course understandable, especially if you still need active income to make ends meet.

However, if you no longer need to work for money and have a fulfilling life outside of work, there should be no reason why you should feel inadequate or worthless, right?

The truth is, many retirees do in fact have trouble adjusting to retirement life.2 Imagine working almost every day for 40 years or more. Then one fine day, you’re retired and all of a sudden there’s no more work to do. Adjusting to your “new workless self” becomes almost impossible to bear and you wish you could go back to work. 

It can be simply explained by understanding that we humans are basically creatures of habit and don’t always adjust well to change, especially drastic ones like retirement.

Image of 2 kids in office attire working with the text overlay: Our career is not our entire identity. Neither is our money.

The crux of the matter is, even if you’re financially independent, you’ll likely struggle with retirement if you can’t let go of your career/business and repel the change. If so, then it’s likely that retirement may not be your cup of tea.

We humans are basically creatures of habit and don’t always adjust well to change.

3. I’m an Early Retiree and I Don’t Miss Work

My retirement motto: Work does not define me. There is more to life than work.

If you envision a more fulfilling life post retirement, then like me, you will NOT miss work one bit! In fact, you’ll probably not want to work 9-to-5 ever again!

Unlike my father or Mr Smug, I’m totally fine with being “workless”. With or without a job or business, I’m still me. Work is definitely something I can live without — it’s not oxygen.

Work does not define me. There is more to life than work.

Does that mean I’m doing nothing in retirement? Absolutely not! For one, running this blog (our pet project) keeps both Mrs Wow and I pretty busy. Besides the blog, we have a cooking list, a long reading list, a travel list and an ambitious learning list. 

Check out: Reality Check: My Early Retirement is a Sham!

Put it this way, we have yet to wake up and ever wonder, “What are we going to do today?” In fact, I don’t think we’ll ever run out of things to learn and experience during retirement. There’s just so much to explore and do in the world we live in.

But please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should retire from work the minute you are financially independent (it’s nice to have that option though). If you love your work and it makes you happy, there is no need to stop.

Take Warren Buffett for example. He’s 93 this year and his mind is as sharp as an arrow. He obviously doesn’t need to work for money but continues to do what he loves, i.e. being one of the greatest investors of our time.

Confucius quote: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

For Mrs Wow and I, achieving Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) has always been part our plan (for about 7 years) and we were very clear on why we wanted to FIRE. Since 2020, we were no longer tied down by work commitments and we have had the complete freedom to explore, learn and experience everything else life has to offer.

A couple of months back, Mrs Wow posted this on 𝕏:

Tweet from Mrs Wow: My father fell ill. Glad that I'm FIREd and can spend time with him.

To us, the true benefit of early retirement is having the time freedom to do what we love — including spending time with our loved ones, especially in times of need. This is our why and we feel fortunate that we can lead this life.

Check out: Unlock Your Future: 5 Reasons to Plan for Early Retirement


  1. Rethinking Retirement: https://aese.psu.edu/outreach/intergenerational/articles/rethinking-retirement-whats-in-a-word
  2. Adjusting to Retirement: Handling Depression, Stress and Anxiety: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/aging-issues/adjusting-to-retirement.htm

You may also like: The Retirement Bucket Strategy Demystified | The Joy of Simple Living: My Story | 7 Levels of Wealth: A Different Way to Think About Money | A Conversation with Lynn About Money, Happiness and Freedom

Mr Wow

Mr Wow is a self-professed whisky aficionado. He became debt-free in 2018, achieved financial independence in 2019, and retired in 2020 at the age of 45. Since then, he has been busy blogging and enjoying life with Mrs Wow. His investment motto is ‘Never put money in anything you don’t understand.

2 thoughts on “Embracing Early Retirement: Why I Don’t Miss Work

  1. Great post Mr Wow! It’s amazing that when your dad finally did retire, it seems like the chains were removed from him. He was able to discover new things that he loves, but likely didn’t have time for while working.

    That sounds like retirement to me: “Still having a purpose but accomplishing it on your terms!”

    1. That’s right, Jim. One of the best things about retirement is that you finally have time to discover/pursue your interests. Some people travel; others volunteer or work on pet projects.

      It’s absolutely possible to find joy, purpose and fulfilment in retirement. You just gotta plan for it like everything else in life. 😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts