Early retirees are an interesting bunch… on the one hand, it takes a lot of audacity to leave the workforce decades early. I mean, who does that?!
On the other hand, most of us are extremely fiscally conservative. People are even competitive over who is the most risk-averse… “You go ahead and target a 3% withdrawal rate, buddy, I’m going to keep working until I can spend less than 1.76852%!”
For most people though, the debate is primarily internal and manifests itself as One More Year Syndrome. “I’ll just work one more year to cushion the portfolio a bit more, THEN I’ll quit…”
It’s a very reasonable discussion to have with yourself. But working one more year also has some costs.
A couple of centuries ago some people were thinking the industrial revolution would lead to the end of toil and strife. Automation would bring shorter workdays, fewer work weeks, and an abundance of free time. Email would allow people to attend fewer meetings and spend more time outside the office. It would be a new golden age.
Alas, in practice most of the advances just resulted in more work. Culturally, we traded greater productivity for a higher material standard of living rather than greater freedom. We do more for the sake of more.
This is so ingrained in our psyches that many can’t even grasp the idea of retirement at any age… “You don’t work? But… what do you do all day?!”
To wean myself off the drug of perpetual productivity, I started asking how I could accomplish as little as possible.