Many people dream of retiring early. You can sleep in late, have plenty of free time, take endless vacations, play golf (huh?)
But how real is it?
This is just my experience, yours may be completely different. If that's the case, good for you!
When I first thought about retiring, I was pretty burnt out from my previous IT work. Both as an employee and an entrepreneur.
I hated sitting at a PC and the idea of doing literally nothing for a few months until I figure out my shit sounded amazing.
And indeed it was great at first.
No alarm to wake me up, no one to occupy my mind with must finish tasks. No need to do jack shit.
But what started as a great chapter of my life quickly turned into a fucking sad attempt at fighting depression with alcohol and other substances.
How did I end up there
You see, the problem with going from literally zero money to retirement in less than 10 years is that your brain doesn't have enough time to re-adjust to this new phenomena.
When you take away all the obligatory daily tasks and replace them with nothing, you start decaying.
Getting off the bed becomes a daunting task. There's no drive to live. You're slowly being eaten alive.
Man (*) is a creature that is in constant need of doing and creating, after all. Having a purpose to life (be it "just" playing video games) is paramount to your own well being.
You don't have to run a marathon every week but you will suffer if you simply stop being active in one way or another.
* just pissing off feminists here
How to fix it
The solution may seem simple - just find a hobby, right?
Easier said than done!
How do you suddenly figure out what you love when all you had previously been preoccupied with was work?!
You've never been in a knitting club, you stopped reading books as a kid, you never had much time or energy for hiking. You're perhaps not interested in anything at all.
So how do you figure your shit out?
Quite frankly, to this day I have no definitive answer to it nor I found a hobby that would consume the majority of my day.
There is, however, something you could try doing.
As an early retiree, you have saved enough wealth, I suppose? Start spending it on material garbage then and see if you get entertained by any of it for longer than 2 weeks.
I ended up having a space full of GoPro's, Raspberry Pi's, guitars, game consoles, motorcycles, and other stuff.
Sure, it's wasteful but how else can you find out that you love making motorcycle videos when you don't buy yourself a motorcycle and a GoPro? (no, I hate making motorcycle videos)
Can you avoid the misery at all?
First of all, don't beat yourself up if you end up in a situation where you're completely lost.
As Gary Vaynerchuk said:
Figuring everything out is a forever game. Have you figured out how awesome you're going to be as a grandma, when you're still not a grandma?
Thinking you need to solve everything right at this moment will only make you depressed. I've been there and it wasn't pretty.
Obsessing over having hobbies ASAP because that's what retirees do won't magically fix shit. It will make it worse and all that much harder to pull your shit together.
I guess one of the very few ways of not falling into the early retirement trap is not rushing it.
Simply don't sell your company/quit your job straight away when you make your first million (or whatever is your amount that you believe you can retire with).
Instead, start working a little less every year.
It allows you to slowly adjust to the idea of not working for money and at the same time focus on your search for hobbies as you no longer have to spend that time in the office.
And when you suddenly get annoyed by the work life and think you can handle it, simply pull that plug and retire at any time.
Better later than sooner... (ok, I admit I suck with sayings)
If you are lucky to be in the position to retire early, congratulations! But before you jump in, give it a thorough thought.
Can you handle unlimited free time? Is there something that gives your life purpose?
Even if you don't have all the answers straight away, it's fine. There's nowhere to rush. After all, you have "all the money in the world" and are no longer a slave to anyone.
Looking back, I regret retiring early. I wish there was someone to stop me.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find my purpose yet and at the same time I've been out of the market for way too long to just jump back in and be useful in any meaningful way.
Do not make the same mistake!
Do as I say, not as I do (perhaps I don't suck with sayings that much after all).