I got very mixed reactions when I started telling people that I was going to retire and go cruising. After all, I am just 53 years old - who does that? A small minority of the people expressed something along the lines of "good for you!". But most said very little beyond what their face and body language were yelling "you are too young, you can't do that".
Frankly, I struggled with the idea for quite some time myself. I believe I struggled mostly with the notion that I was crazy for even considering this. We are conditioned through out our lives that we have to work a job until we are 65 years old and then retire to a rocking chair. But my mother will tell you that I have never done things "the way you are suppose to". I have always done things "my way". No one has ever accused me of following the herd. I have had mixed results with this quirk of my personality over the years. Some REALLY bad outcomes, and some really good, but always true to myself. So I had an idea of what I wanted to do and started working toward what I believed would get me to that goal.
Another issue with retiring at 53 is "how can you afford it?". It turns out "affording it" is all relative. If you can get off the American consumerism treadmill, you can live pretty cheap. So save some money and eliminate debt and retiring becomes much more doable. Of course there is always the "unexpected expense". After all, bad things happen! But here is the reality (read "my" reality) - bad things happen and there is no way to prevent them, retired or not. So we all do the best we can and hope for the best. Eventually something so bad is going to happen to all of us and that will be the end of that. So if you go through your life worrying and planning for the bad stuff, you will miss out on life itself. I would compare this to the people that say you should have at least one spare for everything on your boat. I could push that to the point where you end up buying two identical boats - one to cruise and one for spare parts. So get some spare parts for critical systems and systems that wear out and go sailing! In life that means put some money in the bank, eat healthy and exercise, and always check the weather before you leave port!
I was reading a story last night about John Moffitt. He was an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos. By all accounts, his life was perfect, until yesterday when he called the Broncos front office and told them he was not coming back to the team. Are you crazy!? He had a 6 figure salary and was playing for a team that has a really good chance of going to the Super Bowl this year. When asked why he quit he said "I think it's really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being, and risk your happiness for money". So was it guts, craziness, or clear headed thinking that lead to this decision? You decide..
To this day I cannot understand people that are worth millions or billions of dollars. I realize this is a generalization, but most of the time these people are the most ruthless and driven people. They have more money than they will ever be able to spend, but they still need more. I am not judging here, I just don't understand their thinking. Isn't there more to life than making more money than anyone else?
So now to the end of my rant. I give you all permission to say "I told you so" when you visit me at 70 years old in a government sponsored rest home without a penny to my name. I really don't expect that to happen, but it certainly is a risk, regardless of when I "retire".