My Plan to Retire Young
How do you define retirement? Like this, according to Naval Ravikant:
Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired. You retire by saving up enough money, becoming a monk, or by finding work that feels like play to you.
In some ways, Naval’s definition is pretty old-school. Retirement = when we finally stop grinding and start living. One way to get there is by “saving up enough money”. So far so ordinary.
But Naval’s definition also gives us 3 shortcuts to the promised land of retirement:
⏳ Hustle: He doesn’t lock us into a timeframe for accumulating that money. We don’t have to wait until we’re 60+. If we make enough money today, we could retire immediately and do whatever we like.
🙏 Monastic Life: If we can become monks who don’t need any physical possessions to feel complete, then we can retire already to our fulfilled, monk-like existence. From a financial perspective, this is “Lean FIRE” (Financial Independence, Retire Early), where you cut down on expenses as much as humanly possible.
🎲 Infinite Games: If we find work that feels like play – real play, something we’d want to do even for $0 – then we’re retired, even if we’re earning enough money. This is the point at which you enjoy the race so much that you don’t want to reach the finish line. A lot of FIRE aficionados feel this way. “I find that when people earn their freedom from money constraints, they usually don’t stop working. Instead, they start doing their best work”, says Mr Money Mustache.
Maybe we can rephrase Naval’s definition:
Retirement is when you find a sustainable way to fully live your life in the present moment, without sacrificing any of that time in exchange for future reward.
I want to try a combination of all three of Naval’s solutions to get to this point. Here’s where I’m at so far:
✅ Make Money I’m doing OK at this so far, especially with YouTube and PTYA. But the big question is “at what point it is enough?” I don’t want to just be a money-making machine for the rest of my life. Enter solutions 2 & 3…
❌ Reduce Burn Rate. I won’t be a monk anytime soon, or even Mr Money Mustache. But I am experimenting with reducing expenditure in different areas of my life, and seeing if it makes me happier / more fulfilled. No results to report yet.
✅ ✅ Find Work That Feels Like Play. Hell yeah. I’d totally be doing YouTube and writing books etc even if I wasn’t being paid.
I reason that if I can (a) make more money, (b) reduce my burn rate by trying to minimise lifestyle inflation and keep my wants and desires minimal, and (c) make sure I’m doing work that I really enjoy, then that’s pretty close to being retired. Which is great.
Here’s the way I think of it – I’m retired if the things I’m doing day-to-day are identical to what I would be doing if I’d won the euro millions lottery and had $100m in the bank. I’m not at that point yet, but as long as I work on these three solutions, I think I’m getting there.
Have a great week!
PS: Is there any situation where you’d carry on “sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow”, and never retire? What if you’re Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail for fighting against apartheid? Does this fall into Naval’s “monk” category? Any thoughts, reply to this email.
♥️ My Favourite Things
🎙️ Podcast – Tim Urban x Lex Fridman. I generally enjoy any podcast where Tim’s a guest: there’s a reason people call him “one of the most interesting people on the internet”. Tim had some interesting thoughts on why “everything is amazing”, but we’re still unhappy.
🎬 Deep Dive Episode – How I Grew to 1M YouTube Subscribers in Medical School with Kharma Medic. Had lots of fun recording this pod with Nasir. He talked about putting videos out on his channel even when he knows they’re going to tank, just to get cool / important ideas out there. Resisting the algorithm 🤘
👟 Clothes – New Balance ML574. I really like these trainers, they’re a good mix of comfortable and stylish.
📚 Book –The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. As you can tell from this issue, I just reread the Navalmanack. Still amazing.
🏛️ Rome – Enjoyed roaming around Rome this weekend using electric scooters. I’m not much of a fan of sightseeing, but scootering around the outside of the Colosseum was pretty neat (and maybe more fun than probably doing an internal tour). Shoutout to e-scooter company Bird for the smooth ride.
✍️ Quote of the Week
Whether it’s business, exercise, romance, friendship, whatever, I think the meaning of life is to do things for their own sake. Ironically, when you do things for their own sake, you create your best work. Even if you’re just trying to make money, you will actually be the most successful. – Naval Ravikant