As much as I hate to think about it, there is something that nags at me. There is obviously a ton of hype around reaching financial independence these days. It’s nearly impossible to execute a few thumb flicks on any social media app without scrolling past a story about early retirement. The story typically goes something like this. This Millennial or that Gen-Xer worked their butt off during the early years of their career and decided to pull the plug decades before their comparable counterparts. But should they?
You’ll notice that this post is full of questions. But before anyone yells at me, just keep in mind that I wholeheartedly agree with someone’s decision to retire early. But I do love playing devil’s advocate and stirring up a good debate. So, let’s talk about it. Let’s look at some of the reasons that retiring early might not be the best thing to do for someone who is an educated professional in any field.
Is There A Moral Obligation To Society?
As an educated woman who works in the scientific field, I often think about the investment my employer has made in me. My current employer has enhanced my education through graduate school as well as hands on seminars, training, and global travel. Considering all of this, is there a moral obligation on my part to utilize my skill set within this industry, that serves to promote public health?
On another note, when Mr. MMM changed careers from teaching to film it was a terrible loss for his school. He taught for many years and won many awards, including Teacher of the Year. When he left, he had requests from parents to teach their children for years to come. Even though he didn’t leave because he was “retiring early”, the consequences were the same. He was trained to be a teacher and to educate our youth. Was it fair to the rest of us to lose such a great teacher in his prime?
This might not seem like such a big deal now, but what happens when early retirement becomes mainstream *Ahem* – it’s getting there – and the number of early retiree hopefuls skyrockets?
What about those individuals that have gone to professional school and still choose to cut out decades early? Some would argue that taking a slot from another student who would continue to work for 30+ years post graduation is selfish. If retiring early is the plan, maybe it’s best to choose an alternative route that isn’t quite so competitive. Chances are, the early retirement date would likely be the same, if not a little earlier without attending professional school.
If you are such an individual, please don’t take offense. I’m simply pondering how the puzzle pieces of early retirement and education fit together. And if you do happen to be such a person, I would LOVE to hear your opinion on this topic.
The Best And The Brightest
I’m going to go out on a reliable limb and say that a large proportion of people with the foresight and motivation to pursue early retirement are likely smarter than the average bear. In which case, can we really afford to lose these bright individuals in any field?
And if we can’t afford to lose these people, what can be done to make working longer in their initial field of study more attractive?
Are Early Retirees Really Retired?
There is also another question that begs to be answered. Are early retirees really retired? Or, have they just bought themselves the option to switch careers?
Let’s face it, most of the stories floating around are about early retirees who bought their freedom from their first career and have crafted a second through entrepreneurship.
And if this is the case, then are these early retirees actually cheating society, or are they contributing to it by becoming a producer in a different way?