Whenever somebody mentions the word ‘retirement’, most of us conjure up images of rocking chairs, comfortable slippers and a slow descent into physical and mental decline. It’s a common enough image but it hardly does justice to the real potential of setting yourself free from the labour treadmill. There are plenty of examples of well-prepared individuals who have freed themselves from the necessity of slaving away at the grindstone every day to show us that retirement does not have to wait until we are well into our sixties. Retirement can happen much sooner than that and provide us with fabulous opportunities to live life to the full. It’s an intriguing possibility and one that fully deserves our attention.
Back in the 1950s, a handful of adventurous spirits described their decisions to quit the rat race and travel the world, some with their families, some on their own, each one committed to living a more fulfilling and meaningful life, each one determined to be free from the rigours and pressures of the daily routine. Their journals still survive and their examples provide an inspirational alternative to the soul-destroying monotony of modern life. They found ways to make money, create businesses and enjoy the kind of freedom that most of us only dream about. So, whilst there are thousands of books about the mechanics of retirement, they’re very much aimed at people approaching their middle sixties. But it’s fascinating to consider the possibility of retiring at a much earlier point and this involves a bold and courageous step away from the conventions that insist that we hold down a job regardless of the consequences to our health and happiness. The plain fact is that too many folk slave away at their day jobs for most of their loves and just don’t live long enough to enjoy the benefits of all the years of hard work and dedication.
The message from those pioneering individuals who escaped the chains of the wage slave is that life is simply too short and too precious to be squandered on an unfulfilled existence. Life is worth so much more. Their children attended local schools, became fluent in an impressive array of languages, learned about other cultures and traditions and saw the world from a fresh perspective. The surprising result is that these children achieved remarkable academic success and some even gained access to some of the world’s most prestigious universities. Their educational experience was deeply enhanced by their travels. But is it really possible for anyone to break free from the demands of the treadmill and set themselves on a new and exciting way to live life to the full? Much would depend on the attitude of the individual. Some people, despite their complaints and obvious unhappiness, would prefer the comfort and familiarity of their prison cells. But if the spirit of freedom and adventure still calls from deep within you, it is not too late to break out of the conventional confines of your daily routine and seek the kind of happiness, success and freedom that can make any life a truly extraordinary and deeply fulfilling experience. Seize the day before it’s too late!
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