I turned 49 on 2nd September 2015. And on 15th September 2015 I hung my dental gloves and officially retired from clinical dentistry after 25 years in the industry. Though this was four years later than originally planned it felt good all the same. In the last two months I have been surprised by the comments and views of people when they heard that I had retired. So today I want to make some comments on early retirement.
Many people want to retire early but dare not. Most books on wealth creation promise early retirement but do not answer the question so what next. This has often caused confusion in people’s minds. What exactly do I have in mind when I think of early retirement? Other people imagine me sitting idly and lazily at home doing nothing but just spending my hard earned wealth. Others imagine me packing my bags and going to my rural home to spent the rest of my days in quiet and peace. Others imagine me going to Canada or some such place to spent the rest of my days either on a beach or at some island watching birds. That is not my idea of retirement.
Many people who retire this way will:
- either die early because they have no purpose for living anymore so they “retire” from life
- or will outlive their wealth and regret the early retirement. Many forget that most people now live longer than 80 years of age because of medical advances.
I have no plan to join any of the above categories. I have too much life and too much to contribute before I check out of this world. I have a Kingdom assignment and life purpose that needs to be completed. As a matter of fact I already have a plan for my next thirty years. I fully expect to contribute and have greater influence and impact than the last 25 years. I have been preparing for this. I am busier now than ever before.
So to me an early retirement simply means an occasion to re-fire (not re-tire) and redeploy my skills and resources towards my ultimate purpose. It divides my life into Life 1 and Life 2. In life 1 the aim was to make a living and in Life 2 the main purpose is to contribute to the well being of Africa while doing well. It’s the time of my life that allows me to fully develop and establish my legacy. Most of the super successful people are still active contributing way past their 80s. They are doing what they love.
For most of us we made decisions about career and profession when we were teenagers and that completely define our whole lives. Some people keep investing in themselves until at a certain age even though they are enjoying their primary profession, they realize they can achieve more and faster if they followed their passion and calling. This then calls for a retirement from primary profession and redesigning their career pathways. In this redesigned new career for Life 2 they have flexibility to work from anywhere and allows them to travel while still earning probably more significantly than in Life 1. They bring to bear the experiences and competences of the first half into the second half. In fact the primary career was simply a stepping stone to significance.
As I was considering my life trajectory and the things God has spoken into my life, I realized that though I was doing well, I was not running at the pace that would allow me to fulfill God’s call. Over the years I kept developing myself until I now hold 2 Masters degrees (one in Business and another in Theology) and a Doctorate over and above my dental surgery degree. On reflection it dawned on me that I was still earning at my entry qualification level if I continued in dentistry rather than earning at my highest qualification level. It was like a person earning at an O- Level basis when he holds a Bachelors degree. That called for a retirement and re-firing!
After 25 years of enjoyable clinical work I realized that I was now too comfortable to be able to dare to do things differently. I was coasting along comfortably. But those who make a significant difference in life are not the comfortable type BUT those who keep pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved. So it was time I gave up my comfort and trade it for greater impact! I am dreaming big. I am stretching myself for the Kingdom and for Africa. Like Caleb, I boldly declare, “Give me this mountain for I am well able to take it just as God promised.” (paraphrased).
Robert Kiyosaki wrote a book called retire Young Retire Rich but he is working harder now that he is retired. Jason lee wrote a book called Retire Young Through Property. And yet he is working harder now than ever. Warren Buffet is busier now than ever and yet he has made billions. They are all fired up. They do not have to work. They love working!
So to all my friends who were perplexed by my early retirement- do not worry, it’s a redeployment to maximize impact! I am fired up! I am energized!