Early Retirement is Worthless if You’re Dead!

Michael QuanEducation, FI / FIRE, How to, Misc, Personal Development, Side Hustles28 Comments

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Finding FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) will inevitably alter your lifestyle.

An entire new spectrum of freedom awaits you and you can choose your heart’s desire from day-to-day.

New Choices

Perhaps you’ll be super inspired to wake up early, go for a run, clean your yard, and be super efficient throughout the day.

Or, on the opposite end, maybe you wake up late, eat a large breakfast, watch a couple of movies, and shop at the mall.

Either of these options is fine independently, but most people are creatures of habit that typically gravitate more towards one path over another.

The Silent Killer

As the post title will tell you, there’s no reason to FIRE if it’s going to end up with you dead (physically or mentally!).

The silent killer as I like to call it is complacency and following a path of least resistance (laziness, gluttony, etc.).

It’s been over 4 years of early retirement for me now, and I must admit finding balance and growth are still challenging.

Early retirement shouldn’t be an excuse to get lazy, but sometimes the freedom can get to your head and it’s easy to follow a “feel good” path, even if it’s not the best for you.

Staying Active

So, you need to stay active both in mind and body.

Once you retire, it’s helpful to have an active hobby that is mentally stimulating other than just golf and fishing.  In fact, you could even have a part-time job, side hustle, or consult on the side.  I’d highly recommend one of those because we HAVE to continue growing, or we won’t feel satisfied even in early retirement!  That my friend is a slow death.

My current strategy to keep my mind active is to write on this PF blog, my food blog, volunteer, coach, and attend different conferences.  So, I feel pretty good in this area.

Take Care of Your Body

Just as important, is taking care of your body.

You’ve only got one and if it goes, so do you!  I have to keep reminding myself of this.

My Weak Spot

I’m not particularly balanced (and potentially killing myself) in this area of personal fitness.

I’m currently at 150 lbs and 5’8″.  This may not look too terrible on paper, however, weight ratios are only one statistic to monitor.  This doesn’t account that I’m slowly and surely growing a gut and double chin!

More importantly, during my most recent physical, my blood workup showed elevated pressures and high cholesterol.  My parents have a history of stroke and cancer, so it should behoove me to be more proactive with my numbers.

I also don’t feel the unlimited energy that I once had and have been relying on supplemental stimulants like blended coffee drinks and boba tea to keep me up late at night (and sometimes during the day!).

My Personal Fitness Goals v 2.0

I’ll be making some significant changes in the near future, and I won’t be waiting until New Year’s Eve.

  • Exercise: In addition to my weekly tennis, I also plan to integrate some bike riding throughout the week.  I believe cardio is one area that I really lack at the moment, so being able to do something else enjoyable (riding a bike) will be great.  I just got a hybrid bike this last week and plan to cycle on both street and off-road paths.


  • Nutrition: Here’s another area of weakness for me.  I tend to eat “healthy” in waves.  However, this isn’t great cumulatively.  I still indulge in lots of junk food throughout a given week and really need to balance that out.  I’m also signed up for another Tony Robbins event in a couple of weeks, Life & Wealth Mastery, which focuses heavily on eating properly to optimize energy.  I’m a bit apprehensive about this because I’ve tried some cleanses before and it tore up my gut, but it’ll be good to participate with others and support each other during the process.
  • Some Great Things I Consumed This Week:
    • Acai
    • Blueberries
    • Yogurt
    • Almond milk
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Broccoli
  • Some NOT so Great Things I Consumed this Week:
    • McDonald’s Ice caramel macchiato
    • Frappuccino with chocolate chip cookie
    • Häagen-Dazs® Bars
    • Deep friend orange chicken
    • In n Out Cheeseburger & Fries
    • Costco Chicken Bake
    • Custard French Toast

Final Thoughts

Early retirement really opens up a lot of new opportunities.  And it’s a privilege not to be taken for granted.

Remember, some of the opportunities may not serve you as well as you think.  You need to be selective in which ones you allow to enter your world.

It’s no fun to be the richest man in the graveyard!

Readers, how will you stay active once you FIRE?  What are some possible personal pitfalls you’ll need to avoid in a state of complete freedom?

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28 Comments on “Early Retirement is Worthless if You’re Dead!”

  1. My biggest worry for FIRE is my love of sleeping. I am afraid that I’ll continue sleeping in and miss out on beautiful mornings.

  2. Good post Michael. We are all drawn to junk for the instant rush (dopamine?) we feel when something so decadent hits our tongue. It’s indescribable and unfortunately, not all health foods trigger the same feeling. Eating junk food once in a while part of an otherwise sensible diet is ok in my book! After all, happiness also counts!

    1. It’s interesting, TF. The TR conference that I’m at teaches that both financial and health mastery comes down to emotional intelligence. In other words, how much of our emotions can we direct vs. accepting the ones we’ve been given through the patterns we’ve built up over time. So, I’m shifting my beliefs around some of the junk food I used to crave and it will give me better choices for the future and eliminate the frequency that I crave something… like a mocha frappacino! 🙂

  3. Always a worthy point, Michael. You can’t win from the grave!

    I’m pretty weak against In’n’Out burgers but I try to make all my other desserts and treats less unhealthy or more healthy to compensate for my indulgences. It doesn’t make them less delicious, honest!

    To your other point, I’ve started a whole Trello board for things to do in retirement just to make sure I don’t melt into my sofa 7 hours a day 😉

    1. I’m glad you mentioned the Trello board. I signed up awhile back and then never tried it out. I should go back and have a look!

      Oh yeah, I just had In’n’Out again… DOH.

  4. A smart post Michael and I like your fitness goals. I’d also add, don’t work to early retirement if it’s going to kill you. I see too many people busting their butt just to retire early but without any clear idea of what they want to do in retirement (just that they don’t want to work). Better to find something you enjoy doing for decades than be miserable until retirement.

    1. Well said, Joseph. Finding fulfillment is much better than finding yourself without a job. 😉

      Will you be headed to FinCon again this year?

  5. If I had a food blog I would weigh 300 lbs. You are doing good ! It’s good to have a plan in place to keep you motivated so you don’t become complacent.

  6. I definitely need to work on my cholesterol too! Mainly, I think I just need to exercise more… which is my goal, but with young kids that need a lot of care I can’t just go on a run in the middle of the day.

    Oh well, they’ll head to school eventually.

  7. That Costco Chicken Bake is too good a deal to pass up. I go for the pizza though.

    Setting my own schedule has done wonders for my eating and fitness. Weekdays when you have to get to the office early and return late, I was not consistent with exercise. Now that I work for myself, I can take a long break in the afternoon when I’m not efficient, go outside, and return for just a couple hours of focused work later.

    Please do another recap of your Tony Robbins event. I guess that means no FinCon for you either this year?

    1. That’s wonderful that you have the discipline, Brian. I’m sure owning your own business has taught you a thing or two around good time management!

      Sadly, no FinCon for me this year as the conferences overlap.

  8. Haagan Daaz Bars and In N Out burgers, I don’t blame you! I think if you eat junk in moderation it’s okay (well at least that’s what I tell myself!). In retirement, I think that continuing to keep a disciplined schedule (such as work out 3-4 times a week) is optimal and decreases the chance of complacency. You’re in a good position to be in, retired 4 years ago!!

  9. Eating healthy was a challenge for me until I read The Plant Paradox. It’s pretty scary in that it shows how the foods we eat and the chemicals in our environment really impact our gut bacteria, which causes us to crave junk food and the like. After following the guidelines in the book, I feel better, sleep better, and have lost 18 pounds without “dieting”. And, I no longer crave junk food, pasta, or other things that cause you to pack on the pounds. It’s worth checking out.

    1. Nice Jeff, I’ve got the Plant Paradox on my reading (or listening) list. That’s awesome that you’ve lost 18lbs. You must be feeling great!

  10. Complacency, for sure! When I FIRE eventually, I’m for sure going to take some time off and be lazy, but I have a ton of things I’d love to explore and keep me engaged.

    Physical health is something I admittedly neglect a bit right now, and I worry that when I am done working I’ll continue to neglect it despite having plenty of time.

    Finding the motivation to work on things around the house or my blog or something is easy for me, but when it comes to working out…I have no willpower at all. 🙁

    1. I’m right there with you, Dave! Trying to be balanced in every area of life feels a bit like plate spinning. It can be done though! I’m sure you have more willpower than you give yourself credit for.

  11. “The silent killer as I like to call it is complacency and following a path of least resistance (laziness, gluttony, etc.).”

    I’m with ya! I’ve been FIREd for over 5 years and I have to consciously find new challenges so I don’t become complacent. My latest challenge has been writing for my blog. 🙂

    I have managed to build in a regular exercise schedule into my retired life. My wife teaches yoga, lifts weights, and runs marathons so she is an inspiration for me.

    1. Fantastic, Mr. FF! So cool that your wife is so active and an inspiration to you.

      I’m gonna have to trade places with you by borrowing your regular exercise schedule, and you can borrow my regular blog writing schedule.

  12. I love this! FIRE isn’t the “happily ever after” that we like to think it is. It’s still life, and life comes with challenges. In this case, it’s just life with more options. 🙂 I’m really making the effort to live like I’m retired now, even while I’m still doing mandatory work. I’ve been sick for the last few weeks, but generally I exercise every morning and do meal-planning to minimize unnecessary calories (I’m doing not-so-great on the food front though!).

    We’re all a work in progress, as long as you strive for progress.

    1. Well said, MPP… we are definitely all a work in progress (whether we like it or not).

      It’s great that you’re already making efforts to live like you’re retired. It won’t be such a huge shift for you when that day comes.

  13. I think you have a great plan in place and the motivation to execute it. My husband is not retired yet, but he is already having a hard time trying to lose some weight. He’s been having lots of hip pain, so it has also prevented him from working out and worsened the weight problem.

    Your food blog looks amazing!

    1. Thanks, Ms. FAF. The food blog is fun, but I keep getting tempted with tasty treats! 😉

      Hopefully, your husband’s pain will subside soon and he’ll be able to return to working out.

  14. So wise!
    Why is it we are so drawn to junk? Just reading this makes me crave an In-Out burger and ice cream! I hope the Robbins event is a good one. I think he is pretty energizing. When I last heard him he stressed “alkalize to energize.” He feels we eat too much acidic food and drink. There is probably some truth to that.

    1. Yes, WD, at the conference I’m gonna get to alkalize with wheatgrass and other tasteless treats…yummmm. 😉

      I do hope it’s worth it though. Apparently, the energy shift can be huge.

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