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Finding a Meaningful Life after Early Retirement

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Finding a meaningful life after retirementAre you living a meaningful life? I think it’s pretty difficult to lead a meaningful life when you’re working for someone else full time. You dedicate most of your waking hours to work and the remainder of your days is taken up by routine chores. Of course, if your work is meaningful, then you’ve got it made. You are making a difference and making the world a better place through your work. However, I think most jobs are very mundane and unsatisfying.

I worked at Intel for 16 years and overall, I felt my work was not very meaningful. I helped improved the speed and efficiency of your computer, but who really cares about a faster computer nowadays. I was just a cog in the wheel and I was easily replaceable. Computers will continue to improve no matter what I do. I wasn’t making much impact through work and I just didn’t have time or energy for anything outside of work. In short, I didn’t think I was making a difference and that’s part of the reason why I quit my engineering career.

Finding a Meaningful Life after Early Retirement

It’s easy to dedicate your life to helping others if you’re the Dalai Lama. That’s his job. What about the rest of us? Can we live a meaningful life even when our jobs are inconsequential? I believe it’s possible, but it’s tough. A lot of people dedicate themselves to regular jobs so their families can live comfortably. I’m sure all of us would make some sacrifices so our children can have better lives than we do presently. Many people find ways to improve the world through donation, volunteering, and getting involved in their communities. You need to dedicate time outside of work for this and it’s not easy.

Meaningful Life?

What is a meaningful life anyway? This is a slippery subject that is very difficult to summarize. I read up for this post, but the subject is expansive and no one agrees on the definition of ‘meaningful’.  So I’ll just take a stab at it from a personal level. I think a meaningful life means you make a difference; your life is bigger than yourself. You can’t live a meaningful life by just focusing inward.

Surprisingly, researchers have found that a happy life and a meaningful life isn’t the same thing. There are overlaps, but there are distinct differences. Happiness is primarily about satisfying your present wants and needs. People are happy when life is easy and free from difficult or troubling events. Meaning is derived from contributing to others or to society in a bigger way. Life is more meaningful with some struggles and challenges. That’s probably why people from wealthier countries are generally happier than people from poor countries, but the poor tends to find their lives more meaningful. The good news is you can have a meaningful and happy life and early retirement can help you get there.

Here are some ingredients to a meaningful life.

  • Purpose – You need some goals and reasons to pursue those goals.
  • Strong social connection – You need close friends and family to go through this journey together.
  • Belief – You need to believe that you can make a difference.
  • Self – Being true to yourself.

Early retirement

I cringe a little when I hear someone say they’ll retire early to travel. Traveling is a lot of fun, but simply traveling doesn’t lend itself to a meaningful life. It doesn’t seem sustainable to me to just keep traveling. Then again, life is a meandering road, so maybe they can find their real purpose while traveling the world. Retiring to a life of leisure won’t be satisfying because there is no meaning to it.

While early retirement can free you from the tyranny of full time work, you’ll still have to figure out what you are going to do with the rest of your life. You’ll have more time to refocus on what your life’s purpose might be while strengthening your social connections. Life will keep changing and our purpose will, too. Now I’m trying to raise my son to be a good successful man and it’s all encompassing. Blogging is also a great outlet and it is very fulfilling to positively influence some readers along the way. Early retirement enable me to lead a more meaningful life and a happier one. Of course, I’d like to do more to leave the world a better place for the future generations. RB40Jr will only be a kid for so long. I’ll have more time as he grows and I will try to make a difference in other areas, too. The world is a big mess and we all need to help fix it.

Are you leading a happy and meaningful life? How will you improve the lives of those around you?

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{ 49 comments… add one }

  • Our Next Life February 29, 2016, 12:33 am

    Such an important topic! Thank you for taking it on. I’m a huge believer that just trying to do good deeds or find meaning won’t ultimately result in much if those things don’t align to your purpose in life, but they’ll add up to a great deal if they do align to your purpose. We see our purpose as the place where our passions intersect, in our case: adventure, creativity and service. So our goal in retirement is to try to overlap as many of those things as possible. We want to travel a ton, but not in an aimless way, but rather thinking about what artistic inspiration we can draw from it, or if we can help through service projects while we travel. We also plan to volunteer in more substantive ways than just working the soup line or walking shelter dogs — we have tons of skills that will benefit nonprofits, and we’ll provide free or super low cost coaching to our local orgs to help them run efficiently — we see that as a good overlap of service and creativity. It’s always helpful to remind ourselves that we’ll still be *us* in retirement, not magically some new, unknown people, and so the things we like now are probably going to be the things we like after we quit our jobs. Remembering that helps us focus in on the things we think we’ll most enjoy doing, while also reaping maximum fulfillment.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 10:52 am

      That’s great! Aimless travel is a lot of fun, but being more mindful can improve the world. Volunteering is tough if you’re not there for an extended amount of time. Even 2 years isn’t enough time to make positive changes that sticks. I like your plan. Good luck!

  • Sam @ Financial Samurai February 29, 2016, 1:12 am

    As a blogger, there’s a lot of satisfaction due to all the e-mail thank yous and comments. I’m sure you get e-mails thanking you too. I put together a Best Of Financial Samurai book where I’ve donated 100% of the proceeds to charity. It feels great to help people reach THEIR financial freedom! Just can’t help everyone!


    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 10:53 am

      Definitely. I never got any email from the customer thanking me for making the computer faster. Blogging is more personalized and it’s amazing how we are changing lives. The Best of FS is a very admirable project.

  • The Personal Economist February 29, 2016, 1:32 am

    Interesting discussion, I like the concept of looking inward and outward.
    Agree with the long term travel, most people I know who travel a lot (mainly my parents and their friends on defined benefits) always talk about wanting to come home and that there is a natural limit to the time you want to continually travel, although I’d be happy to experience that for myself if I had the funds today 🙂
    A good challenge to find meaning today, as well as in the future, thanks for the post. The

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 10:55 am

      Travel is fun, but only a few people are nomadic. It’s tough to be on the road all the time. We want to take a year RTW trip in about 5 years. It will be a great experience and I’m sure we will homesick in just a few months. Good luck with your endeavor.

  • Ernie Zelinski February 29, 2016, 3:00 am

    Yeah , I am leading a meaningful life. I am about to release the print edition of my inspirational fable “Look Ma, Life’s Easy.” If this book prevents just one person from become a Socialist, my efforts will be well worth it.

    I know from the many phone calls, emails, and letters (some still hand written) that I am making a difference in people’s lives. Below is the content of a letter that I received from a retired couple who doesn’t have a problem with boredom in retirement, and who claim that my books inspired them to live a happy and meaningful retirement life:

    Dear Ernie:
    I am writing to you because my wife said I must.
    You see, we both read your books (The Joy of Not Working and How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free).
    In fact, we put much of your wisdom into practice. We both retired early.
    While we walked the dog one morning, Karen said that with all the new things we have done since retiring that you might like to hear about some of them. Here they are, in no particular order.
    In the first year or so of our freedom:
    * I filed a provisional patent, taking the invention to prototype, and began marketing it.
    * She started a part time job.
    * I started a blog, and built a website.
    * She learned belly dancing.
    * We hiked, bird watched, and photographed eagles, owls, and wildlife too numerous to list, even an albino fawn with her mother.
    * I fly fished Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
    * She joined a book-reading club.
    * We traveled with our dog Jedi throughout the southern USA.
    * She learned to use power tools.
    * I began leather working, and developed two new designs.
    * She began gardening, putting in both vegetables and herbs.
    * We stay up later, sleep in, and take regular naps.
    * I study and play the classical guitar.
    * She started word puzzles to keep her mind sharp.
    * I started a small business delivering health and wellness classes to the public through hospitals, senior living, and community centers.
    * We dropped fifteen pounds (each) of weight attributed to job-related stress eating.
    * We spent a winter in the Florida panhandle.
    * She does yoga.
    * We made new friends in several states.
    * I resumed fly tyin because of much more time on the water.
    * We attended classes and seminars, including the “Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend Workshop” (CREW) at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. By the way, they cite your work at the workshop and recommend your book [How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free].
    * I wrote one novel, and ten short stories, which I will submit for publishing after final editing.
    * She hosted parties, and re-decorated the house.
    * I tried and let go of part time work. You see, I am simply too busy.
    There are probably many more things but I cannot recall them at present.
    Karen and I are thrilled at having time each day for nature walks, bicycle riding, bird watching, and cruising in our classic sports car (we are from Detroit, after all). The time together has strengthened our marriage, too.
    We worried about money initially, but now find we do just fine, even spending less than we did while working. In fact, we noticed work requires a significant outlay, even part-time! I believe working consumes more money than most people understand. Not working, on the other hand, provides untold wealth, health, and happiness.
    Thank you for writing the books you did. They have helped us along our path. Best wishes for health and happiness,

    Jack and Karen Cipriani
    Sterling Heights, MI

    • lisa February 29, 2016, 5:00 am

      How lovely! Thanks for sharing your list.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 10:57 am

      I like your goal. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your reader’s letter. It’s great to see they are being very productive in retirement. They are doing very well with a mixture of happiness and meaningful activities. That’s really great.

  • PhysicianOnFIRE February 29, 2016, 4:31 am

    I find my work to be meaningful, but also stressful, which is one reason I have a plan to retire early.

    I’ve read a hundred times that one needs to retire To something, but I hadn’t thought much about finding purpose in that something. I can think of dozens of ways I might rather spend my time, but I think you’re right in that I should also focus on replacing the sense of purpose I derived from my job. Take away the doctor part and I could be just a bum on the internet / beach / frozen lake / wherever.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 10:59 am

      That’s what I read. Stress makes life more meaningful. It’s tricky to find the right mixture of happiness and meaningfulness. You still have time and I think it will come to you. With your skill set, I’m sure you can make a big difference after early retirement.

  • Pennypincher February 29, 2016, 5:01 am

    Joe, send this blog post off to the New York Times and/or AARP magazine. It’s worthy of another publication picking it up!
    Helping others is key. The satisfaction, and appreciation from the organization(s) is palpable. It’s NOT about us.
    Most workers work so hard and long, it’s challenging to help mankind out most days. Even part-time work, as mentioned above, takes a lot of ones time. Not much of a personal life left outside of the office, for sure.
    People need to stop w/the “I” and “me” in their writings and life, and start w/how can we help?
    And every time my computer is running so smoothly, I’m going to think of you, Joe. Thanks for the Intel inside my computers!
    With gratitude.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:01 am

      Thank you for the compliment. This post was really tough to write. It’s tricky to wrap my mind around it and putting it down on paper. If you focus on yourself too much, life becomes shallow and meaningless. That’s why many wealthy people feel that life isn’t meaningful. Poor people have to struggle more and help each other.

  • Financial Nirvana Mama February 29, 2016, 5:36 am

    I agree that going in to retirement, you should look forward and do fulfilling work. However, this is not always easy to find what matches you. I encourage those still looking (like I still do too) to try it out, try things you want to do to help others…every little step gets you closer to figuring it out. As for myself, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I took a sabbatical but I knew it was the to right choice. I thought day trading was part of the answer. I ended up quitting my job, but during this process, I found day trading meaningless. At the same time, I started a blog, volunteered for a women’s shelter, donated most of the kids Christmas money to charity, went back to dancing, worked out immensely and travelled a bit. This lead to more rethinking of what I really wanted to do. Then I started a consulting business on things that excite me.

    What I’m trying to say is that in the absence of knowing your purpose and being aware where you want to be, take action, take baby steps to see what each step leads too.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:03 am

      That’s where early retirement comes in. You can’t try any new things when you’re working full time. There just isn’t any time to do it. Thank you for giving back to your community. Life is about exploration.

  • Mike Drak February 29, 2016, 5:41 am

    Achieving FI is a game changer and gives a person an opportunity to follow their passion and in my case I receive great satisfaction from helping people. Our new book assists people to create an awesome life for themselves after achieving FI. Traveling or just sitting on a beach is not the answer everyone needs to find a way to contribute to matter that’s what makes life interesting. I’m amazed with what I have accomplished so far after leaving my primary career, I wrote a book having never written before and I’m preparing to do numerous seminars talking about Victory Lap Retirement. I’ve always been terrified about public speaking and I find it interesting that because of FI I have found the courage to attempt things that I used to hide from. The beauty of FI is not that you are able to retire rather it gives you an opportunity after having met all your family responsibilities to swing for the fences and enjoy a great life that you have the ability to create. To become just a spectator would be rather boring and a complete waste in my opinion.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:04 am

      That’s great! Best of luck with the seminars. I’m not very good at public speaking and I really need to improve. FI is a great opportunity to do goods.

  • Linda February 29, 2016, 5:55 am

    After reading this post I don’t think I’m leading a very meaningful life. I live a happy life (with dreams of early retirement), but nothing I do is for the greater good. That will probably have to wait for retirement. That’s when I hope to volunteer at the hospital and humane society.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:06 am

      I never though about the difference between a happy life and a meaningful life before this article. It’s eye opening. You can live a happy, but inconsequential life. You will have to strive to have a meaningful life to make a difference. Early retirement will give you the opportunity to do more. Good luck!

  • Felipe February 29, 2016, 7:28 am

    Excellent post! If early retirement is too much leisure, I see people who start cocktail hour earlier and earlier until eventually they’re pickled all day from boredom.
    My aunt has a mammoth vegetable garden – good exercise, fresh air, and healthier eating. Then she goes fishing at last three days a week. Just from the shore – no expensive boats required. Those things and her church seem to fill her life.
    My mom at 80, on the other hand, still works full time running two university departments. She finds her work meaningful and has told me she’d do it for free. She doesn’t need the money, but keeps at it because she finds meaning and purpose in her work.
    I try to learn from both of them. I haven’t retired yet, mostly because I don’t know what I’d do yet. I’m getting closer…

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:08 am

      It’s great that you mom has meaningful work. That’s what keeps you going. Thanks and good luck!

  • Jim @ Route To Retire February 29, 2016, 7:45 am

    I lead a pretty fulfilling life – I think you already know it’s hard not to when you have a child! But I do agree that you need to do something more meaningful. I have already published a couple technical books and hope to do a kids book once retired, but that only does so much.

    I’m still not sure what retirement will bring, but I if I’m not helping others grow in some aspect, I’ll probably start to feel like something’s missing pretty quickly.

    — Jim

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:10 am

      Kids keep life ridiculously busy. It’s tough sometime, but it’s worth it. Our kid will grow up soon and he’ll need more personal space. I’ll have more time then. For now, I’m just trying to do the best I can for my family and blogging. I’d love to do more when life is a bit less busy.

  • ER2019 February 29, 2016, 8:14 am

    I totally agree with you. I want to retire early because I have something to pursue in my 2nd life. I just don’t want to leave everything behind when I retire and would rather move forward with a better and meaningful life. I really want to travel as many as places possible and want to learn different people and culture. I am also planning to pursue a culinary study for 2 years or possibly longer to achieve my life-time goal. Eventually, I want to invite children at orphanages in the city and serve my food to them. If I can achieve this goal, my future early retirement would mean something.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:11 am

      Thanks for sharing your goal. I don’t know about culinary study. It cost a lot of money and you can learn the same thing by working your way up. It will probably takes longer, though. Good luck!

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes February 29, 2016, 8:25 am

    For me, I was in a similar situation to you Joe. During my working years, the worked I produced didn’t have a lot of meaning.

    Once I reached financial independence that all changed. Suddenly I was ‘working’ for me instead of them. When I left work, that’s when things really started to improve.

  • freebird February 29, 2016, 8:31 am

    I think I can see why “people from wealthier countries are generally happier than people from poor countries, but the poor tend to find their lives are more meaningful.” Wealthy nations have highly specialized production systems where the individuals who participate gain little inkling about how their effort and dedication contributes to the bottom line. By contrast subsistence farmers see every day what nature and their own hands have wrought. This disconnect creates the first-world problem of providing us copious fruit from our high aggregate productivity at the expense of obscuring the reason why we deserve to live so well.

    I guess my view of meaning in life is less demanding than yours– to me if you live in whatever manner you choose that doesn’t diminish anyone else’s pursuit of their own happiness, that’s enough for me. We don’t have to compete to save the world! So a life of leisure or full time travel could be a perfectly legitimate retirement plan, even though I personally wouldn’t enjoy it. Similarly I see nothing wrong with living like a hermit off the grid on your hobby farm, or in the daily rituals of the Dalai Lama’s own subjects:

    At the moment my biggest impact on others is through my work where the decades climbing the learning curve in my area of specialization is now in high demand. The aggregate result of my work is similar to the job you left, namely better computer systems, but I don’t see this as wasted effort because I think advances in this kind of technology make the world a better place for most. Not so much its effect on our production systems (which I admit is more disruptive to people than I like) but rather it’s the opportunity to improve health and reduce isolation.

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:15 am

      The personal connecting is also stronger for poorer people because they help each other. Wealthy people don’t really need help. The personal connection is a big component to the meaningfulness. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a happy life without impacting others. Many people choose to do so. I just think it may not be fulfilling for the long term. Check with me again in 40 years. 🙂

  • smn-dc February 29, 2016, 8:58 am

    Thanks for distinguishing between having a happy life vs. a meaningful life. I think even while living a happy life, one can contribute to the community and live a meaningful life, integrating it into current life-work-play. Don’t wait for tomorrow to make a difference as little as it may be. In my case, my husband and I we both work for int. GO/nonprofits with meaningful missions & personally we travel internationally for happiness splurge, go out to eat and drink and go to see plays, etc. and enjoy city life. But meaningfully we give back by volunteering in our city where we mentoring 2 youths seeing them regularly, and just being good role models to them. We also foster 2 cats, volunteer in the city and give $$ to charities. Maybe we’re able to do all this without waiting since we don’t have kids but even if we did I think we’d still drag the kids to do community work with us. : )

    • retirebyforty February 29, 2016, 11:16 am

      Thank you for making the world a better place. I think mentoring 2 youths is a great way to give back. You see personal growth and it’s very rewarding. That’s great!

  • Tawcan February 29, 2016, 10:19 am

    For me it’d be able to spend more time with my son and to-be-born baby. It’s a shame that I only spend a few hours with my son during weekdays. We wake up, eat breakfast, then I go to work. When I’m home after work we maybe spend about 3 – 4 hours max before he heads to bed. Also being able to help others around me would allow a very meaningful life after early retirement. Things like volunteering and helping other people to achieve FI.

    • retirebyforty March 1, 2016, 10:23 am

      That’s a big reason why I decided to retire early. We didn’t get to spend anytime with my kid when he was little. Good luck on your journey.

  • Gopi February 29, 2016, 1:53 pm

    Great article. I too have been planning on how would I spend my retirement life after having been very busy with corporate life for over 30 years.
    I am planning to build an orphanage for the benefit of poor and neglected children (outside the U.S). This would keep me more than busy as I am planning to do it from scratch using my own savings.
    I think at the end of the day, what matters is what legacy we leave behind not how much wealth we earn and leave for our loved ones. I like Bill Gates’s philosophy to leave behind a small portion for children but spend the rest on something that impacts lives especially those poor and downtrodden.

    • retirebyforty March 1, 2016, 10:25 am

      That’s a great goal! If you can get the word out, maybe you can get some financial support from donation and other NGO. Good luck!

      • Gopi March 1, 2016, 3:06 pm

        Thanks for the encouragement.
        Initially I would like to use my own savings. If it gets too big and if I run out of
        the budgeted amount, I will certainly open it up to like minded souls.

  • nicoleandmaggie February 29, 2016, 5:39 pm

    Hm, this argues I should never retire. My work is pretty meaningful!

    • retirebyforty March 1, 2016, 10:25 am

      Yes, if you work is meaningful, then you should keep working. Maybe cut back a bit if it’s too much work when you’re older.

  • Running Up Freedom February 29, 2016, 7:46 pm

    Really great post! I’m early in my journey to financial freedom, so I still often think about exactly what I will do with my time once I’m no longer tied down with cubicle life. I like the distinction you bring up between a happy and meaningful life. While I certainly want the opportunity to travel in ways that lets me truly see and appreciate new places – without being confined to one week off work, I certainly also want the freedom to have time to volunteer. I have also thought about delaying complete financial independence a few extra years and having an interim period where I work part-time (or maybe even full-time) in a position where I feel like I am making a more meaningful difference. Now that you put it this way, I think it makes sense to strike a balance between using your financial freedom to do things that make you happy and things that are meaningful.

    • retirebyforty March 1, 2016, 10:28 am

      I think working part time in a meaningful job would be perfect. You make some positive changes and your retirement fund gets a little more time to compound. It’s tough to balance happiness and meaningful.

  • Julie and Will March 1, 2016, 8:07 am

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. We have been struggling with this very issue. Because I (Julie) am a teacher, I experience quite a bit of satisfaction from knowing that my (mostly ethnic minority and/or first generation) college students are getting a quality education from me. Thus, it’s hard for me to think about leaving this job behind, even if the pay is not what will allow us to retire. (It’s actually Will’s job in high tech that mostly finances our early retirement goals…)

    In any case, as you suggest, we are trying to think beyond the immediate freedom to be able to travel in early retirement, once we get there. We’d like to know that we are retiring TO something (yes, a meaningful life post retirement) rather than just so that we can tick off a few more countries off our travel list. Thanks for getting us to continue thinking about this.

    • retirebyforty March 1, 2016, 10:30 am

      Thank you for being a teacher. I’m sure you can leverage you skill set into something meaningful after early retirement. Teaching is very valuable that can help a lot of young people.

  • Dave @ Financial Slacker March 1, 2016, 10:14 am

    My role model growing up was my father. And even though he never finished college, he was successful working in computer sales in the early days of large mainframe systems.

    He earned a good salary, but his job was still just that – a means to an end. In addition to his family, his other passion was coaching youth sports. However, being in sales required him to travel extensively, which made spending time with the family and coaching difficult.

    So when my brothers and I were relatively young (middle school age), he decided to leave the corporate world and start a small business. He structured the business to allow himself flexibility. He provides bookkeeping and tax services for other small businesses and individual freelancers. And with technology now, he can generally work when he wants, work where he wants, and essentially control his own schedule (most of the time).

    So even though he isn’t officially retired, he has created a solution that gives him the freedom and flexibility to pursue those things that give him pleasure.

    • retirebyforty March 1, 2016, 10:31 am

      That’s the perfect way to do it. Everyone has to create their own solution. You can’t just work for a corporation anymore.

  • Steve March 2, 2016, 6:21 am

    Nice post, though I guess I am going to make you cringe a little bit because my wife and I are retiring early to travel. 🙂

    To us, travel brings opportunity. We already have a few volunteer opportunities that we are looking forward to – like working at animal rescues, and the ability to move anywhere in the country in order to get involved in a lot of these causes is key to making our post-retirement goals and lifestyle work. I would also like to produce a documentary while we’re on the road to give a voice to a lot of other travelers out there as well. Photography and videography will be large components of our travel, and the *travel* itself is an important element in our purpose post-retirement.

    To us, this is very meaningful – and the term “meaning” is defined in different ways by different people. Though I definitely understand what you are saying, there can be quite a bit of meaning while traveling. If that is what you truly love to do, then I don’t believe it’s any different from any other lifestyle. People attempt to fulfil their life’s purpose in different ways, and if travel is that way, then so be it.

    I just think it’s tough to say that “travel doesn’t lend itself to a meaningful life” because, well, who says? We are all different. It may not lend itself to a meaningful life for you, and that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t meaningful to someone else.

    Different strokes for different folks as they say.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:24 am

      Enjoy your travel! 🙂 Volunteering while you’re traveling sounds great. I’d love to do that sometime. That’s almost impossible when you’re working full time. You need to take time off to relax. I think you’re doing it right. You’re not just traveling around to see the sights. You have other goals too.

  • JasonInVancouver March 2, 2016, 9:57 am

    Just wanted to throw my two bits in on the “retire early to travel” part too.
    We currently travel as much as time off work allows us now which is about 5-6 weeks a year and it’s not enough. For us, how travelling contributes a to meaningful life for us is in the self development and relationship/social connection perspective. We love all the “challenges” of travelling: planning, language/communications, food, getting to point A to B, etc. all of which have become routine in our “regular lives.” And then we can take the learnings and share with others or utilize for future trips or into our regular lives (eg. incorporate into our home cooking new foods and flavours we discover). We also find we are forced to meet more people (locals and other travellers) when travelling than at home where we’re kind of stuck in our routine and it’s easy to just hang out with our circle of friends.

  • Untemplater March 4, 2016, 12:19 am

    I think I live a pretty meaningful life but I’m sure there is plenty more I could be doing too. Giving back and helping others is rewarding and a gift in itself.

  • Phil Minkler March 4, 2016, 7:36 am

    Hah, I find this post as I am wrapping up a “Leading Lives that Matter” class at an online college. I think you hit the nail on the head through your research in coming up with the four components to a “meaningful” life.

    It seems as if we “should” at first focus on what makes us tick, what we enjoy, what we’re good at…and once we’re comfortable with it…shoot it out into the world in a way that is helpful. It takes a lot of optimism to do something like that.

    Take the guy who quit his job and started Nerd Fitness. He focused inward to find what he was very passionate about and found a way to display it for the world in a digestible way. That takes guts…especially if you have no idea what your responses might be.

    No guts, no glory – and a little money won’t hurt.

    • retirebyforty March 4, 2016, 10:32 am

      Yeap, do it while you’re young. It gets a lot more difficult to bring it all together once you have more responsibilities and are set in a track. A lot of people are stuck in jobs they don’t like and they’re paralyzed. Good luck!

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