Most people think that retirement is about sitting at home and no longer need to be productive. Some people also think that retirement is equal to financial freedom. The earlier you achieve that, the sooner you can retire. There are also some people who think retirement is mandatory only when you reach the retirement age.

But in this article, I am trying to convince you that you don’t need to wait 30 years to retire. Change your mindset. You can in fact retire now if you want to.

You can retire now if you want to

It is not the usual and believed way to save a lot, wait a long time, and then spend on the nest egg carefully. You don’t really need to have a very big nest egg to retire. Imagine what you can do differently if you are going to retire now? Right now.

Foresee what you will be doing when retired

You can actually plan to retire much earlier if you can foresee what you will be doing during retirement. I believe that at one point in your life, you must have heard about the story about a fisherman.

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!

“You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.

“Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!”

Picture what you would be doing when you no longer worry about money. Why not start doing that now? You don’t need to have a million dollar in the bank to start fishing.

Have an annual sabbatical or mini retirement

The story of the fisherman is quite an extreme example. Most of you would like to have a comfort life – at least a decent car, house and some pocket money for all fine dining. So here is another route you can take.

If you break down your retirement goal into yearly goal, the big goal becomes much more achievable. Let’s say your original plan is to work hard for 30 years, then retire for another 30 years. Is it possible to break the retirement period into years or months?

Can you work for 10 months a year and then have a mini-retirement for two months? Some say their current job doesn’t allow that. Then why not find a job that enables that to happen?

If you can have a few months off every year, in order to do what you love and enjoy, that’s call retirement in my dictionary.

The world is such a wonderful place. You can move to a place you like, stay there for a month, and complete a project before you come back. You can mix things around. Work is travel. Project completion is experience earned. You just do it all at once – work, travel, retire, enjoy life, making money etc.

That is definitely possible. Just think about it, really deep.


Personal finance author and trainer

    39 replies to "Why not you Retire Now?"

    • S B Lim

      Well I have not been under permanent employment throughout my life, I chose freedom n I developed jobs that is on case to case basis; all part time jobs. So when clients asked me, I just give them a full list of my part time jobs.

      From auctioning properties, to real estate negotiator, to flipping properties, to manage my own investment portfolio, to trading antiques n collectibles, to trading jewellery, gold items, to trading in stocks and latest to my collection is that I am able to sell unit trusts, just pass my FIMM test.

      During free time, I will go to gym, swimming, will take up photography soon. Still I have plenty of time to kill and I develop my religious faith.

      I am pushing myself to limit so that I don’t lay back too much and started to be lazy.

    • chan

      Hi KC
      Great writing.
      A nicely written article.


    • nic

      I like the story of the fisherman. Thank you for the retirement knowledge

    • Grimx Stone

      Interesting article. My friend work as rotator with 28 days working onsite and 28 days off. In a year he basically works only for 6 months and gets paid on his 6 months day off.

      Would you call that retirement too?

    • JP

      I retired and financial freedom at the age of 39. started work at age 26 but my financial planning triggered at the age of 21. my experience told me in order for a people to retire financially sound, the financial goal must be clear and must put into execution. achieved financial freedom is not mean a person must earn a lot. It depends on the lifestyle that we want to choose. money not enough shouldn’t be a issue if we spend within our budget or affordability. if we are not afford to own a 500K house, why not just start with a rm250K house or rent instead of buy? close friend keep saying hard to buy 250k house in klang valley? frankly speaking I own a unit at sunway area just cost me 250K last year, I bought it for rental income purpose. Why so cheap? it is because the community environment is not condusive and local dislike to buy for own stay. but don’t forget, back to the financial affordability issue, if your financial status only afford at this range, you have no choice! own it first and move later after your financial status is being upgraded (good increment, promoted, saving…..). Or rather you just keep waiting and do nothing to dream your dream house?!

      • KCLau

        well said! great sharing JP.

    • syahmie

      seriously what kind of job that allow us to take mini retirement, based on our local environment? I’m thinking about the contractual job, but others here might have different opinion..thanks

    • Evanna

      Both the Mexican & American are right… It all depends what you want to achieve in life. Big achievements & success in career & business requires big sacrifices of personal time & family time. I prefer doing the Mexican way, not because we dream small, it is because we appreciate LIFE & TRUE Happiness 🙂

      • KCLau

        Yeap … we all have limited time. It is what we do with it that counts 🙂

    • […] He really preaches what he wrote here on taking mini retirements every now and then – Why Not You Retire Now? […]

    • Wong

      I read almost the same story but in Chinese version. There is actually a last sentence that the village boy told the business man. ” Can’t you see I am enjoying my life now like what you said ?” The morale of the story is be contended of what you are having now. I am not a pessimistic person…..but just to share what i know… Cheers !

    • PC Chen

      Dear KC,

      This story links me now to early retirement. Last 4 years when my dept. manager was not given the three months period confirmation and asked to leave, I (Officer) took over the daily operational duties to make sure the company runs well. After 4 years until 2010, I either get very little increment or did not get any increment in my payroll. I still work on. This year 2011, I have a take home pay cut recently during the yearly increment in April. I have to send in my resignation letter due to demoralization. I achieve the 6% yearly profit target goal and yet not appreciated. Get myself upgraded to graduate to Bsc and what do I get out of my working life. 24 years working for this company and left with two(2) years to really retire. So you see when you are old, company push you to one side and think you are hopeless. The managers only think for themselves by sitting in the room and reading new papers. This is what I categorize as “selfishness”. I read your article right on time to decide retirement happily.

      • KCLau

        There are people who retire but feel lost. So planning ahead will get you prepared looking forward to it.

    • Gerald

      KC, good article. The sabbatical/mini retirement is something that we all must do. Work hard for 10 months and have a good time for 2 months doing what you like with family and loved ones.

    • seekin

      I am a doctor practising in a solo GP clinic.I work long hours during the working days but close the clinic for up to 26 days in a single stretch when I visit my relatives overseas. I have done it 4 times in the last 12 years and have also taken entire week off every year to go fishing.
      Now I know what I am doing is called mini retirements.
      I have seen too many premature deaths and cannot wait until retirement to do the things I like and hence taken my retirement in installments in advance.
      So instead of working another 15 years before “retiring”, I have decided to work for 10 months per year for 17-18 years before ” retiring”.

    • sayeed

      Wow..inspiring..taking whole 2003 off on unpaid leave to holiday. I wish i can take the whole of 2012 off and travel the world….hee hee heee…..prefer to be the Mexican rather than the American…
      I plan a lot on finances, budgets, work around my free time to look at better income options as well as reducing expenses..or finding ways to make best decisions on finances….did I achieve it?
      Well…small part of it! Nearing retirement? Far from it!!
      I don’t find the MAGIC pill….i believe there ain’t any!?!
      ps: my defination of retirement = financially free and work on stuff that I love doing… passion : training!!…even if it is for FREE!!

    • Ahmad Yani Ismail

      Great and very usefull tips. Glad I read your site. Sure, I’ll be your loyal fan.

    • Woon Lip Fuey

      What a nice story…And I just share out in my FB, thanks for that..
      Few years ago I was struggling of become a “fisherman” or that “American”.
      I met a friend, he was not rich, but he tasted each part of his life.
      He said he had driven lamborgini before, he took helicopter, travel to others country, serve as a driver for sultan(i don’t know whether is he blowing, but this isn’t important.), and many many else fantastic experience.
      And what he want try to tell me is why you want to own? Do so much, sacrifice, suffer to own? Do what you want to do, and try everything, taste everything, but not pay all of your life for money, richness.
      I had a well-respective teacher who resigned as a secondary school math teacher while I graduate, he share his point of his life view with me, that moment I was doing Amway and try to pursue him to join me as well.
      He know I was suffer to running a job without basic, but to get more income.
      So he share with me his point of view that, he asked me what is my dream.
      And I told so, he told me if he were me, he will plan out the budget, and start working, save up the budget, and begin the dream.
      By the way, I choose to become that “American” in the end, this story really a tasteful that make me think of my two meaningful friend..Thanks KC

      • KCLau

        @ Woon Lip Fuey,

        Nice to hear your story. Yesterday I was having breakfast with a friend.
        I got to know that he took a whole year unpaid leave to stay in Japan in 2003.
        Those kind of story is really inspiring and make us rethink what we want to do with our limited time on Earth.

    • Ian Kree

      I received an email of similar story. This story makes sense. It asks us what actually we want in our life. Many millionaires don’t live the life that they want – too many commitments; too busy; can’t trust their workers, vendors & business partners; & so on. But many ordinary people are living in the life that they want – spend more time with their family members, relatives & friends, who will cry at their death beds. Thank you for sharing this story.

      *MBA in academic & career – but not a master in life.

    • kampunginvestor

      Bro, too young to retire now but mini retirement sounds great to me. We should travel or do some spending after working hard for the whole year. But working for people, it is not possible to have 2 months off. 2 weeks is possible.! ^^

    • wm

      Have your own dream job, where work doesn’t feel like working (but the money is good to pay the bills)..then this is bliss

    • B@L@

      from the story above, its shows that maxican don’t have any vision towards to life except the basic stuff but the american shows interest to create better opportunity and enterprise. furthermore its also help million of people when there is opportunity & enterprises. I think the maxican not reading enough books :-). no wonder americas control the world economy. 🙂 rule of thumb “think ahead”

      • Animm

        I think that’s quite a strong statement you made there. Could be true that the american had vision to create more oportunities and enterprise, but at the end of the day, the goal for both of them is the same i.e. to live in a tiny village, sleep late, play with children, etc. The only difference, the american would take years to be able to do that, but the mexican is already doing it now… So i think each approach has their own pros and cons.

        • B@L@

          Animm, i am agree on that :-).

    • Ravi

      Nice thought and I like it. However for some of us the thought of going into mini-retirement which sound nice is not practical. The corporate world out there is filled with middle-aged managers (mandors and they are getting younger) who treat their workers like some sort of a resource they can control and summon anytime to be used in full to achieve their aims. They mostly do not belief in work-life balance and do not have empathy towards the idea of mini-retirement for their elder employees. Seldom do they consider what their employees want and search for a win-win sitiuation.

      The only way out is for the employee to consider himself/herself self-employed from day one and start making decisions to help go into mini-retirement ASAP. One way is to brand yourself in some key skill needed by organizations and sell it to them at a premium during your mini-retirement.

    • Saravanan

      There’s actually another line to that story

      The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”

      • Bala

        If this is what everyone going to think and act…the god should create us as animal, insect, birds or things that have less then 6 senses. what do you think?
        Fisherman : just concern about his family
        American : Think about everyone, don’t you notice that 🙂 opportunity.
        Correct me if i am wrong.

      • Patrick Ling

        Yes and I thought that should be the punchline!

    • dreamer

      Sounds good! We control our own lives! 🙂

    • klee

      The 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss gives very specific and detail guidelines on the New Rich i.e. mini retirements, etc…

      • KCLau

        That is a very inspiring book

      • Joe

        Hi, can you please give me more info on how to Tim’s New Rich? What is the URL address? Thanks. Joe

        • klee

          Hi Joe

          Check out this link
          or buy the book from bookshops.

        • Animm

          Hi joe, you can also try to google the book in ebook format. You should be able to get it cheaper this way. I’d say the price is very tiny compared to what you can get from the book itself 🙂

    • Frank Yap

      Great Article….I have thought about that before…age for retirement is what you think it should be. Human needs is hard to be satisfied…when you have something, you want more, just like someone have the latest iphone4, you want it too…we never have enough if you are normal human….I agree with the Mexican, if you mindset is to live simply, you can retire at any age! But one thing to consider is you must factor in your health factor and have enough fund to support your growing medical cost…Hence, be healthy and eat healthily is the criteria. If you are interested to be healthy, ask me how.

      • ching

        how to be healthy and happy??

      • Angeline Low

        Please I want to know how to be healthy & happy too. Thks.

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