The Need to Define Your Dreams and Goals

I put in an honest days work today. Long day. I don’t want to keep living my life with the idea of “I wish I could retire early and avoid the rat race.” I either need to embrace the rat race or work like a dog to make ER (early retirement) happen.

What would it look like to embrace the rat race? Practice gratitude, dreamline a bit, etc.

And what would ER look like without dream lining? Probably pretty boring and unsatisfying.

In other words, it goes back to the time vs. intentions post: You are either excited about your intentions or you are not. And your intention cannot be “I want to retire early and sit around all day and mope” because that is boring.

And you say “well no, I would not sit around all day and mope if I retired early….I would do….cool stuff. Because I would be retired!”

Well okay hot shot, what is that cool stuff then? What are your dreams? Dreamline and figure it out. Because whether you have the money/time or not is beside the point. Either you are excited about your dreams or you are not. And there is nothing holding you back from your dreams, meaning that if Troy decided that he wanted to take his kids to Bolivia and go Paramotoring over the Andes, then he can do that. Yes, I know he doesn’t have a ton of time or money, but if that is truly his dream, then he could make it happen. Yes, he could.

My problem is the reverse now: I have the resources to make anything happen (within reason). Now Tim says that in order to be truly effective, the goals should NOT be reasonable. So instead of a Miata, I should have dreamlined and outlined a process to get a Maclaran P1.

But my problem is that I already sort of got lucky and scored 200K on a deal. So now I don’t want to risk that on just anything. I could easily go lease a Maclaren P1 or buy a used one, but that would be really stupid financially. I would rather have the security and buying power of the 200K in hand.

Now I know that if someone was listening to this they would say “screw you, pat! You say that having 200K is a problem? Because you feel bad if you spend it on a supercar? How about you go screw yourself?”

And I agree with that, it is ridiculous. But I am stuck in between wanting to somehow make the leap to financial independence, and sitting by idle and simply letting the market do its slow thing with the money. I am not about to go buy a supercar, and I don’t think I am quite willing to risk 30K on a risky investment to exit the workforce sooner. But maybe I am warming up to that idea, that working full time for another 15 years is going to be agony, and the wife and I should try to risk some of our capital in order to exit sooner.

The real questions, therefore, are:

1) Are we fine with working until we are 55? What about until we are 60? Or 50? When do we want to retire, and how adamant are we about hitting that target? In other words, will we be devastated if we have to work till 60 rather than till 55? Do we care? And how much?

2) Dreamline your goals. What do you want? This goes for retirement, yes, but also it should exist right now, today, even with careers in place. What do you want to own, what do you want to learn, and what do you want to be?

You will note that some dreamline goals can be accomplished while working, and others require retirement first.
So, for those goals that require retirement, and in the event that we want to retire sooner rather than later, the question is:

3) How aggressive do we want to be in our investing to reach our retirement goal sooner rather than later? (Risk 30K once? Ask Jim to aggressively invest 30K?)

And perhaps also:

4) Are we willing to track our income and (especially) our expenses so thoroughly that we can be reasonably confident in what our spending will look like going forward?

I, for one, am bad at tracking expenses. Really bad. It would take a monumental effort to change this. But doable.


Keep in mind that there is no reason to retire sooner if we do not have the dreamlining process thoroughly outlined.

In other words, I once believed that early retirement would set me free and fill my days with fun and leisure, when in fact I was just bored during my 3 years off work. In fact I was so bored that I willingly traded all of that leisure in for the stress that I now have at work again. The boredom of retirement is worse than the stress from work.

This is why you have to dreamline. If you don’t have alternatives to work planned out for yourself then there is no need to retire early. At most you need a career change, not early retirement.

It is only if your job is holding you back from doing specific things that you really want to do that you benefit from early retirement.