The year is nearly done and I will post a different entry about goal setting for the new year, but I wanted to focus on the WHY you do anything. Let’s re-center on what’s important to keep things in perspective. We’ve spent our whole lives being young, and at the risk of sounding morbid, there is a certain finite amount of time for you to spend on this earth doing the things you want to do and being with the people you want to be with. I do not say this to scare anyone, but if anything I want to emphasize the urgency of defining your “WHY.”
The youngest of us are 28 years old out of dental school, and most of us will die at age 80 (US average male life expectancy). We have already lived at least 35% of our lives. Let that sink in. Over one third of your life has already passed. Many of us joined dentistry later in life and have an even shorter amount of time left. We do not have a limitless runway ahead of us, and ignorance of that fact does not protect us. Life is too valuable not plan ahead to retire early regardless of your personal background. The average dentist will retire at age 70, which is only 10 years away from the average life expectancy of a US male (80 years old). Imagine working for 42 years just to have 10 years of retirement before passing away (that’s a measly 12.5% of your life in retirement). Why not retire early at age 45 and spend 44% of your life doing what you want to do when you want to do it? Worded another way, retiring at 45 is basically like 4 lifetimes of retirement. Who wouldn’t want that!? FIRE can help save LITERAL DECADES of your life that would have been otherwise spent working a job away from people you want to spend time with and hobbies you want to enjoy.
So what is the cost? There is no “get rich quick” solution (run if someone tries to pitch one to you). Step one is financial discipline with savings rate. Sounds boring, but be sure to check out my previous post on savings rate if this is a new concept. For 2021 try to track and improve your savings rate no matter what your start point is (I personally went from 10% to 60% over the past 4 years.) Many people are steeped in the traditional way to doing life, but I hope you won’t be an average person with a low savings rate working until age 70 then dying at 80.
Again, many of us may want to do dentistry longer than we need to, but that is where the CHOICE to retire comes in. No matter how much you enjoy working, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it more if you didn’t HAVE to work. Freedom and control of one’s time is the fundamental principle of FIRE. To me, FIRE is the closest thing to buying a longer life – the only cost is a little upfront education and dedication, but the ROI is unbeatable because not even the richest men can buy more time.