Charlie Munger. I would have spit-shined his shoes and kissed him on the lips if he asked me to. It was love at first sight.
At 29 years old Charlie was divorced, lost his home, and faced the stigma of being a single man.
At the same time his 8 year old son, Teddy, was diagnosed with cancer. There was no cure. The boy had to die. Without medical insurance, Charlie spent every dollar he had to pay for his son’s medical treatment.
He’d visit him in the hospital and then wander the streets aimlessly, crying. This is enough to break a man.
No one would’ve blamed Charlie if he stepped off a bridge to end the pain.
At age 52 Charlie’s eye had issues. The doctors did surgery and he lost one eye. They told him he’d probably go completely blind.
What blows my mind about Charlie is he went on to have one of the most decorated careers of all time.
He was one of the most inspirational people you’ll ever meet. When he had career success later in life and became a billionaire, he decided NOT to retire. He kept working — even during some of his darkest days.
Charlie knows what most don’t: Retiring is a huge mistake.
To retire is to die.
I retired at 34 (and it pissed people off)
Yep, white boy privilege. That’s what they said.
I worked bloody hard to achieve it and gave my all. I don’t have a rich family or a secret trust fund. That’s why at my lowest I had to get a minimum-wage call center job to pay the bills. No bailouts for Timmy.
That experience forced me to be smarter and acquire new skills. I never wanted to be bankrupt again.
At age 34 early retirement happened. If I’m being honest, part of it was definitely luck. I certainly don’t think the sun shines out of my skinny ass.
When people found out about my retirement they were pissed. I tried to ignore them. I planned on doing not much, moving to a country home in the woods, smoking a corncob pipe, and disappearing. I lived out this fantasy for a few weeks.
But I felt empty inside.
I felt like something was missing. And it was. I went right back to work, not for another employer, but by working for myself.
I needed meaning. I needed creativity. I needed to feel like I was helping other people. I had this strange desire to help people in third-world countries. Over the coming years, I would.
Now I don’t ever want to retire. I want to work until I die like Charlie Munger did at 99 years old.
Rich people realize retiring is a terrible idea
One of my readers, Barbara, is a high-roller.
She’s in her late 60s and spent most of her career working as a senior executive in top Fortune 500 companies. She made enough money to live a luxury lifestyle (and didn’t). She could’ve retired years ago and didn’t.
We had a call recently where she told me about one of those penthouse parties she attended. It was full of older rich people who’d done well for themselves. Some of them had 20+ startup exits. One was a billionaire.
She, too, is obsessed with the topic of retirement. As an experiment, she asked many of them about the idea of retirement. The same answer came up over and over.
Once these rich people bought a mansion or a boat, and felt the rush, they became bored within weeks. Like me, they felt empty.
She said to me “Over 60s shouldn’t retire. No one should retire.”
What we want is meaning, not money. Too many people realize this too late in life. I’m hoping this essay reminds you, and stops you in your tracks.
Don’t die with loads of money and no meaning. You get one life.
People don’t really want to retire early. They just don’t want the life they are living — Desiree Peralta
What to consider doing instead of retiring
Let’s get to solution mode. Here are some options.
1. Start an unsexy business
Many people who retire early do so from starting a business. And some of us who retire can because of a 9–5 career.
If you’ve run your own business then consider starting another business. If you’ve never run a business then do so instead of retiring. It’s a thrill, a buzz. A business is a mission.
The best businesses are more focused on solving problems with a sense of meaning, than they are stacking cash to look flash.
2. Mentor those young, entitled little smartasses
The younger generations cop a bit of heat.
We love our phones too much. We watch TikTok a lot, and we’re not always great at listening. Instead of retiring you can mentor the younger generation behind you.
I’m doing a bit of this now. I’m working with some young gun 20-somethings. I thought I was mentoring them, but actually, they’re mentoring me more and don’t realize.
I learn more from 20 year olds than I did from my old bank bosses who thought they knew everything and refused to learn about crypto and AI.
Feel the rush. Mentor.
3. Become a clickbait do-gooder
I’m a sucker for kindness. I just love it.
People often tell me it’s clickbait. They say I’m a do-gooder. It is what it is. I think charity work and helping those who have nothing is empowering. The time I spent helping the homeless is one of the best times of my life.
Life long friends.
Yesterday I bumped into a homeless man I helped at the shelter years ago. He remembered me. He met my 1 year old daughter. And he’s come a long way with his addictions. I got chills down my spine.
This is living. This is meaning.
You don’t retire on money, you retire on memories — Bill Perkins
Bringing it all together
The thrill of rest in retirement is only good if it’s contrasted with work.
The secret to retirement is to go right back to work and chase meaning more than you chase money. Eliminating work from your life is the worst decision in history. Don’t do it, it’s a trap.