Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Secret to Retiring at 28

Two things happened this month. I turned 28 and I retired for the first time. Napoleon conquered Italy when he was 28 and Beethoven finished his first symphony around the same age. So I think I might be on the right train here. But where did this journey originate? And how did I find this train? I've been thinking more and more lately about what brought me here.

I was an intelligent but socially awkward kid in high school during the dot com boom. I read, with wide eyes filled with wonder, about the exploits of entrepreneurs, not much older than me at the time, striking millions overnight. It was then, when I first heard the term post-economic.  I thought it was a great concept. Why work as Camus' absurd hero, Sisyphus, when I can break out of the day-to-day cycle of everyman? I could buy a fast car, maybe even an aircraft carrier, or get my own island. And more importantly, the girl I had a crush on at the time, but was too shy to talk to, would fall madly in love with me.

And like that, the seed for the dream was planted.

Reality turned out a little differently. I don't own a car (anymore). I've only visited aircraft carrier museums (twice). I found out I'm not a fan of beaches (so island is out). And that particular girl just recently married a dashing Stanford graduate (and I'm very happy for her). But the one thing I really really wanted, to be post-economic and to shed my shackles, I got.

Looking back, I can't pin-point the exact starting point of this journey. Was it three years ago, when I dropped out of grad school? Or maybe it was ten years ago, when I went to college and was inspired by a friend who had a little taste of the dot com roller coaster. Maybe it went back even further. High school? Junior High? Maybe it was my entire life. Do I believe in destiny? (I do). Is it just dumb luck? (I don't think so).

Even if I don't know when the journey started, I do know a little about what it takes. A lot of hard work, that's a given. I kind of knew that before I went in, but I grossly underestimated how much was really required. But beyond hard work, I had the right partner. I could've worked myself to death and still got nowhere, if it wasn't for my partner, working equally as hard, if not harder, beside me, day in and day out. This has taught me everything I know today about relationships, trust, and my own failings as a human being. And then, there was luck or fate or destiny or whatever you call it. That invisible hand of god or gods that guided us every now and then. In short, I made it here because I wasn't alone, we worked hard, and we avoided enough landmines on the way.

Of course, my life isn't perfect. The past 10 years, as far as love and relationships are concerned, is one big write off. I guess I'm just not very good with people, but I'm changing that. Out of everything I've learned so far, the most important may be how to make dreams come true. As long as I follow my process, I know I can make anything in my life that is imperfect or deficient, better. I may never have the perfect life, but I do live a charmed life.

So now, I'm going to take a little break, hence the retirement. I want to use up a little of that freedom I saved up in my piggy bank and travel to far away places. When I come back, that's when the real fun begins. I've officially crossed over from working because I have to, to working because I want to. It would be a waste, for me and for humanity, if I never get to use my secret formula to change the world.

And someday, I will even share that secret formula.

1 comment:

  1. Not only computer savvy, but quite articulate and introspective, too! And describing your retirement as the "first" one: priceless.

    I like it.