I’m not one of those people who hates their job, but at the same time – my best memories don’t really involve it. Sure, there are accomplishments that I’m proud of, but I wouldn’t say they are great memories. Most of my best memories are from time outside the office. Maybe I’m the crazy one here and people do have great memories from their job. Do you?

If you’re like me, you easily spend 9 or more hours a day between working and commuting. And then after a full day of work, you spend some more time recovering from work – we’ve all only got so much energy after all. That’s a lot of time spent in the name of work.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a life without so much time wrapped up in work?

The good news is that you can! There are some ways to work less (ie. working part time), but I personally like the idea of retiring early.

People might say that retiring early won’t help make memories. They might make arguments that work does contribute to creating great memories through what money earned can provide. They might also say that work is essential to fulfilling oneself and what is the point of creating great memories if you aren’t fulfilled. While there is some truth to these, I think people put a little too much weight in them.

1 – Work provides money to create memories.

You might argue that making money from work enables you to create memories. After all, going out with friends or traveling can cost a good chunk of change, right?

Yes they can, but they don’t have to! I’d argue that you can frequently make really good memories without spending a ton of money. For me, I can think about college – I have a lot of good memories from there even though I didn’t have a ton of money. I can also remember some great trips that didn’t cost very much.

The fact is that you can have an enjoyable time doing a lot of things without spending bunches of money. Can’t think of any? Here’s a link to Google, just do a little search and you’ll find a whole lot of ideas!

2 – Work itself doesn’t create memories, but it does provide purpose.

A major human need is self-actualization and a lot of people reach for this need through work. Rather than delve into what self-actualization really means, maybe what I mean to say is that people want to have a purpose. They want to contribute and show themselves or others that they are doing something important. A lot of people try to accomplish this through working.

I think that you can have a lot of purpose without working all the time. Just because you retire early doesn’t mean that you can’t make great contributions! There are lots of great non-profits who need volunteers, and that can be very fulfilling. You could also have a lot of freedom to work on your own projects or ideas.

When I say retire early – to me that doesn’t mean never working again. It means working only when I want to and/or only on things I want to work on. It means that I can decide to do something without having to take vacation time. Having this freedom sounds great to me because spontaneity can be great for creating memories. Further, creating your own work or supporting a good cause with your time can be quite fulfilling.

You can’t just snap a finger and make this happen though

Truth be told – this isn’t my situation currently. It won’t be my situation next year or even in the next ten years. It is something I am working towards and planning for though. I don’t forgo every bit of pleasure that costs a dime, but I also save a much higher percentage of my income than most people.

There isn’t anything magic about getting to the point where you can retire early. It takes time, saving, and investment. If you save and invest a high percentage of your income, you can reach early retirement.

All of this makes me ask the question – if your best memories don’t need to involve work and you don’t need work for fulfillment, why would you want to work past the age of 60? There is a very good chance that you actually could retire earlier – it just requires some planning and determination.