I heard about someone last week who was retiring 6 months early by cashing in his unused vacation days.
You might be thinking, “Good for him. He earned it. He gets 180 more days to play golf, go fishing, or volunteer at the soup kitchen.”
I actually say BAD for him. Here’s why:
He missed out on six months of time off (spread over several years) he could have used to refresh and rejuvenate himself during his career. He missed out on the chance to approach his work with a clear head and fresh energy on a regular basis. He missed out on his chance to perform and contribute at the absolute highest levels. All so he could finish work faster.
I guarantee he burned out, especially at the end, when he could have been burning his brightest light ever.
Now, maybe this guy was a top-performer and I’m being completely unfair. But…
Plus, there’s a difference between simply being a top performer and being a rockstar. Rockstars seek health, happiness, and high performance. They know that the only way to achieve all three is to take great care of themselves mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. You can certainly be a top performer without doing this, but it takes so much more effort…and it very likely makes you want to retire early.
That’s why I think saving your vacation days for retirement is a really bad idea.
To perform at your absolute best, you need quality rest. You need rejuvenation. You need time off work NOW and FREQUENTLY, not all piled up at the end of your career.
If you think I’m talking to people who are later in their careers, you’re mistaken. I’m talking to YOU. I know people of every age who are workaholics, taking absolutely no time for themselves, their families, or their own health & wellbeing. These people think it’s going to pay off in the long run (workaholism never does, FYI). I also know many who are just punching the clock, already fantasizing about the day they no longer “have” to work.
Please, please, please don’t just “put in your time” until you retire. And don’t kill yourself now thinking you can make it up some other time. If you think life is short, retirement is even shorter.
Life is happening now, not later. And when it is time to retire, wouldn’t you like your biggest accomplishment to be that you performed as an absolute rockstar throughout your entire career? Or would you rather boast about how you beat the system and retired early?
P.S. If you keep your life in order and use your time off well, you don’t have to wait until you retire to enjoy life outside of work. But that’s a discussion for another article…
Did I make you think today? As always, I welcome your comments.