A couple of weeks ago, a reader asked the following question in response to one of my posts:
It sounds like you are comfortably in the “Esteem” phase according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (maybe you disagree?), do you think that you will ever want to get all the way to the top? I have given this topic a lot of thought lately. For example, you are obviously a very productive member of society and I for one really appreciate the fact that you bring an income to Canada and pay taxes. Do you think you will ever [feel] this way about your contribution to society? Further, do you think that you have not achieved your potential? Finally, do you think that you are/will ever become a “drain” on society?
I have put some thought into this over the last little while and thought it would be appropriate to create a blog post as a response, as it seemed in-line with some of the topics that are discussed here. There were several questions asked, but I’ll focus on the one that I found most interesting, and the one I thought about the most – “Do you think that you have not achieved your potential?….Do you think you are/will ever become a “drain” on society?”
Like most people, I really don’t know what my potential is. If my life potential has everything to do with my career and income I can bring in – then I am definitely not achieving that. I care about my job and the work I do to a certain point, but when I leave the office at the end of the day, I’m done – I have no interest in working long hours or attempting to strategically climb the corporate ladder. I can do the best job I am capable of in my current and future jobs, but beyond that, I’m not going to “push” myself in the workplace.
The second part of the question, whether I think I am or will become a “drain” on society, is a little more ambiguous. From a social point of view, my wife and I, by choosing to not have children, have, to a certain extent dropped out of society. Once we’re gone (in hopefully 50+ years), there will (from a genetic point of view) be no record of us left. Couple this lifestyle decision, to the fact that we haven’t really bought into the whole “work until you drop” mentality that resonates in North American culture and you could say that we don’t have a lot in common with the vast majority of people we come across.
My overall goal with my Early Retirement plan is to be able to learn and carry out exactly what I would like to do in a day, without having to trade a good chunk of my waking and productive hours to making money to feed and house myself. My intention is to have enough money that I will not become a drain, financially or otherwise to society. I will have paid a substantial amount in taxes by the time I retire and will hopefully not require any assistance from the government/society to support me as I age.
So, that was kind of my long winded answer. I guess a simple TLDR answer would be I’m not sure what is entailed in reaching my potential, and no, I don’t think I am or ever will be a drain on society.
For anyone else out there, do you feel you will end up being a drain? What would happen if everyone carried out an Early Retirement plan?