“The cost of spending your life doing work you hate is too high. Most of us have had a job where we’ve dreaded the start of every work week. I call it the ‘Sunday night dreads’. That’s a dead giveaway you’re in the wrong profession. I guarantee you’re not going to be able to pull it off for another 20 years until you’re planning on retiring.”
An interview with financial journalist and author Jonathan Chevreau.
Isn’t that the dream? Well, it’s totally possible and Jonathan Chevreau will show you how.
CFO of the Financial Independence Hub (that’s Chief Findependence Officer… see what he did there?), he’s a financial journalist and author who’s a big believer that work and play shouldn’t be separate. Work while you play. Play while you work. That’s the tagline for the book he coauthored with Mike Drak, Victory Lap Retirement.
He’s got some fantastic advice for building a life you love, which I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with him about recently.
What’s your mission with the book Victory Lap Retirement, what’s the main message?
“It’s a retirement book about not retiring. We think retirement is sort of a scary goal. It’s a hard sell to get people excited about saving for something that feels so far away. Why should I sacrifice having fun now for some older version of myself in the far future? So we don’t push retirement. Instead, we talk about financial independence, or as we like to call it, Findependence.”
And you’d say financial independence, Findependence, is easier to achieve than traditional retirement?
“Financial independence is a far more accessible goal than retirement. It could happen in your 30s; we’re not talking about waiting until your 60s or 70s to retire. Achieving Findependence means you’re debt free, you’ve paid off your mortgage, and have enough passive sources of income to cover your regular expenses. Then you can work because you want to, not because you have to.
Findependence just makes sense as a survival tactic, it’s equivalent to having a large nest egg. It’s a valid goal at any age and certainly doable. A Victory Lap can happen at any point after you achieve financial independence. It’s ying and yang. Findependence is how you get there and Victory Lap is what you do once you’re there.”
As a society, we’re obsessed with the goal of retirement but it seems like once we get there a lot of people are unhappy. Why do you think this is?
“People think they want to retire but in most cases, they don’t. They may just be exhausted. You can easily mistake retirement with other things, maybe you just need to recharge your batteries. Maybe you need a sabbatical or a very long vacation. Not two weeks but six months. Or maybe you need to go back to school and prepare yourself for a new career. That’s what a Victory Lap can be. And if you’ve got Findependence you can afford to do this.”
What part has the financial industry played in influencing how we think about retirement?
“I think people confuse two-week vacations with retirement. The financial industry has missold retirement through advertising. They’ve oversold the concept. One reason so many people believe they want to retire is because they’ve been exposed to all these ads, you know the ones that show the smiling grey-haired couple on a yacht in the Caribbean. We’re told work is this horrible thing and once you no longer have that job you can sit on a beach with a margarita and life will have meaning. But retirement is not a permanent vacation.
So we need to totally rethink the idea of retirement. It’s not about going from full time work one week to lying on a beach the next, it’s about having the option to spend your time differently at any point in your life.
“Right. It doesn’t mean you want to stop work and do nothing, sleeping in every morning and watching Netflix all afternoon, it means you’re free to pursue something else. It’s asking yourself, “What do I really want to do?” or, “What did I want to do when I was in my 20s?” You can use retirement to pursue new passions or rediscover hobbies you had when you were young.”
For anyone reading who’s feeling tired or stuck in a career they don’t enjoy, what’s your advice?
“The cost of spending your life doing work you hate is too high. Most of us have had a job where we’ve dreaded the start of every work week. I call it the ‘Sunday night dreads’. That’s a dead giveaway you’re in the wrong profession. I guarantee you’re not going to be able to pull it off for another 20 years until you’re planning on retiring. You should take steps now towards Findependence, then maybe go back to school and find work that’s compatible for you. Work that does your soul good. Because it’s not doing your soul any good to work at something you hate.”
Wise words. Look out for the upcoming part two of my interview with Jonathan where we’ll further explore this Victory Lap concept (What does it actually look like? Can I afford it?). In the meantime, you can read more from him on the Financial Independence Hub.