Roughly speaking, the average human being will live approximately 80 years in most developed countries.
At a fundamental level, you can divide up those 80 years into three (3) primary phases of life*:
- Preparation Phase / Years 0-20
- Working Phase / Years 20-70
- Retirement Phase / Years 70-80
* I realize that this is a generalization, there are of course plenty of exceptions
Let’s examine each of these phases briefly…
Excluding childhood, and the fun that comes along with it (hopefully), this is the phase in people’s lives where they begin to prepare for adulthood. This may include going to college, picking up a vocation, and/or learning some other skill to prepare them for the future.
Generally, this phase does not involve making any money and often consists of accumulating some (student Loan) debt. Most people will spend approximately 20 years in this phase.
This is typically the most prolonged phase in most people’s lives. It generally involves dedicating one’s life to a career (or multiple careers), working odd jobs, building a business, applying a trade, and so on. For most people, this will be an all-consuming period in their life, where they are constantly battling the forces of work commitments and personal ones, with work commitments often taking precedence.
It’s also generally a period of more debt accumulation, family responsibilities, and lifestyle inflation. Most people will spend approximately 50 years of their life in this phase.
This is the final phase that many look forward to, or at least that’s what they tell themselves during the working period. Unfortunately, many people get to this phase in poor shape, both financially, physically, and/or mentally. Those that were wise enough, or had the means, to have saved money for a comfortable retirement will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, albeit for a relatively short period. Most others will find retirement to be well below their expectations, and certainly not stress-free.
The retirement phase will generally last ten years, the quality of which will be greatly dependent on past decisions and choices.
If the above phases are sounding a bit grim, that’s because they are. At least to me. This general philosophy of trading 50 high-quality years for ten low-quality ones seems like a bad deal, certainly for the individual sacrificing their prime years. Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating for a poor work ethic or arguing against the concept of hard work. I’m merely pointing out that this 5:1 ratio of sacrificing five prime years to earn one low-quality retirement year, is a weak proposition.
I propose introducing a new phase in life, and I choose to call it the Freedom Phase. This phase squeezes in between the working and retirement phases. It can last as long as one desires, or as long as is practically possible given someone’s circumstances.
The philosophy and inspiration behind Max Your Freedom are that we should all aim to maximize the length of time spent in this phase of life.
This phase in life can mean different things to different people. It can mean early retirement during your prime years. It can mean working on your terms. It can mean volunteering full time or part-time. It can mean traveling full time or part-time. At its essence, it means you get to choose how your time is spent, with no external factors influencing your decisions. The concept is quite simple. However, the execution can be a bit more demanding.
We effectively want to convert a portion of those 50 traditional working years, into freedom years. We also want to maximize the number of freedom years while striking the right balance between effort and reward.
I am personally targeting 25 freedom years. This would end up giving me a healthy ratio of 1:1 on average. Overall, I’m willing to invest one average year in the hamster wheel for a year of real freedom. This gives me roughly five years to make the transition. Thankfully I’m at a point in my career where each additional year invested yields >1 freedom years, so the next five years will accelerate the transition.
To achieve this target, I’ve put my expenses through an in-depth analysis and dialed-in my lifestyle. I also eliminated all of my debt (including mortgage, and student loans), to start freeing up some cash for both investing and enjoying life along the way. I’m now hyper-focused on accumulating as many Freedom Years as possible!
You can call me Max…I’m a Gen-X executive planning to retire from the corporate grind by the age of 45. Although I’m already financially independent, I haven’t yet reached true financial freedom. Join me on my journey as we discuss everything from personal finance to travel and beyond.