OK, so the title is slightly misleading. Unless you have large amounts of inherited wealth or win the lottery, you won’t be able to sit back and do nothing at all from age 30.
But honestly, would you really want to do absolutely nothing at all?
Instead, this article is about doing the things you love. It is definitely possible to avoid having to work for someone else and to avoid doing work you dislike. You can regain control over your life trajectory and do something you genuinely enjoy that just happens to earn you money. For as Seneca says in Letter 16 to Lucilius, when he quotes Epicurus:
“If you live according to nature, you will never be poor; if you live according to opinion, you will never be rich”
- Figure out your passion and monetise it – everyone enjoys doing something. Identify what that is for you, and then work out what the core skills involved in that passion. For instance, if you love partying, what is it about partying that you love? Is it chatting to your friends, is it dancing, is it finding new and exciting places to visit? Each of those aspects has a skill set behind it that can be channeled into an income-generating project. For instance, enjoying chatting your friends involves communication skills, building rapport, and engaging an audience. Those are ideal skills for working with the general public and convincing them to buy a product or to work with you on a project. Dancing involves physical exercise and a sense of rhythm… perfect for someone who teaches aerobics or coaches a dance class of their own. Finding new and exciting places to party involves researching, planning and maybe even scouting out ahead of time. These are skills that could make you a great event organiser. You get the idea. Don’t think of retirement as doing nothing. That would be boring. Retirement is all about doing the things you love and not doing the things you hate. The things you love can earn you money. Think laterally.
- Start planning early – most people lack motivation. They fantasise about leaving their job and doing what they love, but never get round to doing it. They will procrastinate indefinitely, and then realise they’re 50 and still stuck in a rut. Actively identify your goals and plan ahead. Check your progress regularly and refine your plans as you go along.
- Save aggressively – you’re going to need a cash buffer. Setting up new revenue streams is rarely trouble-free and things often take a year or more to grow, especially if you let them grow organically. The more cash you can stockpile, the easier it will be to take the plunge. Work out how much cash you feel you need in order to leave the job you dislike.
- Look for maximum cost-efficiency in everything you do – don’t waste money on extravagances that don’t actually contribute to your long-term happiness, but equally, don’t be afraid to spend money on things someone else can do better and more efficiently than you. This is all about maximising your efficiency and maintaining what economists would call a relative competitive advantage. Spending time on tasks that you’re bad at carries with it an opportunity cost; while you’re wasting time, you will not be doing things you’re better at (which will generate more cash than you save doing the original task yourself). Worse, you will feel too exhausted to do the things you’re good at afterwards
- Don’t wait too long – once you have a family, and especially once you have children, it’s hard to convince yourself to take a chance. After all, it’s not just your own life at stake, it’s your dependents too. So make your move while you can.
By the way, I didn’t manage to get out of the rat-race at 30. I was a late bloomer; it took me until 32.