Hovering Over Toilets: Powerful Reason to Retire Early

Sometimes, the most unexpected places can trigger life-altering revelations. In my case, it happened in a small Peruvian town at the foot of the majestic Andes mountains, while I was hovering over a public toilet. Yep, you read that right – hovering over a toilet inspired me to quit my job and retire early.

Doing the Math

A rather simple math problem popped into my head. I thought of the numerous mountains I yearned to hike, divided by my allotted vacation days. Additionally, I considered the toll my aging knees would endure from hiking and bathroom acrobatics in far-flung locations.

The reality dawned upon me that, even if I miraculously never got sick and never visited my family during holidays, I would still only manage, at most, two substantial trips each year. Considering my ever-growing list of dream hikes, scattered across the globe, this projected a disheartening 15 to 20 year timeline.

Already in my late 30’s, the effects of aging had already begun to manifest in my knees. The disparity between my current physical condition and that of my younger self, just five years earlier, was evident. It prompted me to contemplate what my body would be like at the ripe age of 67 – the full Social Security retirement age. Furthermore, I pondered the toll that spending 35 years confined to a cubicle would exact on my overall fitness level.

The math was soul crushing to me. The numerator, the denominator….something had to change!

Other Factors

There were other factors, as well. Flying half way across the world and back, just for a week or two, multiple times a year, sounded horrible. My natural inclination towards efficiency and dislike for long air plane rides rebelled against it.

Why, for instance, should I travel from the U.S. to Switzerland, then back to the U.S., only to journey to Nepal a few months later? It seemed ludicrous. Instead, I dreamt of a slow travel approach – a many months long, manageable journey of short distances between the many stops.

I wanted to immerse myself in remarkable places for a more extended period. I wanted to see how people live, not run from tourist spot to tourist spot. There just isn’t enough time to get to know a place, a people, in a week. And in my travels so far, many of the coolest places involved hover-inducing bathroom situations.

I knew in my heart, slow traveling the world, exploring the outdoors and far-flung places was what I wanted most in this life. I was stuck struggling between a cubicle and a dream!

Facing Reality

The harsh truth is that “hovering over toilets” can only be endured for a limited phase of our lives. Unfortunately, this phase often coincides with our ‘prime’ earning years. We need physical shelter, food…we cannot live on our dreams. I did not go home and immediately quit my job.

Much like bushwhacking through a trail-less wilderness, I embarked on my journey toward early retirement without a clear road map, uncertain of what to do or where it would lead. Luckily, because of the people who have gone before me, I had examples to follow and inspire me.

It took me about 5 years of extreme savings, increasing income, investing, and getting creative. But in 2023, I quit my cubicle job and started a life of slow travel. To get here required sacrifices. I didn’t sacrifice everything, though. Even while saving, I never stopped taking on my cherished 2 trips per year.

The math is looking much better! I’m no longer limited to vacation days. The number of places I want to go keeps going up, though. Now its just a matter of how long I’m still able to hover!

Have You Had a ‘Toilet’ Moment?

The good news is that there exists a multitude of solutions for those who’ve experienced their own ‘toilet’ inspiration moment. No doubt, you have to figure out how to fund it, but there’s a whole world of opportunity out there.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The path you choose will depend on your individual circumstances, goals, and resources. It may involve a combination of these options, or you may even discover new paths not mentioned here.

The key is to recognize that change is possible and that there’s a world of opportunities waiting for those who are willing to take that first step. Your ‘toilet’ inspiration moment can lead to a fulfilling and exciting journey towards a life that you truly desire. Don’t wait until you see a clear path, just take a single step!

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