Being smart about how you build your 401K is always a good idea.
Not only are there the obvious long-term benefits of being financially secure even after you retire, but there are also lots of great short-term benefits of putting away a little extra into this important savings account every year.
But setting yourself up for success after retirement doesn’t always mean you have to give up everything you want right now either.
In fact, millions of people around the world are discovering this liberating truth: you can live the retired lifestyle (at least in-part) long before you ever retire.
Who are these people? They’re entrepreneurs. More specifically, they’re bootstrapping entrepreneurs who realize that work is a side-attraction to their daily life—not the other way around.
I happen to be one of them. I choose my own schedule every day. When my son wants to play catch in the backyard, I stop working early—a decision I have never once regretted.
Every morning, I eat breakfast with my family and then go for a nice long jog before working in the yard, showering, studying some French, and getting ready for the day.
I don’t rush into work at 8:00 am to impress my boss. I start my work day around 10:00 am, I take a long lunch and I’m usually done at 5:00pm or before.
I’ve made friends with all the retired people in my neighborhood because we all share similar schedules.
Because I’m extremely focused during the day, I make way more money being self-employed than I ever made with a salary working for someone else—and the future is extremely bright.
You can have a more intentional lifestyle where your passions, ambitions, and personal growth take center-stage (instead of the 50-slide presentation your boss needs done before you go home today).
Here are a few ways to get started yourself:
1. Bring in revenue that doesn’t depend on your day job.
There is nothing more freeing than making money on the side of your day job.
Why? Because it moves the scales of power and decision in your favor—even if just by a little bit.
Imagine if you were making even just an extra thousand dollars every month from a side-business.
You could put away more for retirement. You could take more vacations. You could buy that new motorcycle you’ve had your eye one, yes. All of those are possibilities.
But more importantly, you’ll find you suddenly have leverage—a safety net. Which means you can ask for more at work. Ask for a raise. Ask to work from home 2 days of the week. Ask for that exciting project you really want to tackle. Or ask to go golfing with that new client you just won.
More leverage is the quickest path to changing your lifestyle.
When your boss knows they’re not your sole source of income it changes things. Ultimately, the better you get at building a side-business, the more positive changes will come your way.
2. Start building an asset that will bring passive cash.
In addition to bringing in side-revenue, you should try to build assets that don’t require you to put in a standard workday’s hours in order to collect a paycheck.
In my case, I have spent the last 10+ years learning how to start a blog and make money from it. Today, that asset brings me a substantial amount of income.
For others, building some sort of side-hustle or software-as-a-service business is the best path. Maybe writing a book or creating a course around what you do best could be a nice asset that can work for you as you continue to save for retirement.
Whatever it is, it should (eventually) function without you. Building a business that relies on you in order to run each day is simply just another job.
If you’re worried you’re too far along in life to start building a valuable asset from scratch, remember this adage: the best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago—but the second-best time is today.
3. Set your priorities in order and be willing to sacrifice.
If you truly want to start enjoying a lifestyle that feels a bit more “retired” than your current one does, you’re going to have to adjust your priorities.
Too many people are focused on getting to the next rung on their career ladder, boosting their paycheck by 15%, getting a corner office, or getting their startup acquired.
None of those things lead to living a more free lifestyle—at least not before you’re 65.
That’s not to say you can’t make loads of money along the way (plenty of people manage to make lots of money and still maintain a beautifully flexible lifestyle).
But if your entire focus is to work hard until your 65 when you’ll finally start living, then that’s probably what you’re going to do.
Instead, do well at your day job, but do your best (I know it’s not always easy) to leave work at the office and focus on your side-business, family, and life outside of normal work hours.
Instead of having to have the biggest house and the newest car, find joy in free time, travel, loved ones, hobbies, and other fulfilling activities.
There’s so much more to life than work.
Does this mean you might miss out on a promotion? Yes. I know I most certainly have.
But it also means you’ll be one step closer to the lifestyle you want to enjoy—and if you do it right, you’ll get there long before you’re 65 and your 401K finally matures.
Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team help people start freelancing or growing their small business with a focus on a much happier lifestyle. If you’re ready to start exploring how life can take center stage for you, start here.