Early retirement for time freedom - 365 days of annual leave

A few days ago, I saw an attention-grabbing newspaper advertisement from an insurance company that shouts out:

Yesterday I had 21 days of annual leave. Today I have 365. 
The message is like The Thor's hammer hitting me hard on my head, reminding me again of how I shall live my 2nd half of my life.

Then, during the LRT train ride to office couple days back, I coincidentally came to read until the chapter in one of my most favorite books "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom with almost similar message. It's not the first time that this message hit me hard like The Thor's hammer on my head. 

I have read this book twice. This is the third time re-reading it. And the Thor's hammer seems to be hitting harder and harder on my head.

Here is the message:

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

On the same day in the evening, I read a similar message shouting straight to my face again in Sin Chew Newspaper. It's a very inspiring article about how a Taiwanese author 田临斌 who has chosen to retire at age 45 from the corporate world as CEO of an organisation to have a meaningful 2nd half of his life - time freedom, financial freedom, health freedom.

His message:
人生下半场, 做自己喜欢的事。Do the things you love in 2nd half of life

Which season are you in your life right now?

There are four seasons in a year: spring, summer, autumn, winter.

I have stayed in the United States during my studies which gave me an opportunity to experience 4 seasons in a year. 

There is beauty in each season

I love spring because of the cool weather and seeing the blossoming of flowers can be rather uplifting. Full of positive hope!

I love summer because the days are the longest and I love to many outdoor activities. Full of energy and life!

I love autumn because the days are getting cooler allowing me time to start to wind down and relax. Full of relaxation!

I love winter because of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's also because I get to do snow skiing in the mountains. It's also the coldest months of the year. A sense of an end with a strong hope that a new beginning (spring and new year) will arrive soon. 

How about life?

Is there a 4 season? 

Which season are you in your life right now?

How long do you think you can live?

According to World Health Organization (2015), the life expectancy of top 15 countries is 82 years to 84 years, with female living longer by 4 to 6 years.

Japan tops the chart with 84 years life expectancy. I'm very impressed to see Singapore being no. 3! wow! 

How about Malaysia? 

Malaysia is ranked no. 67, with 75 years life expectancy. Female's life expectancy is 77 years and male's life expectancy is 73 years.

Now, please allow me to use season to illustrate our life:

First half of life
Spring =  1 year-old to 21 years-old
Summer = 22 years-old to 42 years-old

Second half of life
Autumn = 43 years-old to 63 years-old
Winter = 64 years-old to 84 year-old

Well, as much as I want to act and behave young, age can't lie and we can't fight out biological clock. :) Really - it seemed only yesterday that I just graduated from university but in truth, I have already entered second half of my life - currently in the first half of my Autumn years!

Thoughts of early retirement for time freedom...
  • Have you ever had dreams that you want to fulfill but you keep postponing as if there is always a tomorrow?
  • Have you ever been very busy in life yet not sure why you are still not truly happy or fulfilled?
  • Have you ever thought of how many years left in the world instead of how many more years to live?
  • Have you ever thought of the purpose and meaning of why you were born in this world?
  • Have you ever thought of early retirement to find meaning in 2nd half of your life
I'm not sure about you. But for me, I have been thinking seriously about all the questions above especially in the last 2-3 years.

It seemed like only yesterday that I graduated from university, but I have been working in corporate world for the last 25 years. Very long huh? No?

Can you imagine - spending 8-10 hours in office plus extra 1.5 to 2 hours in the commute 5 days in a week? That's 50% of 24 hours. Deducting 7 hours of sleep, I'm left with 5 hours (20%) of each day outside of work.

Please don't get me wrong. I love my work, especially the current organisation I'm working with.  Its mission of "improving lives through better careers" gives me strong motivation to go to office each day knowing that I can contribute a little part of me to put food on the table for some families through better jobs. I feel that I still can do meaningful things through my work. This is very important to me as I spend 50% of my life devoting to work.

But at the same time, I have a life bucket list as long as a laundry list to fulfill.

Will so little time and so many things in life I still want to do, I'm in a cross-road. 

With the sudden unexpected demise of my healthy mom a year ago, it made me realize that in life, I can never count on tomorrow and can never be a procrastinator in things I want to fulfill. 

Ours lives are in God's hands. HE gives and HE takes. Not up to us to decide.

I would like to share about the top 5 regrets of the dying:

Top 5 regrets of the dying
  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn't work so hard.
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

Why the regrets? 

I believe it's the lack of C O U R A G E. (I notice "courage" appears twice as well)

And I believe lack of courage is due to the inner F E A R that is gripping us, holding us back in life.

Shall I continue to let fear grip me or shall I now have the full courage?

Hmm... this is where I'm now - a cross road - an early retirement for time freedom or continue to work in corporate world.

Not an easy decision. But the sooner I make, the more time freedom I'll have. And with the more time freedom I have, I can do more things I love. 

What would you do if you retire early?

Who doesn't want early retirement? Some might think that after retiring, there is nothing to do. They want to retire early yet they don't know what to do after retirement. And they might perceive retirement life to be very boring. :) Therefore, they have chosen to stick to working until retirement age.

Some might want to retire early but due to their current financial commitments and the worries of future income uncertainties,  early retirement remains as dream.

Which describes you better? :) 

I for one am guilty of all the above. :) I don't know what to do after retirement; I still have financial commitments and I worry about the financial income after retirement.

But today, I have learned not to think too far ahead, and not to worry too much about future. I shall take things as it comes

Let God. Let life.

I don't have a concrete plan of what to do after early retirement. But whatever I can think of today, it's exciting enough for me pursue it. :)

What to do with time freedom?

Here is what I plan to do if I can retire early in exchange for time freedom:

1. Family 

Family is very important to me. And I would like to spend as much quality time as possible with my 92 year-old dad. If we look at the 4 seasons of life, he has lived way beyond the average life expectancy of 84 years. In a sense, he is in his winter years.

This year, I have grounded myself at home as much as I can with limited travel especially overnight stays so that I can take care of my dad. 

Every morning, I don't have much time to talk to my dad as I go out to gym and work at 6am. I can only say good morning and quick chat with him as he is still lying in bed.

Every evening, I do my best to reach home from work by 7pm so that I can have daily conversion with him before he goes to his room at 7.30pm to sleep. I sympathise him for not having someone to talk to during the day while I'm at work. Even though I have hired a domestic helper, my dad can't quite speak English with the helper, limiting the conversion that he can have. 

Every weekend, I drive him out to ensure he manages to catch some fresh air and see the world. We also visit my mom at memorial park every 2-3 weeks without fail.

Yet - I feel that I haven't spent enough time with him. I wish during day time weekdays, I'm at home too so that I can engage more with him, keeping him company.

His time is running out. And I would want to give my best during the last years of his life on earth.

2. Sports

I'm a self-confessed sports junkie!

Running is my passion since 2010. 

Triathlon is a new passion that I'm hooked on since I did my first half Ironman triathlon in September. 

And of course, gym going for fitness and strength is another sport that I'm passionate about.

With time freedom, I can then go to the park to run in the evenings. As of now, I can only run on a treadmill in the morning before work - which is not my most preferred place to do my runnning. :) I love to run outdoor - with fresh air, with the trees, with the nature.

With time freedom, probably I can also cycle every Saturday and run every Sunday. Or even during weekdays. 

Oh yes - since I won't get burned out or tired out from 5-day work in office, I can participate in more races. 

there are a few running friends who are living the life that I really admire. It seems that every weekend, they are somewhere with a race. And mind you - it's full marathon races or even ultra marathons. 

I can't do that now because I have work commitment and I will get very tired. 

But if I have time freedom, this is the type of lifestyle I'm aiming for. So excited just thinking about it! Cool, right?

3. Travel / Run-cation

Yay -  1 would like to be the citizen of the world!

I can soak into foreign culture even more. I can visit my most favourite places in the world more often. I can stay there longer. 

As I travel, I also learn new interesting things. I can pick up a cooking class. I can learn how to do body surfing. I can explore so many things in life.

And most importantly, I can combine running a full marathon with traveling. I call it "run-cation". Very nice yeah? Kill 2 birds with one stone. haha!

4. Writing

This is a new hobby which I have developed since September 2015. It's a way to keep my mind active so that I don't be diagnosed with alzheimer disease when I grow older. haha!

It's also one of the ways to jot down little things in life to share with other like-minded people. 

And I would like to keep it as positive and motivating as possible so that perhaps my writing and sharing on the blog can help encourage / inspire one of two souls out there to achieve their own dreams / goals.

It seems that my dad enjoys seeing me write for my blog. He mentioned that when he was young, he submitted articles to newspaper. And he is very proud that I have carried his genes - the love for writing. :) He said at least three times already, "like father, like son". lol!!

If things work out well, I plan to publish a book too later stage in life. This is a way to fulfill my own dream of writing a book. And my dad has been very supportive about it. In fact, he has been surpportive of me to write a book one day. He even gave me a topic - my mom's life.

And I believe this will occupy much of my time as well - but with the presence of my dad. Why? Because I will be doing my writing at home in the living room where my dad is most of times. This will allow me and my dad to communicate, share our thoughts as well.

5. Charity work

I would like to contribute my part to the sociey I live in. I have been searching high and low on wich area I shall focus on. 

As time goes by, it seems to be clearer ad clearer that I am most passionate about taking care of old folks and helping those with depression. These 2 causes are very close to my heart. And I sincerely hope that I can do my little part to contribute back to society.

Early retirement doesn't mean sitting around with nothing to do

As you can see, early retirement doesn't necessarily mean sitting around with nother to do. In fact, probably I will be busier than working in a corporate life. 

But hey - look at the quality of the time spent - when a person is doing the things he/she loves, the time is more well spent. And there is never enough time pursuing passion in life

Shall I make early retirement my 2017 resolution so that I can have time freedom? :) :) :) 

Thanks for reading my thoughts on my own perception of early retirement.

Written on 2016.12.21

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The quest to run and be fit at any age: www.runfitquest.com. The quest to travel and wander beyond borders: borderlessquest.com. The quest to live a meaningful, purpose driven life: vincentkhor.com


  1. Given your father's longevity and your excellent level of fitness, I think 100 years of age is well within your reach. You may end up having five seasons. I hope you do.

    Wayne (in cold Toronto)

    1. Dear Wayne,
      Thanks for leaving comment. It's wonderful to know that someone in another part of the world is reading this. :) How cold is Toronto? Oh wow - I just checked and it's -4 to 3 deg C (25-38 deg F). Very cold indeed... but it's skiing season too, right? yohoo! I missed snow skiiing.

      You are very humourous stretching 4 seasons to 5 seasons. :) What would the 5th season be like? Probably it's the winter at night yeah.. haha! Anyway, thanks so much for your well wishes on longevity and fitness part. I don't think I can live that long. lol! With the new year 2017, I would like to wish you excellent health, awesome fitness, great joy and happiness in life!