How to retire at 40 and travel the world

  • Rule #1: Accept that the old model of work - where you trade your time now for happiness later is broken
  • Rule #2: Redefine retirement: you don't have to take the gamble of waiting until you're 65. You can retire now if you do it on your terms
  • Rule #3: Realize that freedom is closer than you think - you can go travel the world for less money than not traveling the world as long as you have the ability to live and work independent of location

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Graham D Brown - author of the guide

What are you going to learn in this section?

Most people dream of retiring early. Most people dream of rediscovering lost time to really go and enjoy their life. The sad fact is that most people don’t reach retirement in good physical or financial health to do this. Those that do only get a few years to enjoy it.

You can retire early. I did. This doesn’t means you have to save a million dollars in cash. You can make changes to your life and start enjoying a lifestyle with all the benefits of retirement if you think about it differently. That also means you can work. I don’t think retirement is freedom from work. If you love what you do, why give it up?

In this book, I share my strategies on how I retired at 40. I did this the unconventional way. I wasn’t prepared to wait or take a gamble on the future. Should you?



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  • We all dream of escaping the “Rat Race” but few ever do
  • The main reason why we don’t is we use broken strategies to get there
  • Most people rationalize their dreams by accepting defeat

In the movie “Wall Street”, the hero played by Charlie Sheen gets asked by his girlfriend why he “does it”? Why does he work like crazy and live this unhealthy stressful lifestyle? To which Sheen answers,

“Well, I guess if I can make a bunch of cash in future, I can buy a motorbike and ride across China.”

So, this is the first test of how to Epic Shit. Hopefully, what you’ll learn is that much of what we say about what we want to achieve in life isn’t “Epic Shit” but “Epic Bullshit”…


Let me explain.

How much money does it really take to buy a motorbike? A couple of thousand dollars? You could work 2 months in Starbucks and save up that money. You certainly don’t need to be a Wall Street broker or a retiree.

Let’s look at this problem differently.

If you had enough money coming in to cover my living expenses, and the ability to earn money anywhere in the world, you could go travel the world right now. Sure, there are administrative issues that need dealing with like houses and schools and all that, but these are mere details that will fall into place if your goal is big enough.

In fact, traveling the world isn’t that expensive at all.

If you had a business that allowed you to make money anywhere you went, you would see your travel costs simply as living expenses. And in most cases, it’s cheaper to live somewhere else than it is to live in a city-center apartment in Vancouver, San Francisco or London.

The problem is that we get scared. When somebody gives us the opportunity to do Epic Shit, we capitulate, and put our lives into the hands of other people or future events over which we have no control. We turn Epic Shit into Epic Bullshit, a lie that keeps us numb and dumb to the reality.

Remember, most people would rather be unhappy living the life they know than happy living a life they don’t.


  • The reward for a life of work is retirement
  • Why wait until you’re 65 to enjoy it? What if you could retire early?
  • You can retire early, but not in the old fashioned sense

Let’s look at the “Retire at 40” thing now.

Retirement is one of the stories we tell in life, so chances are wherever there are stories, Bullshit isn’t far behind.

Allow me to elaborate.

When you think about retirement, you visualize an old couple, like the ones in those Life Assurance ads. There’s always golf because that’s what old people do. There’s showering gifts on grandkids. The pace is always slow with a golden glow, for some reason. Maybe that’s because they need to remind us this is the “golden age” of our life. When I think “golden” I think sunset or the Autumn… being the end.

Well, what is retirement anyway?

We see retirement as the reward for a lifelong of grind. That’s why the ads are always showing old people living life on their own terms. I guess the reason why all those ads with old couples in them have a golden glow and a gentle pace is because their people don’t give a shit about paying the bills. That’s not quite how it is in reality. Most Americans do not save adequately for retirement. You don’t see ads with retired couples huddled round the stove heater under a tartan blanket.

And then there’s the health thing, because let’s face it… when you retire you’re going to be worried about how long you got before you die. That’s how they used to calculate pension incomes (called annuities). If you were only going to be around a few years, they’d pay you a fat retirement income. Pension funds profited when you died before statistics said you were due.

It’s not just death of course, it’s having good enough health to live life on your own terms. Here’s the sad stat… If you have a partner, the chance of both of you reaching 65 alive, and neither critically ill or disabled is less than 25%.

Yes, just 1 in 4.

  • Your chances of reaching retirement age of 65 in good health are the same as the flip of a coin

And this is what we were busting our ass for all these years.

But we blindly accept because we keep walking past that signpost every day, doing what we’ve always done. That’s the way we’re programmed. We don’t know any different. We’d rather go to the doctors and get a colonoscopy up our rear end than have somebody tell us our future ain’t going to work out. (Oh, and by the way, after 40, a colonoscopy is a good idea folks!)

The path to adventure, however, asks… “Why wait?”

What if you could retire NOW?

That’s where people get scared, motivated by fear of loss rather than the content of their heart. If you tell someone they can retire at travel the world now, one of the first things they’ll say is “but what about my retirement fund?” It’s the colonoscopy again. Uncomfortable as it may be, most would rather put it off because what they don’t know can’t hurt them… right?

If you accept this bullshit story of retirement, there isn’t much hope. 1 in 4 remember?

But, if you redefine retirement on your own terms, we get given a chance to do Epic Shit. I know in my heart I’d rather be given the chance to do Epic Shit now and risk failure than a 1 in 4 chance of getting the option in 20 years time. And remember, that’s only getting the option to do it, not doing it.

So, what is retirement really?

Let’s start by looking at this story of retirement being retreat from the world of work. Go back and scratch all those Life Assurance ads featuring old people doing nothing apart from filling envelopes with their final wishes or sitting on a bench staring at the sunset.

I want to work because I want to be useful. It drives my wife nuts, yes… I’m lying on a tropical beach and thinking about doing “Epic Shit”, or what it would be like if I took over the coconut lady’s business and had to run my own thing right there. That’s the blessing and the curse of being an entrepreneur.

What do you do? Suck it up and deny it… that’s not what Courage is about. Courage is about accepting this is you and you’re not going to give this up just to play golf all day.

The problem is that’s what most people do. They lose their sense of identity in retirement because they’ve gone from having purpose to nothing. Loss of purpose explains why death rates accelerate in the first 5 years following retirement.

  • Lots of people are questioning the idea of “job for life” but few have started to question the connected idea of retiring at 65 too

That belief comes from the old-fashioned notion of “work life balance” which is more bullshit by the way.

Work and Life should never be opposites.

We shouldn’t work or live. We shouldn’t be trading a lot of time at work for a little life at the end of the week, or at the end of our lives. But, that’s what we’ve come to accept, and that’s why retirement is our only escape.

I have a friend who is a professional triathlete. She travels the world taking part in races, going to new countries and meeting likeminded athletes. If she was working in an office, she’d be doing this in her spare time. It’s her passion, it’s her obsession, it’s what drives her to become a better person. What is she going to do if she “retires”? Play golf?

So, I don’t think retirement should be escaping work, rather retirement means escaping the work we don’t want to do.

  • What’s the point of retiring only to be bored, useless and old?
  • “Work-life” balance is another story that holds us back
  • Why should work and life always be a trade-off?

Retirement ultimately means choice, which means having enough time and money to do what the hell you like.

I no longer work because I have to, I work because I want to. And I mean that not in the bullshit sense you here when people say they “love their work” but look forward to the weekend or their family is falling apart because they spend all their life away or commuting. That’s denial.

I enjoy work a lot, especially when it comes to helping other likeminded entrepreneurs grow their businesses. I enjoy working with entrepreneurs in the endurance sports industry, athletes as passionate about making stuff as they are about Ironman triathlon. This is what I’d do in my spare time if I didn’t get paid for it.

  • You can retire early if retirement means not having to work for money or do work you don’t love
  • You can escape the Rat Race without earning millions or waiting until it’s too late

Taking an early retirement also enables us to focus on what matters. Deep down we all want to do something that makes a difference. I’m not talking about changing the world, but simply helping other people. We’ll talk more about this in when we come to Ideas and the Lifestyle Business System. At this stage, it means doing interesting and rewarding work because we want to be of service.

George Vaillant is the director of a 72 year study into the lives of 268 men. What he concluded from all the variables and data when asked “What have you learned from the study” was simple.. “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

So, old fashioned retirement is everything that’s not good for your relationships:

  • Spend your life estranged from partner and family
  • Spend your time with coworkers (who you don’t choose and may not like)
  • Spend time with the idiots on the misery express at 7:15 am every morning
  • Always too tired the weekend to commit to other people
  • When you finally get to retire you stop being useful to others, and often a nuisance in your own home.

If we could change all that, it would be worth it right?

I think a lot of people who retire in the old fashioned sense would rather keep on working because they’d rather do work they don’t like than nothing at all. That’s typical here in Japan, where housewives complain about their previously itinerant husbands lounging around at home watching TV all day in their underpants.

  • What we really want is choice
  • Retirement doesn’t mean (and shouldn’t mean) giving up work if you love what you do
  • You can choose to do nothing or choose to work on your passion project

You can choose to lounge around in your underpants, you can choose to play golf and you can choose to help startups in South East Asia. But, it must be your choice rather than the only option left. To have the choice rather than be forced to work to pay the bills and maintain a lifestyle that doesn’t make you happy, that’s what we really imagine to be the reward of retirement right?

I don’t get paid as much as I used to when I had the big office in London and managed 30 staff, but then I’m a lot happier, so my lifestyle needs are a lot less, which makes me happier. I love the Lifestyle and enjoy my freedom. Sometimes I have to suck it up to get stuff done but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

So yes, I’m not “retired” in the traditional sense, but if you accept that as the only definition of retirement then you are bound to it.

I retired on my own terms, and I think you can too.



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