Why I Liquidated My Retirement Account and Bet On Myself

June 1, 2015

I used to be such a good kid.

I had a blossoming career as a Navy Officer, I owned a house and contributed every year to my Roth IRA retirement account.

Then somewhere along the way, I un-grew up. I quit the Navy to play music, grew a beard, sold my house and I drained all the money from my Roth IRA.

And I judged myself, especially about spending my retirement money. In fact the voice of my parents is quite loud in my head, reminding me of how irresponsible not planning for my financial future is. I don’t disagree with them.

So why did I do this?

I just finished lunch at a very average Chinese restaurant with Mike Hrostoski, where we had a very above average conversation about investing in our future versus saving for it. He mentioned that he had drained his IRA and I instantly perked up. “Me too!” I said, thrilled to hear that I wasn’t the only one. Mike and I then shared one of those laughs that happens when you discover that you’ve watched the same porn movie, or realize you dated the same girl. We do that laugh a lot together.

We’re both self-employed, living a great quality of life and our work is both fulfilling and something we don’t plan on retiring from. As I thought about it, I realized that we aren’t just investing in ourselves, we’re also betting on ourselves. We’re betting on the fact that by age fifty-nine and a half we won’t need the money.

What do you think our odds are?

If you could go to Las Vegas and place a bet that by the time we turn fifty-nine the money in your retirement account won’t make a difference, where you put your money? I know people in their sixties who are talented entrepreneurs but still struggle with money so it’s not an obvious answer.

Maybe a better question is, would you bet on yourself?

Let’s forget about numbers for minute.

Assume that we don’t make it. We follow our hearts, do what we love, how we love it, and at the ripe young age of fifty-nine realize it just wasn’t enough.

This is the best part.

This is when we consider the question of whether it’s better to go for it and fail then to have never tried at all. Now I can hear some of you saying, “Dave, you can go for it and still have a retirement account”, and logically that makes sense, but you’re missing the point.

You’re forgetting what makes it all worth it. It’s worth it because it’s risky. It’s not about a result, it’s about giving it your best, and daring greatly in the face of failure. Since the journey is all we have, the goal isn’t as important as the time you spent working toward it. Even when you “succeed”, taking risks is what keeps you alive, and the risks aren’t any less scary than when you started out.

The journey is the reward, and the reward comes when you risk yourself. You can’t lose. And when you can’t lose… it’s a great time to go to Vegas.


Note: I don’t believe this anymore and I regret liquidating my account, but I thought I’d leave this up here for the sake of seeing how things change.

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