Blaze Your Own Path: More People Are Doing It Everyday


These days, it seems like there are more and more people seeking out early retirement from their initial careers. Just over this past weekend, former Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall decided to hang up his cleats at the tender “old” age of 26.

Story #1

Apparently, Mr. Mendenhall had had enough with the NFL and was tired of living under a constant microscope:

“Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown,” he wrote.

This past season, Mr. Mendenhall rushed for 687 yards and eight touchdowns. The man could obviously still play the game, and most likely had more than a few good seasons left in the tank.

He chose to walk away, anyway. Not surprisingly, his decision to retire “prematurely” was met with a lot of disdain and scorn on social media.

I for one, applaud the man. He is someone who comes across as very educated and articulate in interviews. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he’s been financially responsible with his earnings (six year career) and has more than enough cash stashed away to last him for the rest of his life.

I found his closing remarks captivating, as his own thoughts resonated very deeply with my own… Most of my own thinking is probably induced by prolonged exposure to a toxic corporate work environment:

“As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me?” he wrote. “I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city.

“I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out. That is the beauty of it! I look forward to chasing my desires and passions without restriction, and to sharing them with anyone who wants to come along with me! And I’ll start with writing!”

It’s your LIFE! Do what makes you HAPPY! Kudos to you Mr. Mendenhall.

Read the full story here.

Story #2

This recent story also reminds me of another early retirement story that occurred midway through the 2013 NFL season. John Moffitt, formerly of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, also retired at a young age — 27.

Mr. Moffitt had this to say when he walked away from millions:

“I’ve saved enough. It’s not like I’m sitting here and I’m a millionaire,” he said. “That’s what I kind of realized. I’m sitting here and I got to this point and I was like, what is the number that you need? How much do you really need? What do you want in life? And I decided that I don’t really need to be a millionaire.

“I just want to be happy. And I find that people that have the least in life are sometimes the happiest. And I don’t have the least in life. I have enough in life. And I won’t sacrifice my health for that.”

Here is a link to the full story.

Very inspiring stuff. To see athletes (celebrities) doing it… walking away from fame, fortune (millions of dollars), etc. makes me think that my own decision to turn away isn’t really such a big deal after all.

We only get one life. Happiness is so, so underrated. It’s time to make a stand… Let’s blaze a new trail, and go after the pursuit of happiness with all our might.

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Income Surfer
6 years ago

I wondered which blogger would mention it first. I saw that and had to smile. Hopefully he’s confident in that decision. I’m blazing my own path. 6 months in, so far… good!

So when are you moving to an island FI? :o)

6 years ago
Reply to  Income Surfer

He’ll probably move when he can buy one, rent half of it and still make 12% CoC haha.

The Stoic
6 years ago

Thanks for sharing this FIF. I’m not a sports person so I never would have come across this on my own.

I like Moffitt’s comment on having enough. Few people ever stop to question what their enough point is and I believe it’s to their detriment…

6 years ago

I saw the Mendehall retirement thing, but didn’t bother to read any further. Thanks for sharing both stories.

You can’t help but wonder if either of those guys don’t read some of these ERE blogs with some of those quotes. “I say to that, I will LIVE!” Good stuff.

No Nonsense Landlord
6 years ago

Blazing your own path to retirement is a great thing. Plan on what you need, factor in the contingencies, and make the plan.

I think these folks have enough money saved, or promised in their contracts for future years, that they do not have to plan much.

Once your plan is made, you need to execute the plan, which is where many people fail. Everyone knows you have to save, yet many people save “late when they have more money”. That nullifies the power of compounding.

Dividend Mantra
6 years ago

FI Fighter, I just seen this story at another site. Really inspiring stuff, isn’t it? The guy is choosing life over money, and that’s fantastic. It sounds like he definitely had this idea planned for quite a while, and I’m glad that he was able to execute. You sometimes see fear creep in when people are financially ready to pull the trigger on FI, but he decided to plow ahead. It’d be awesome if he started up a blog on what super early retirement looks like for a former athlete. That would be a really interesting perspective, and it’s obvious… Read more »

6 years ago

Great post! So when Mendenhall says he wants to share chasing his passions with anyone that wants to come along, I really want to volunteer… is that weird?

6 years ago

Very inspiring. Good to see athletes walking away from the sport to protect their health. I do have to say most professional athletes have the advantage of getting paid lots of money; the smart ones save and invest it all.

6 years ago

So funny…..when I read that Mendenhall article earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think of this website and more generally the many people who stop by with goals of financial independence. Definitely a good story to help keep things in perspective.