LOL, I'll never understand people's fascination with retiring early. If you're doing what you love and enjoy, why would you want to stop? Take breaks. Take big breaks in the middle, in fact, to enjoy the leisure time. But keep working. Have a well-defined purpose. And work on that purpose till the very end. That's the simple way to live (and die) happily.
But it all begins when you're doing what you love.
There's a reason, after all, why Steve Jobs said "...do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
That's what I believe. But nonetheless. Coming back to your question...
(BTW, reaching financial independence and retiring early are two different things. For instance, Jeff Bezos is financially independent -- and so are almost all rich people -- but most of them are still working, right? Warren Buffet is another prime example. The man is 88 years old and he still leads one of the world's largest company by revenue (Berkshire Hathaway). But for the sake of this answer, let's treat them same!)
Here are simple steps to reach independence and retire early:
1. Do the maths
You're in for a very long-term plan right now. And it's important that you do your maths correctly. At what age do you want to stop working? When do you want to retire? What kind of lifestyle do you expect to live post-retirement? How big would be your family? What kind of expense can you anticipate? What would be the inflation rate in the next few decades? Do the maths. Have a number that you would require after retirement to live the way you want. And then move about to plan your financial independence around the numbers.
2. Invest in the stock market
Planning for the retirement is all about investing in income-producing assets. The stock market
is a go-to for this. (Of course, mutual funds are good too!). So, start exploring the stock market. Invest in high-yield shares for the long-term. Do your research well. Be smart in your decisions. Diversify your investment across different companies and industries.
3. Explore the real estate market
Residential (and commercial) properties could possibly be one of the best decisions when planning for the retirement. Even when the housing market tanks, in the long-run the market will correct its course and the valuation of the properties will be sky-high in the next decade or two. So, explore the real estate scene
and invest big in the right properties. And then rent them. You will have a passive source of income, which you can save or invest in other assets.
4. Get a high-paying job
If your resume is solid, you would have no problem finding a high-paying job. Even if you're not super-qualified and experienced, you can still climb to the top of the ladder by making smart career decisions (and networking). Meaning to say, don't settle for mediocre jobs that pay you less. Keep pushing the boundaries and demand more your employers. At the same time, keep investing in your personal and professional proficiency. The more competent you make yourself, the higher will be your salary and equity share.
5. Don't start a company
Entrepreneurship is sexy today. But if you're really looking for early retirement, that's NOT the way to go. Yes, there's potential for big revenue. And you will be economically stable. However, when you start a company, you often feel compelled to keep on working. That's your baby after all -- an idea that you have nurtured with your sweats and tears. You wouldn't want to leave it, would you? In one way or another, you will always feel attached to it. And in the end, you might feel claustrophobic, with no way of exit even when you have a good successor.
6. Plan your family carefully
Get with your spouse and plan a family carefully. A large part of your future expense will go in running a family. Kids, their school and medical, their demands and well-being -- these are all very costly. Plus, as they grow, and the family grows, the expense might blow off the roof. So, plan a family carefully. In fact, don't omit the possibility of living a single life.
(Courtesy: Public Health Note)
7. Hire a financial expert
If you're really serious in achieving financial independence and planning for the retirement, this is a must. More is, if you're weak in finance. Hire an expert or company who offers retirement-specific services. There are plenty more ways how you can grow your fortune for your retirement. For instance, ways to save more on tax, ways to invest in different schemes, and so forth. Plus, with more analytical prowess, they can help you plan better and much more efficiently. Sure, they would charge a fee. But having one such individual by your side who's proficient in money can be a complete game-changer.
These are 7 steps how you can reach financial independence for a plan for the retirement.
Hope the answer helps! :)