Stepping Into Early Retirement – Initial Observations

WALK

Last week was my first week of early retirement.  It was great fun, but at the same time quite strange to be home all week, while all of my (former) colleagues continued to work.  As I wrote last week, it really felt like I was ‘skipping school’ – in full view of my classmates and the teachers.  While my wife was out of town and son was in school, it was a first taste of autonomy, like I’ve never really known it.  It’s a bit like walking into the great unknown – the trail looks good, but what will you really find?

Here are some other observations on week one of my lifestyle change:

To-Do List Progress – I had a huge list of things I wanted to get started on from the last 6 months of saying “I’ll get to that after I retire.”  At the start of the week, it looked like the errand-list from hell, but I was amazed that I could easily click off 4-5-6 things in a day.  Even when I slept in and went out for lunch.

Procrastination Twisted – At the same time I made a lot of progress on my to-do list, I also was able to do things at my own pace.  The nature of putting things off is a bit different though.  Instead of saying “I’ll do it later, when I have more time” you say “I’ll do it later – it will give me something to do “

Busy Week – I did not get bored at all this week. If I’m doing something I don’t like, I just go do something else.  If I wanted to, I could certainly waste a lot of time online – but I didn’t spend much time on my computer at all.  I think I spent more time on my phone & the internet when I was at work than I did last week retired.  One thing I did use more was … 

The Newspaper – I love reading the daily paper, but seemed to rarely find the time.  Several times this week, I stopped at a coffee shop and had a beverage and read the newspaper for 30 minutes. Nice and relaxing.

Scheduling Quite Easy – I had a few people connect with me about golfing, lunch, a ballgame, or a happy hour.  They asked ‘are you free on …” – and I was free on every available date.  I had to move one eye appointment for golf, but that was easy.  What are the odds of me being free for all of these things?  (almost 100% now, I guess!)

No Books – Reading more is one of my early retirement goals, but I didn’t crack a single book all week.  I mentioned this to a friend (who is also a writer) and he observed that “Books are hard to get started, but once you get going, they are certainly hard to put down.”  The first book i was planning to read is in my SUV – but that is at the shop right now.

Healthy Living – I was a lot more active last week. My goal of getting to 12,000 steps per day seemed like a lot at the time I planned it, but I’ve done it every day this week without too much trouble.  Here are my daily step totals:  12K+12K+13K+14K+18K+14K+16K.  Compare that to my average of 6.4K steps over the past 6 months.

At the same time, I seem to be eating less.  Even though I am home, with a well-stocked refrigerator for most of the day – my calorie count has gone down.

Less Caffeinated – I drink a lot less soda pop. At work, I would have at least a 20 ounce bottle of diet Coke or Coke zero every day, with many days having more than 32 oz.  This week, I had a soft drink with lunch twice, and maybe drink two 12oz cans of Coke zero out the rest of the week.  I probably cut my intake in half. I don’t have a big hang-up with caffeine in general, I just thought it was interesting that I didn’t feel like I needed it to keep going.

Shopping Better Several Ways –  Not only our stores a lot less busy, but the staff you work with during the week are a lot more capable. These are the full-time, regular employees that don’t work in the evening or on weekends, for the most part.  They are much more knowledgeable, friendlier to chat with, and overall provide better service.

I’m sure a few of these things seem significant, given it’s my first week off.  Others will soon be taken for granted as I adjust to this new lifestyle.  I’ve always said that about 80% of what you come to  believe about a situation you realize within the first 60 days.  I’ll update and explore these in more depth over the next two months.

 Image Credit:  Pixabay

36 thoughts on “Stepping Into Early Retirement – Initial Observations

  1. I’m really happy for you! Isn’t it fun to have the whole day stretch out ahead of you, without too many “deadlines?” OK, so time to start the 2nd book you were going to read! The good news is that you will most likely NEVER get bored! You’re just not a boring person! 🙂

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  2. This definitely sounds exhilarating! I was just talking to a friend of mine who retired early and he struggled with it for a while. He said that he felt like he was getting up each day with no real point to get out of bed. It took him a while to get on track, but I think he didn’t have a game plan when he stopped working.

    I can already tell by this post alone, that you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum – it looks like you’ve been re-energized and ready to go!!

    — Jim

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  3. Sounds great, less caffeine and more time is always good. Able to sit down and read the newspaper for 30 minutes straight must feel great. Being more active is always great. Being healthy & active should be the #1 goal post FIRE.

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  4. I particularly like this, instead of saying “I’ll do it later, when I have more time” you say “I’ll do it later – it will give me something to do“. It will be fun to write some milestone posts for after retirement life, for example 3 months, 6 months, 1 year into retirement, etc to reflect upon. Your perspective might be totally different from today’s or they might be the same. It will be fun to find out. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Sounds like a great first week! I hope you’ll keep track of how you’re spending your time so we can see how it evolves as you settle in to your new phase of life. I keep imagining that our first six months will be all about catching up on sleep, but I’m sure we’ll do lots more than that. And I can’t wait to have a wide open calendar like you do — what a dream! 🙂

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  6. I read a post a couple months ago called “the decompression jerk” on mentalmodels.io. (easiest to google decompression jerk). As you progress thru the next weeks it will be interesting to see if you experience such a transformation…. essentially the passage from “playing hookey” to the “new normal”. One of my fears on my FIRE journey is that I will turn early retirement into yet another infinite to-do list; your experiences in managing this will be of great interest to those of us with impending compelling events! Thanks for sharing!

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    • I will look for that post – decompression jerk – sounds very interesting! My goal has been to divide each day three ways – a little work on the to do list, a little relaxation/reading, and a little entertainment/getting out & about.

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  7. Hey MrFireStation, congratulations on making the huge step and it seems you are enjoying the change, but it will just take some getting used to. I think with time, without many other life stresses, everything will seem much better 🙂

    Tristan

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  8. Congratulations! You’re off to a great start. It seems like you found a good pace that works for you.

    Question: A while back you commented on a post of mine that you were planning to use Airbnb in March. Did you do that for your Disney trip?

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    • Yes we did use Air BNB for our trip to Disney. It worked out terrifically well. We stayed at the Wyndham Bonnett Creek Resort, which is a timeshare property surrounded on three sides by Walt Disney World. It could not have been nicer or a better value. We will definitely try Airbnb again.

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  9. Even after 18 months I still have a “Sunday reaction” every once in a while! But as I look back, it took about almost a year for me to really find the new rhythm of life. The sleep pattern that was natural and not work-forced; a week that balanced things out – some part-time work, some active pursuits, some fun with friends, some mind-stimualitng activities. I had no plan on the ER day, so I expect your transition to be quicker. But don’t be surprised if you hit some lows… the first few months had a bit of a roller coaster of emotions.

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    • So far it has all been good, but I am certainly in the honeymoon phase. Every day feels a bit like a Saturday or like I am on vacation. I expect in time that euphoria may change, but I will just have to slog through the down times and find my new normal too. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Wow! Sounds like an amazing first week! I can’t wait to be in a similar place. Taking the time to read the paper at the coffee shop, work my way through my to do list at my own pace, finally get to all those things I keep putting off…..Heaven! Congrats to you on this huge accomplishment!

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  11. Pingback: Struggling with Lofty Goals | Two Cup House

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