Life After FIRE – One Year Review – Part I

Okay, let’s get the big thing out of the way. I’m so in love with my early retirement I can’t even see going back to full time work. I just enjoy this new lifestyle too much.  I will stand by my previous thought I won’t mind part time hours up to half time or so.  Just so far nothing as worked out along those lines.

So what are the positives of this new lifestyle?  Well it’s a long list but I enjoy the following the most:

  • That I no longer wake up to an alarm like 99% of the time (I did use it a few times to get up early for something and I didn’t want to oversleep).
  • I get to do things when I want to do them.  So if I’m tired I do less and when I’m in a grove I get more done.  This is so different from my old day job and I seriously enjoy this more than I thought.  The ability to adjust my day based  on how I’m doing is literally priceless to me.
  • I almost never feel stressed out anymore.  I, of course, still feel some stress but it really isn’t even in the ballpark of my life (which wasn’t really that stressful to begin with).  I honestly feel like hippie some days as I look at other stressed out people and resist the urge to tell them to just chill out a bit
  • I get to follow my curiosity where ever it goes.  So if I develop an interest in a new book series I can borrow them all from the library and read them.  Or research an term I found in a book or even watch YouTube videos to learn a new hobby.

Yet I should caution that not everything is positive.  I still have a problem in early retirement: I still have too much to do. What the @$%#? Yes, I know. You may hate me for a moment. The issue remains the same as before I retired. I have a lot of interests and things I want to try which is more than the time I have available. The side effect of this is that I’ve never been bored remotely even once during the last year. Yet I feel much better now as I don’t feel I’m squeezing in life at the seams but rather living it to its potential each day.

Part of that come from the fact I can now do things at my own pace as I mentioned above. I feel like for the first time that I’m not really ignoring parts of my life. I get to them all eventually it often take me weeks to cycle through all my interests. Part of it is that I choose to leave time for those quiet moments in life. If I’m out for a walk and something catches my eye I can stop and have a look. Or I can make sure to spend some time each day reading and not feel guilty over it.

Yet one lesson I have learned in the last year is how easily it is for time to go by without you realizing it. In the beginning I gave myself permission to do not much, yet over time I wanted to accomplish something. I wanted to create and work towards something big. Of course, what that is can be anything and it various from person to person but we all need ‘work‘ on something we find meaningful. I think this is so overlooked by many retirees regardless of age. You don’t stop wanting to achieve things because you left work. That desire is still there and needs to be fed with something. Of course what you find meaningful is highly subjective. I’m fairly sure some people would consider me making little trees for my kid’s D&D game a massive waste of time but I like the challenge of learning new skills, being a bit artistic and having a tangible product of the end of my time.  It means something to me and that is all that matters.

With that in mind perhaps my only regret in the last year was how little time I focused on my writing. I enjoy writing but I was still wasn’t doing it every day for most of the last year. I didn’t find a good rhythm for doing it until summer where I made it more of a habit and started writing my next non-fiction book which is the sequel to Free at 45 (I’m got a first draft of five chapters so far).

Which brings me to my next point. I’ve added some extra structure to my days during the summer. Not a lot more but just a bit more. Why? I found I was avoiding things too much which didn’t really need to be delayed like writing my latest book. So now I give myself permission to be lazier on the weekends and then write out a to do list for each week. I also include certain habits that I want to do in that list.  So going for a run three times a week is on it and writing at least a page per day on my book on average and drafting at least one blog post a week.  You might wonder why a ‘to do’ list.   Well I always liked using them at work previously and they do help me to make sure I don’t forget to do something.  But really the structure can be just about anything you want to help you get things accomplished.

Perhaps one item that seems a little silly but never the less I’m proud of my ability to bask in those little quiet moments in life a bit more. I can pause on a walk and just marvel at the light coming through the trees and not feel guilty for taking time. Life really does now move at a slower more sane pace for me and I don’t ever want to give that up now.

I also don’t regret leaving when I did. I could have saved more money prior to leaving and have additional savings to pay for some things that have come up over the last year but I really don’t regret it. Why? I don’t mind limits from the money. It keeps me in check for determining my priorities and not buying too much stuff that I won’t get around to using. Having too much cash I think would make me more prone to impulse buying or getting too much of a backlog of things to do. Which I know I can happen to me..see exhibit A: my video game collection is a bit too big and I have almost 100 games on my GOG.com account and I’ve barely finished like 11 of them. So to deal with that I’ve just banned myself from buying new games for this year. Or exhibit B: my Netflix to watch list still hasn’t gone down that much either in the last year.

Tomorrow I’ll look at the money side of the early retirement in a bit more detail. In the mean time, did you have any particular questions about my first year of early retirement?  Please ask away in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Life After FIRE – One Year Review – Part I”

  1. Happy Anniversary!

    Great list! One other benefit that is more implicit in what you wrote must be the quality of your relationships with your wife and children. Like with your D&D project, how wonderful is it for your kids to have those pieces hand-made by their dad? And a dad who has oodles of time to play with them and teach them things? I think there are other winners in your early retirement game!

  2. Any sense of purpose lost? Any guilt? If so, how did you overcome?

    There is pressure in western society to keep working, keep producing.. etc.

  3. I agree with Dee that being able to spend quality time with our loved ones is definitely a huge benefit, at least for me!

    I agree with eveything in your post especially the part where you said you can’t even see yourself going back to full time work.
    I definitely don’t see myself going back. Can’t wait for part II!

  4. Also I want to say that your blog posts have definitely helped me in making my decision to retire early. I found your site about half a year ago by randomly googling about early retirement in Canada, as I was still undecided whether to keep working or to retire. It became an easy decision after reading your blog posts. =)

  5. Oh, wow! Great questions. Thanks for asking everyone.

    @Dee – Very true, I didn’t touch on it directly but it is fairly wonderful to be more present for others in your life. So I can spend most of the day on my projects and when my kids want to do something in the evening I’m much more likely to say yes. Or being able to actually focus on family time on the weekends as I’ve got most of my ‘work’ done during the weekdays.

    @Scott – Guilt? Nope, nothing. I’ve never felt remotely guilty for what I did. Then again everyone who needed to knew this was coming for over a year in advance (including my old boss). As to loss of purpose? Not directly, because I decided before I left that I wanted to do writing as a primary focus. I did struggle with ‘what is productive mean when I no longer have a job?’ That did take me a few months to adjust to the fact it is okay to do less than I used to get done. Also I re-framed the issue to realize that is okay to just finish reading a book as a task. After all, work used to include lots of pointless tasks so why am I rating those higher than things that actually mean something to me? Best of luck on your early retirement.

    @ misuchiru – Thanks! I really do keep writing this blog because of comments like this. I like to help others get to a more balanced and happy life. Now how that looks will vary for everyone but the point is there is lot of space between full time work and no work to find your happy place.

  6. It is fantastic that your early retirement is exceeding your expectations. I came across this concept 2-years ago when I was 50. I sure wish I had encountered it much earlier. We FIRE’d ourselves on my 52nd birthday. We relocated from the west to the east coast are entering month 5 of early retirement. We have never been so happy in our entire lives. We have to live very frugally but like you mentioned, it keeps us in check and we have reversed the hedonic adaptation to which we (and so many others) have fallen victim. Boy I wish I got to this point 10 years earlier but better late than never 🙂 Thank you so much Tim for being the inspiration for us to find a more fulfilling and happier way to live.

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