Most people have a bit of a routine. We do things in a certain way and often at a certain time. The routine can vary but generally over the long term can be stable for months or years depending on your life. And the majority of people like having a routine and are upset when it gets broken or shifted.
Now I had finally hit a nice routine in my retirement where I got to work on things I cared about like writing or crafting terrain until suddenly I lost like 18 hours of my week to choosing to get a job which tossed a wrench in my routine. The first week I will fully admit was rough. I have previous commitments to finish up and I suddenly had a lot less free time to finish them in. I actually felt stress again which was a bit of a foreign feeling. But then again I didn’t have to get the job I choose this complete with knowing the consequences…it still didn’t make that first week any less rough to adjust to.
And I know, you can almost hear the crocodile tears from all the working people reading this thinking ‘what on earth are you complaining about?‘ I’m not complaining but rather pointing out adding anything to your life that is that much of a time commitment to your week has a noticeable thud sound when it hits. So the question becomes: how do you adjust your routine to a sudden shift in your time commitment?
Now this is largely a matter of preference. Some people just feel stressed and deal with it all and adjust slowly over the long haul. Others tend to embrace poor habits about dealing with stress by binge watching TV, eating too much or drinking/smoking too much trying to avoid the problem. While I tend to channel my engineer tendencies and just get more organized and feel less out of control.
During my working life I was hyper organized. My calendar had all my meetings in it (and my calendar was colour coded to which projects I was working on), I put in ‘meetings’ with myself to keep blocks of time to finish tasks and I had multiple to do lists going to track it all. So when I left work I went far to the other side of spectrum and ditch all of those things. Actually in fact I went a bit too far the other way to just living in the moment and a bit of disorder. Now with the new job I have a shift back just slightly to a bit more organized. So my shifts are loaded into my calendar and I use a to do list on things I need to get done this week. I tend to think of this as more ‘organized lite version.’
The point is to make me feel better about this change and make sure I’m getting things I want to accomplish done. Eventually I know this will just end up being the new routine until the next big change happens (what ever that ends up being).
So how do you adjust to a shift in your time commitments? What works for you?
Well depending on the actions of the Internet Retirement Police, I may have to hand in my early retiree membership card because I just got a job yesterday. *Gasp* And according to some people you can’t be retired if you have a job which to me always sounded so silly as I could care less what people call what I’m doing. Call it: changing career paths or semi-retirement or what ever term makes you feel better about it.
Yet in my case, I’ve always said I would be willing to do some work in my early retirement period because honestly why not get paid to do things that I enjoy. I called these ‘fun jobs’ and when I left work I had identified a few that I wouldn’t mind doing. The top options were working at a brewery or a library since working to make beer which I like to drink and handling books which I love to read don’t really sound like too much work to me. As I previously mentioned I actually work extremely casually at a brewery in town (I have put in all of four days of work there so I have a hard time even calling it a job), but I got to do one of my ‘fun jobs.’ Now I can say I’m about to cross another one off my list.
My new job is working at public library as a Page at my local branch starting next week. It is only a temporary contract until August for 18 hours a week but that is fairly perfect amount of time for me as I don’t want anything close to full time. I will be the guy who shelves books, pull holds, scan in returned books and basically do also the same work I currently volunteer to do once a week at our local school library.
I’m actually fairly sure my volunteer work actually got me an interview that occurred on Monday and the fact I took a 20 hour online course on how library’s work out of interest back in 2018. After all nothing says I want to do this work like having over a year of experience at it and some training towards it and of course my volunteer boss at the school library also agreed to be a reference for me. So that is a hint for retirees looking to break into a new field as a fun job; try to get some relevant experience and if possible training towards the job.
And finally I think the other thing that really helped me get an interview is I addressed the obvious question of why the hell an engineer with my experience would want a job like this in my cover letter of my application. I specifically noted that I have recently changed career paths to self employed writing and I had a flexible schedule. I didn’t even mention retirement as, after all, most people could not care less.
But of course I now have a fun issue…what to do with that extra money I will be making? I decided since this is a longer term job I’m going to break up the money into two parts. 10% of my income will go towards me saving up to buy a 3D printer (I don’t need one of those but I do want one). The other 90% of the income will go towards our slush fund to pay for house renovations or vacations. While my wife and I haven’t specifically decided what that extra money will go towards we are leaning toward the idea of replacing our kitchen countertops. As that has been on my wife’s want to do list for a while.
So how do you address work in retirement? What term do you like to call it and what would you do with the extra money?
Early retirement for someone under 50 can be a bit of tricky thing because you have to decide how the answer the question: what do you do for a living (or one of variations of that question)? Because the question comes up in all sorts of casual meetings with people and can cause some issues for the retiree. Because are you suppose to answer with ‘I’m retired’ or ‘I’m working on hobby X’?
It comes down to how do you tell someone that you are retired when you still look decades away from the standard picture people have in their heads of what you should look like? And then you often end up having to explain the idea of FIRE and saving lots of money up early in life and then living of your investment income rather than a job income. Then face the confused or blank stare of someone who just doesn’t get it.
Initially I thought I would tend to hide the fact I was retired before 40 from complete strangers because I didn’t want to have an argument with a complete stranger on: you are too young to be retired or you must have won the lottery or what ever other misconception people would have about it. I didn’t save my money for ten years to meaningless debates with people I will likely never see again.
But then once faced with the question a few times I started just telling the truth: I retired last fall from engineering to focus on writing. Which then typically leads into a conversation on what I write and what projects am I working on. (By the way, I just passed the 200 page mark on the new retirement book and I hope to finish the first draft soon.)
Despite writing this blog it isn’t like I really advertise what I’ve done. I still run into to people that don’t know I’ve made the change despite having left work about 18 months ago. I did it and I’m moving on with my life. Yet it sort of feels good to just tell people I meet that I am retired and not having to come up with some vague answer or white lie to cover my tracks so to speak.
Oddly enough the reaction from most people to date has been more focused on the writing side of my life than the early retirement. It’s like they can’t understand the one that well so the focus on what they find more comfortable discussing. I will of course answer some questions on the early retirement side of the house but often there isn’t as many as I expected.
So what do you tell people about your retirement? Or what do you plan on telling people?