It now occurs to me that I’ve already now been done work for over a week and I have to admit it doesn’t feel like it has been that long. So while I obviously can’t know much this early into my journey on the other side of FIRE (financial independence retire early) I thought I would share a few of the items that I’ve noticed.
- Poor Sleep – I’ve been sleeping a lot worse than I normally have (my normal is fall into bed and be out cold for 8 hours). Initially I thought perhaps it was me feeling a bit lost in this new life of mine, but then when I paid a bit more attention to when it was occurring I figured it out. I am sleeping poorly for the last hour of my sleep right before my wife’s alarm goes off during the week (remember she still runs a daycare in the house). Ah, then I understood. My body is used to being awake for that hour as I used to get up a full hour before my wife so my internal clock is off a little bit. I suspect this will sort it self out over time.
- Event Based Time – I also have realized that even in my first week I’m looking at clocks a LOT less than I used to. So much that one day I realized I wasn’t sure what day of the week it was. Instead I have shifted back to event based time. As kids before we can read a clock we understand the flow of time as a series of events. First we get up, get dressed and then have breakfast. We know lunch comes after breakfast. So for me now I know because the kids have swimming lessons, it is Wednesday. Otherwise I won’t really pay attention as much.
- Gotta be Productive – I felt odd for most of this first week and I had a hard time figuring out why. Then it hit me: I had no metric of being productive anymore. After a several decades in the corporate work world I have a habit to feel productive in a given day and while I have a to do list and want to do list they weren’t really cutting it as I sometimes did something off them and other times I didn’t. So I’m trying to decide if this is just a temporary adjustment or do I need a bit more structure to my days going forward. For the moment I’ve parked the idea and I’ll wait and see.
- Going by Feel – Something else I’ve noticed that I’m enjoying is I ride my energy levels a lot more now. So when I feel energetic I go do something off my to do list, when I feel lazy or tired I read a book or watch a movie. The point is now I’m not chained by a work day so I basically I do things when I feel like it and I’m enjoying that freedom. So one rainy day my wife and I did a series of errands in the morning and then got back and sat down with a book and a warm drink for most of the afternoon.
- Off Peak Life – Perhaps one of oddest discoveries of my new life is how utter great life is doing errands when everyone else is at work. I mean my wife and I took our time on our errands by browsing in a few stores this week during the day and we still got everything done in like half the time. Why? I don’t think I waited in a line anywhere for more than a few seconds.
- What is stress again? – Another item I’ve noticed is this: I didn’t realize how much stress in my life was a result of my job until I stopped going there and have significantly reduced my time even thinking about my old job. I mean I wake up relaxed and have this wonderful low level calm most of the time.
Well that’s my initial items I’ve noticed so far, beyond the obvious it’s nice to have the time to read a book, play a video game, do some research for a novel I want to write and fix a few minor items around the house. I have utterly no problem filling my days. The freedom is wonderful but the degree of choice can be almost overwhelming at times so I’m rather glad I wrote out a few items I wanted to do to narrow the field a bit to start.
I think perhaps people assume that when you give notice at work that it should be some sort of big deal. There should be shock, drama and all sorts of interesting things. In my case, it was mainly boring, except for one thing. Why was it boring? Because everyone involved in this decision knew it was coming.
It all started way back almost a year ago when I mentioned my plan to leave work would likely occur in the next year during my performance review (please recall I do blog publicly about my plans so work has been aware of them in some form for the last five years or so). My boss and I were discussing how much notice he would like and we agreed to a figure of at least three months.
Then earlier this year during the work planning cycle I mentioned that I was concerned about taking on a project that I wouldn’t see the end of. So I provided an updated on my plan and said that I would likely provide official notice after my summer vacation (I figure no one should make that sort of big decision without first being calm and relaxed – you know that feeling you have after not being at work for like two weeks). And on top of that, I have even been dropping comments into conversations with co-workers that I would likely be leaving work this calendar year.
So like I said everyone involved knew this was coming, hell, I even had an appointment for 8am on the day I got back to work from my summer vacation to officially provide my retirement notice. The meeting was only ten minutes long. I handed over my letter of official notice (that I wrote six months earlier) and had printed off over a month ago (it was sitting at the bottom of a file at my desk just waiting for me to sign it). So the conversation was short and I explained that my last day was Oct 27, 2017, but I was going to be on vacation prior to that so my last day in the office is Sept 15, 2017. I then entered this information into our online system (which by the way I actually submitted my retirement notice, I didn’t just resign) and with a click of a button my days as an employee were numbered (because it says right on the form you can’t delay or revoke your retirement after you submit it).
Therefore on the process side things went very smooth so far and no drama or surprises. Yet what I wasn’t fully prepared for was the emotions that ran through me on this day. I woke up sort of nervous. You know like when you have a important meeting or presentation to do. I got to work and I got a little light headed and clamming skin right before the meeting (again nervous…after all I was ending my career here). Then afterwards things got worse, I didn’t calm down or get better. In fact, I was a ball of conflicting emotions. I had feeling of being excited, fear, worry, anxiety and a good dose of thinking “what the hell am I doing?” all at the same time. It was like my entire body was vibrating on a slightly different frequency than normal. Then the nausea hit in the early afternoon and I went home sick for the rest of the day. I hoped it was food poisoning but in fact it may have just been emotional overload.
So despite having read a library of material on retirement I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact that hit me. You can think you are ready, but nothing will prepare you for actually ending your career and jumping into your new life. I wonder what other surprises await me in the days ahead.
It may come off as bit self serving but I’ve been somewhat avoiding my own blog lately. Why? Because honestly I’m trying not to think too much about how close I am getting to the end of my early retirement goal.
You see my current tactic is to keep busy so that the time flies by and before I realize it another month has past and I’m even closer to the end. Oddly, this tactic seems to be working for me. I’m keeping myself occupied at work, my chores list at home is longer than I would like and don’t even get me started on how long my Netflix queue is right now.
The other reason I’m being cautious here is frankly I can be a wee bit obsessive about early retirement (as if you can’t tell by over 10 years of blog posts). So when I do start thinking about early retirement in depth I can can so consumed that I almost cease to think about much of anything else for hours. This of course then get me dreaming of my post work life and then I get a surge of disgust of having to go back to work then next day which then leads me to being distracted at work. After all, it is hard to do good work when your motivation died and is buried out back.
On the pure math target I’m about 99% of the way there so it really isn’t particularly healthy to start counting down by 0.1% segments. I suppose I could but it seem sort of silly. Also I’ve also figured out that I’m not that good at countdowns. I actually find them more demotivating than motivating for myself.
What I am working on is trying to guess on some of the emotional impacts I may feel going through this process of leaving work later this year and prepare for them. Yet with that I’ve come to the conclusion isn’t that useful since I don’t know what I don’t know. I think that this level of change is really beyond the average person’s ability to predict your reaction to, so the only way to really know how it feels like to early retire is to in fact do it. Hence I’ve been spinning my wheels on some draft posts.
So that is lead me overall to avoiding this blog and of course that means less posts recently. Yes, it does suck for you dear reader, but on the upside I am building up a nice list of items to talk about in future posts. You you have a bit of drought now but you likely will have a bit of a flood later on this year.
So how do you deal with being close to the end of a big goal? Any other tactics that work for you?