Early retired, so what do I do? Good question, and one that I've been avoiding.
Although there are many questions to consider when deciding if early retirement is right for you, two fundamentals continually come up:
1. How much will I spend/what will it cost/do I have enough money?
2. What will I do, will I be bored?
As to how much it costs, I have been posting my monthly costs since January, so I'm already dealing with that (in case you want to look, you can see my monthly costs posts by clicking here). Just remember that your lifestyle will be different from mine, but you can at least get an idea of the type of things I spend money on.
But I haven't posted much about what I do, and whether I'm bored.
There's a good reason for this. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm worried that you'll judge me, say that what I do is boring, is nonsense, and that I've got this early retirement thing all wrong. Rationally I say that this doesn't matter, after all it's my life to do with as I choose. But I'm not so sure - it seems that I do still care what people think, at least some of the time.
Well, I've decided to say stuff if, publish and be damned, as the saying goes. By the way, that saying comes from the Duke of Wellington, of Napoleon/Battle of Waterloo fame. Responding to a blackmail attempt about an extra marital affair, Wellington responded "publish and be damned" and indeed details of the affair were published. It didn't seem to hurt Wellington too much, he went on to become British Prime Minister - maybe that says something about politicians, but I think I'd better not go there!
Back to the matter of this post, what is it that I do, how have I replaced the 9 to 5 corporate routine?
To answer that question, I've kept a diary of what I did each day (excluding weekends) during October.
Oh dear, oh dear, doesn't that look a bit boring! Have I messed up with this early retirement thing? But before I fall on my sword, let me have a closer look:
On five occasions I went cycling in the morning with friends, one of my favourite things to do. I enjoy the exercise, the conversation, the café stop, and the buzz from the endorphins once we're done. By the time I get home the morning's gone. Unreservedly an upside to early retirement - great fun, and not boring at all.
Four times I met friends for coffee. Three times we had something particular to discuss, the other one was just shooting the breeze. Verdict - thoroughly enjoyable, not boring in the slightest, another early retirement thumbs up.
Blog research and blog post prep includes looking at other PF/FIRE blogs, writing my own posts, and sometimes background reading for my posts. Blogs are quite new to me, I'm learning as I go along so I'm quite slow. It's turned into a hobby - like I'm playing at being a writer and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. There's no way I would have found this hobby if I was still working. Lots of enjoyment, not boring - kudos to early retirement.
Another 5 occasions I worked on my round the world (RTW) trip planning - just the first leg for now. It's still 8 months until we'll head off, but I want to book the air tickets early to get a good price, so the planning must start. For sure we wouldn't be doing a RTW trip if I was still working. Exciting, a little bit scary, definitely not boring, high five for early retirement.
I had three lazy events - watched a movie one day, the Mexican grand prix another, and even had a snooze on one occasion. It's funny, I feel I'm cheating with these, but that's daft - surely the point of being early retired is I can do these things if I want. I'm pretty sure that snoozing was discouraged when I was working my corporate job, so I'm giving this a slightly bashful fist pump for early retirement freedom of choice.
Investment search is me trying to decide what to do with some cash we have from selling a property three years ago. Please don't say how much my procrastination has cost, I know, and have a box of tissues to wipe away the tears. But the task is at last now done.
And some of the other things? Chores such as laundry, ironing, cleaning, which I'm not going to say are exciting, but it only takes 6 hours a week. On the plus side, I'm busting some cool dance moves whilst mopping the floor - what do you think of my floor mopping playlist? Grocery shopping, which I don't mind at all. I sold my car, it took a day overall, renewed my visa which is another day (long story, but I have to travel in and out of the country for that), driving to the low cost bottle shop takes a morning but saves over 30% compared to the local store. These are relatively neutral in the working versus early retirement comparison, but I get the chores done and out of the way before the weekend.
Also, October was a quieter month. In comparison, February was skiing in France, in May to Prague and Berlin, July/August to UK, France and Switzerland, and in September I took Sam to university. Perhaps if I'd picked one of those months it would appear more exciting. I've spent 8 weeks travelling this year, and I sure didn't get that much vacation time when I worked. Is that another "way to go!" for early retirement?
Having taken that closer look, yep, I'm happy with early retirement so far. A simpler approach is to just say what I feel, how am I finding early retirement, do I like how I'm filling my days, am I bored, am I lonely and missing the social interaction from work, do I have a purpose, what about the future? My answers after 10 months of early retirement are:
I'm not bored. I'm enjoying the new things that I do and I'm excited (and a bit scared) about our future travel plans.
I'm not lonely or missing social contact. In fact, within the 23 (old work) days that my October journal covers, I had lengthy social engagements on 26 occasions (running and cycling with friends, coffee meet ups, car sale process, visa renewal, visitors).
Do I have a purpose, the reason for being excited to jump out of bed each morning? This is a more tricky question. I think the answer is yes for now, but I may need to figure this out a bit more for the long term.
And the future? I'm now understanding that early retirement is an evolution. I've started the journey, and I'm very happy with it so far and will continue to grow into it. I'm sure I'll stick with some of the things that I'm doing now, others will fall away, and some new things will come along. That I don't yet know what these new things will be is not a bad thing, on the contrary, I like that there is discovery in the future. Having financial independence/financial freedom puts me in the position to choose what the future looks like, and I like that a lot.
As I wind this post up, it's interesting to see how my thoughts have already evolved. I thought my early retirement life had to be thrilling - if I hadn't been skydiving in the morning and scuba diving in the afternoon, then I had somehow underachieved. I've since figured out that this is daft. I've retired early, not had a brain, personality and body transplant, so the reality is that I'm going to enjoy much the same things as I did before.
The difference is that early retirement gives me the time and the freedom to do more of what I know I already enjoy, with a few new things thrown in as well. So when I look back at my table of activities for October, I accept that they may look uninspiring to some, but I had a choice and they are what I chose to do, and I'm therefore happy with them. And if I want to do something different in the future, then I can, because I have the freedom to do that.
It is that freedom to choose that is so precious. If I compare to when I worked a corporate job, I didn't have that freedom - employers tend to call the shots. I'm not knocking work, I had a good and mostly rewarding career, it's just that I've been there, done it, got the T-shirt. But I've now moved on, and I'm liking the new retired early T-shirt that I'm wearing. So far it seems to fit just fine.