In just three weeks I'll be celebrating one year of early retirement. So it's a good time to look back and see how it's gone, what I liked, didn't like, what worked for me and whether anything bombed.
I'll spread it over a few posts during December and January, instead of trying to jam it all into one. The topics may change as I think about it more, but the things that spring to mind are:
Early retirement money matters
Things I've enjoyed
Downsides of early retirement
Thoughts for early retirement year 2
Today, it's going to be about some of the things that I've enjoyed. Well, as I wrote them down, some of them are the things that I enjoyed, but others are more about how I organised myself to give me the best chance in making the transition into early retirement.
What a revelation! It started as a vague idea on my early retirement planning whiteboard. Something to pass some time and share my early retirement experience in case it helps others.
To be honest, the first thing I had to do was Google what a blog actually was! The second thing I did was read Joe at Retire by 40's post about how to start a blog. I even sent him an email and he replied, which I thought was pretty cool.
From that beginning, blogging has turned into a hobby. You perhaps wouldn't guess from my posts, but I spend quite some hours doing it! I enjoy the writing, the thinking behind it, and the background reading i.e. it's fun being nosey about other peoples lives!
I also get to be part of the blogging community. Because much of the content is personal, you feel a kinship with fellow bloggers who really seem to care. Is it weird because it's all done on the internet? - I don't know, I think probably not and, anyway, somehow it works, so who cares!
Since stepping away from my job, I've realised it was pretty tough in the final five years. The stress and the worry that went with it is now a distant memory.
I could have continued to deal with the stress, but I'm glad that I'm not having to - my spirits are lighter and I'm undoubtedly more relaxed having left the job related stress behind.
Time for Reflection
Now I've retired early, I have more time for vegging, but actually do less of it. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's because I'm less tired without the day job?
I think about things more now - old things but in a new way, as well as things I've never contemplated before.
Haha, doesn't that sound boring! But there really is something that feels good about it. It's difficult to explain - I just tried but deleted what I typed as I started sounding like my Dad😱, and with all this reflection I was hoping I'd sound more like Aristotle!
Quite a small word, but with big potential. I can choose what I do (within reason), and that's wonderful. Even if some of my choices seem mundane to others, they are what I have chosen because they make me happy.
Deciding to retire early was a big choice. I have a feeling there are some more big choices ahead as well - exciting!
A strange thing to put onto a list of things that I enjoy, but it's an important one for me.
The structure of routine helps keep me occupied and busy, and ensures I do the things I want. It would be easy to stay in bed longer, watch TV more or spend hours aimlessly surfing the net, but that's not the early retirement I want.
Routines work for me, and have been important in ensuring I've enjoyed my first year of early retirement. I wrote a post about it which perhaps shows how valuable I think routines can be.
Morning Cycle Rides
Definitely one of my favourite things! Well, we don't just cycle, we also chat and laugh, and when we finish we have coffee and chat and laugh some more.
They take all morning, and they're the best - great company, and so far removed from the mornings of my old working life.
On a previous post, someone commented that if they retired early, their friends would still be working and they wouldn't have anyone to do things with during the day. It's a legitimate concern, but I've found a number of people are around. One works weekends and has a day off during the week, another works afternoons and evenings and so we can meet in the mornings, a pilot friend works irregular shifts and is irregularly available on weekdays, stay at home parents, even an athlete with training hours that I can sometimes gatecrash.
I'm absolutely not a coffee connoisseur. I like my coffee super hot - baristas recoil in horror as I place my order.
For me, a cup of coffee is a simple pleasure, code for a time out, to sit back, relax, read a book, watch the world go by, or a time to spend with friends and generally talk the biggest load of nonsense. I'm even smiling just thinking about it.
I used to go for coffee with colleagues when I worked, but you had to watch the clock. It's different now.
Fame, if not fortune
I think it was Andy Warhol who said that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. Well, I'm not sure if I've had mine yet, but I was excited during the year to have one of my posts featured on Rockstar Finance, and to also feature in articles in Forbes.com and The National. Thanks guys😊
Taking early retirement has hit a reset button in me in a number of different ways, and appreciating value is one of them. It's not about low cost, or cheap versus expensive, it's about the personal value to me rather than monetary value.
For sure we're on a smaller budget than when I was working, so I think more about what I buy, do I really want it, will I use it?
It's not about going without, but knowing that when I buy something I will appreciate and value it. It feels right.
We're not yet doing real travelling, our plan for that starts next July. I'm going to book the flights next week (here's the first blog post that I did about our travel plans - I need to do an update).
But I haven't done badly for my "not real travelling" this year:
February - skiing in the French Alps.
May trip 1 - Prague with friends. Ran Prague marathon plus sightseeing.
May trip 2 - Germany with a friend. Sightseeing in Berlin and then a 73km trail run in Eisenach.
July/August - Long holiday with the family to UK, Switzerland and France.
September - Took my son to university in the UK and visited my daughter in Switzerland.
I'm nervously looking forward to the real travelling starting in July 2018. The plan isn't finalised, but probably a first leg of 3-4 months to Bali, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and India.
So that's my list of some of the things I've enjoyed about my first year of early retirement.
The new things have been the blogging and a bit more travelling, others are mostly an extension of things I used to do - I can now do them some more or in a more leisurely fashion, and then there is not having to put up with things such as stress.
My secret weapon has been my exercising, which I do five times a week and always in a group/with friends. As well as keeping me in shape, it guarantees me social contact, offsetting the reduction in workplace social contact that can come with retirement.
I'm seeing a theme when I write about what I do or, in this case, what I've enjoyed. The items don't appear to be overly exciting. OK, there is the odd exception such as travelling, but things like reflecting, blogging, coffee, appreciating value hardly sets the heart racing.
But the thing is, I'm enjoying myself, I'm happy, and I don't want to turn the clock back. One thing I've learned is that, for my first year of early retirement to be a success, I've had to find things to do, but they've mostly been normal type things, not too far removed to where my interests and enjoyment already existed. That's perhaps obvious now, but it's different to what I envisaged - maybe knowing that you don't have to turn your life on it's head to enjoy retirement will be useful for others considering their own retirement plans.