This is the final post in my Early Retirement Review mini series. After completing my first year of early retirement, it's been interesting to look back on what's gone right and whether anything hasn't worked out as expected. If you missed the other posts and want to read them, click on the links below:
So far, the posts have been about the past, about how things went during my first year of early retirement. I'm glad it went well, but the past is done, it's time to move on to my plans for early retirement year 2.
Planning has been important
I'm convinced that making these plans is very important, and that my first year of early retirement went well because I put in place strategies and the effort to have the best chance of success.
Many people said I would be bored, lonely, and would soon change my tune and want to go back to work. None of those things have happened. I think the key was maintaining structure in my daily life, routines, timetables, activities and targets.
Some would say that sounds like work, so why not actually work a job and get paid. But it's quite different, they're my routines, timetables, activities and targets. I choose to do them when and how I want and it's me who decides whether I'm pleased with how they've gone - I think it's called freedom. I don't want to swap that.
I'm also starting to figure out some things about purpose, the important "thing or things" that make us excited to get out of bed in the morning. Our "raison d'être", the reason for being - one of the few bits of French that I know.
I've been keeping my eyes peeled to find this purpose, waiting for the thunderclap or lightbulb moment when I shout "eureka" or "aha" at the top of my voice in the middle of the supermarket, the cinema, or wherever I happen to be when the lightbulb goes on.
Was I starting to worry that after a year of early retirement, this purpose was still elusive? Not really, but it was nice to read a comment on another blog yesterday that helped me out.
The comment was that your purpose will probably change over time. It doesn't sound earth shattering, but it made sense to me. By finding that it doesn't have to be a forever thing, I realised that it also doesn't always have to be a big thing, just something that's right for me in my current stage of life.
Understanding this has made the matter of purpose much less daunting. It also got me thinking about how my early retired purpose might compare to a regular nine to fiver still working a job. I've assumed that they all have their purpose clear in their mind, but I bet the truth is that they don't. What would most of them say anyway? My purpose is to go to work and earn some money? Nothing wrong with that, but I don't exactly feel awestruck!
Maybe I've digressed. But I do think purpose is important, and is something that I have struggled with a little in this first year. It's not that I've been bored (I haven't), it's just that I felt like I should be able to explain my purpose if someone asked. And if I couldn't then I must be failing a bit. And if I think that, then others either in the beginning stages of early retirement or contemplating it may feel the same.
So what I've concluded is that I did have a purpose last year, it's just that I've only figured it out after the fact. My purpose was to get used to early retirement, to make it a success, to not find it boring, and to want to take early retirement forward to year 2. Strange or not, and even though I didn't realise that was my purpose at the time, it did make me excited to get out of bed in the morning, and got me doing some things that I wouldn't otherwise have done.
And good news, at the start of year 2 of early retirement, I already have a purpose, before the fact this time. And I have a plan. Which came first, I don't know, and it doesn't matter.
Year 2 Plan
My plan for this year mostly writes itself. I have a framework of big plans, and then some smaller things to fit in around these.
Three big events. We're leaving Dubai on 7 July 2018, the air ticket is booked and paid for. We then go traveling in Australia and Asia for four months. And in November we will get our apartment in the French Alps, and have to furnish it in time for Christmas. That sounds like an eventful year to me.
Throw in a couple of marathons, Dubai and Boston, visits to Zurich and UK to see the kids, a trip to New York (I've never been and it's close to Boston), and it's starting to seem quite busy.
And of course that lot won't just happen by chance. There is a ton of investigation and planning to be done for the travels to Australia and Asia, and we have to downsize our life in Dubai, decide what personal items to keep and arrange to donate, gift or sell whatever is left before leaving Dubai. Oh, and close bank accounts, redirect mail, cancel utilities, and a heap of other stuff connected with moving countries. How am I going to fit it all in?
And I still have my targets list from last year, so I'm going to keep an eye on that and keep some of those plans alive. I think I'll update that a little the next time I look at it.
I'm pleased that I can say I have my purpose for this year worked out, and I enter year 2 of my early retirement excited by what I have planned, a little nervous about some of them, certain that I'm going to be busy and not bored, and generally patting myself on the back that early retirement is still looking to be a good choice.