Is the sheen on early retirement starting to wear off?
Over the past month, I've posted about my first year of early retirement, and concluded that it went pretty well. So it's ironic that the very next week, I wake up feeling low.
What's the Problem?
Last Monday was a bit of a shock to my system. At the start of the day, I felt a little lost - what would I do today? The start of the week for us is Sunday, so I couldn't put it down to our equivalent of that Monday morning feeling.
The normal things I fill my day with didn't grab me. I had no plans to meet up with anyone and, for the first time, the apartment walls felt like they were closing in. This feeling unnerved me more than I thought it should.
It's what people considering retirement worry about. They wonder if this is what a normal retirement day will feel like, unenthused with the to do list, a bit bored and somewhat lonely? It concerned me ahead of my decision to retire early, and I see the same anxiety in some of the comments to my posts.
Maybe this isn't an exciting story, but because it is what people worry about, I think it's worth sharing the experience.
What's changed to make me feel like this?
How come I was feeling fine and positive one week, and in the doldrums the next? This isn't an exact science, but I feel these were the main contributing factors:
Routine - or more accurately, the lack of one
I wrote a post previously about routine being my secret weapon. Over Christmas, my wife had taken holiday from work, and our grown up kids had come home - it was a fun time, but my routine went out of the window for three weeks.
Christmas over, Sally is back at work and the kids have left, but I hadn't switched my routine back on. I'm now doing that, and it's actually taking a little effort and time (I guess in much the same way it did when I started my early retirement).
There are less people around
As I said, Sally and the kids were at home over Christmas, and now Sally is back at work during the day and the kids have gone back to their homes. Thinking about it, it's obvious that the place would seem quieter. I'd got used to them being here during the day, now I need to get used to them not being here again.
Peaks and Troughs
I guess throughout life we have a series of ups and downs. I think I've been on a high having spent time over the last month reflecting on my good first year of early retirement, and I'm excited about the plans that we have for this year.
The trouble is that last year is done, and while we have exciting plans for this year, they aren't until February and April, and throughout the second half of the year.
It's not long to wait, but I suspect I found myself in a mental dip, because I want to get on with these plans now, but I'm having to wait.
I watched Suits
Huh, what? OK, when I retired early, I decided that it didn't make sense paying for a cleaning service that included the ironing, so I now hold the grand title of chief ironer in our household (in addition to chief toilet cleaner etc). It's obviously not my dream role, but I don't mind it - I get set up, put the TV on and iron away.
Normally I watch a documentary or some sports, but this time I found Suits on Netflix. I'm a bit flaky about this reasoning, but did watching Suits make me miss work life a bit? Dashing business people, doing deals, making money, the office banter. I don't know, could it be?
How to get out of my funk
My blog's great! Haha, I'm not meaning to blow my own trumpet. What I mean is that my blog is great for me. Why's that? Well, I felt down on Monday, and thinking that it's a legitimate topic for my blog, I've spent some time thinking through the possible reasons for my "ughh" feeling. That's been a useful exercise.
Firstly, it's helped me put things into perspective. It's one day and, yeah, I didn't feel great but, in the grand scheme of things, not so bad either. I had plenty of tough days when I was at work, that's for sure.
It's reminded me to get back into the habits that work for me. Routine for sure, which should be straight forward as it's just a matter of consciously getting back into the routine I previously had.
As to the plans that I'm excited about but aren't quite for now. Well, they're not far off, and I actually have some work to do on them in advance, so doing that will get me involved in the excitement before the actual events. I'll incorporate these into my routine.
And remember perspective - it isn't that I've been in a funk for ever. Later in the week, I went out for breakfast with a group of friends, and I also went running and cycling in the early evening. Good social activities. And the endorphins from the exercise is a boost to the system as well, which naturally makes us feel better.
As to Suits, I'm not sure that was a real contributor and it's just a TV program anyway. Even if I stretch my imagination, I can't recall my workplace being anything like that.
It's now the end of the week. Normal retired early service is getting back on track, even if not quite fully resumed. Another week and I'll be back into my routines I'm sure. My mother would have said that "one swallow doesn't make a summer", and likewise one bad day doesn't make a bad early retirement. And generally, my Mum tended to be right.
Oh, and an Unrelated News Flash
I got a new personal best 10km run time. 38m 47s. You're probably not interested, but don't think that's going to stop me telling you😀🏃