It's Friday morning, 11 o'clock, and I'm looking out of the window at the mountains. I'm not at work because some time back I decided to change direction and retired early.
Three years ago today, I wrote my letter of resignation, although notice periods and some part time consulting meant early retirement only started nine months later on 1 January 2017. I haven't regretted my decision to retire early, not even once.
I can't help but smile thinking about the life I have. Looking at the mountains from my window is a simple thing, but it's often the little day to day things that give the most pleasure. I pinch myself to remember that this is now normal life. I feel lucky, but also conscious that we played our part in getting to where we are. Opportunities appear, but whether we grasp them is down to us.
I wrote a previous post about five early retirement positives I didn't expect. They were mostly little things with a bigger impact. Along the same lines, here are some more things that I enjoy about my early retirement:
Learning a language
I'm not sure that learning French should fall within the enjoy category - I'm simply too rubbish and embarrassed at the moment. Despite that, I'm giving it a go, and it feels like a good thing to do. I can walk into the supermarket and tell the cashier my name, my age and where I live. For some reason, they don't seem to be very interested🤣
Being a vegetarian
My friend lent me the book Eat & Run by Scott Jurek, an American ultra-marathoner. Although I'm interested in running, my prior experience of running books and films consisted of watching Forrest Gump.
Unsurprisingly, the book is about eating and running. The eating parts describe Jurek's conversion to a plant based diet, at least in part for health reasons, and this inspired me to try a vegetarian diet.
So I've been a vegetarian for just over a year now and, to be honest, I haven't noticed a difference in how I feel. But at the same time, I haven't found a reason to stop. I enjoy my vegetarian food, and don't miss meat particularly. Plus I feel I'm being nice to the animals and the environment as well.
I still think it's weird that I have a blog - a few years back I hardly knew what one was. It's become a hobby that entertains me, and also connects me to an interesting community. Even more amazing is that some people read it...thank you🙏
I don't advocate sitting in front of the computer all day long - I probably do too much of that. But finding some blogs on subjects that interest you, and perhaps engaging with them, can be an interesting part of an early retirement day. Or if you're really strange, you could even start your own blog.
Downsizing our accommodation didn't enter my mind while I was still working, I was too busy on the hamster wheel of life to give it any thought.
I'm not entirely sure why I like that we've downsized, but it does instinctively feel right. I think it has something to do with a simpler life, one biased towards needs over extravagant consumption, and therefore more conscious of my surroundings and the environment.
I don't regret that we had larger houses in the past, but I now realise they weren't really necessary and, if I were to have my time again, I would stick to properties that met rather than exceeded my requirements.
If you spot me staring vacantly into the distance, I'm thinking, or at least that's what I'm going to tell you!
But seriously, as I said in an earlier post, I love that I have the time to let my mind wander, to think about other things. I'm sure it sounds like nothing, but it's something that I'm really appreciating.
Realising that not everything needs to be planned
I've traditionally been a worrier and a planner, the latter at least was useful for my job. I haven't lost these traits entirely, but I am more relaxed about things these days.
I might make an outline plan, and then fill in the detail as I go. I've figured out that it's OK to adapt as you go along, and that most things can be fixed even if you happen to make a wrong turn. It's a different mindset for me, and I think a useful one going into early retirement.
Many people are at least a little scared of retirement. Will the money last, what will I do, will I be bored or lonely? For sure it's a good idea to make plans, but realising that not everything needs or can be planned, and that things can be adjusted as you go along, is a good mindset to have when setting out on the retirement journey.
Realising that hardly any clothes actually need ironing
A definite early retirement win that I learned while we travelled. Almost no clothes need to be ironed when you're retired. I think in the last nine months, I've ironed two shirts and one pair of trousers. If you think that makes me a bit scruffy, I don't care🤣
I don't need so much stuff - much of the stuff we have really isn't necessary
I keep coming back to this, so it must be quite a big thing for me. I've realised that I don't need much stuff, and of all the things that I used to have, much of it wasn't necessary.
I'm not an eco warrior, but I do care for the environment, and I find myself questioning the consumptionist behaviour that frequently seems to be more the norm than the exception. I've always cared to a degree, but it's certainly a greater interest now.
This a new topic for me, and possibly the subject of a separate post of its own. After more than two years of early retirement living, I have a good grasp of my early retirement income and costs. Financially, we're going to be just fine.
While we've made donations now and again to causes close to our hearts, early retirement has given me time to think more about these things, particularly society and community, and whether I could and should be doing something.
My conclusion is yes, I would like to do something, and this month we started that journey by setting up a monthly donation. It's a baby step, but a start. Deciding on the what, why and how was actually much harder than I imagined, which is why it may be an interesting topic for a post of it's own.
These maybe a random collection of small things, but each plays a part in making my early retirement thoroughly enjoyable. The only item that appeared on my original early retirement plan and also on this list is blogging. The other things have developed my since and are helping make my early retirement a success.
I understand that many people are worried about retirement, it can feel like it's the end of the road of what normal life has been. It's right to question whether the money will last, what will we do, will we be bored or lonely?
But it's also right to realise that retirement gives the time and mind space to do new things. You probably won't be able to think of what they are ahead of time but, as I have found out, it's surprising how many new things come along once you have the time and mind space for them.
For this reason, retirement perhaps shouldn't be as much of a scary thing as some people fear. Instead, it's an opportunity, but it's up to us to decide whether we're going to grasp it.