I often return to the reason I started my blog. I remember struggling to figure out if retiring early would be the right move, worrying about the money and trying to imagine how I'd fill my new free time and whether I'd be bored. My blog idea was to record my experiences, what's worked/not worked, in case it's helpful to someone else going through the same thought/decision process.
In this post, I'm returning to the "what would I do/would I be bored? question. Thankfully, it's something I seem to have got right - I don't often find myself with nothing to do or feeling bored.
Having some "go to" activities worked well for me as I headed into early retirement. In my case, there were three things.
Running (and some cycling, I later added skiing)
Travel planning and then the actual travelling
I probably spend some time on at least one of these items every day. Running was already part of my pre-retirement life, but the plans for my blog and for travelling were new things. Each made it onto my early retirement planning whiteboard, and even though my planning seems rather scant in hindsight, it was enough to kick off my early retirement in a positive way.
In fact, although I stressed about what I thought was an inadequate plan at the time, I've since realised that I didn't need a list as long as my arm or the foresight to know what I'd do every moment of every day. Simply having my three go to activities provided structure and gave me sufficient core pursuits in my new early retirement free time.
For example, I found that during a two week period in 2019 when I kept a what I do and am I bored timesheet (I know it sounds sad😏), almost 50% of my nine to five time was spent on those three activities. By the way, I also kept track of what my normal early retirement life looked like for four weeks in 2017 - so I did the sad timesheet thing not just once, but twice🤦♂️
In a way, I'm glad I didn't have everything planned out in advance. While a fair amount of my time is taken up with my exercise/sport, blog and travel activities, there's space to add new things as they arise, which is a freedom I like.
I also notice that both my exercise and blog activities require routine. I want my Garmin app to show that I've exercised at least four, but ideally five, times a week, and I've set myself a schedule to publish a blog post every Friday. I like routine, and, for me, I'm sure it's helpful that two of my go to activities require method and order.
While I'm convinced planning is a key part of a successful early retirement, I've also discovered that it's neither possible nor necessary to plan everything. So if that's what you're struggling with, perhaps you needn't stress about it too much. Instead, you might find it easier to think of three or four go to activities (maybe two substantial ones is OK too) that can form a core of your early retirement and which can be added to once you find your early retirement feet.
So that's today's post, short and sweet. Four years into my early retirement, my short list of go to activities still works for me. For today, blog activity done✔, now maybe I'll go for a run🏃♂️