So what’s this early retirement thing about? Last year, my Dad visited and while here he said “you know something David, I really don’t get what your early retirement life is about”.
Some big things have happened since day one of early retirement. I’ve travelled in a way I’d never done before, moved countries for a reason that wasn’t work, and stressful days are a thing of the past. Things my Dad already knows, but don’t seem to answer his question.
This morning, I sat on the deck having a coffee. It’s a weekday, 10:30am, and if I were to define contentment, this morning comes pretty close. Such moments feel super luxurious even though they’re not so uncommon these days. What made me feel so contented on this particular morning, these are the things that came to mind:
I’ve become a vegetarian
I no longer accept normal is enough
I’m now a skier…in fact I’m currently living in a ski resort
I’m a blogger
I’m more adventurous
I’m currently alcohol free
I actually want to stretch after running
I’ve gone traveling
I’m planning a camper conversion
OK, I didn't suddenly do all of these things this morning, and it might seem an odd list, but they are the things I thought of as I drank my coffee. Another morning will probably have a different list. I imagine my Dad is now even more confused!
Thinking back to my old, pre-early retirement life, weekday mornings would likely have been thinking about a deadline, a meeting to be prepared for, or a problem that needed solving. Pick a different work morning and it would be much the same. I remember being told that early retirement would be boring, but instead my early retirement weekday mornings cover a much broader range of things than when I worked.
For sure, early retirement has allowed me to enjoy some big ticket items - travel, for example, was on my early retirement plan and something I've done. What's surprised me are the smaller things, the little changes in lifestyle and the new things I’ve tried. Things like becoming a vegetarian, enjoying stretching after running or my current alcohol free "experiment" feel like a surprising treat.
Something else is that out of the ten things on my "what made me contented today" list, only three of them were on the radar of my early retirement plan, the other seven have evolved since.
So why am I writing about this? I remember how difficult it was trying to imagine what early retirement might look like, and maybe sharing my experience will help someone with their own early retirement thinking. I know that pre-early retirement, I didn't realise how many new and diverse experiences I'd discover or that the smaller things are often as rewarding as the bigger ones. It's been a pleasant surprise.
In case you're wondering what more than a morning of "normal" early retirement can look like, I was sad enough to keep a timesheet of one month of early retirement life in 2017 and another two weeks of early retirement life in 2019. Or for the more adventurous part of early retirement life, there's my four months of travels in 2018 and three months of travelling in 2019.
Also this morning, my photo app threw up a memory from this day last year, when I took my bike and a tent and camped on the shores of Lake Geneva. What a difference a year makes! Fortunately, our lockdown is cautiously being eased, but camping trips are not yet in the plan. So instead, we are taking small steps which, for today, means keeping this post short, making another coffee, and enjoy being contented a little more.