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Early retirement - small things make a difference

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’m relaxed

  • 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.

Camping one year ago - a long way from lockdown

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.


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6 comentários

David @iRetiredYoung
David @iRetiredYoung
22 de mai. de 2020

Hi Joe, I like when you say that early retirement isn't just about money. In my view, early retirement is about the choices, the freedoms, the things we do. Money doesn't feature on that list although it is of course required to let us to have these choices, freedoms etc. Also like you say, attitude and adaptability are just as important.


You're doing early retirement right. This is why it's good to have a trial run. Some people will have a harder time adjusting. If so, they can just go back to work. Early retirement isn't just about money. A lot of it depends on attitude and adaptability. Enjoy!


David @iRetiredYoung
David @iRetiredYoung
20 de mai. de 2020

Hi Dickie, lockdown issues aside, I think spring/summer is a great time to start your early retirement as it's easier to get outside and do things during the longer and sunnier days. By the time winter comes, you'll have some routines sorted.

I've found Expedition Happiness on Netflix and Sally has agreed that we'll watch it this the dream😀

Kind of by accident, my early retirement started a little like yours. I took a 6 week break before going back to a part-time consultancy role that I had let myself be persuaded to do. I really disliked the consultancy (I'd chosen to leave, why was I back?) but working for 3 days a week for a couple of months…


Hi David, life sounds pretty awesome and it's good to see there are activities making you contented now that you hadn't thought about when you started the journey.

I read the 2017 and 2019 posts which were interesting, they look a lot like what I am up to at the moment, although I have 3 days left until I officially retire my work has all but dried up as I've handed over responsibilities to my successor, it's allowing me to ease into retirement spending time cycling, running and doing things around the house which I really enjoy.

I didn't respond to your post on Van life, it sounds a great plan :-) and something we've looked into but have put…


David @iRetiredYoung
David @iRetiredYoung
15 de mai. de 2020

I think that in the end, a leap of faith is involved in the final early retirement decision. I found that while I had my job, my mind was stuck in that life and not able to imagine what my next life might be. What I enjoy about different blogs, is picking people who have a story and lifestyle that is relatable to me and seeing what they do, what works and what doesn't. I get inspiration from others.

I certainly don't regret my RE decision, and if I ever wanted to change back to something else, there's nothing to stop me. Maybe I wouldn't get a job that paid as much, but that's just vanity as I'm already FI…

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