While writing my last post is retirement making me slow, and does it matter?, I recalled a similar previous post, retirement = brain mush. Maybe I was repeating myself because my brain really is turning to mush, or perhaps getting a little older is making me forget what I've written previously?
Alternatively, the reason I return to certain topics could be because they're the ingredients required for a great early retirement. I like this idea better, and that's the logic I'm going to run with.
What are the subjects that I keep coming back to? It might not be the most scientific approach, but I looked through the titles of the 258 posts that I've written, and these were the subjects that seemed to come up most often:
2. Making Plans/Setting targets
3. Consider your partner
5. What I do/Adventures
6. Learning from others
7. Looking after ourselves
Now to dive into each of these topics in a little more detail. I've included links to some of those older posts in case you want to dip into some of them, but don't worry, I'm not expecting anyone to try to look at them all!
Not exactly a surprise - having enough money and ensuring we don't spend more that we can afford are prerequisites for early retirement. Every month I track and post our actual spend and, less frequently, I post about our income, investment portfolio or the dangers of trying to keep up with the Joneses. There are too many posts to list individually, but they are all included within the money section.
2. Making plans/setting targets
I set targets at the start of each year and track my progress against them each month. Targets give me something to aim for, a purpose, help me get some chores done and out of the way, and encourage me to accomplish the things I want to achieve. Some of my posts show how I try to work out what my plans could be which isn't always easy, others identify some of the things that haven't quite worked out.
Everyone's different, but I doubt whether my early retirement would work so well without my planning and target setting process. In addition to my monthly target tracker which appears within the money section, below are some other posts that touch on planning and target setting.
By the way, plans can change, and it's been interesting for me to look through some of these posts, see some of the ideas that I had, find that while some have come to fruition, others are still on the to do list, and realise that some have simply dropped away.
3. Consider your partner
Retiring early has highlighted that Sally and I often have different interests and different priorities, something that hadn't been evident when we were busy working and bringing up our kids. I hadn't thought enough about this ahead of time - it's the one thing that I would have done differently in my original early retirement thought process/decision making.
I know, routines sound super boring, but they're my secret early retirement weapon. I've lived most of my life with routine, so to carry these over into early retirement made sense to me. They help me get my chores done, help me stay fit and healthy, and also keep me on track so that I get to do the fun stuff.
5. What I do / Adventures (includes Travel for me)
What do I do? This is probably the question I get asked most often when I tell people that I'm retired. I also want my early retirement to be memorable, and perhaps a little adventurous, at least in terms of my defininition of adventure. In my mind, this often means making a choice so that I'm not going to look back later and say "I wish..." and trying to say yes rather than no to things. There are more posts, particularly about travel, than the ones I've listed below, but theses are the biggies.
6. Learning from others
As an ex-accountant, I'm unlikely to be the most imaginative of people! So while I do try to come up with some ideas of my own, seeing what and how other people are doing things is a good strategy, and super interesting too. And thinking back to my original retire early decision, reading about people who had already made the leap was exactly the type of information I was searching for.
7. Looking after ourselves/exercise
Four years before I retired, I weighed 104kg and while not totally inactive, I guess I was on a downward slope in terms of the activity that I did. One day, a member of my team at work asked me why I'd got fat? While that was a bit harsh, it was also the kick that I needed, because he was right. I decided two things. One, it would be easier (less difficult) to shift the weight then rather than five or ten years down the line when it might have been more and I would have been older. And two, I knew that I could enjoy life more, be able to do more things, if I was fit and healthy. I haven't changed my mind since - staying fit and healthy is absolutely one of my top early retirement priorities. I now weigh 77kg, that's 26% less than when I started to look after myself better.
So, based on the subjects that I seem to return to time and again, I have my recipe for a successful early retirement:
Making Plans/Setting targets
Consider your partner
What I do/Adventures
Learning from others
Looking after ourselves
Decide on the quanties that suit you, then mix well
Whatever you want. For me today, that's a coffee, a smile, and a weekend ski trip with my daughter.
Feel free to add your own ingredients...I'd be interested to know what changes you'd make.