My last post was an Update from the Reluctant Retiree, aka my wife, Sally. This week, I'm looking at the accidental retiree, aka, me.
When I worked, it's true that saving for our security and future was one of my priorities, but I had no serious thought to retire early at a certain age. That idea appeared suddenly after a rough time at work. I decided I wanted out, did some sums, and was surprised to discover that maybe I had some options. I went from not thinking about early retirement to deciding to do it within a 24 hour period (even if dotting the i's, crossing the t's, and finding the courage to hand in my notice took a few more months). If it had been part of a grand plan, I'd be the deliberate early retiree, but I reckon that making a decision within a 24 hour period puts me in accidental retiree territory.
Sally and I approach our retired lives quite differently. I set a morning alarm, like a plan, set targets, make to do lists and try to imagine new adventures or things to do. While I get to the end of my day hoping that I can tick some things off my list, Sally might say it's a good day if she's ticked off "slept in, relaxed and watched Murder She Wrote"!🤣
That's not to say that one route is better than the other, we're all different and have to figure out what works for us. But as the last post was about Sally's early retirement, I figured it only fair that this one looked a little at how I go about my early retirement i.e. what works for me.
I might have started as an accidental retiree, but it helped that it was my choice
This is the only section where I'm going to compare my approach to Sally's. Retiring early was my choice and, because of that, I put some time and effort into planning for it. Granted it was a rather simple plan, but it set me off on the right track with some things to do and with the right mindset to go with it. I'm convinced this helped. On the other hand, Sally, as the reluctant retiree, didn't go through that same process, and I wonder if this is part of the reason why she's still trying to find her early retirement feet.
I had a plan from the get go, and I update it annually
So from day one, I had a list of things to do to keep busy. It always helps to start off on the right foot and that's what my plan helped me do. But that original plan was made in 2016, and things change, so my plan gets updated via my target setting that I do each January.
I have routines that give my life structure
This works well for me, maybe because I used to be an accountant which was a very routine, structured and rule led career, so I like the familiarity of carrying these things into my early retirement life. I set an alarm in the morning, allow myself to watch TV or YouTube before 9am, but after that not until the evening. I like the routine of setting targets and that I review them once a month to see how I'm doing. I like that I've set myself a blog posting timetable. And I like that on Saturday and Sunday, I can be a little bit, or even quite a lot, lazy. It makes sense to me that having had structure in most of my life, that I carry that into early retirement. I like to do new things, but mixed with some familiar structure is what works best for me.
I have 3 or 4 core activities
Having these activities mean that I will have something to do . For me, these include my exercise (mostly running, but skiing, ski touring (aka backcountry) and cycling too), my blog, life and financial admin and our investments. To these, other things get added, chats over coffee with friends, whatever is on my target list for the year, perhaps travel, and of course the normal household chores. It's very rare that I'll be bored!
I set myself targets and things to do, some of which are challenging and not all are ordinary
Each January, I think about what I want to do in the year ahead. It tends to be a mixed list of things I want to do, places I want to go, things I think I should do and chores that I need a shove to actually get done. My targets are things I'm excited about and look forward to, a way of keeping the structure that I like in my life, a go-to list of things to do if I'm faced with a quiet moment. It's also a place to come up with ideas that might challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone.
I take myself out of my comfort zone at times
I recognise that my life needs to include some challenge, that it's healthy to push the boundaries of my comfort zone now and again. That's something that used to come with my job, but now it's up to me to design this into my life. It might be travelling with a backpack and staying in hostels, entering races where either a time target or the distance feels scary, climbing a mountain (not yet done) or starting a blog, trying to figure out off-piste skiing, or a whole host of other things.
I could go on, but feel these are the topics that are at the heart of making my early retirement a success. Writing them down makes it sound boring, but I guess that doesn't matter if it works. These items mean that I'm busy, feel a sense of purpose and still have challenge in my life. You might say that's what I got from my job, and you'd be right, but now I have them without the stress, with time/calendar flexibility, and the chance to do new things that I had neither the time nor the mindset for previously.
As I said earlier, there isn't one right or wrong way to retire (early or otherwise). Besides writing this post, and going for a run, my other task for today was to plan out my calendar for the rest of the year. It's already getting hectic, and I don't think I can fit in all the things that I want to do. I take that as proof that my early retirement continues to go well.