[Happy Friday! Please welcome today, a good blogging bud of mine, ESI from ESIMoney.com. He recently retired at 52 and gained a whole new appreciation for what life has to offer. And spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve money or a high-powered career! Both of which he retired from once he realized enough was enough (his “enough,” btw? $3 million :)) Take it away, ESI!]
When I retired last fall at 52, I thought I knew exactly what retirement would be like. Many of the expectations I had did come true, but there were several surprises as well.
Today I’ll share my revelations in hopes those of you considering early retirement might be better prepared for it.
#1. Mondays Became the Best Day of the Week
Monday was my archenemy for decades.
I worked as a marketing executive for 28 years, many of them in high-pressure jobs. The sinking feeling would start about 4 pm on Sunday — dreading the work week to come.
Then Monday would hit and it’d be the low point of my week. Each day got better than the previous one until we hit Friday. It was all great from there. Until Sunday at 4 pm again.
Now, Monday is my favorite day of the week. It signals the beginning of five days of peace and quiet. The gym is less busy, the stores are less busy, restaurants are less busy, everything is less busy — because people are at work. It’s quiet, and I like it.
#2. My Colleagues Can’t Accept I’m Retired
There’s a whole host of reactions you get when you retire early. Most of them are quite comical because people are literally stunned. This is especially the case when you’re a C-level executive (or higher), and you retire during your most lucrative decade of earning power.
I expected people to be a bit shocked, but I didn’t foresee them constantly pushing new jobs at me like I needed to work or my life was over. Colleagues after colleagues send me new job openings all the time now. I have more recruiters than ever even connecting on LinkedIn and forwarding me job listings (some are pretty good actually!).
Even people I just meet aren’t satisfied with my retirement.
I had coffee the other day with a friend of a friend because the original friend said we should meet. The new guy spent the whole time brainstorming how he could help me find a job. Ugh. I feel like an unmarried, 30-year-old woman whose Jewish mother keeps pushing bachelors her way so she’ll get married even though she doesn’t want to be married.
#3. I’m Busier than Ever
When you work 50+ hours a week for most of a career and have a family along with personal interests, you’re very busy. Life is hectic. That’s just the way it is.
I expected things would calm down dramatically when I retired, but I now seem to have more to do than ever.
The difference is that I went from doing things I HAD to do, though, to doing things I WANT to do. Which makes all the difference in the world.
Still, I’m swamped.
I’ve been ramping up my blog writing (which is quite fun and gives me a creative and intellectual outlet). I started working out at a faster pace. I developed a plan to climb Pikes Peak this summer. I got involved in more aspects of planning my daughter’s college career. I started helping my son find his life calling. I dramatically upped my video game playing time (from virtually nothing to an hour or so a day at the present time (Horizon Zero Dawn FTW!!!)). I joined a non-profit board that helps the homeless. And I’m planning several trips with various members of my family.
On and on it goes. Most of the things on my to-do list simply move to the next day’s undone.
I was one of those people who used to think “What will I do all day in retirement?” I then moved to “I’ll find things to do”, so I made the leap. Now, I’m wondering, “How will I get it all done?”
But I am doing what I want, which makes this a “fun busy”. So I don’t mind.
#4. I’m In The Best Physical Shape of My Life
I started working with a trainer about 18 months ago. Up until retirement, I had made tremendous progress. I added 20 pounds of muscle and dramatically improved my cardio conditioning (which has always been good.) As a result, I almost completely eliminated back issues that I had for over 20 years.
I thought I’d continue on the same pace during retirement, but the freedom of time and lack of stress has really taken my workouts up a notch.
In addition, since I’m at home more, I can control better what I eat — which has always been my weak spot as it’s so hard to eat well at the office (at least for me). They say being in good shape is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. I so wish the percentages were reversed!
When I was younger, I could work out and eat pretty much whatever I wanted. No longer. As I gained that extra muscle, I didn’t lose much fat, so my weight went up (even while my waist size shrunk).
After retirement, I decided to get serious about eating well. I went high protein and low carb. Since the start of the year I have lost 16 pounds of mostly fat. In addition, I was given my third cardio test and my VO2 max was in the “excellent” range for my age. It was so good that it’s even in the “good” range for a 20-year-old.
Who would have thought my best physical years would be after 50?
#5. I’ve Gotten Very Comfortable Wearing Casual Clothes
I’m not going to say I have always been an uptight dresser. Let’s just say I was always dressed for the occasion. I like to look nice and professional whether at work, church, or even out shopping. I’m not wearing $1,000 suits by any means, but I like to be dressed “nicely” wherever I go.
Cue the workout pants. You know, the baggy, comfortable ones similar to what basketball players wear during warm-ups? They refresh my soul.
It took me about three days to go from button-down Bob to casual Clyde.
Do you know how comfortable workout pants are? Answer: VERY comfortable. These are for colder temperatures. Do you know how comfortable shorts are? Answer: VERY comfortable. These are for warmer temperatures.
Both are accompanied by a t-shirt and/or a Columbia thin pullover depending on the temperature.
These are now my clothing wear of choice. I haven’t donned even a pair of Dockers more than twice in eight months (I did wear a pair to a funeral, however). I’ve gotten to the point where even putting on jeans feels like I’m “dressing up”. And they just aren’t as comfortable as I like.
We even joke at my non-profit board meetings that I dress up for them by wearing my “nice” workout pants or shorts.
But what do I care? I don’t have anyone to impress.
Consider Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and the like. No dressing up there. They don’t (didn’t in Jobs’ case) care what they are wearing, they just want to be comfortable. And while I don’t have billions like they do, I am financially independent and can wear whatever I want.
Much different than my pre-retirement days…
#6. My Family Relationships Are Much Better
I assumed that retirement would give me more time with family, but I didn’t know how meaningful and far-reaching this time would be.
Here’s a sampling of the impact so far:
- My wife and I take two 45-minute walks a day now (we live in Colorado, so even much of winter is walkable). It gives us lots of time to connect and talk. Great for our relationship.
- I developed a reading plan for my son to help him discover what career he wants. We discuss each book and his notes on it. He’s also my Tuesday movie buddy (half-priced tickets!) since we like the same kind of shows.
- My daughter and I go out regularly to eat (we both like Mexican), shop (she’s hooked on Bath and Body Works), or have coffee. We talk a lot about what she wants to do with her life, what to expect in college, etc. She’s totally prepared. We’ll be taking her senior trip to Seattle and Portland this summer and I’ll be dropping her off at college in the fall.
- I have been able to see my parents a few times since retirement — way more than the twice-annual visits we had before. In addition, my dad will be coming to see us in June.
- I was able to re-connect with my cousin on one trip to see my parents. I had the time (of course) that I never had before, so I asked if he was available. He was and we had a great breakfast. It was awesome!
- I was able to attend my Aunt’s funeral, and even be at the hospital right before she passed. Having a job would have not afforded me the time (or at least as much time) for either of these.
In addition to helping connect with family, being retired has allowed me to connect with friends. I attended my college reunion last fall and got to see my three best friends from that time. I would have NEVER spent a week doing that had I been working. And I hadn’t planned on it even once I retired, but the new, more relaxed, me thought “what the heck!” and I went. So glad I did. I’ll be headed back to college homecoming this year too!
This is probably the most rewarding part of early retirement for me and completely unexpected. It’s been a great surprise.
#7. I’m Learning and Growing More than Ever
Retirement is the time to kick back, down-shift, and relax, right? The time to coast on all the work we’ve done up to this point, similar to the Falcons in the second half of the Super Bowl? (Oh wait, that didn’t work out so well)
Well, let’s just say that coasting is not for me. I’m pushing forward more than I ever have and am loving it! I am learning and growing in ways I completely didn’t expect.
- I’m reading more than ever. The library and I are on a first-name basis. I’m there several times a week. I’m reading on personal growth, fitness, blogging, and a whole host of non-fiction topics. I also have time to read fiction and am catching up on John Grisham’s stuff, as well as a Batman graphic novel here and there.
- I’m learning from YouTube. You can find videos on how to do anything these days. Now that I have time, I’m learning how to cook (especially grill), how to do simple repairs around the house (I’m not “handy” yet, but I’m getting there), how to travel hack (still a neophyte but learning), and on and on.
- I’m heading up Pikes Peak. I told you I’m planning on walking up Pikes Peak this summer. So I’m learning about the physical challenges (and training accordingly), the equipment, weather, etc. It’s a blast to learn new things as well as have some big, physical challenge to look forward to.
- I’m planning loads of travel. My wife used to handle most of the travel planning, but I’m now becoming the expert. This year we have trips planned to Seattle, Portland, back to Iowa (where I’m from), Dallas, and, the crowning touch, a month in St. Thomas early next year. There are various decisions to make, and of course I want to make the trips as great as possible, so I’m doing lots of reading about each place and searching for great deals.
- I’m consuming podcasts. As I train for Pikes Peak, I’m walking a lot. Some of that is alone, and when I walk alone I listen to podcasts. I’m learning about a whole host of topics, plus getting lots of input on financial issues that keep me sharp. I really look forward to this time each day.
- I’m playing chess. I now have time to do daily chess puzzles, play chess, read chess books, and even watch chess videos. I know some of you are close to falling asleep simply reading that last sentence, but chess thrills me. The strategy and complexity gets my juices flowing.
I’m interested in a lot of things, and now I have the time to learn about them too. I thought I would have some time for this, but the amount and diversity of learning has really surprised me.
#8. I Can’t Go Back To Work Anymore
When I retired I thought I’d only take a year or two off, but would then likely go back to work at some point — even if just part-time. After all, I was a high-power executive and work was what I did!
Now I can’t imagine ever going back.
If I did, I’d hate Mondays again. I’d have to dress in something other than comfortable clothes. I’d miss the time with family and friends. I’d have to cut back on fitness and learning. I’d have to live by a schedule. That all sounds like a colossal pain in the rear now.
I’ve since eased into my new normal, and I love it.
#9. The Stress is Gone
We all hear about stress and how it impacts our health, and so forth. But having lived with it for so long, it was normal to me. I didn’t realize just how much it was impacting me.
Sure, every once in a while I would realize my temples were tight and my jaw was clinched while laying in bed. I’d try to relax my facial muscles and could for a bit, but even trying to fall asleep, the tension would come back. It was the stress of work.
Once I retired, I could literally feel the stress melt away. It was that tangible. I was destressing after 28 years of constant pressure.
It took several months to go completely away (it was that bad!), but I eventually got to a low point of stress I never thought I would reach. I started sleeping better. My head wasn’t tight all the time. Life was more relaxing overall.
I was surprised at just how noticeable it was. Something that simply was there for most of my life, is now almost nonexistent.
#10. I’ve Turned Into a Morning Person
There are morning people, and there are night people. I have been a night person my whole life. My ideal world was to stay up until 3 am and get up around noon. Not bad, right?
But I had to go against that grain during my career. Most companies expect you to roll in well before noon, so I was up early every day and I hated it.
I didn’t think I’d sleep to noon every day once I retired, but I did think I’d sack in until at least 9 or 10am.
Nope. I’m now up and at ’em by 6 am most days. Sometimes I’ll got to 7 am if I had a really hard workout the previous day or stayed up late the night before. But that’s rare. I can’t remember the last time I slept until 8 am. And I’m certainly up more days before 6 am than after 7 am.
The big difference now, though, is that life is so much more exciting.
I’m getting up to do things that I want to do. It’s a blast — almost like the night before Christmas. I’m excited about the next day and simply can’t sleep longer.
Plus, the working out and lack of stress helps my sleep to be more restful, so I feel better with less sleep now than I did with more sleep while working. (But don’t worry that I’m robbing myself. I’m a regular 10 pm to 6 am sleeper, so I still get eight hours most nights)
My kids think I’m crazy (“why do you get up so early?” they ask) but that’s what happens when you are excited about life.
My wife has always been a morning person, but I’m now up an hour or so before her each day. It’s so quiet and peaceful at 6 am and the day is full of promise. It’s my favorite time of the day. 6 am on Monday is heaven.
As a bonus, I heard somewhere that getting up early can make you wealthy.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the reason I started waking up at 5am every day! The peace is unparalleled! And as ESI mentioned, it’s far easier to do so when you get to do things for YOU than for others :) You can read about the other things I learned too when first starting this schedule here if you’re new to the site: What I Learned Working Like Benjamin Franklin For a Week]
So those are my ten surprises from early retirement!
I’m only nine months in so I’m sure I’ll find many more in the months and years to come, but hopefully I’ve given you a good glimpse into what retirement is like.
If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them in the comments below.
Otherwise, I’ll see you at the gym on Monday morning at 7 am. :)
UPDATE: Check out part II to this series: 10 *Downsides* to Early Retirement! Where ESI comes back a year later to fill us in on the other side of the FIRE coin ;)
ESI is the founder of ESI Money, a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI). It’s written by an early 50’s retiree who achieved financial independence, shares what’s worked for him, and details how others can implement those successes in their lives. You can learn more about him, and get his free ebook, here: Three Steps to Financial Independence.
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Congrats on the early retirement. I’m a FI seeker, but have been hesitant to add the Retire Early into my goals out of uncertainty about how I’d spend my time. I love hearing you are busier than ever. If I do retire early I think my goals would be similar to yours: get physically healthy, spend time on relationships, and work on the blog. Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing!
Wow, that was insightful. I’m still quite a long ways away from my early retirement but anxiously pursuing it. Right now its still just a golden ideal looming in the distant future so I haven’t spent too much time thinking about what it will really be like and what I’ll be doing. So it’s nice to hear about the reality of it and all of the awesome benefits that I have to look forward to. Thanks for sharing and congratulations.
I would love to start waking up earlier and at least do some morning cardio. I did try it last year was getting up at 6am instead of 7am. The only problem is my kids wake up as soon as they hear an adult’s footsteps so it made about 0% difference. Maybe Ill try it again, kids have got to start sleeping in at some point.
Haha yup… I used to just walk out the door with them when they were babies/toddlers and found going for a walk made me less cranky than trying to entertain them when the whole house was asleep :) The healthy activity was just a bonus!
+1 for walking.
I have two non-workout days a week and walk a ton those days instead. I get some mild exercise and learn a lot (thanks to a whole host of great podcasts).
I would respectfully submit that this is only possible above a certain income level/set of circumstances. My husband is 16 years older than I. He took an early retirement buyout at 60. I was not able to quit my job, and I work from home. He didn’t jump in to any projects, and it was difficult to work as hard or harder than ever when my partner was not. He was off for almost a year, after having a pillar of the community job for 17 years. Nobody knocked down his door, and he found out who his friends were. And weren’t. The stars aligned and he got a job with the city, and now we’re back to being able to plan a reasonable future. Your experience is wonderful, and I am glad you are living it. Please realize that not everyone, especially in today’s slow-growth economy and changing job environment, has the luxury of your hard-earned result.
That is true and I do realize it. Some people are in situations where they just can’t get ahead. I also realize this is a small part of the population. Most of the people who say they can’t get ahead simply don’t want to take the steps needed to get ahead.
My results took me about three decades to achieve. It took hard work at growing my career and discipline to keep spending under control, so it wasn’t easy. I worked very hard at growing my net worth for a long time.
Many of my friends who started where I did (lower middle class upbringing) are still at that level because they didn’t do what I did. It wasn’t because they didn’t have the opportunity (many were better off than I was at the start). It’s that they didn’t take the same steps. And not earning a high income wasn’t their biggest issue — out of control spending was/is.
Even friends who I met later in life (those I talked about in point #2 above) who had incomes similar to mine don’t have close to the net worth I do — since they didn’t take the steps I did. I know this because they have confided in me. These people actually have large incomes but again, can’t control their spending. So they make little progress.
I say the above not to boast, but to make the point: it’s not all about having a high income. I wouldn’t dismiss my results simply because it’s “only possible above a certain income level/set of circumstances.” To a very great extent, you make your own circumstances. And there are certainly things you can do to grow your income.
So, yes, the higher the income, the more chance you have to accumulate wealth. This is why I write so much about growing your career/income — it can make a HUGE difference. But even if you don’t have a very high income, there are certainly steps you can do to have a life like I describe above. After all, looking over the ten things it seems like they don’t really cost a lot, right?
Inspiring story, especially your Monday experience. What did you do about health insurance?
Here are details on how I sorted out health insurance:
I retired at sixty, similar net worth. My experiences match yours except I am working about twenty hours a week at four side gigs that are intellectually complex but much easier than my career was. However I avoid working on Mondays or Fridays. I make about 100% of our living expenses though I do not need the money. I do like the feeling of earning though. I do more volunteer work than you but since my kids are grown and not local I have more time. My wife and I distance run and play on competitive tennis teams, fish, hike and ski together so we are also pretty fit. All in all I find life time be very very good at this stage. And like you I’m surprised at how busy I am! I think the only secrets to retiring well are having a good life partner and having enough savings.
It sounds like an awesome life — congratulations!
I work about twenty hours a week too. I just don’t earn anything (or much) for it (yet). I spend that time on my blog.
It gives me both a creative and intellectual challenge that I crave without being too demanding.
You sound like a great couple. If you ever get out to Colorado Springs (great skiing nearby), drop me a line and we can have coffee. Or climb The Incline. ;)
Thanks for sharing ESI. I love #3 and #6. So great to be busy doing the things you want to do and building great relationships/memories with those important to you. Much better than sitting in a meeting!
Ha! Yes! I don’t miss those meetings AT ALL!!!! ;)
ESI, great to see you hanging with J$! Great post, and reassuring for me given that I’m 14 months away from my FIRE date, and think alot about what life will be post-FIRE. You’re post was exactly what I needed to hear.
I’m looking forward to being that 30-year old Jewish woman (THAT was a great line!).
J$ dramatically raises my “cool factor” so I try to hang with him as much as possible. ;)
It’ll be nice to hang in person again too after all these years :) I think we’re all going to be at Fincon this year, right? (RIGHT???)
Of course! I’m even coming a bit early with my wife for some sight-seeing!!
Congratulations on the early retirement and what sounds like an incredibly fulfilling retired life. I love #6 and #7!! As someone who only heard about the FIRE community a few months ago and is targeting early retirement by 32 (~5 years), this was one of the most motivating things I have read in a while. My career definitely will have a “one more year” temptation, but reading things like this is totally empowering! Thanks for sharing!
Glad you found it helpful Chelsea :) I was taking notes too, and I’m nowhere near retirement!
“They refresh my soul.” LOL. I’m still laughing over that line. You definitely make early retirement seem awesome. Thanks for the extra inspiration to keep plugging along with my own goals!!
I have set a goal of retirement at 50 and am aggressively saving towards that. People think I am crazy and ask me what I will do all day if I retire at that age and my response is always the same, “Whatever I want to do.” Great article and congratulations on early retirement!
I once heard someone say that retirement just amplifies the stuff you already do on your spare time. So if you’re lazy and unproductive you’ll just be even more so, and if you love to learn and be active, you can look forward to doing more of that!
Same thing with winning the lottery too, btw. It usually just enhances the qualities you already have (if you’re greedy you’ll just be more greedy, if you’re generous you’ll be even more generous, etc… At least that’s what people say :) I’ll let you know if I ever experience it myself, haha…)
Wonderful post ESI. I saw a lot of these effects when I cut back to half time. You articulated a lot of great points.
Wow, this all sounds great – thank you for the inspiring story. I love reading that early retirement is still awesome, even if it’s done in your early 50’s instead of your 30’s or 40’s. Also, it’s interesting to read that people are still so shocked that you’ve retired at that age.
I’m on leave right now due to being pregnant with twins and am really enjoying the extra freedom in my schedule and being able to spend more time with my family. However, it’s not really the retirement I’m envisioning for the future due to my physical limitations. I love how you were able to keep up with your fitness BEFORE retirement, instead of just playing catch up later. Keep living it up!
Ha! Yes, it used to be that “early” retirement was 60.
Now it’s 30. ;)
But it’s still so rare that unless you read FIRE blogs, it’s a really foreign concept to you. That’s where I think my co-workers were coming from.
Congratulations, ESI. What’s most interesting to me is that you surprised yourself. Sometimes we hit our “prime” and are no longer expecting surprises. I think number 10 will have the most effect on you in the long run. Starting the day off early and being productive during the morning has a huge rollover effect.
I love the analogy to the thirty year old with the mom hoisting potential suitors. I didn’t realize walking pikes peak is a thing. Is it a trail, the road or something else?
It’s a trail. The Barr Trail to be exact (if you go the front way — there’s a back way too where you drive up half the mountain and walk up from there.)
Here are the details:
Great post! I’m looking forward to all ten of those. Also, hiking is the perfect hobby in early retirement. I will certainly check out some of the Colorado peaks. I did the Grand Canyon North to South Rim last year and will attempt to do the reverse direction in 2018 when I’m retired.
My wife that the Grand Canyon on her bucket list and we will probably go once the kids are out of the house (they don’t want to go see a “big hole in the ground”.) :)
Make them go to Grand Canyon! We went a couple of years ago and it was awesome-maybe you can entice them with the mule ride to bottom of the Canyon floor and back which is still on my Bucket list. PS several of your observation resonate with me-I retired recently and I have taken on a very casual fashion style except for Church (sometimes) and other highlights in the week
Thanks for sharing, ESI! I was able to take two weeks off of work near the end of 2016 and was like a mini FIRE-staycation. I’ve hardly been so busy in my LIFE. But the difference is that you’re working on things you actually care about instead of spending energy forcing yourself to care. Passionate living means busy living. ;)
Congratulations! Truly meeting a goal of early retirement is a reward well earned with careful financial planning and perhaps some sacrifice along the way. Can you tell me what you are doing about health insurance? It sounds like your spouse is also unemployed since she is traveling with you multiple times during the year. All the best to you.
I’m actually working on a massive, three-part post on this right now (which will go live sometime in June).
But the punchline is we went with a health sharing ministry, Samaritan Ministries. They have been great, saved us a ton, and covered a medical I had in March with no problem. Couldn’t recommend them more.
I keep hearing about health sharing ministries! Seems like a handful of finance bloggers use them. Maybe it’ll be the next “big thing” in our space? :)
Perhaps. The costs are a fraction of the “best” plans on the government site and coverage seems solid (we needed it recently and they paid as expected.)
Thanks for sharing ESI! It is a common theme that once you are in full control of your time, you will be busier than ever (and wonder how you found any time during the days of FT employment)
Perfection. That’s how I would describe this article. What you describe is essentially my hope and dream in just a few years. I can’t really relate entirely to the C-suite business, but my wife and I do own a small business (her medical practice) so that can be a big job at times.
I find myself daydreaming about retirement as described here, but to be honest I also do find myself worried that I may be giving up a lifestyle (I am a college professor) that is essentially already kinda like pre-retirement — OK, OK . . . keep the jokes to yourself.
How hard of a decision was it to push away and pivot? Just curious . . . any regrets?
To be honest, it was like stepping off a cliff.
I had worked so long and so hard at a high level of business that a big part of me was terrified to stop. And while I have financial resources, there’s always the fear of the unknown and “will I have enough?”
But I had to leave since my boss was a psycho who made life miserable. It was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to take the leap.
It took about a week for me to realize that everything was going to be ok and that the world wasn’t going to crash in on me. That’s when the real fun/enjoyment started.
As for regrets, I have a few. But then again, too few to mention.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Sinatra line. :)
Seriously, the only regret I have is that I should have taken the plunge 5 to 10 years earlier.
I absolutely agree with this whole post.
I retired early aged 56, 5 years ago – the best decision I ever made. I also kept getting job opportunities. I said no to all of them, although I did take on a non-exec (unpaid) role at a local university. I agreed to do a 3 year stint, which is nearing completion. Although I have really enjoyed it, I am not going for a second term. Too many other things to do!
The one thing I have been poor at is taking exercise & keeping my weight down. I was great for the first couple of years, then I let tit slide. My aim for 2017 is to get that sorted out!
Thanks for hosting ESI, J$!
ESI, thanks for sharing all the surprising secrets of early retirement. “The struggle is real.” Now everyone will want to do it!
I hope you get a chance to do some sort of surfing down in St. Thomas. Or look me up next time you’re on Oahu and we’ll paddle out…
I have you on my list!!!
I KNOW Hawaii is in my future!!!
I would love to learn how to surf, btw…
Glad all is going well!
That’s great you’re not bored in your initial phase. I was anxious the first 6 months, but also found myself saying I was bored too, b/c I like to hang out w/ people, and they all had to work. But 5 years later, I’m no longer bored at all.
Keep it up!
My dad retired early (was walked out with a package), but joined boards on his college alma mater, the high school my sister & I went to, his COA, Knights of Columbus. With all the dinner, lunches, planning, his social calendar is more full than mine! He does wear dockers for the important meetings, but because they’re fewer, he doesn’t ask for dress pants for Christmas. White socks for exercising are at least 2x a year because he runs & bikes between all the meetings, plus gardening.
My mom built her own raised bed garden last summer, got roped in to being secretary on her HOA, crafts and volunteers (or gives the crafts to be auctioned off for charity), and is helping a friend out with science lessons.
I have no doubt I’ll get just as busy if / when I retire early. But first… FI! :)
Thanks for sharing your cool experience ESI!
OMG, fitness, sleep and wearing yoga pants daily is my dream!! I love everything you touch on here, as well as the time and headspace to do the small things that seem extravagant when you have a FT job, like having breakfast with a relative.
I think I need to print this out and hang it in my office as a reminder of everything I hope to soon have.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Let me know when you get to the fitness/sleep/yoga pants stage. I can’t wait to hear how much you love it. ;)
Sounds like you’re enjoying early retirement. No need to worry about what other people think. Keep up the great work!
Sounds like things are going really well for you with FIRE! Congrats! In particular, it seems like the extra time you’re able to devote to your wife and kids is really something you can’t put a price tag on.
Great article and so relevant for some things I’m working on with clients. A couple of questions for you. At what age did you decide that early retirement was going to be your aim? Sounds like you had strong discipline from early on. Second, did you consider (or if you could go back would you have considered) transitioning to a career or business earlier that wouldn’t have given you that pit in your stomach feeling every Sunday evening even if it meant that financially you weren’t able to fully walk away at 52? Just curious. Great article and I will look forward to reading more of your stuff.
Great questions, Jeff!
I always had early retirement in the back of my mind — even from the time I got married in the early 90’s. But at this point I was shooting for 60 as “early”. We paid off our house quickly and it was then I started to think about it more seriously. But we still had other priorities as well, like we wanted to continue giving a good portion of our income to help those in need.
So we made progress in these years but it wasn’t a clear decision to retire early until probably the early 2000’s. By that time my net worth was good and growing and I could see a day where I’d retire early, maybe at 55 or so.
But you’re right, the fact that we had been disciplined for so many years made it a clear possibility.
As for the pit in the stomach issue, here’s how it worked out over the course of a 28-year career:
*I had it for the first 16 years that I worked (over several companies)
*I didn’t have it for 11 years as I worked for two great companies
*I had it again for the last year (and last company I worked for)
So it was that last company that really put me over the edge (my boss was a piece of work, I had the money, and I was done.)
Would I still be working if I had been at one of those two companies where things were great? Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard to tell.
But now that I’m retired would I go back to even a great company? I can’t see doing it. They’d have to pay me a boatload of money, only want 2-3 days a week, and offer some sort of great business/world changing reason for me to even consider it.
I left the corporate world at 39. When I gave my resignation, my co-workers all assumed I was going to another opportunity and when they found out I wasn’t, they were pretty surprised. I don’t like to use the word ‘retire’, so I said I was going to focus more on the real estate investing and personal projects. I have since gone back to work part time, 2-3 days a week, and I take time off between gigs. This is a perfect balance for me and I still experience all the benefits you mentioned… no stress, more movement, less back pain, tons of time for reading and creative pursuits, long term/slow travel… and the best is NO MONDAYS! I used to get the Sunday dreads really bad. That is the worst. When I’m in the office on Thursdays, my co-workers will say “I wish it was Friday” and I tell them: “It’s my Friday!”. They laugh, but also admit that they are envious. :)
That is a fantastic list! I’ve been trying to adopt the mindset of living like I’m retired as a way to achieve more balance during my working years. It’s allowed me to identify many things I want to retire to (rather than just something I want to retire from). The stress and anxiety are what motivates me most about pursuing FI. I want to be able to spend my time in ways that are both meaningful and healthy!
Thanks for sharing your experiences so far with early retirement. And best of luck with Pikes Peak – I was fortunate to spend a summer doing research in Colorado in college and I enjoyed climbing that and a couple other peaks. Cheers!
“I’ve been trying to adopt the mindset of living like I’m retired as a way to achieve more balance during my working years.”
Great idea!! Then once retirement does come around all the good parts will just be amplified!
These are such lovely surprises. Thanks for sharing with us. I wonder if I’ll ever do the “comfortable” clothes in public bit; I really like looking sharp. I don’t know if that is conditioning or truly me…
You don’t know the comfort of the dark side… ;)
Come to the dark side….we have Spandex.
Congratulations! I’m only 40 so I’m super jealous because I foresee at least another 10 years to go. In reading your article, I’m most surprised that you’re most fit now and that gives me encouragement.
May I suggest an idea… try curling! That’s essentially chess on ice and it’s lots of fun!
Awsome post i’m feeling inspired to work harder than ever to get on track for my retirement! Soulds like you are really winning at life!
Woah that’s awesome ESI! It looks like so much fun and I must admit I’m kind of jealous of #1 and #10 (monday and the fact that you turned into a morning person). I’m definitely neither a monday nor a morning person type, so this is intriguing that all of this can change all of a sudden when retired! Cheers.
I have to admit that hearing that people are busier in retirement than when they are working is always mind blowing to me. Eliminating 8-10 hour work days would make me think that I’d have more time in retirement not less. But over and over again I hear of all the awesome ways people choose to fill up their time in retirement. It’s definitely something I can’t wait to do :)
Guess that old saying that time flies when you’re having fun is pretty accurate :)
OK I’m excited for all these. Currently at age 30, but I’m working my way here.
Absolutely do PIKES PEAK! I’m going to try do it this summer as well. Can’t wait till some of the snow melts so I can leave Denver and go play in the mountains.
You’re retired life sounds pretty awesome, gotta say. Thanks for sharing these nice perks!
I’m trying to assemble a group to do Pikes Peak. I’ll include you if you like, just drop me an email.
You look like you’re a lot younger than I am and I may need someone to carry me the last two miles, so perhaps you’re willing??? ;)
I truly loved your story. I am in my early 50’s and will be at full retirement in early 2018, and am so…ready for it. I kept telling myself that I might go a couple more years, just to get more things done to my home, but after reading your story, you have convinced me that I WILL be retiring when that time comes (2018). I too have the Monday blues. Thank you for sharing your 10 things of early retirement that you experienced, it was great.
I retired at 55. Really enjoyed your article and can definitely relate to it. Your Monday dread during Sunday afternoon hit it right on the head. Life without wakeup alarms is wonderful. Life with my wife went up another notch of incredibly happy together. After 5 years of retirement I can honestly say this has been the best part of my life so far. Enjoy.
That’s great to hear — that what I’m seeing now isn’t a fluke.
I think the best is yet to come!
Congrats. I’m glad to read that it’s all it’s cracked p to be!
I don’t have a response other than to say I LOVE THE NAME OF YOUR SITE! ;)
Love your points. I retired 4 years ago at age 56 and have not looked back. I love life, including Sunday nights and Monday mornings, and am grateful every minute for this relaxed, lovely lifestyle. It made every minute of stress and work and sacrifice worth it. Congrats to you ESI for finding your joy (and being smart enough to wait for it)!
Hello and I’m so happy to hear there is happiness outside work. I plan to retire young as well. I’m 56 and I’m a single female. I’m nervous about retiring early because my life path was not quite planned out to be single and starting this phase out alone. I’m nervous I will get bored without any hobbies as work has been my life. You have inspired me to realize there is life after work and stress does go away. I think I can fine plenty of things to do and I hear it’s easy to find plenty to do. thank you for the encouraging words!!!
Yes, I think you’ll find more than enough to do.
You can even start making a list now of the great things to come. They say half the fun in taking a trip is planning it — maybe retirement will be the same way!
I am a single female – retired in Dec., 2016 at the age of 58. I don’t miss work at all and love having time for hobbies. I agree and can identify with all ten things on your list. The 3 main things for me were: no alarm clock, no lunches and no night shifts! Also, before I retired I made a list of things I wanted to do but never had the time. For example, learn another language, audit university classes as a “mature” student and declutter my house! Will I ever work again? Not sure. Financially I don’t have to so if the right opportunity came along and it was on my terms (2 or 3 days a week), I might do it for a year. Maybe. The one thing I’ve had to learn is to say “no”. So many people/organizations ask me to volunteer for them and I’m just not ready to jump into anything until I know what my passion is. Life is good!
HUGE power in saying “no” in all areas of life! Gotta have the nos in order to prioritize the yeses :)
Thank you for writing this. I retired from the military at 46 to move home and take care of my mother, with a plan that I would resume working when she didn’t need me anymore. While she was alive, people accepted that taking care of her was a full time job. When she died in November, I busied myself with settling her estate and putting her affairs in order. I couldn’t retire on the pension alone, but I saved most of my income during my working life, invested wisely, and never took on debt. Now, the income from my investments plus my pension makes me financially secure and I may never need to touch the principal.
People give me the strangest looks when I tell them that I’m retired, but the longer I’m retired, the less I want to return to work. Your list made me laugh as I ticked off all of the things that applied to me. It’s nice seeing that I’m not alone in my early retirement.
The military has a great retirement plan. My BIL retired after 20 years, worked for 5 more or so outside, and just recently retired full time himself. His wife still works and she makes a great income, so they are doing quite well.
I personally love the strange looks and questions. I look about 10 years younger than I am, so it really knocks people for a loop when I say “I’m retired.” The looks I get are priceless, but it’s their fumbling for their next words that is really fun. :)
“you’re still doing stuff! you’re not really retired!”
I read through all the comments and I’m shocked I didn’t see one like that one. What Mr. Money Mustache refers to as “the retirement police” must not have made it by your site yet.
I believe knowing you have a reasonable amount saved up helps a lot with the reduction in stress. I have a long ways to go to retirement still however am currently financially independent in between learning opportunities. I’ve seen a huge reduction in stress for not being with my prior employer, however I’m certain it would be even greater if I was more comfortable in my current Financial position. Ie I still put a little bit too much effort into doing things that are profitable even if I don’t enjoy doing them.
Ha! Let’s keep this to ourselves then so the Retirement Police don’t bust us!
Great article. I pushed the button last year at 58. I am in engineering and engineerimg management and design for aircraft modifications where you are always in a high stress mode (something goes wrong and people may die type stuff). I realized I needed out at 55 and It took me 3-years for me to work in my replacements with our customer base. I still do not sleep much, but I am much more relaxed. I am actually listed as a part time employee even though I have resisted all calls for a little of my time here and there – my company wants to keep my resume active for proposals ;)
Thanks ESI, for an incredibly encouraging article. I’m 53 and will be retiring when I’m 55. I’m going to save your list for myself so that when it comes time for me take that leap of faith and walk over the edge of the cliff, I’ll do it with a smile on my face. And I’m going to save the list to hand to my friends who already look at me sideways when I talk about retiring early and they ask me what I’m going to be doing with my time.
” I’m going to save the list to hand to my friends who already look at me sideways when I talk about retiring early and they ask me what I’m going to be doing with my time.”
That’s a GREAT idea!
Congratulations on your hard earned early retirement, ESI! It sounds absolutely dreamy. The dreaded Monday used to ruin my Sunday nights, as well, but something changed recently and I am not feeling that stress creep into my weekend anymore. For one thing, I don’t bring work home on the weekends anymore, which is rare for a teacher. I’m much more productive if I go in early on Monday to make my copies and get organized for the week, rather than try to work on the weekend. My husband and I also started having candlelit pasta dinners on Sunday nights, and that has really made my Sunday nights a lot nicer. It sounds like you have the right balance of relaxation, work (volunteer and blog), and travel to stay mentally stimulated in your retirement. Enjoy the time!
“Candlelit pasta dinners on Sunday nights” — SUCH A GOOD IDEA!!!!! I want to join :)
ESI, your experience is very encouraging. I’m 37 and planning to retire in 2 years. I hope to move abroad to Spain or Portugal. That’s the dream. I’ve been saving as much money as possible since I started working and investing it all in diversified index funds. I haven’t told many people of my plans, outside of my closest family, but for those that I have told, the reaction is usually shock, like, “how can that be possible?” I guess most people just don’t understand the power of exponential growth and how critical it is to invest early. I’ve got enough invested now that I can live off 1% or 2% a year and allow it to continue growing.
I should add that I didn’t do things perfectly. The best decision I made in life was to invest heavily starting with my first job out of college. But I owe a mentor for that decision — my father-in-law — who taught me the importance and power of investing from a young age. But I made poor decisions in my 20s too, like wasting money on dumb cars. In our culture, it’s sometimes hard to be smart (frugal) with money. We are bombarded with advertising that promises that happiness is buying more stuff and living larger. What I discovered is that happiness lies in the opposite direction, by freeing yourself from this crazy consumer culture and rat race by reducing your wants and needs. There is true freedom and peace in that. Today, my wife and I share a small car. We hope to live car free in 2 years. I don’t need cable TV or really anything beyond the basic necessities of life. Some would say I must be “suffering” because I’m not indulging every desire. But actually, I’m happier than ever. There’s no stress chasing after dumb things I don’t need and worrying how to pay for them. Instead, there’s a sense of freedom from those petty desires.
You are doing a GREAT job!!! Wish I was as far along when I was your age.
We all made mistakes. The key is to be sure they aren’t too big. :)
Having a great mentor is a true blessing. He probably saved you years if not decades in the money game.
Congratulations on your early retirement. I think with anything we can’t really predict once we do get there we can look back only to find out we had it all wrong, missed the mark or got more than expected. It was so nice to wake up and read such an inspirational blog post. Keep on wearing those shorts and jogging pants…. I dream of that day. Mr.CBB
I retired at age 54 (my goal was 55) and I agree with all but #4.
#4 – Though I am playing hockey, skiing, badminton and Tennis as much as I want, I still gained weight due to (I think) less walking around to and from work (quick 45 min both ways) and walking at work, Plus more time to eat more as break. (maybe a little too much time for wine tasting too)
Great life, do it as soon as you financially can.
I did what you did nearly 2 years ago and this article exactly describes how my husband and I were pleasantly surprised. This is a keeper to send on to friends who are considering “pulling the plug!”
Please do pass it along to everyone :)
Great article. I retired at 51, am now 56, and have seen what you described first hand. I, too, have gotten to enjoy casual clothes. I remember a lunch with friends (who are still both working) where I described my clothing by saying that the difference is shorts or long pants depending on the weather.
Initially, I was shocked at how hard some people pushed me to get back into a job. This has fallen off, but probably mostly because I repeatedly said no.
Weekends are too crowded and so I try to avoid planning anything for the weekend beyond church and maybe lunch with someone who is busy during the week.
Half-priced movies on Tuesday is awesome and I try to take advantage of it often.
Again, great article. It gives those looking at early retirement a sense of what is possible. Congratulations!
Sounds like we are living the same lives! Congrats!!!
This was a really great article, well written and with great impact. Thanks for creatively blogging, and for your dedicated attention to all the comments so far. I gave up work a year ago with a flourish of overseas work, which was eye opening and brought some great friends, a few of whom we are meeting on vacation in Eastern Europe in a few weeks. However, I no longer miss the work, and only answer headhunter calls just to tickle my self-admiration bone a fit. Every day is full somehow without a long-term plan or schedule. That has left some unused or wasted time, unfortunately, so your story provides encouragement to make and meet goals in a variety of areas, such as health and personal enrichment. I did notice one point you did not explore, that of craft or art. Have you been tempted at all to explore those aspects yet, or is it a possible future endeavor? Thanks again for the blog!
I’m not sure what you mean by craft or art, but if you mean making something or drawing/painting/sculpting it, I am woefully inadequate at all those. Not creative at all in that sense.
I do get a lot of creative challenge from my blog — what to write about, what angle to take, etc. — so I do have a creative outlet there.
I appreciate you saying the piece was well written. Thanks.
Love this. Great insight and want to follow in your tracks, albeit a few years later. I’m 55 1/2 and am shooting to retire at 58. It’ll only take me 3 seconds to go from button-down Bob to casual Clyde.
I have a long list of thing I want to do, but I don’t know which to start with. I want to take up blogging, get fit, learn coding, sew and a million other things. Where do I start?
Well, that’s a good question and depends on your personality and ways you get things done.
I’m a planner/goal-setter/to-do list guy. So I set a series of resolutions each year, track them on a spreadsheet to hold myself accountable, and have daily tasks to make sure I keep on track. The system works for me because it makes me decide what I want to do, then helps me actually accomplish it.
Not sure if it would work for you. You may want to try some books like Getting Things Done or Living Forward. Those will help you determine priorities and then make them happen.
Best of luck to you!!!
I’d like to hear how you are managing financially, going from FT income and benefits, to where you are now. How do you afford health care? Mortgage? Real estate taxes, etc. Thanks!
Here’s the latest budget report I did, maybe it will answer some of your questions:
I’m actually working on a 3-part series on healthcare right now that will run at the beginning of June. The short answer is that we went with a health sharing ministry, Samaritan’s Ministries, and have been very pleased with it so far. I’ll give many details in the posts.
Mortgage? Haven’t had one for 20 years.
Taxes? Our rental properties provide about $60k in income a year. Add in dividends from index funds, some P2P lending, and a bit extra here and there (blog income, etc.) and we make about $100k a year, more than enough to cover our retirement expenses.
Awesome story! Very inspirational and encouraging! Congratulations!
That’s intersesting but I think we never really retire. We just find other things to occupy our time. I was in the tech field for 20 years and real estate simultaneously for the last 5 years of my tech career. I won’t be requiring/accepting any SSI benefits or monthy checks from Uncle Sam either. In that time I married twice and raised three children. I retired in Hawaii at the age of 40, and now it’s 7 years later and all my children are out of the house. No grandchildren yet so when/if I get them I guess I’ll have to come out of retirement to work as grandpa. I was in my best shape in my early 30’s but I am still in better shape than many half my age. If anything I appreciate the little things more than ever, things I took for granted when I was working my life away. I’m planning to do a number of years of volunteer or charity work in the future. My parents retired in their early 60’s and yet they seem busier now then ever with grandkids and traveling. Yep, If you’re productive, you never really retire…you just switch gears and never punch a clock again unless it’s self imposed!
Yes! Great thoughts!
BTW, I’m looking for a “friend” who lives in HI so I can visit. Want to be my buddy? ;)
I want to live in casual clothes. That sounds like a dream. I guess I could get a job in tech instead of being a doc…but that does not seem as much fun.
Glad you are enjoying retirement!
Or you can become a full-time blogger :)
(as I sit here in pajama pants and t-shirt at 3:30pm, haha…)
You mentioned you listen to certain podcasts specifically financial ones, would you mind sharing which ones. I am in my mid 20’s and would like to start educating myself on this topic more.
Right now, here are my favorites:
Masters of Money (I’m on an upcoming episode)
The Dough Roller Podcast
Radical Personal Finance
Mad Fientist Podcast
Those should keep you busy for awhile. :)
Thanks for sharing! I retired at age 60 and couldn’t agree more with the fact that the dreaded Mondays are behind. I often tell anyone willing to listen that this is actually the best time of my life. I get to work out more, learn more , play more guitar, play more chess, travel more with my family, play more with my grand son, help more the underprivileged. Yes it takes money but like you I paid my dues and spent less than I earned now I’m reaping the benefits.
Thanks for sharing!! I semi-retired early as well (50). Semi because I now do some consulting work that way it pays for most of my annual expenses and it leaves my core savings intact. But as you say it’s important to get your budget in order. My lifestyle is almost the same as yours now. Not going to work FT allowed me to greatly improve my health. So now lots of travel, backpacking, mountain climbing, diving, biking, whatever! I can’t imagine going back to FT work.
It’s Monday morning for me —but today I read your post and it made me feel much better. I’m in a similar situation as you (from Iowa, worked my a**off for 30+ years, and ready to put the stress behind). Thanks for sharing your experience of retiring early, it helped me realize that I’m not the only one who thinks of doing this. My only wish is that everyone our age could have the same choice to retire early. I’m grateful.
Your list makes complete sense to me: I had a trial run once, during a period of employment transition, and it shaped up very similarly. I was amazed at how busy I was: my schedule was filled with all kinds of great things, but it was so much eventually that I had to dial it back. It’s incredibly easy for me to stay productive and enjoy life – in fact, I have to watch out or I’ll overload myself, even in retirement!
So cool! What a great article. You’re a good writer – I could just picture your life now.
As an aside, I’d just tell people “I work for a nonprofit to help the homeless”, and put on LinkedIn that your current position is at that organization. Plenty of people work full-time at nonprofits. No need to spread that you’re retired if it just gets you hassle. Tell a truth that people can accept, and it will likely also steer the conversation into something you find interesting.
I like that idea :)
This is a great post! I would love to know more about the reading plan you put together with your son. I would be curious to check some of those books out!
I can’t claim success at this point — it’s a work in progress.
But here are the books I’m working through with him:
All of the ones on this list: https://esimoney.com/five-money-books-youll-ever-need/
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The Personal MBA
Platform (he’s thinking of starting a business)
The Purpose Driven Life
15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
Tools of Titans
Hope this is helpful.
This made me smile. It’s as if you jumped right into my head and pulled out my experience when I took a year off from the zaniness of the hotel business. Every point was right on.
That said, for as great as my temporary retirement was, it only became that way after going through some serious withdrawals. In fact, I went through a very dark period in the first 90 days or so as I searched for my new “value”. I had completely underestimated how much of my value I had attached to my job and role in the hotel industry. Ironically, I called myself a family man, but found through the process that I was fooling myself. I had placed everything squarely on my career.
Luckily, I came out the other side a completely new person. One that learned that value can only be found in you and your personal relationships. Even though I have since gone back to work (created a tech start up, sold it, and now work for the acquiring company), I put my family and friends first as often as possible.
Thanks for the motivation to get there again – soon.
Congrats, family man! :)
Once you are on a fixed investment portfolio — it becomes super important to keep tight management of your portfolio. What do you use? An external advisor, spreadsheets, some online tool?
I live on the income my assets (mostly real estate) generate, so I’m not depleting them at all.
I’m actually up a few hundred thousand in net worth since the “Trump rally.” :)
As for managing my money, I use a spreadsheet for budgeting and Quicken to track everything else, including investments.
I read this looking to get some insights and instead just ended up feeling sorry for the author. Worked in a job he hated for TWENTY EIGHT YEARS, hating Mondays, living for the weekend, so he could save enough money to be able to quit?
I was on that path… had a great paying job and the lifestyle that went with it, but after a few years of that “knot in the stomach” on Sunday night, I quit (at 34) to be a full-time entrepreneur again. Now I make more money than I could have ever imagined, I LOVE Mondays, and I LOVE my work.
As I read this article (on Business Insider), I kept thinking to myself… I have all of this and I’m NOT retired. Financially secure. Love Mondays. Busier than ever… yet can still spend time with family and friends and focus on relationships that are important to me. Time to focus on my health. Learning and growing are a priority (I read 2-3 books a month and am constantly learning). And I have no problem showing up to a board meeting casual, either.
I used to have a plan to retire early. 52 was my number – it’s when both of the kids will be out of the house and away at college. I planned on retiring so I could travel the world. I just realized I didn’t need to retire at all… I can do all the things I want to do – like traveling the world – while still running my company. We take 3-4 vacations a year now.
I’m glad the author is happy now in retirement, but I can’t help but think maybe he never found his true purpose in life? What could he have accomplished if he had just found a career that was more fulfilling and rewarding? What if he hadn’t spent 28 years dreading going to work on Monday?
I just read your post after commenting myself. I read this article in Business Insider…and consumed it the same way as you did. I feel sorry for the author.
Actually, I liked my job for most of my career. I just didn’t “love” it.
Everything has it’s pros and cons, the good an the bad. And yes, being an entrepreneur has lots of headaches too…
Your article sounds to me to be more of a rationale to support your retirement decision than it is an interesting revelation for your readers. It seems like you are trying to convince yourself that retirement was the right decision. I find the post to lack credibility. Surely there are plenty things about retirement that you have uncovered that are not positive. As a guy who has been temporarily-retired (under 40 y/o) for over a year, I can tell you that it is not all sunshine and puppy dogs.
Your post also makes it seem as though your retirement was driven by an inability to effectively manage/address stress…as if retirement was the only way to eliminate stress. And maybe it was for you. But your readers should know that it is possible for them to achieve the positive things you list, and associate with retirement, without actually retiring.
Many people love Mondays (and they go to jobs)! Maybe you just weren’t in the right line of work.
You know nothing about me, but thanks for filling in the details how you’d like them to be. I’m sure that makes you feel better about yourself.
The story was about the author’s story. The intent wasn’t to give all sides of the story.
Not everyone has a calling. To put people down for having ‘failed to find their calling’ just because you were lucky enough to find yours can be crushing. I’ll be 50 next year and finally had to accept that not everyone has a solitary passion they can devote a career to. I have several small passions. Nothing I would like to do full time, tho. Nothing I could turn into a career.
Also, my interests aren’t high paying. I never would have been able to quit work forever at 46 if I had pursued my several passions part-time each (adding up to a full-time schedule.) They just don’t pay enough and I’m not interested enough in them to want to do them all the time anyway, even part-time.
So yeah, I had knots in my stomach as early as Saturday night. On one hand I feel sad that I’ve never found that fire that makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning. I do still look for new interests. But I’ve accepted that it’s okay to like gardening enough to grow our own veggies/fruit and have just enough leftover to donate some; but not have to take up so much effort and space to turn it into a business. I enjoy gardening but if I spent more time on it I’d think of it as a chore.
I read a million books on managing people and stress but never figured out how to apply the principals correctly. I’m sure that if you’re in Ramit Sethi’s tribe of ‘work because it’s uplifting’ you think someone like me ‘failed at life’ because I never found my passion, nor did I ever manage stress well. That’s fine. I’m much happier now. I get to follow all my passions as I please and have zero stress. My health has improved tremendously.
I choose to be happy that you’ve found what excites you. I admire it and choose to use your story as inspiration that maybe my passion is doing something that hasn’t been invented yet (like coding if we were in 1920 — even tho I hate coding but make my 6 yo learn. lol) if I ever find my passion I’m sure I’ll plow into it. That would be nice
Oops! The intent wasn’t to give all sides of retirement. Sorry about that.
But since I’m here I missed where you mentioned retirement isn’t all rosy. Mine is. But only because I took a year off in my 30s. I did lots of things wrong and I was unhappy. But I’ve since researched it, solidified my values, and came into this permanent retirement with a better plan.
You were sad that ESI lived 28 years wrong because you did it better, but now that he’s retired and does that better than you, you don’t believe him. That’s sad too. It is possible to have a fabulous retirement if you’re willing to do the work. So hopefully that will give you some encouragement.
Thanks for sharing! Your take on Monday’s truly hits home for a lot of folks out there. So much in fact, that I myself had to write a blog to about this a few months back. The cyclical “weekend warrior” attitude is so destructive, ESPECIALLY for those early-in-career. I don’t get why so many are “heads down” on Monday– we should rejoice that we have a chance at another day.
If you’re interested, please have a read. Any and all feedback is welcome :)
Have a great day,
Very nice! Thanks for sharing!
I found this article via someone sharing on LinkedIn and had a similar reaction to Brandon and Skeptical but not so much the feeling sorry for ESI and not sure I understand how it lacks credibility. Also if you read more above, 11 of ESI’s years were not spent dreading work.
Anyway, I recently quit my corporate job after climbing the ladder for about eight years to become an independent contractor and I too am enjoying many of the things ESI and Brandon mention without being retired. My decision was partly due to not enjoying my role/dreading work (for a variety of reasons) and partly due to wanting to spend more time with my young children. Reference the classic tale of the Mexican fisherman for my inspiration. Basically my idea is rather than working so hard (possibly at something you don’t love, thus causing burnout) for a lot of years only to dramatically slow or stop your income, earn at a slightly more modest rate for more years but infuse more of the work life balance over that period.
I think it is great that you made the move, ESI and loved your article and your positive attitude. 52 is still young today and you have a long life to live in your new mindset. I just think we need a different word than retirement as it has a connotation of sitting around reading the newspaper and taking a mid-day nap. You may be able to do that, but you are clearly not retired in the same sense. You just don’t work a “regular job” anymore and you don’t earn much, yet.
I feel I’m the same way but being much younger I do still have some financial targets I have to meet with my work. Kudos to you for all your hard work and discipline. Thanks for sharing!
I heard someone the other day say he was “retired from full-time work.” He meant he worked some but not 40+ hours a week.
I liked it since it communicates what “retirement” is like for me — I still have plenty to do and a (very small) business to run.
You may have just made my day!
I am seriously considering early retirement and your post depicts it the way I envision it. I have a well-paying job, recent promotion etc. But, I feel that I am ready to pursue the things that I actually enjoy doing – squash, tennis, blogging, travel… My wife aside, I have not found too many people who think that it is a good idea.
In my opinion, if you have “enough” money, you should go for it, I will.
Sounds like a great position to be in, man! :)
Congrats on the early retirement. It sounds like you’ve also struck the right balance of priorities in achieving the fulfillment you now own.
Would you be able to share the reading plan you developed for your son to help him discover what career he wants?
I just did above (just saw that comment), but here it is again:
All of the ones on this list: https://esimoney.com/five-money-books-youll-ever-need/
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The Personal MBA
Platform (he’s thinking of starting a business)
The Purpose Driven Life
15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
Tools of Titans
Hope this is helpful.
Good points. I did the same and wrote a book that would be a good one for your son. Check out the excerpts at batoboardroom.com. Good luck with the hike.
ESI, In the same boat as you – early retired last year at 53 (DW also retired) – no pension, so living off our accumulated assets. My experience has been EXACTLY the same as yours. So similar in fact that the article could have come from me!
To the naysayers out there, I actually enjoyed my job – very much. Was a C-suite level executive for a long time, with lots of responsibility and working with great and really smart people. For the most part, I enjoyed going to work. However, being retired is SO much better, in every way. It has far exceeded my every expectation. Wife and I will have taken six vacations this year and plan to do six to seven trips every year, indefinitely.
Like you I “look forward” to getting up in the mornings. No more alarm clock waking me up and dragging my tired butt out of bed. I truly look forward to what the day will bring and finding out what happened in the world while I was sleeping. I also much prefer weekdays to weekends (for the same reasons as you do).
I would say the biggest two surprises for me in retirement are first that I NEVER, EVER think about work – what I used to do, or what I would be doing now if I were still working, or what my former colleagues and friends might be doing at any particular time. It’s almost as if I have never worked a day in my life. Just don’t think about it, ever. Second, I am NOT bored at all. This was a big worry for me and I thought I’d probably do some sort of consulting in retirement. Not going to happen. ZERO interest in working in any capacity – having to do something for someone else on their timeframe. I do what I want, when I want, how I want and where I want. I do not do anything I don’t want to do nor do things at a time I don’t want to do them. It is incredibly liberating.
Retirement has exceeded my expectations in every way.
“It’s almost as if I have never worked a day in my life.”
that’s pretty amazing!! I would have never guessed that, and is something I feel like I’d struggle with if I were to pull the plug myself right now. (I can’t because I’m not FIREd yet as y’all are, but with having an internet job nothing ever sleeps so makes me worried :))
Awesome! Thanks for sharing!!!!
I know I’m late to the party, but I love this article. I have shared it with my wife, my kids, and with other friends and family members.
In addition, coming across it turned me on to both Budgets Are Sexy and ESI Money. Both these sites are like an “addiction” for me — and I mean that in the best way! I have learned so much, and been motivated and inspired as well.
Rock on! So glad you’re liking our sites, man :) And thanks for passing it on to everyone! Hopefully our antics here excite them enough to want to take action :)
I am 56 years old. Still working in human resources. I am constantly having stress and tension and have been thinking whether it is worth to go through this for the next 3 or 4 years. Lately I have been thinking of retiring but somehow also feels whether it would be a good decision especially. I am not worried about what to do with my free time but more on whether I could start living without a salary. Both my children are grown ups.
There are lots of good calculators out there you can play with to see if that helps shed any light :)
here are a few we like and have written about:
These 10 reasons are extremely motivating! Thank you ESI!
My favorites are “More Family Time” and “No Stress”. As I have a week off from work right now, I’m experiencing a dose of both of those points and I’m loving it.
We’re mortgage free as of November and I’m seeking the best options to protect my family’s future and reach FI. I’ll definitely be following your site more.
Nice work on killing that mortgage, bro! I can’t even imagine the amount of cash flow that just opened up!!
I know this is an old post, but I just recently found it in my news feed. I retired 9 months ago at age 47, and I have the same 10 surprises with little regrets, too. This is a great summary of how I currently feel. But it’s NOT all just good surprises and there can be a dark side, so I would hope you could balance the positives with a few negatives to paint a clearer picture. Maybe you could do another post with a list of the potential downsides? I’m not talking about money concerns here: the top of my list is social isolation.
Excellent idea :) Let me see what we can do about that…
Love this article. I’m in the same situation. But having difficulty as to whether I should get back in the game for a little longer. But the more time I spend at home with wife, new grand daughter, the more I think life is too short. Do worry about bowing out early (I’m 59) … but heck, I do not miss the Monday morning drag… the Sunday afternoon doldrums.
I read this about a yr ago and was nodding the whole time. I just read it again. I’m 47 and have been FIREd for 4 yrs.
Everything is spot on. Mondays, confused people, busy, great shape, shorts, family time, learning every day, no work desire, no stress…but I do sleep in until 8a sometimes if I had a hard workout or late night.
Monday mornings, stress free, putting on shorts to exercise while listening to a learning podcast are THE BEST.
There is NOTHING bad about being 100% in charge of your life/time.
GREAT ARTICLE. Stay healthy & happy & help is rule #1 as this point.
Glad you enjoyed it man :) Congrats on your 4 years!!
Your experiences and observations parallel my own to some extent. I found that doing some short term work gigs really helped. Thanks for sharing.
I retired from my high-stress government job at 51 with a full pension and a rather large asset portfolio from having saved and wisely invested over many years. As with you, my friends couldn’t comprehend my decision. I also turned down job offers. I started a blog (one post read: “Please Don’t Offer Me Work”), which attracted a growing audience, including journalists. I started getting messages from prominent publications to contribute articles, which I jumped at. My articles, in turn, attracted a readership. I then got calls from CNN and other leading networks to appear on their programs to offer commentary. Today, I’m a journalist and commentator – but on my terms. No pressures, no stress.
I’ve always kept in excellent physical shape. My wife and I travel and otherwise enjoy life pretty much free of financial stress, even with two kids in college. Lesson: if you play your cards right and are willing to be bold, you, too, can jump off the rat race train.
BOOM! So much more fun doing whatever you want, and when you want. Excellent job taking advantage of all those opportunities, even in “retirement”! :)
Quick question: Since you sound like you’re financially responsible that you remain so in retirement and that you still have a budget that you follow. What do you base the income side of your budget on since you’re not working? Is your investment income enough to cover your monthly expenses and still grow your nest egg? Thanks for posting this inspiring and helpful information!
really enjoy the articles and feedback from people. I recently returned to Colorado after being gone almost 30 years. I too am getting back in shape to conquer the pikes peak trail. Have too now that the Cog railroad is out of commission:-)
I grew up in a lower middle class family, but have saved my whole life, even when I was at the poverty level starting out in the AF. (So I agree with your statements about “Most of the people who say they can’t get ahead simply don’t want to take the steps needed to get ahead”). I had even saved $2,000 by the time I started HS with a paper route (jez did we ever have those:-))
I have an asset portfolio that statistically should more than allow me to retire now. My greatest hurdle right now at 54 is the fear factor.How did you overcome the fear/change of mentality to get into a spending mode instead of an saving/earning mode? Or was that not a factor for you?
Thanks and keep up the Blogging!
I recently FIRE-d my employer(s) and retired!
The biggest trigger for me was realizing that all of the money I was earning was immediately spoken for; i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Comcast, TrunkClub (gotta look good to make the big bucks), and more. Individually these were miniscule expenses but they really do add up. As a result, I created what I call the ‘Buck an Hour Rule’. Basically entertainment should never cost more than $1/hour of your income. That new video game for $70 should return no less than 70 hours of actual entertainment. A $60/month cable TV bill equates to 60 friggin hours in front of the boob-toob – practically a whole WEEK dedicated to watching TV (insanity!). Not everything fits $1/hour (car, etc), but you CAN calculate the cost/hour and see that $600/month for that nice car you drive 3 hours/day is not a good way to spend your hard earned cash.
I am a long time tech-wizard who never really made a boat-load of cash, spent a lot on trivial stuff, and made some stupid mistakes financially, but managed to save enough in 401k and home equity to do ‘something’.
After about a year or so researching the cost of living around Colorado, housing (lot size, house size, cost, distance from neighbors, access to groceries and medical), etc. We found a few prospective targets. We cashed almost everything in and bought a nice-enough place in Dove Creek, CO for next-to-nothing (cash). We no longer have a $2500/month mortgage (plus utils, taxes, etc). Family of four living well for under $14K/yr now. No commute, no stress, not a single luxury; like Robinson Crusoe, as primitive as can be.
Never really thought I’d be able to retire, let alone at 51.
Congrats!! I’m digging that $1/hr of entertainment idea – might have to steal that one for the blog, thank you ;)
As a single female who had never made enough money to save, I went into a panic at the age of 50 when I saw a woman even older than myself stocking shelves at a Walmart.
I had also just moved into my first home and had a 30-year mortgage looming ahead of me. After a 5-day depression and panicking like a big dog, I decided it was time to make some changes.
First change I stopped spending – for real I stopped spending unless it was absolutely critical to my survival.
Second I cut food cost down to $3 a day. I’m from the south I can cook/eat well on almost no money. I was shocked at how much I saved just from cutting mindless spending out of boredom at the grocery store, department stores and malls.
I sold everything I had that was of any value regardless of what it was and put that money toward paying off my 30-year mortgage.
I was absolutely shocked at how much money I had if I didn’t spend it mindlessly.
10 years later my mortgage was paid off and I have zero debt to my name.
I do get the question frequently, well what do you do all day. And my answer is always the same – any damn thing I want!
I’m with you on the library thing (I’ve been addicted to books since I was a young child and now I can read as many as I want).
oh and I love Mondays I get up and go outside and say oh hell I could walk around the neighborhood naked cuz everybody’s at work. Don’t worry folks I don’t, but the point is I could.
Retirement, AKA not working to have to survive is amazing!
So glad to hear it, Gina :)
Well done on the killer turnaround!!
My life sounds similar to yours in quite a few ways. I was kind of an only child (all my siblings were gone by the time I was old enough to interact with them much), so I like to be alone. I got a technical job that paid well. I hated my job – mainly because I was around people. I saved enough to retire at 45.
I’m guessing I’m more of an introvert than you but I’m also different than you in that I find retirement…boring. I want to sleep too much. I have no energy. I hate that. However, I hated being around people much more so I would never go back to that.
Since I live in Indiana, I’m thinking a big part of my problem is that there’s nothing exciting here. If you live in Florida in the winter you’re cheating old man winter. I’m thinking that would be exciting enough to get me motivated to exercise more. If in the summer you live in Colorado (or South Dakota Black Hills in my case), maybe the beauty of the mountains and the challenges of climbing hills or mountain bike riding would maybe enough to make it not so boring? Not sure. I haven’t been able to find out yet. My wife insists on working yet so I’m stuck in Indiana…and winter is coming. Ugh!