Our Resolutions for Retirement // Kicking Bad Work Habits to the Curb

happy monday, friends! anyone else hoping for a less volatile stock market week? we’d love to just coast into labor day weekend without thinking about the markets. let’s see if we’re so lucky! and now for our regularly scheduled blog post…

lately we’ve been noticing more of the bad habits that are part of our lives because of work, the things that would otherwise be invisible to us if we weren’t paying attention. work is in a busy period for both of us at the moment (don’t our clients know it’s august?!), so we’re spending even more time than usual daydreaming about what life will be like when we can say sayonara once and for all to our careers. a top priority for us then will be to change our habits, replacing the bad ones with good, healthy ones.

but of course it’s so easy to be blind to our own bad habits, and so to avoid forgetting about the bad ones we’ve recently identified, we’ve started making a list of what we want to change just as soon as work is in our rear view mirror. we’re calling the list our resolutions for retirement, and expect this list to grow over time. here’s what’s on the list so far:

our resolutions for retirement:

stop sleeping with our phones right next to the bed. nevermind all those cell waves creeping into our brains all night long… our cell phones are the last thing we interact with before we fall asleep, and the first thing we reach for when we wake up. once we quit our jobs, those phones will live outside the bedroom! same goes for the ipad, but the kindle can stay so long as it’s in airplane mode. ;-)

get dressed in the morning. we should probably start this now, but being in the west working for companies in the east, we often wake to a full inbox, and feel like we have to get right to work. getting dressed when we won’t leave the house all day feels like a waste of time. but, sitting around in pajamas all day certainly isn’t good for our sense of self. and — no joke — if we ever have to do something by videoconference, we make ourselves look professional from the chest up, but still have pj pants and slippers on down below. once we can actually ask ourselves each morning, “what will we do today?” we’ll have the motivation to dress accordingly!

stop treating lunch like a frantic scramble. we often get so busy with work that we forget to eat lunch, and by the time we remember, we’re way beyond hungry, and will eat pretty much anything you put in front of us. this means that lunch is often chips and salsa, or a bowl of cereal, or something else equally devoid of nutrition. once we quit, we’ll make lunch with as much intention and focus on health as we do our other meals. and closely related…

stop eating at our desks. even though we work from home, we still eat breakfast and lunch at our desks virtually every day. often we’re trying to gulp down bites of food while on mute on a conference call, which has many times led to awkwardness when a question comes up, and we try to respond with a full mouth. after we quit, we’ll actually eat at a table and take our time. how luxurious does that sound? ;-)

stop waking up at unreasonable hours. we’ve mentioned before that we often end up on 5 or 6 a.m. flights, which means waking up at a completely unhealthy time. we’ll book our own fun travel at more civilized hours as soon as we’re able, and get the sleep our bodies and minds need. preferably with no alarm clocks.

stop neglecting fitness. this is a huge one. we can’t wait until we can devote some time every day to getting outside and being active. right now it’s such a struggle to motivate to exercise, especially when the work day never really ends. it’s hard to stop working at say, 6, to work out, knowing that we’ll just have to get right back to it when the workout is over. and never mind working out at hotel gyms when we don’t arrive until after 10 pm and have to be out at 7 am the next morning. (schlepping a backpack through airports counts as a little exercise, right?)

start rocking some fun hairstyles. back in one of our very first posts, we said we’d get some punk rock haircuts. let’s just say, after we no longer have to look presentable to clients on the regular, we might change up a few things. :-)

do you have some bad habits that you know are just a result of your career and its demands? do you have a list like this? what’s on your list?

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31 replies »

  1. We’ve made an effort to stop sleeping with our cell phones and it has been great! First we had to get an alarm clock so as not to use the excuse that our phones stand in as our alarms. We’ve found that we fall asleep faster and sleep better with less stress.

    I would encourage you to not wait until retirement to kick the phones out! It does take some adjusting to, but feels great. Plus you have the rest of your waking hours to be glued to your phones/iPad, especially if you’re travelling a lot. :)

  2. While I’m no expert at it, I would also say: start to get some of these habits going now. Why not? Get up 20 minutes earlier (or 10 min earlier and start working 10 minutes later) and you can take a quick shower (like a 5-minute-shower), get dressed (3 minutes?) and have breakfast (12 minutes). Why not invest that time? Because I’m pretty sure it’s healthier, plus life will be better that way.

    Same for lunch. I would say: set a timer. Plus make sure that there are healthy lunch options available.

    I’m going to work less hours next year and thought: I’ll invest those hours in fitness and start going to the gym. Instead, I’m already incorporating visiting the gym in my schedule right now. There was no real reason to wait until working less hours, I already can do this and it’s healthier to not postpone it until later. I’ve got the five hours needed in my week to go to the gym three times. You’ve probably got the five hours needed in your week to have proper breakfast and lunch…

    • It’s a good point, and we have for sure tried. Though in hindsight it sometimes seems possible to have found more time in a week, when we’re in it each day, it for sure doesn’t feel like it. The hardest thing is the work travel, which makes it very tough to get into a “routine,” or forge new habits, because our schedules are different every day. Sigh. But of course you’re right — no reason to wait!

  3. I am completely guilty of sleeping with my phone and checking it first thing. I would love to cut that out if I wasn’t worried about missing something from work. I also look forward to relaxing my beauty routine. No need to wear makeup or blow dry my hair (both things I hate) when I’m retired!

  4. I have to say, I pack my lunch most days, well everyday, but I still end up eating at my desk. I miss my old company in LA, as they had a nice outdoor pavilion so Mrs. SSC and I would end up eating lunch out there a good 8-9 months out of the year. it was nice to disconnect and see some ducks and feel the breeze, and all that. They even had a walking track around the campus so we could take a lap or two after lunch even.
    That leads to neglecting fitness. We’re finally coming out of the worst of the heat here, so outside stuff can start up again. We like doing evening bike rides and I like to go for a jog a few nights a week, but I’ve been lax these last few weeks. It’s hard getting motivated to do anything physically after a long day of work, yet I feel so much better when I make myself do it.

    • Your old set-up at work sounds so nice! Of course, we’ve also learned that the jobs with the best perks are also the most demanding, so I’m sure that lovely lunch pavilion and walking track came with their fair share of pressure! And we’re with you on the exercise — hard to motivate, but so worth it.

  5. I think the biggest habit that I’m going to change is spending so much time in front of the damn computer each and every day. I do plan to write quite a bit after retirement, but spending all day, every day, in front of the computer isn’t something that I’m prepared to do. With a full time job that is computer science related, clearly, the computer is something that I am forced to interact with pretty much 10 to 12 hours a day if you include computer-use outside of working hours.

    Like you, I sleep with my cell phone next to me…but it’s not necessarily because I feel like I HAVE to. Rather, it’s a curiosity thing with me. I do wake up take a real quick scroll through my email, just to see if I have anything interesting to attend to. But I never *jump right out of bed* if I do get an “important” email, and I don’t feel stressed at all. Still not sure if this is a healthy habit or not, though. :)

    Regarding fitness, that’s a BIG part of my life. I’ve pretty much told my company that I will be unavailable for about an hour in the middle of the day so I can gym – usually around 10am or so, after the morning rush and before the lunch crowd. This also happens to sit right in the middle of my work day, so it gives me a nice break away from the computer and work, pretty much right when I need it most. If they need to get a hold of me, they wait. My fitness goals trump the goals of the organization. That might be selfish, but when it comes to health, I don’t much care about what could be interpreted as “selfish” or not.

    The eating at the desk thing…yeah, I do that too. What I really should do is eat out on the couch, but then our little 11-pound poodle – who is a total FATTY, by the way – will just sit there right next to me literally staring at my plate of food until it’s all gone. She’s not fat, but she loves food. And I’m a sucker for feeding her, too, so I don’t help the situation! :)

    For me, though, the biggest habit that I will break is, simply, the work-related lifestyle. Yes, this comes practically built-in after retirement, but deserves mentioning with me. I don’t want to waste another brain cell thinking about WORK for the rest of my life. I want to think about the things that are important to me, like writing [hopefully] killer blog posts, maybe starting an e-book, making photographs and producing video – the creative part of my life that I don’t get as much time as I would like to pursue with a full time job.

    That’s one habit that I will LOVE to break…

    • That’s pretty amazing that you dedicate a chunk of your work day to your gym time. Good for you for making that such an important priority. And yeah — the work mentality. That’s probably the worst habit of all for us, too. This nagging feeling that we should be working at all times, or worry that we’re forgetting something. Can’t WAIT to kick that feeling to the curb! (And we understand the begging little dogs — stay strong in the face of that shameless begging!) ;-)

  6. Oh my goodness, I have to say that’s amazing that when you have video conferences you dress professionally from the waist up & but still rock PJ bottoms! That’s so great! Sleeping with my phone next to my bed is a tough one to break because it serves as my alarm clock. Yet, one way I try to combat the usage of my cell phone (and screen time) is to neglect all screens at least a half hour to an hour prior to sleeping. I typically pick up a book, or prepare our lunches for the next day to do so! It allows me to fall asleep much, much faster which I like! One of my biggest bad habits during the week is slipping into “zombie mode” the last few hours of the day (when most of our East Coast customers have already left the office, and work really starts to trickle down). I then resort to that 3pm coffee pick me up (trust me, I’ve tried tea & other alternatives!) and I really wish I could cut that out. I always have things I’d like to accomplish in the evening (i.e. writing, reading, working out) that when I fall into this exasperated state in the office, it ends up funneling into my evenings. Then it makes it incredibly hard to accomplish the tasks I really enjoy post-work day. This is a bad habit I continue to replace with a positive habit!

    • We’ve kicked the afternoon coffee habit, so understand that one. If you have five minutes for a quick, brisk walk, or a few jumping jacks, or a little yoga headstand, we find that works just as well as caffeine, and without interrupting your sleep later on. Now we just have one cup of coffee each in the morning, and find other methods to wake ourselves up if need be. :-) And it’s great that you make an effort to limit screen time before bed. We used to be better about it, but now “reading” means staring at the Kindle screen, which feels like a slippery slope. Then it’s no bid deal to check email for a sec… But we’re pretty good about not watching TV or doing work until right before bed — that’s something, at least!

  7. Reblogged this on Paleotool's Weblog and commented:
    Some great advice from a couple heading for early retirement. It’s a great blog and has some good advice. Here’s a few tip explored in today’s post.

    stop sleeping with our phones right next to the bed.

    get dressed in the morning.

    stop treating lunch like a frantic scramble.

    stop eating at our desks.

    stop waking up at unreasonable hours.

    stop neglecting fitness.


  8. I can identify with many of these goals even though I work in an office several days a week. I have to agree with Steve too, it seems like the majority of my waking hours are spent in front of a computer. It will be wonderful to work on homesteading tasks outside, in the fresh air, once we reach our goal of financial semi-independence.

    While I’m not personally interested in a more interesting hairstyle, I do hope you post some pictures when that day comes :)

    • Haha — We will definitely post LOTS of pics of us once we can stop being anonymous, including whatever new hair styles we go for. :-)

      I’m with both of you guys — less time at the computer will be a good thing! We can’t wait to spend a lot more of each day out in the fresh air.

  9. I’m in agreement with Steve… less computer time! I love you guys dressing up halfway! Luckily my work is all done on the phone (I use spotty Alaska internet as my excuse), so I can stay in my jammies! But yes, dressing for the day ahead would be nice. As for lunches… we used to do the same thing, but now we spend our Sunday evenings getting tupperwares of slices cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, etc. ready so that every night we can just throw a sandwich together for the next day. It has helped us loads. (We also bag up veggies for snacks everyday on Sunday night as well.) Fitness around all the schedules in this house is terribly difficult as well and I look forward to being able to make that more of a priority.

    • Yay, working in jammies! :-) It’s a bit chilly out right now, so I’m not ashamed to say that I’m wrapped up snugly in my floor-length fleece hooded robe at this moment.

      Your lunch plan sounds great — maybe we can get it together to do that. Having sliced veggies around would just be a good thing regardless!

      But like you guys, we can’t wait until we have more control over our schedules!

  10. Getting away from the computer is definitely one. Scheduling my life around what I want to do and not work is a close second. This will definitely include making exercise a priority, right now getting in my 4x a week routine has not been attainable with work. So many bad habits, and so easy to break once I ditch working for the man :)

  11. I also work from home, but since I’m three time zones ahead of my company I usually have time in the morning to get stuff done before the day gets hectic. Unfortunately, the flip side of that is I often feel like I should continue working into the night, so there are definitely times when I’ve shoveled both lunch and dinner in while typing with one hand…yikes! I’ve been trying to fix this by telling people my schedule ahead of time and reminding myself that no one will think I’m a slacker if I respond to an IM or email thirty minutes later. Oh, and I’m also a big fan of the half-dressed video chat look. Sometimes I even cut corners and just throw a cardigan over my tank or workout top. No one’s ever noticed!

    • Love that videoconference solution!

      And yeah, some of my east coast coworkers have talked about their version of the time difference — they get the leisurely morning that we don’t have, but then feel the evening pressure. For the most part, we can shut things down around 6 pm, and even if we have to work later to get something done, at least we aren’t getting a flood of emails at that point. But not so for you! You’re completely right, though — a half hour lag won’t make the world end. :-)

  12. Those 5 and 6 am flights sound brutal! Sounds like you have a pretty intense work schedule. I agree about the phone. My husband has an iPhone, but we turn it off at night. I’m also trying to get him to turn it off at other times during the day to keep the EMF exposure to a minimum.

  13. Prioritizing fitness more is certainly one of my top focus areas. My wife is home and works out all the time – she can’t wait to drag me to the gym with her, which I will do without too much reluctance. Living in pajamas all day is a dream for me – wearing a suit everyday is such a pain. And the dry cleaning bills. I could pretty much retire just on the savings from the dry cleaner.

  14. We had been struggling with the exercise thing also and started doing Tabata workouts. It is a form of high intensity interval training if you’re not familiar. We take turns making up the workouts which we do in generally about 20 min and never more than 30 minutes. We use it as a challenge to each other and bonding experience doing together as we are extremely limited on time with work and little one. I would highly recommend it. Awesome workout, minimal time, can be done anywhere.


  15. Like what some said, I’d like to be in front of the computer and my phone less. My boyfriend and I tried the ‘no phone, no computer in bed’, I think we lasted for a week. It’s so difficult to do because we’re used to having everything on the palm of our hands – it’s so hard to get phones and computer (and Google, ha!) out of our systems.

    I’m also guilty of eating at my desk. I bring lunch to work everyday but when the weather is good, I try to go out and go for a walk, even if it’s just around the building. :)

    Congratulations guys for your Plutus Awards nomination!