The “Our Next Life” Series // Time to Join In!

our bloggy buddy steve, who writes think save retire, started the about series a few weeks back that all bloggers are invited to continue, and more recently wrote a series on his own blog that he dubbed the “our next life” series. we love the name, obviously, and thought — why not also make it a series that we all contribute to? so this is our take. and we’d love for you to write your own and link back! who’s in?

our take on the series may be a little different from steve and courtney’s, but our idea is to do a little daydreaming about what your next life will look like, after you reach whatever you’re planning for, whether it be early retirement or financial independence, paying off debt, saving for some other major goal, or achieving a major personal milestone.

some questions you may wish to answer in your post:

  • what will your transition be like? will you be quitting a job? making a move? how will all of that go down?
  • what are the big goals you have for your next life, or just the goals for the first five years or so?
  • what are the little day-to-day goals you have for yourself?
  • will you quit working, change what you do for work, or stay the course?
  • what will a day in the life look like?
  • how will you manage your finances in the next stage?
  • what will excite you about getting out of bed every day?

our next life’s next life — the transition

(forgive us for the blatant use of our own blog name — let’s blame steve, since he named the series!) ;-) our next life begins sometime around january 1, 2018, when we’ll be fully retired at ages 38 and 41. the goal is to be no longer reliant on a paycheck, though we’re planning to quit whether or not we’ve hit our numerical goals. we’re not opposed to working some, but plan to be very picky about it. we only want to do work that is fun, has perks like free ski passes or free travel, has redeeming social value, or is a favor to a friend. and we won’t take on work that will push us above the obamacare subsidy limits! that means that the first step will be to quit our jobs, which at that point, we will have had for 16 years and 20 years (!!!!) respectively.

we haven’t decided yet how much notice to give, and will have to figure that out early in 2017. having been around in our jobs for such a long time, and having senior leadership roles, we definitely can’t just give two weeks and peace out. we’re also both the sole operators for our companies in the region where we live, so we have to allow time to transition several clients over to other colleagues, get people up to speed, and make things as seamless as possible for our clients. right now the mr. is leaning toward giving a lot of notice — like possibly as much as a year — whereas my company is a smidge more corporate in feel, and it seems like a shorter notice makes more sense, something more like two or three months. of course, we are both hoping that we’ll still get year-end bonuses in 2017, but we know realistically that they’re not guaranteed if we’ve made it known we’re leaving. tune in in early 2017 for news on whether we’ve figured out a solution to this problem. (or, if you have a solution, please share it in the comments!) after we quit, we’ll throw ourselves some sort of party (i’m leaning toward a jazz funeral for our careers in new orleans — you’re invited to join our second line!), sign up for cobra or obamacare (though we won’t get subsidized coverage for a year, because subsidies are based on the previous year’s income), and then start really living in the mountain town where we’re based.

the big goals

we have a long list of things we want to do after we retire at the end of 2017, but our single biggest goal is to travel a lot. but we actually have a pretty specific vision for the places we want to visit and how, that goes beyond the vague “travel more.” we’re 100 percent willing to travel like dirtbags in this future we dream of, mostly camping or living in not-so-fancy circumstances to make it all happen. sort of like ski bums, but with the money saved up to do this indefinitely. (our friends at eat the financial elephant coined the term “dirtbag millionaires,” and it so perfectly describes our travel dream.)

in our vision, our first year of retirement will be mostly staycation, spending time getting to know the mountains and trails in our own area a lot better. we want to become walking guide books for our region, which we can only achieve by putting in the time and the miles. during this staycation year, we also expect to do a lot of camping across the region and hosting friends and family, including at our most epic thanksgiving feast yet. we’ll probably also go to quite a few music festivals, beyond the two or three we currently attend a year, because we love them, and have gotten over the fact that we’re often the oldest people dancing. :-)

after our first year, we want to do some more extended trips of the dirtbag variety, and we’ll probably rent out our house while we go travel to help pay some of our expenses, while ensuring that we always have a home base to come back to. we’ll also make good use of the massive hotel and airline points we’re currently stockpiling! we don’t yet know the order in which we’ll do these trips, but we know we want to spend a season or two backpacking southeast asia, a season or two traveling around europe in a campervan (along with an extended trek in the alps), a summer in alaska in our planned-for small travel trailer, a year or more driving down through central and south america, at least a month on a sailing vessel going somewhere warm, a few stints as wwoofers in unexpected places, some seasons as campground hosts in farflung places, a month or two paddling the boundary waters between the u.s. and canada, a season spent hiking the pacific crest trail (or at least the john muir trail portion of it), a bunch of jaunts to climb all the 14ers in the lower 48, and who knows how many roadtrips with our trailer to visit every u.s. and canadian national park. (seriously — if you are an american, and only have the u.s. national parks on your life list, do yourself a huge favor and add the parks in canada, too, including most of the provincial parks. it’s an amazing country.)

the day-to-day goals

our biggest day-to-day goal is to spend a lot more time being physically active. we moved to the mountains to make it easier to ski, climb, bike, paddle, hike, camp and do anything else you can imagine outside, but the reality of our jobs is that we don’t get out much. most days, we consider it a success if we can take time to walk what we call the “short loop” on our neighborhood singletrack (it’s maybe a mile and a half?), and a major coup if we can hike the “long loop” (maybe two and a half). we plan to spend a few hours being active every day, sometimes more, and will make that priority number one, along with improving our skill at said activities. priority number two is cooking all of our own food, which we’re pretty good about now, but we do occasionally give in to convenience foods, and we can’t wait to banish those for good. for goals three and four, we want to read a lot more books, and devote serious time to artistic pursuits like photography, painting and drawing. goal five is to sleep more, another biggie.

what will get us out of bed

i have no idea where i first heard the adage “only the boring are bored,” but i believe it wholeheartedly (and i once wielded this phrase mercilessly when i was a camp counselor surrounded by “bored” 12-year-old girls in the middle of majestic nature). these days, i might amend it to say “only the boring and the beaten down are bored.” for sure, work beats us down and can make the best of us feel bored, or stuck, or out of ideas. but in our next life, we get to shake that off, and start acting like kids again, following whatever interest happens to be in our heads that day. my dad has told several people our plan, and quite a few have responded, “but won’t they get bored?” and i love my dad’s response. he always says back, “you don’t know them.” maybe it’s that whole curiosity thing, but we never lack ideas of things we could do. right now, we have a lot of obstacles for why we can’t do them, but we’re leaving our careers behind to mow down those obstacles, leaving only possibilities in their place.

now it’s your turn! how would you answer any of the questions we posed in the post? share in the comments or — better yet — add your own post to the series!

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44 replies »

  1. Thanks for taking charge and continuing this article series! I think your plans sound absolutely awesome, and are very similar to ours in almost every way except for one minor detail: the home base. You guys want something to come back to while Courtney and I want to take our home base with us. Nothing wrong with either, and a little rental income while you guys are away and on travel definitely won’t hurt, either.

    One thing that I’d like to start doing after retirement is walking every morning even before our first cup of coffee/tea – right off the bat, we get up and walk. Exercise that early in the morning tends to maximize calorie burn and fat loss and helps keep any extra pounds off the ol’ frame. Then, even if we get caught up by the day’s events later and don’t get another opportunity to exercise, at least we got our first “workout” in before things got busy. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to continue my resistance training workouts in the gym because we won’t have a gym anywhere near us.

    And regarding travel, yeah, that’s pretty much a lifestyle for us post-retirement. We probably will try to schedule in some international travel as well, starting in South America first to keep costs down, then maybe over to Europe after we’ve lived for many years on our low, $30k-ish/year expenses and are confident that we can manage it. Italy would be my ideal Europe destination, while the wife wants to spend a good deal of time in Spain. Maybe we’ll go ahead and do both! I’d also like to visit Germany, too. I think it would be interesting to find out how much of the language I still remember from high school. :)

    I am looking forward to following your quest and how everything plays out. I especially like your plan to retire by the end of 2017 regardless of whether or not you’ve hit your financial goal. There will always be a way to live more frugally to make up any difference, and now you’re giving yourself essentially a “put up or shut up” ultimatum. You can’t use the “Oh well, maybe next month” excuse. You’re giving yourself a hard deadline!

    Keep rockin’ it, guys. :)

    • Thanks, Steve! Thanks for starting this series! I’d wondered what your gym plan was once you become full-time RVers. You could probably get some sturdy resistance bands and do some body weight training, still. Either way, like you guys, we are planning to stay as active as possible once work no longer gets in the way! Your travel plans sound fantastic, as well. I definitely envy people who can do the full-time RV lifestyle, and love following along with blogs of those who do it. (It’s especially tempting when we know we could quit now if we did this!) But I’m a person who needs a home base, which I’ve learned about myself from years of business travel. For a few years, we split time between two places, and even that was tough mentally. So there’s our answer: home base plus extended travel in between. Everybody’s got to find what works for them, and we think that’s our magic formula. :-)

  2. Excellent visions and responses to how you will live out your next life! In regards to the being “bored” aspect – I had a friend once that went on a hike here locally in Oregon. Once he made it to the top of the summit, he met an older man (that he said actually reminded him of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings lol!). The man bestowed the wisdom on him that even in one lifetime, you could never accomplish hiking every trail that Oregon has to offer (manmade, or off the beaten path). I feel that is true to most states that offer a wide range of outdoor activities. This alone would definitely keep people invigorated to never be bored, especially considering that there are even more hikes in other states & countries to accomplish. I think one of my biggest goals is to visit every hot springs in Oregon to start, because my cousin just informed me he has a whole printed book of them! I anticipate your small travel trailer in the future is going to take you on some incredible adventures. :)

    • I love that image — meeting a Gandalf-like character atop a windy mountain pass, having him bestow wisdom — love it! ;-) And so true — we can never see it all, no matter how much time we have! All the more motivation to get started earlier, rather than at the typical retirement age!

  3. Sounds like some very fun and ambitious plans. When we were in our 20’s/30’s we were in the airline industry and traveled to cities, domestically and internationally, but once a year we made a two-week trek from Chicago to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area near Grand Marais, MN. Ah, some great memories. Now our focus is to take our time (we try) to savor the remote beauty this country offers from the comforts of our home on wheels. It’s an amazing way to travel. BTW…. I’d wait for the year end bonuses and then call it quits – my two cents :-)

    • We LOVE the Boundary Waters. We’ve had a week or two in them here and there, but want a big chunk of time, preferably after the worst of the mosquitos (and tourists!) are gone. ;-)

      We would LOVE to quit after bonuses, but there are other forces at work. It will make more sense after we quit and share all the details we can’t share now! :-)

  4. Those sound like some great plans, for us being more active is a big part of our plan too. Just having the time to do those things will be a huge win. I got to knock out 23 14’ers in Colorado during my stint there, and I do miss the soul recharging feeling you get on top of one of those. Ahhh….
    We won’t be able to get as epic as your travel plans early on – due to kids/school etc… but we have a lot of “dirtbag summers” planned. Maybe a small trailer, maybe just tents, but a lot of road tripping, camping, and seeing the country during the kids breaks. Definitely will include Canada in there too.
    I wouldn’t speak word of leaving until after bonuses are in the bank. Then give notice, and if they let you go and don’t want to transition you don’t lose that. I’ve seen some fairly upper people get let go the day they gave notice. Same thing happened to me, but I expected it to happen, and I’m just a “worker drone”. I was shocked in several ways when they did that with upper people, team leads and the like. One – they didn’t transition a new person, Two – it just seems rude, Three – shocked by how quickly things got back to normal and you didn’t notice they were gone.
    Just something to keep in mind.

    • 23 14ers — impressive! You’re way ahead of us! ;-) Your summer adventures sound great, and it seems like every parent says that the kids’ growing up years pass faster than you can imagine, so you’ll be at the fully flexible stage in what will feel like no time! (As though I have a clue what I’m talking about.) ;-)

      Great advice on the job notice, though it’s more complicated for reasons we can’t get into. But it’s really valuable to hear about what you’ve witnessed — that’s very sobering. Fortunately, we still have quite a bit of time to figure this part out!

  5. Your travel plans sound amazing! I love how you’re planning to approach travel in a wide variety of ways, rather than just taking the safe route and going on guided tours or cruises. I hope you’ll still be writing blog posts regularly at that point, as I’m sure there will be days when your readers want to live vicariously through you!

    • Thanks! Yeah, traveling different ways is important to us. We think that there are best ways to see different parts of the world, and we don’t want to be stuck just seeing them through one mode like (shudder) cruises. :-) And yes — we’ll definitely keep blogging then, and will share the adventures!

  6. Reblogged this on Paleotool's Weblog and commented:
    Planning for your next step in life? Tired of being a drone with just enough well to keep it together while working for an ungrateful boss or company? You can escape. The good folks at “ournextlife” offer some excellent advice and lessons learned along the way. I read every post they make and am generally better off for it. Have a look:

  7. Love it! Need to circle back and check Steve’s series out, some how I missed it. :( My wife and I have started to talk out our next life. We have been so focused on getting out of debt and making sure our children are set up for success we haven’t give much thought to our future plan, but now it’s something be are beginning to plan.

    • It’s completely fine to take things one thing at a time. Sometimes getting too far ahead of ourselves can hurt motivation, too. So focusing on debt and the kids makes total sense, and planning for the long-term can come in its own time. Though a little dreaming never hurt anyone. :-)

  8. We’ll definitely have to join in! Ours will be more of a phased retirement and then we’ll still be a bit restricted by the kids’ school schedules for a while. Regardless, it’ll beat sitting in a cubicle all day!

  9. While early retirement isn’t really a goal of ours (yet?!?), I do love how carefully thought out and well articulated your long-term and short-term goals are. Very inspiring and motivating! Since Mr. P and I moved into our house which is situated on a bunch of park trails, we’ve tried to make getting outside a priority for us. It’s been such a game changer!

    • Thanks! We’ve been dreaming of early retirement for a while, so our dreams have taken on some arms and legs! :-) How great that you have trails nearby — AND that you actually get out there and take advantage of them.

  10. Your travel plans sound amazing. I agree with the idea of having a home base. It’s always nice you have a home to go to if you want to.

    Quitting your jobs is a touchy situation. You probably have an idea of your company culture and how they will react. Some companies do ask higher level employees leave right away, while others appreciate an employee that is willing to give them a few months to transition.

    2018 is coming quickly! You’ll be retired before you know it.

    • Thanks — nice to know there are others who would choose the home base. :-) And our whole how-much-notice-to-give idea could definitely evolve as we get closer. No idea what we’ll eventually end up doing!

  11. Better late than never. I just included my blog post about my “next life”. Thanks guys for the encouragement and urgings to allow ourselves to think about what it could/can be like in our next life. And for me, it’s been freeing to know that my plan for the “next life” has already changed and will likely be changing several more times; and that is perfectly OK.