we retired early

What Early Retirement Has and Hasn’t “Fixed”

In my years of planning for our early retirement – especially the early years – I had a lot of thoughts that you might sound familiar:

In early retirement, I won’t feel any stress.

When we’re no longer working, I’ll get tons of sleep.

After we’re done with our careers, I’ll have plenty of time to exercise and will be outside every day.

In early retirement, I’ll never feel sad or depressed, because there won’t be anything to be sad about.

When we’re retired, I’ll feel so much healthier.

Can anyone relate?

These thoughts are magical thinking, of course, and they aren’t really reflective of how life actually goes, something I started to realize in my last few years of planning for early retirement.

But now that we’re here, now that we’re actually retired (mostly, anyway), which of those thoughts have come true and which haven’t? Let’s take a look.

Psst. If you’re a woman interested in both financial independence (FI) and meeting other women who are, too, then check out the official site I’ve built for the retreat series: Cents Positive. (It’s true – I love my pun titles.) Our first event is November 2-4 in Denver, Colorado, and if you sign up on the email list at Cents Positive, you’ll be the first to know when registration opens this week or next!

What Early Retirement Has and Hasn't Fixed -- OurNextLife.com // Financial independence, retire early, FIRE movement

Those thoughts I had back in the day, what I’d probably now characterize as daydreaming in response to work stress, fell into two major categories: 1.) tasks that I didn’t have or make time for before, and 2.) more abstract ideas like “health” and “happiness.” All of those daydreams were in response to something that felt broken and needed fixing, so what has early retirement actually fixed?

Tasks I Didn’t Have Time For Before Early Retirement

In my life while working, there was so much I didn’t have time for. All of the time I wasn’t on planes or about to be on a plane, I was thinking about everything I had to do before I took that next flight. I missed out on normal home things just by spending so many nights away in hotels. Time felt scarce even when it wasn’t – though it virtually always was. Mark and I both constantly felt behind on housework, on keeping up with friends and taking care of ourselves. Surely having more time would fix all of that, right?

It might if we actually gave ourselves nothing but free time, but we haven’t. Mark is president of the local avalanche center (a volunteer position that takes a lot of time) and is also consulting part-time on a passion project, in addition to canvassing for local candidates and doing other volunteering. I’m president of a local conservation group, I do a lot of volunteer fundraising and organizational work for the local animal shelter, I write this blog (though less frequently lately while working on the book), I wrote a book, I co-host a podcast, and I randomly find other things to take on. While the consulting and book are time-limited projects that will end later this year, I don’t ever see us not doing a number of things at any one time, whether or not they pay. That is just what happens when you’re a curious person who also gives a shit about the world around you – you fill up a lot of your free time with meaningful, purposeful projects. That’s as it should be, but it means that the vision you might once have had of endless free time never quite pans out. And that impacts all the things we thought we’d have time for.

Sleep – Catching up on sleep was our very top priority after we quit, and for the first few months we were sleeping massive amounts, often 12 hours a night. And while I wouldn’t say I totally feel caught up yet, a big part of that might be that I spent so many years feeling like I could never catch up on sleep. We weren’t in financial debt anymore, but we were massively in sleep debt by the last few years, and unlike monetary debt, there’s no statement that will arrive to tell us that we’re done. And so those thoughts we had for years and years are still here in large part, and I’m not sure when we’ll break out of those thought patterns. I do know that it feels truly glorious not to set an alarm most days, and to be able to nap if we feel like it. But that nagging thought is still there that we have sleep debt to pay off, and it might be harder to get rid of that voice than it actually was to catch up on the sleep itself.

Exercise – We had the grandest plans on this one. We were immediately going to level up our fitness to tackle big endurance goals like long mountain climbs. And maybe we still will! But we’ve been mostly focused on recuperating this winter and spring, and I’ve also had some physical setbacks recently that have forced me to be less mobile than I’d like. We’re getting into summer now and have had a few fun outings in the mountains, so this is about the time when I’d expect us to pick up momentum. But it’s a good reminder that just having time won’t push your butt out the door. You still have to dedicate time to it consciously and find the discipline to exercise, something that can be more challenging when you don’t have any structure built into your day. All of that said, we’re getting more exercise than we were while working, just not at the level we assumed would be automatic.

Cooking – We had grand plans here, too! No more frozen foods – only fresh foods we’d make from scratch. Sooooo, yeah. About that. We’re not there yet. An interesting observation has been how easy it is to have a “vacation eating” mindset while early retired, and to eat worse than we should. Now that summer is here, we’re shifting most of our food purchasing to the farmer’s market, which will certainly help. We always cook the most and eat the best in the summer, so the trick will be carrying that energy into autumn and beyond.

Hobbies – I’m a person of many interests. Beyond writing the blog, I love reading books and have been making a list for years of everything I’d read after we quit. And I’ve read exactly zero of those books so far. Likewise for the projects I’d hoped to sew, the Japanese lessons I’d planned to resume, and the piano I’d hoped to relearn. But I have written the first draft of my book, produced the first half of the second season of The Fairer Cents, organized the Cents Positive Retreat, and gotten involved in some new clubs. So I have plenty to show for my time and am good with how I’ve apportioned my energy thus far, even if it’s not on the hobbies I’d thought would be the top priority.

Time to Spend with Friends and Family – Social circles become even more important in early retirement, and we’ve on the whole been prioritizing social time. We hosted meetups in Tahoe and New York City with other FI enthusiasts. We’ve had a few out-of-town guests visit. And we’ve done the new friend hustle as much as possible. And I’ve gotten much more time with my dad, who lives nearby, which has been really special. Still not as much friend time as I’d like, but that’s on me and my book deadlines.

Reminder for those new here – because the internet retirement police seem to have stepped up their patrols lately, and my notes on free time may spur questions – that I don’t make money off the blog (see the resources page disclaimer for what I do with the tiny amounts generated from my few affiliate links), the podcast sponsorships cover costs and help subsidize blog expenses, and other side projects like hosting the Cents Positive retreat for women aren’t money generators – by design! I am making a little bit to write my book, as I explained in this post. Them’s the facts. 

Abstract Concepts I Believed Early Retirement Would Fix

The tasks are easy to grade with a pass/fail, but the abstract stuff is harder. Even after I saw that so much of my daydreaming was magical thinking, I’ll confess that I still assumed we’d be happier, healthier, less stressed and more connected in our relationship after work was out of the way. Particularly with the all-encompassing careers we had, work was by far the biggest force. It seemed completely logical that subtracting it would take pressure off every other area of our life. And that’s been both true and not.

Health – I’ll share more on health soon, but bottom line is that I do not feel healthier, at least not yet. I don’t know if I was just subconsciously pacing myself to get to our retirement, but I’ve definitely seen some things worsen since we quit. I had the longest migraine of my life this winter, and I’m feeling more limited by my body than I ever remember feeling. And that was all before I got sick two weeks ago and landed in the hospital. (I’m good now!) Expect a post on health and health care after those charges shake out and we see what we’re on the hook for.

Stress – Not all that long before we retired, I remember thinking, “I wonder if too little stress will be bad for us. If we need some stress to keep our minds active and to stay engaged in the world.” Which now just feels like such a charmingly naïve thought that I need not have entertained. There’s still stress in retirement because it’s still life! That said, I feel zero money stress, which is a surprise, and we undoubtedly feel dramatically less stress from sources you could call “work.” Which is incredible! So overall stress level is way down, but I’m no longer convinced that stress ever disappears entirely, or even mostly.

Happiness – Jim Carrey gave a fairly woo-woo interview with The Talks about his various spiritual beliefs, and while I’m not recommending that you run over and read it, in it, he dropped this little nugget: “I guess just getting to the place where you have everything everybody has ever desired and realizing you are still unhappy. And that you can still be unhappy is a shock when you have accomplished everything you ever dreamt of and more and then you realize, ‘My gosh, it’s not about this.’ And I wish for everyone to be able to accomplish those things so they can see that.” I wouldn’t describe myself as unhappy at all, though I have been unhappy at times while retired, but I relate to Jim’s quote so much. I’m full-on living the dream, or at least living my dream, and while that fact is amazing and wonderful and I feel grateful for it every day, none of that makes happiness automatic. Because we aren’t happy about things or sad about things. (A fact made painfully clear by the recent suicide deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, people who “had it all.”) On paper, I have everything to be happy about and nothing to be sad about, but that fact doesn’t make me immune from sadness. I’m still a person living life, and that comes with the full range of emotions, even when there’s no easy reason to cite. But see above – on balance, I’m feeling way less stressed, and given what a dampening effect stress has on happiness, I would have to say I’m happier overall.

Fulfillment – Once upon a time, I would have linked happiness and fulfillment together, and assumed they were two sides of the same coin. They are not. While happiness hasn’t been automatic or something I feel every day, I feel deeply fulfilled, and for that I’m massively grateful. I know it comes entirely from having the privilege to use my time as I wish, on projects that speak to my soul, and that feel like they add up to something. I may not have done many of the things I’d hoped to have done by this point in early retirement, but I’ve done other things that feel even better, and if that doesn’t speak to the power of financial independence, I don’t know what does!

Chime In!

Share your thoughts with all of us! What daydreams do you think might end up being magical thinking? Which ones are you sure you’ll see come true in early retirement? For those who’ve already retired, did you have any surprises like I have? Anything you ended up not making time for that seemed so important before? I’m allllmost ready to be back to a normal blogging schedule, so responses coming soon! xo

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46 replies »

  1. I like this post because it feels so real. While I can’t say I wear the same shoes as you Tanya, our slippers might have been made in the same factory! ;)

    So many human issues that existed before early retirement still exist after — motivation, time management issues, health troubles (I get migraines too), and even that ever elusive goal of happiness.

    That’s just life I guess.

    • Great post, Tanja. I’m just beginning my FIRE journey and am really present to the fact that I need to live a life that is happy and fulfilling NOW if I want to be happy and fulfilled when I quit corporate in five years. Though you’re still really busy, it seems you are living a life that is full of meaningful activity and work: writing a book!, podcasting, organizing an awesome retreat for female FIRE-types (yay!), joining new groups, and spending more time with your dad. It may not be a life of leisure, but it sounds really rich and exciting. I hope to join you for Cents Positive in November. Kudos and gratitude to you for organizing such a retreat.

  2. we undoubtedly feel dramatically less stress from sources you could call “work.” Which is incredible!

    This is important as continual high stress levels from work are a known killer. I too feel much less stressed after going part time and it’s one of the best benefits so far for me. There is a good level of stress to have in life though, what I think is called “optimal anxiety” . That can be fulfilled from your passion projects, your book/podcast, and your volunteer work among others. Those things give you meaning and do create some stress, but as long as the levels are lower and you have a light at the end of the tunnel for each one they’re probably good. For most people, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for their W2 job, which is why that stress is so dangerous. It just keeps a constant pressure on them.

    Great post, good stuff here for all FIRE proponents to consider.

  3. Great post Tanja! I love the Jim Carey quote…even though i’m not yet at that point in my life, i always had a hunch that money couldn’t solve all my problems. With the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, it becomes apparent that life is about so much more than money, and true happiness comes from within…. You already have everything you need to live the life of your dreams, it’s inside you!

    I would love 12 hours of sleep a day haha, i need to test that out one weekend. I think i would go mental lol. Cheers!

  4. I love the honesty of this post.

    Retirement definitely isn’t a magic pill to cure what ails you in real life.

    If you were a worrier before retirement then you’ll find something to worry about after retirement.

    If you were a misery guts before retirement then you’ll definitely be a misery guts after retirement.

    If you struggle for motivation, lack purpose or direction, or have no productive use for your free time before retirement then guess what? Retirement won’t fix any of these things.

    Truth is most things people dream about doing in retirement they can (and should) be doing before escaping the work force.

  5. Except for extra time, early FI (or FI) is not going to fix everything. I think it helps some people get thru their working years thinking FI will fix it all.
    There is so much you can “fix” already while working, you need to take a good look at your life and prioritize. Odds are if you didn’t do it while you were working, you may still not do it when FI (ie: cooking and exercising).

  6. I have changed my ways after working full time to now working part time and my kids have moved out of home. The focus and priorities are all about my husband and I. I enjoy my husband working full time out of the home because at least we are not struggling. I am more peaceful, loving and take good care of the family more. As opposed to being highly stressed trying to keep all the balls up in the air and dealing with work politics, commuting, frustration in not being a good wife and mother. Ironically when I was working full time, I had a lot of credit card debt, probably spending on convenience and time saving. These days I earn less and I am in a better financial situation.

  7. I sure hope you’re doing better, Tanja. I figure that any major change in a person’s routine can throw you for a loop. For us, the year we had our twins was also the year I started a new role at work, and started up the rental business. A lot of big changes, whether good or bad, can throw you out of sorts.
    This post will be one I refer back to often. I’m on a journey to figure whether early retirement is about having control (safety margins, F you money, etc.) or about finding happiness. Like Carrey, I’m coming around to the idea that a fulfilling life is one centered on meaningful struggle, where “happiness” is a sometimes elusive feeling. But contentedness and “no regrets” are ever-present.

  8. I am in day 6 of 9 day staycation and I have been thinking about many of those things. I still feel stressed because I am trying to get all this stuff done, I don’t think life is ever stress free. I haven’t had to technically set an alarm but yet I am doing certain things earlier than I like because I don’t want to miss out (group all day hike, breakfast on the farm, exercise class etc) Glad you are feeling better and I hope you stay well. I am going to sign up for more info about the retreat, I hope I can get off

  9. This post resonates so well. I look at my life, semi early retirement, and say, “Hey, I wish I was that guy!” I think it’s important to be aware of what one gives up when going this path such as the inane but engaging banter with colleagues at work, simply keeping busy because you have to and, yes, the security of a ‘real’ job. I think, too, that when has a lot of interests you simply can’t pursue all of them and certainly not more than a couple well. By this I mean that if you are retire early you probably were good at your old game and now are starting something new; it takes time. I looked forward to learning new things, picking up on old ones, and am doing that and won’t go back. Still, it’s a challenge to have once been very accomplished in my career and then find myself struggling with bar chords on the guitar I always wanted to play. That’s not a reason to give up, certainly, but is an important thing to recognize. I write in my journal quite often; “There, I just felt it, A twinge of fear.”

  10. Stress/anxiety, at least for me, is something I know will always be around, regardless of how I’m spending my time. To be honest, I had just as much stress working at Petsmart right out of college as I do now with a “real” career and a lot of responsibility. Some of it comes from the expectation of myself to do my best work, and some just comes from the way my brain chemistry functions. As you know, I’m not quite chasing early retirement at this point (though definitely FI), so my goal is to adjust my life now to be the best it possibly can be without waiting for the magical finish line someday :)

    • I feel the same way about job stress and that is why as great as “going part-time” sounds, I’m hesitant to actually try to do it. I feel like I might end up with all the same stress for half the pay and no benefits…

      • As someone who DID go part time (well 80%), it has absolutely been worth it. Is there a way you could try it out for a time and see how it goes? I can’t imagine that more time in your day would end up with more stress.

  11. Tanja, I am glad to hear you are feeling better and wish you the best in getting back to your ideal state of health. Health care in FI for people who actually NEED healthcare is an under represented topic in this community, so I am interested in hearing more about your experiences there.

    Your discussion of sleep debt reminds me of what it was like to have a newborn. For me, a few months of serious sleep deprivation were followed by several months of minor sleep deprivation. It felt like it took a long time to get back to an even state, but it did eventually happen!

  12. Great post! Thanks for sharing this bit of reality of your experience.

    I am (at least vaguely) pursing FI, but I put very little focus on RE. There are two reasons. The first is because I don’t like focusing on timelines for really long term goals that I have only medium control over (markets, etc.) when it really won’t change my day-to-day actions. The second reason is because I just don’t think it would be helpful to me mentally, for some of the reasons you highlight here. If X is important to me, I should try really hard to make time for it now, and maybe realize that Y just can’t be that important for the time being.

    PS – Cents Positive sounds really cool and I really love all you do for women in the FI world. I’ll be ~39 weeks pregnant at that point, so maybe some other year :)

  13. I hope you’re feeling better and your health continues to improve. Regarding time and its passage, have you ever read anything by Laura Vanderkam? She’s written several great books, but I particularly like “I Know How She Does It,” and “168 Hours.” I’m also reading “Off the Clock” (new one) right now and it’s great. Her approach has transformed how I think about time…. it’s not perfect and I’m not perfect (no one is!) but it has helped me feel more in control — even working FT, getting a graduate degree, and having two little kids at home.

  14. Great article. Thanks for sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I sit with only a matter of weeks in front of me before I am officially FIRE, I too have a long list of things I want to do and hopes about what this new thing will feel like. I’m sure like you, it’ll end up being a mixed bag, but I can’t wait to find out!

  15. I’m listening to a book on tape (lots of cursing-lol) called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*Ck. The best take away has been-happiness comes from solving problems. So if we take all our problems away in early retirement-the happiness goes with it. Instead find some good problems to solve and that solves the happiness part.

    This explains why some people fail in FIRE…and why old grandmas get all nutted up about their coupons. It’s really all they have. Sad. Let’s not be like those grandmas.

  16. i’m guessing your sleep conundrum is mental one. i worked a swing shift for about 12 years until a year ago. it took be about 3 months of working normal hours to naturally wake up at 6am. now, on the weekend with nothing scheduled and i’m awake by 7:30 i’m a little cheesed off. deep down i am “owed” that extra hour or two to make up for past deprivation, except it doesn’t work that way.

    i know we’re all different, but reading this makes me think that living well RIGHT NOW, TODAY is very valuable. i thought i wanted to play the drums but they sat in the basement for 10 years and i finally let them go.

    try your asparagus on the grill. char ’em up a little. most importantly….be well.

  17. I really appreciate this post and discussing happiness. (I’ve never heard that Jim Carrey quote before, and it’s spot on.) I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately myself. Currently being in an unhappy work situation and waiting for change really sucks while at the same time, I know it’s up to me to find my own happiness and not be dependent on my circumstances. Work situation aside, I’ve got everything I need and have no real reason to complain. The human condition is absolutely fascinating to me in that sometimes we can be really good at making ourselves unhappy despite objectively having everything that we need. I have it far from figured out myself, and this past week was a really sad reminder of how real this struggle is for people all over the spectrum. I appreciate that you’re talking about this, and it’s incredibly important for anyone imagining that retirement is going to take away all of their troubles.

  18. Thanks for pointing to an important distinction here between happiness and fulfillment.

    I for one would benefit by remembering that doing something (whether paid or volunteer work, caring for someone/something, pursuing projects and passions) might not bring me the sensation of “happy happy joy joy,” but it might nevertheless be deeply fulfilling. Perhaps that sense of “fulfillment” (sometimes associated with “purpose” or “meaning”?) might actually be at least as important as “happiness”…

  19. Love the honesty here. As a parent I wonder when we’ll catch up on sleep ha! Looking forward to hearing more about cooking and health. You know, my wife and I make killer food and of course desserts. So if you guys are ever up in Vancouver give us a shout.

  20. “That is just what happens when you’re a curious person who also gives a shit about the world around you – you fill up a lot of your free time with meaningful, purposeful projects.” LOVE IT!

    I FIRE’d 2 years ago and there’s so much I identify with in this post. There are still days when I think “I haven’t accomplished enough” and start to feel guilty, but I quickly push that aside. I finally have time to devote to the volunteer work and projects I’ve wanted to do for decades, and to give them the focus they deserve. But unlike you Tanya, I’m not in a hurry to lead them. I definitely suffered from manager burnout in my career and I’m happy to be just a frequent contributor.

    And I wouldn’t worry about sleep debt. Just listen to your body. I occasionally still struggle with falling asleep (thanks perimenopause!), but I haven’t had to fill the Ambien Rx for 2 years, yay! I’m also looking forward to reading your health care experiences post. Fears for the future of American health insurance keep so many people tied to stressful, unfulfilling jobs.

    Kudos on Cents Positive. The FIRE community skews male and it’ll be good to have a space for women’s voices.

  21. Hi Tanja, I just discovered you through the Mad Fientist podcast and I’m so happy I did. Your interview with him was really great!
    I just wanted to add my 2 cents about not accomplishing the goals or expectations once the daily grind is out of the picture.

    One of my favorite sayings is “wherever you go there you are” which (as trite as it is) applies to so many things. Just because you have more free time your life isnt going to completely transform. But yeah, you knew that of course. This is more of a general statement than one aimed at you :) I think we all put too much pressure on ourselves though. Enjoy what awesome things you have accomplished!

  22. The concept of “retirement police” is so silly to me. People actually take time out of their day to criticize how YOU send YOUR time. Amazing. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the article about your recent hospital visit costs. I’m glad you’re feeling better!

  23. You two set the bar so high – president of the local avalanche center, consulting part-time on a passion project, canvassing for local candidates and doing other volunteering, president of a local conservation group, volunteer fundraising and organizational work for the local animal shelter, writing a blog, writing a book (a book!!!) and co-hosting a podcast….

    I was planning on just the sleep, cook, read scenario for the first year….

  24. Thanks for this. I have lists and lists and lists of daydreams about what early retirement will bring, and with the day now less than 2 weeks away (!!) I am coming to the realization that many of those things will stay daydreams, at least in the near term. Other priorities have emerged, but the ability to be flexible and present for the people we love was high on those ever-present lists. Anyway, thanks for confirming that I’m not the only one who has fantasized about retirement Nirvana!

  25. Solid post as I sit here at work wanting a nap…it is funny how life works out. Just try to do what you can and that in its self is a balance…the rest works out.

  26. I wondered that as I was walking to my car seeing someone at the bus stop in Dallas, TX in 100 degree heat. Maybe that person is looking at me, thinking “I want the air conditioned job and a car to drive. Only then will I be happy.” Here I am planning to get out of the job as fast as possible..

  27. Ah, I am definitely guilty of thinking everything will be better when I can step away from full time employment. But perhaps day dreaming about it does serve a purpose, to get you through those really tough weeks (…ok, months)😅

  28. Great topic–I think this is what people really need to know about early retirement! I realize it’s individual and will change over time for you, but it’s hard to imagine something we’ve never experienced. So it’s great to hear from someone who has. Thanks!

  29. Just focus on one day at a time. Nothing more. Live in the present. I don’t think it’s realistic to think one day you’re working full time and the next you’re early retired and things will dramatically change. Add to that the uncontrollables (e.g. health). My thought is set 3 goals (e.g. sleep in, slow travel without a car, exercise a bit more). All of these 3 can be done together so ultimately get done as one. Once that becomes a regular routine, add something new. Even if that new thing is only added 6-8 months later, that’s still fine.

    As for the intangible items (be happier, less sad or depressed, less stressed), I don’t think FIRE can solve that. That’s something each of us has to deal with in our own way and on our own terms.

    I’m still working at this point but I don’t stress about work anymore or only minimally so. The worst case is that I get an 18-24 month severance if I get let go. How horrific! LOL. I’m already FI so a severance would just accelerate the RE component. I already sleep 8 hours minimum versus the fewer hours I used to do. Ultimately, they were all gradual changes I made.

    Overall, focus on what’s important to you right now. Forget about setting expectations and goals that may not be realistic at the snap of a finger. That was your manager’s job when you were still employed. That’s over with now. Time to let go of that. 😊

  30. The universe tends to send me messages I need in the moment and I thought, “hmmm, I’ll pop over to ONL and see what T and M are up to”….. and BAM, you give me the message I needed today. Rough day at the office. Spent a YEAR working on an online course. Launched today after massive promotions (and 85 at the webinar) and then…. crickets…. I have spent the afternoon beating myself up, licking my wounds and daydreaming about when I retire so I won’t have to hustle like this and I’ll read, knit, cook etc and SLEEP. This post was perfect to snap me back to reality. I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself and get back in line my friend. AND I’m super excited about the November retreat! I’m all in!

  31. My goal for early retirement is definitely to lower stress levels. Thinking back to the times where I was the least stressed in my life and I can clearly remember them. That’s my goal is to get back into that mindset and try to replicate what I was feeling back then and why. While it may not be a perfect replication, coming close would be good enough for me 🙂

  32. Great points Tanja. I think in general if you are not well centered or grounded then it doesn’t matter whether you are retired or working, you will be in a potentially poor place physically and mentally. I think sleep is certainly an exception here!

  33. Well, I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better. I can certainly relate to this post, though I’m definitely less ambitious about all the things I wanted to do as soon as I retired… Before I retired, I had made sleep a priority as I had started to experience so many of those other high stress career types of health issues, though I did allow myself about 9 months of sleeping without an alarm clock. I decided to re-start working out again in the mornings, so I set an alarm now but I normally wake up feeling well rested.

    As someone who always prided herself on being a highly productive person, it took me awhile to stop feeling guilty about not being as productive as I had been previously, but also not regarding some of the things I was doing as unproductive. Cleaning house and preparing meals (whole food type meals) can take a lot of time if you aren’t super fast at either of those tasks (even though I am typically quite focused on what I’m doing), and I don’t think I regarded that as being productive just because I had been so focused on being productive in a career oriented way. Throw in a daily workout (because that’s what I need to feel normal), and some days I felt as if I accomplished nothing. I’m beginning to redefine what’s productive and what isn’t and being a little less harsh on myself.

    It seems to me that you pushed yourself super hard those last few years at work (forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth), and I think that whether you stopped working or didn’t stop working, you likely would have experienced the same health issues. Your body may have been at the breaking point. The other thing I’ve noticed is that if you are used to going hard, it’s actually quite difficult to take your foot off the gas pedal! You think you are coasting, but the truth is, you aren’t coasting at all, and while the stuff you are doing may feel different, more meaningful, less monotonous and more fun and may even take a lot less time (and dozens of other cool things), the truth is you are working your butt off. It’s hard not to want to rush to start doing all the amazing things in front of you and take advantage of every opportunity and become this amazing player in the FI community (you already are, by the way), but be easy on yourself. It’s going to take some time to find the right balance, but don’t be afraid to slow down and catch your breath. Peace and Cheers!

  34. I’m more on a mini-retirement, but I’m struggling to find routine and do all of the things I’d hoped to. I hear that it takes about 90 days to fully unwind from a corporate job, but I’m approaching that date and I’m NOT relaxed!

  35. I do hope that health things get better, but it is definitely fascinating to see what has not improved that reasonable people would assume would have. I’m glad you always tell truths – especially when they are complicated.

  36. A good reminder that money can create as many problems as it solves. It’s better to have financial freedom than not, for sure – and that can be achieved through good investing in growth assets like stocks and shares. However, nothing replaces the ongoing need for purpose, interest and engagement in life. Once you’re financially independent, you’re in a great space to do the work you really want to do and contribute your best to others.

  37. Honestly I am really not sure about all that sleep!

    12 hours a night seems like such a waste – maybe its an age thing (I’m 53) but I am increasingly finding that 6-7 is more than enough. I may have swapped a little of my sleep for a 30 minute afternoon nap – but that just feels like a bit of decadence.

  38. Scary – The list kind of matches all of my expectations for early retirement, and I’m quite sure the outcomes will match too (no surprises there… I have never been prepared to put money on me meeting my ‘Exercise more’ goal… :)

    On a more serious note, I think this post is quite positive indeed. Yes, we may not be able to do everything we are planning, but who cares? It’s the overall feeling that matters, and if that’s positive, happy days!