we've learned

The Most Important Early Retirement Indicator // Boredom in Early Retirement, Part 1

Today’s post is part 1 of a two-part series on boredom in early retirement — it’s a big subject! Part 2 is coming your way next week. (Wednesday I’m tackling an entirely different topic, and it includes a book giveaway that I’m super excited about. I’m at FinCon this week, but won’t be posting a recap on the blog this year like I did for FinCon17 and FinCon16. If you want to hear about the highlights of FinCon18, make sure you’re signed up for the email newsletter.)

I’ve noticed when I talk to regular people about early retirement, nearly everyone falls into one of two camps:

  1. Those who ask what we do all day, and who then proceed to talk about how bored they’d be without their job, and
  2. Those who get excited thinking about having more free time, and who start rattling off everything they’d do if they had more time.

That pattern has played out in conversation after conversation since way before we actually retired (and I’ve tackled the question here of whether we actually could get bored in early retirement).

And to answer the question from our experience: No. We’ve never been bored. Not even a little bit. We’d actually hoped to be bored occasionally, based on the Bored and Brilliant idea that boredom breeds your greatest creativity. (It’s also now a book. <–affiliate link, and affiliate link policy) But nope. No boredom here.

When we’re talking to those who are pursuing financial independence, those two camps aren’t exactly the same (those who say they’d be bored without work and those who start listing off all the things), but they’re not far off:

  1. Those who talk about how ready they are to leave their job, despite not really having a clear picture of what’s next, and
  2. Those who have a list 10 pages long of all the things they can’t wait to have more time for.

When I talked to a bunch of new-to-me FI aspirants at CampFI Midwest a few weeks ago, I’d say that many more people in that particular group fit into category 1 than category 2 — focusing far more on what they want to leave behind (mandatory work) than what they actually want to spend their time doing (a lot of blanks). (And these are all blog readers who know the gospel about retiring to something, not retiring from something, and yet still find themselves focusing on what they’d like to subtract, not what they’d like to add.)

Despite Mark and I not having experienced any boredom (at least not yet) in early retirement, and the fact that confirmation bias will likely stop most bloggers from fessing up to feeling bored — because, you know, early retirement is the best thing ever and totally cures everything wrong in your life (sarcasm) — boredom in early retirement is a very real possibility, and something that happens to very real people.

Like this poster in the FI subreddit:

Retired early, now bored out of my [bleeping] skull, anyone have tips on how to stay active and interested? 32 M, retired early a few months ago. I wake up at noon and do nothing but eat and watch TV all day, except for occasional walks. Anyone else who FIREd and found themselves bored, or without a clear path?

Or the person who responded sympathetically:

I retired over a year ago — at 41. I’ve been through the boredom. It’s almost like there’s too much choice and it’s paralyzing. Then I started volunteering. It was okay, but didn’t give me that boost I wanted. I still volunteer one day a week but it’s become more of a chore than anything. Then I tried creating things — mostly writing. I’m a competent writer, but it was a major ego bruise to generate stuff that sucked. At least in my opinion. Then I went through a period where I stopped trying. For some weeks I’d tell myself I didn’t need to rush it, that it was my job to keep my mind open for the universe to send me inspiration. That didn’t last long. I realized I was totally addicted to the internet. Like, while on the toilet, stopped at a traffic light, reddit over coffee, reddit til noon, other forums, other sites, etc. mint.com, yahoo finance, portfolio management.

Reading the thread, there are clearly plenty of people who retired early and quickly got bored of it all, some of them going back to work to quell the boredom. I’ve heard from lots of others via email of similar stories of early retirement boredom and returns to work. And well-meaning folks might start listing off all the things you can do — volunteer! work out more! travel! — but as the quote above shows, volunteering itself isn’t a silver bullet if that’s not fulfilling your purpose in some way.

Let’s talk about why how you answer the question, “What are you going to do all day?” is such an important indicator of whether you’re ready for early retirement.

The most important early retirement preparedness indicator // boredom in early retirement, part 1 // Our Next Life // financial independence, FIRE, FI

This problem of potential boredom seems to apply equally to early retirees and traditional retirees, and may stem from any number of places: lack of purpose, lack of identity, lack of self worth, lack of social connections with people who are free when others are working, unwillingness to spend money on things that would be fun, and on and on.

There’s this story from the New York Times of a man who retired at age 42:

For the first few months after Jon Helmuth retired three years ago, he slept late, acquired a tan and showered at odd times. Actually, some days he didn’t bother to shower at all.

After that pleasantly aimless interval, Mr. Helmuth, a divorced father of four who is now 45, began organizing his five-bedroom house in the woods of Vandalia, Mich., a village near the Indiana border. But once he alphabetized the spice rack and finished making an easy chair out of castoff designer jeans, “I started running out of things to do,” he said.

Those who recall their own freshman year of retirement will, perhaps, nod knowingly and sympathetically. Been there, done that.

But the situation is different when you retire very early — too early even to get your first membership solicitation from AARP. While early retirement and a life of leisure may sound like the stuff of daydreams, the reality can be jarring for people who are used to being busy — and important. There can be boredom, a sense of isolation and a lot of awkward social questions.

No one saves up and works hard to retire early only to sit on their couch all day. No one pursues financial independence solely to indulge an internet addiction. And no one walks away from a lucrative career so that they can alphabetize the spice rack. Just like no one looks back on their life and thinks, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

We all want to do things that make us feel like we matter, and that keep us connected to a larger world outside of our own bubble.

It’s clear that all of the folks in these examples retired from something, but they didn’t do enough thinking beforehand about how they’d actually spend their time, and the result was they all ended up struggling to fill their time with anything meaningful.

The “I’ll figure it out when I get there” approach that they most likely assumed would work ultimately let them down. 

That, friends, is both a failure to plan, and some perhaps willful ignorance about what makes oneself happy. Fortunately, both of these things are easily overcome if you make the effort to do so, and don’t get stuck just focusing on the math and spreadsheets.

Know Thyself

There is no right answer about what is going to make your early retired life feel “worth it.” For some, volunteering is incredibly fulfilling, while for others, it feels like a chore. Some enjoy constant travel, while others find that they’re much happier staying home. And some people like constant activity and busyness while others are truly happy sitting around.

The key is to know not what makes someone else happy in early retirement, but what makes you happy. If you thrive on feeling busy and important while working, you’re unlikely to enjoy constant solitude and silence in early retirement. If the social aspect of work is the thing you enjoy most, friends on the internet are unlikely to give you as much social interaction as you’ll crave when you’re no longer going into the office.

It’s worth doing the introspection to examine what actually makes you happy, and what you need to feel like your days are worthwhile. Not just on a random Saturday when you’re recharging after a long week of work, but big picture.

Be Honest About Your Life Now

It’s normal to fall into some magical thinking from time to time. We all do it. We for sure had moments of it along the way to early retirement. We thought we’d instantly be the best versions of ourselves, we’d be super motivated to eat perfectly and exercise constantly, we’d read 10 books a week and still have time to volunteer for every nonprofit in town while traveling to 10 countries a year. (Obviously none of that happened. Because this is real life.)

But if your magical thinking involves this refrain, it should give you pause: “My life now is boring. I can’t wait for my life to be exciting in early retirement.”

If your life is boring now with work in it, don’t trick yourself into thinking that it will become less boring when you have less to do.

Your personal feelings about your pre-early retirement life may not involve boredom at all. But if you are currently bored, the best thing you can do for yourself well before you retire is to reshape your life now so you’re no longer bored with it. Because retiring is only going to magnify the problem, not minimize it.

The Early Retirement Preparedness Indicator That Matters Most

We can talk all day about the numbers side of early retirement readiness and debate the 4 percent rule until we’re all blue in the face. (If you’re coming to FinCon, Big ERN, Physician on FIRE, Jonathan Mendonsa from ChooseFI and I are going to do exactly that at a session moderated by Jean Chatsky on Thursday morning! So many blue faces!) We can talk about contingencies and multiples of X and all the rest, but those things only don’t tell if you if you’re ready to retire early. They only tell you if you’re financially ready. But retirement is a life event, not only a financial event.

The most important indicator of whether you’re truly ready, assuming you’ve hit your magic number is how you answer this question: “What are you going to do with all your new free time?” 

If you have a long list of things you can’t wait to get into — or, better yet, a few things you already do and want to do more — then you’re most likely ready.

But if your answer is “I don’t quite have that part figured out yet,” then you have some more thinking to do. 

So What Do You Do If You Don’t See a Clear Path?

Don’t panic! That is the topic of next week’s post, Boredom in Early Retirement Part 2. There is plenty you can do, and one thing in particular that I’ve come to believe is your best strategy for making a successful transition into a meaningful early retirement. Stay tuned!

Your Turn!

Which group do you tend to fall into, the group that is overflowing with all the things you can’t wait to have more time for, or the group that hasn’t quite answered the question yet of how you’ll spend your newfound time? For those who’ve already retired, which camp were you in before you pulled the plug, and how do you think that impacted your transition? What do you think of the premise, that you shouldn’t just plan to figure it out when you get to early retirement? This is a meaty topic, so please share your opinion and let’s discuss in the comments.

 

Want extra Our Next Life content? Get the e-newsletter!

Onls profile6 closeweb

Subscribe to get our periodic newsletter with tons of top secret, behind-the-scenes info we'll never share here on the blog.

No spam or slimy sales pitches ever. Unsubscribe any time -- no worries! Powered by ConvertKit

42 replies »

  1. I definitely fall into the latter camp of folks who can’t imagine being bored in life. I’ve now been half-retired for a full year and still find that to be true, although I’ve learned a lot. I thought I’d be doing a lot more cycling, climbing, and hiking with my new free time. But it turns out I was already doing tons of those things while I had a full time job, and I really couldn’t do a whole lot more. I also realized that I may have been doing so much of those things as a way to counter my work stress. And now that I only work 20 hours a week I don’t have as much work stress and my need to get an epic 70 mile bike ride in on a Saturday is not as urgent. A 30-miler is just fine :)

    Looking forward to seeing you at FINCON!

    • Ditto, there aren’t enough hours in the day :) I’m working towards the famed 20 hour week (down from 40) and daydream (too much?) about all the things I could do!

      Great article Tanja, as per usual!!

  2. Bored? Nope, lonely? Yes, a bit. The problem with early retirement is that most of you friend and family are still working. Makes is more difficult to have social stuff to do during the day. Need help from my FIRE friends around here, who are working hard to also RE.
    Have fun at FINCON 2018!

  3. I’m two weeks away from retirement and can’t wait! I’ve been keeping a Google doc with a big long list of stuff I want to do in it. It’s easy to add to from my phone when I think of something. It could turn into a huge todo list, but that’s o.k. I can reorder it any time I want.

    What I recently found during a trial one month off was that I didn’t get as much done on my list as I thought I would and I was totally fine with that. Life was full and fun. So my new plan is to live my life and when I feel like I’m getting bored go look at my list and pick something off it to do.

    On a slightly unrelated note, have you considered turning on full posts in your RSS feed? I really enjoy your posts but would much prefer to read them in my RSS reader (Feedly) than have to keep opening tabs and possibly losing them.

  4. I’m certain that you already know I’m so far into camp two it’s ridiculous ;) I’m always saying that I want more space in my life, but whenever I have that space, I fill it up with something new. I’d expect that will be the case no matter how many hours I have.

  5. I’m in limbo currently. I still ahve 1.5 months of remote “work” to do but am squarely implanted in my new locale and life. Need to be available for work so can’t go crazy with finding the “to” that I would “retire to”. While I have a big list of things to get done, I find it will probably not be super fulfiflling. For now, I’m working on becoming a CASA and my volunteer work at the kids school should be good to go early Oct. I am checking out other things though in case volunteering isn’t as fulfilling as it seems. I think if that’s the case then I’ve found the cause that I don’t want to volunteer for, not necessarily that volunteering isn’t rewarding.

    To each their own. I know what I don’t want to do and that’s just as important, in my opinion, than knowing exactly what you do want to do. Things change, mindsets change, people change so what seemed like a good idea to retire to 4-5 years ago when you first had the idea may not cut it for you now.

  6. We’re in the latter group. While neither of us hate our jobs, they don’t necessarily fulfill us either. So could we continue working past our expected retirement date, sure. But there are so many other things that we’d rather fill our time with that would be more personally satisfying. For us it’s not that there are a ton of things new we want to try, though there are a few of those, it’s that there are hobbies that we do now that we’d like to dig deeper into and do better. And there are hobbies that we do sporadically that we’d like to be more consistent with. There are only so many hours in a day and snatching an hour here and there is not the best way to improve. :)

  7. Could the difference between group 1 and group 2 be a lack of curiosity? I’m definitely in group 2. I retired at 53, have an empty nest, and am as busy as ever. My biggest challenge is saying “no” to things that I want to do, but will distract from my top priorities. My biggest frustration is that I STILL don’t have time for all the things I really want to do! I can’t in a million years imagine becoming bored. I’m just wondering whether there is a way for bored people to try to cultivate a greater sense of curiosity.

  8. I’m definitely in camp two! But I am so tired of being assumed to be a pregnant stay at home wife that I’m working on switching careers until my husband wants to retire. There is so much to do! It seems I’ve found a new career path out of my volunteering though which is great! Maybe I’ll even end up with a 401(k) again, which would be awesome too, though not necessary.

  9. I’m a teacher and I’ve been on school holidays for 3 days now. The only time I’ve left my property was to bring the bins in.
    Bored? Nah… between reading, writing, veggie gardening, knitting, napping, Netflix, playing with the dogs and talking on the phone with friends and family, I’ve been as happy as a clam.
    Tomorrow I’ll take the dogs to the beach and go to Aldi – I’ve let the fridge go bare. I’ve got some lunches scheduled, but basically my days will slip by contentedly. They always do.
    When I retire in a few years’ time, there’ll be at least one overseas trip a year. And more days reading, writing, knitting, quilting, gardening and walking the dogs. Hey, if you’re a reader there’s never time to be bored! There’s a lot of unread books out there in the world…

  10. I’d say I’d solidly fall into camp 2 :) there are also many things I can see myself doing to stay busy once I get rid of my 50-60 hour week job. One thing that would be really fulfilling is helping to make an impact in the local community (whichever one I settle into) in shaping the way the community views such things as biking lanes, outdoor trails, and more sustainable use of land. The skills I’ve learn managing projects in my job could prove very helpful in this regard!

  11. I have a big, long list of things I want to do and try and learn. My partner, on the other hand… does not. I think his list is like 4 vague things. I worry about this, but I also know he is someone who has trouble envisioning the future – it’s too nebulous for him. (This is probably complicated by the fact that he has ADD and long term planning is one of his greatest challenges.) I’m not sure he’ll ever come up with a list to match mine, but I hope that when the time comes, he’ll just try things that interest him as they come up.

  12. Bored? After 15 months of leaving my full-time job, I can’t say that I’ve been bored. My 8 weeks/yr of automotive/human factors consulting, added to vacation travel and doubling-down on learning/performing improv, have kept me pretty busy.

    My wife will probably work another 3-4 years to achieve the “fat FIRE” that we want to have (despite being able to frugally RE now.) She is super-excited for the potential, with tons of travel and crafting and events that she wants to do. We’ll either buy a bigger Airstream and/or a camper van, and do a bunch more travel. Plus we’ll have to deal with our ever-aging parents.

    The biggest question (one we discussed today during our lunchtime walk) is what I transition to brainfood-wise when the consulting work dries up. There are fields that I’m fascinated by (environmental psychology/design, sustainable transportation), but getting into the bottom level of a new career path is daunting in my late 40s. It’s also hard, since giving up 40 hour weeks was a big motivator of my transition.

    I guess the summary is: I’m aware of the challenge, but also know that what you think you’ll be doing in 5 years often turns out to be nearly 100% wrong. Expanding my networking circle will likely present new options I never knew existed.

  13. I intentionally didn’t write out a bunch of stuff to do and make tons of plans and set a bunch of goals. I toyed with starting a blog, wrote some, but just didn’t feel stoked about it or being on the computer for long periods of time so I scrapped that idea. I haven’t been bored ever, sometimes I feel guilt over not being productive (but that’s part of the detox process from being an overachiever and trying to figure out my new identity without work). I get the “I’d be bored if I didn’t have work” from some people and others wonder why I’m not training for a marathon or an ironman (hey, I’ve already done both of those more than once but just a half ironman). I’m not interested in testing my mental and physical limits these days, I’m simply trying to take good care of my body and mind. Others wonder what I’m doing with “all my time”. I have volunteered some – and I got inspired to do something different this year and much more fun and impactful (for me) after hearing needs at the parent teacher back to school night. I’ve been enjoying more spontaneity in my life, sprinkled with a bit of travel and and an always decently full list of home maintenance projects some of which I used to outsource. I took one of those online minimalism courses which honestly helped me to keep me from trying to do too much. I’m slowing down the pace I attack life these days. I have more time to spend quality time with people I care about and feel like I’m sharing more of myself now in ways I don’t get compensated (let’s be honest, my job took most of what I had to give for a long time). I have a good weekly fitness routine and I do most of the household management stuff these days but still have plenty of room to do other things as they come up or when a friend texts and says she has a ticket to Justin Timberlake in Houston “on such and such a day, do you want to come?”, I can go. For me, I feel like I’m starting to find the balance of having some structure with plenty of room.

    My life situation is one that I’m pretty tethered to my community – I’m divorced from my daughter’s father and he has a strong and good relationship with her and she stays with him 2-3 days each week, so I won’t go and live abroad for a year because that’s not fair to either of them (or healthy for my kid’s long term well being). So I sometimes feel like there are specifically some travel things I’d like to do, but at the same time, I’m really happy where I am and happy with what I’m doing and happy not taking on monumental goals or projects. I realize not everybody could be content like that but I’m cool with it.

  14. I think if you asked me in casual conversation what I wanted to do in retirement, you might think I fall into camp 1, even though I really feel like I’m in camp 2. There are so many different things I want to be able to pursue that sometimes I have a hard time not giving what sounds like a vague response. There are hobbies I’d like to be able to spend more time on, or get back to, there’s volunteer work I’d like to be able to devote more energy to, and there are things I’ve never done before that I’d like to try out (like selling at the farmer’s market). And that’s in addition to the more everyday things like making sure I make time for exercise, reading, cooking, gardening, getting in trips to see family, etc. Because I don’t have a single passion project I want to pursue, I sometimes don’t quite know how to give a good answer, especially since I’m still several years off from FIRE and am totally open to the likelihood that my interests will have shifted by then.

    So if I were able to FIRE tomorrow, I’d continue to serve on my city’s police oversight commission (and be able to make all the ‘extra’ workday meetings that I usually have to skip) while also enrolling in a part-time course to learn how to code (instead I’m choosing the course over the commission for the time-being), I’d take on managing a legal clinic that I volunteer with since the founder is no longer a student and can’t make the clinic a priority anymore, and I’d work my way through mastering the recipes in the Bread Bible. It’s so interesting to read how folks who have already FIREd are spending their days!

  15. After spending most of my 20’s incarcerated in a prison environment for a drug crime committed when I was 21 years old, I was forced to learn how to deal with immense amounts of time. I discovered the way for me to stay sane, productive, and healthy in this environment was to make a plan when I woke up, and then spend the day executing that plan to the best of my ability. Even if the plan was only to write a few letters, run a few miles, read a few chapters out of some books, and write a few pages of journal entries and stories, at least I had a plan to focus on which gave me a sense of uplifting hope,direction, and sense of purpose. For the men I lived with who didn’t have a direction or a plan, all that time would often mutate into negative mental states such boredom, loss of direction, and depression.

    Strangely, this difficult period of my life, trained me for the life I would eventually want to seek in retirement. I’ve been free for 6+ years now and I always try to find the most logical, hopeful, and fulfilling plan, and then spend my time just trying to execute that plan. I’m currently into building businesses and collecting rental properties because I’m not FI yet and need an income to survive. But I am sure the plan I am trying to execute on a daily basis will fade away from the pursuit of money eventually, and focus more on the things I want to accomplish in my heart, weather they make money or not such as helping, inspiring, and encouraging others who may be struggling during a portion of their life journey like I once did.

    For me as long as I have a worthwhile plan, and the energy and vigor to wake up and execute it, the path to feel entertained and engaged is always open right in front of me no matter where I am in life.

  16. Bored? Who the hell has time to be bored? I’ve never been busier! Every day is completely filled and my TODO list continues to grow!

    You won’t find me organizing a spice rack out of boredom! :)

    • And seriously, who alphabetizes their spice rack? That’s part of the fun cooking, finding which spices I want to use, first getting frustrated because I can’t find what I was looking for in10 seconds, then finding something unplanned and tasty to add to my dish along with the spice I was looking for.

  17. Group 2… my problem is trying to figure out how do I travel overseas, live different places in the US, take classes and extend my volunteer work all at the same time. It occurred to me I might need a “phased” approach … some heavy traveling while we are young enough to enjoy it and classes/volunteer work maybe after that?

  18. I am pretty ensconced in camp two. There are so many things to enjoy and create. But I also am pursuing a very slow burn FIRE, in part because I want my life now to also be something I don’t want to run away from.

    • AMEN to that. I struggle with the idea of hating the present so much you have to fast forward your life. Loved Tanja’s earlier pieces about trying to work in some of the things you aspire to in the present, because otherwise life isn’t much fun.

  19. I’ve written on this topic as well and it is certainly a lingering worry of sorts as I have less than a year til I retire. I like Fritz’s advice to spend a good couple of years (or more) contemplating / envisioning your day to day life after retirement, before you take the plunge.

    When I wrote about this I had a pretty good case study at my disposal – my dear father in law. Great guy, but at age 60 and retired, he became instantly bored when not traveling or part time coaching.

  20. I feel hesitant about retiring early due to boredom outside of summer sailing/cycling and ski filled winters, but then I think of the time I could spend on long haul dream trips and that’s where I get excited again. All in all, I think I could plan out about the first 5 – 8 years of early retirement. Just to start, I can’t wait to spend weeks backpacking Yellowstone and Europe’s long distance E-paths, rowing around Vancouver Island and Alaska (starting somewhere in WA), spending a fall in the BWCA, a camping on Caribbean beaches, and training to and climbing Mt. Rainier. That doesn’t even count the numerous home improvement projects that will take years to accomplish. I do realize not everyone is the outdoors type, but I imagine other hobbies can be just as fulfilling.

    Adventure is out there.

  21. I have a long list of activities that I currently engage in when I can fit it in so I’m not overly concerned about boredom. However, there is one thing that is nagging at me and would love to hear from others on potential ways to address this. I have a small consulting practice that I started 14 years ago. I employ 5 women who are in the 20 – 30s. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that I am able to provide them with an income, health benefits and a 401K and meaningful work. I’m not concerned about their future because they are great employees and could easily find another job. I am concerned that once I quit I will lose the ability to help young people succeed in life. I don’t work in the social services field and most of my professional connections are in the urban planning and civil engineering field. I’m not necessarily interested in mentoring professional women who are looking to make that next step in their careers, but more interested in helping those young people who don’t have a clue where to start, might not have someone to give them guidance and are at risk of making poor decisions. That is my target demographic. Anyone know of non-profit organizations who work with that group?

  22. I’ve been retired for some 9 months now and my biggest fear was running out of things to do which certainly hasn’t happened. This time has made me realise how much I was doing whilst working full time and trying to meet all my other commitments whilst allowing some time for family, friends and leisure. Looking back, I understand why I so often felt stressed and pressurised…ticking off items on a never ending things to do list often took the joy out of even the most enjoyable activity. I can now apply myself more mindfully to both things that I enjoy and those that just need to get done in a far more meaningful way. This has made every day activities so much more satisfying. I do something quite similar to what Wealth Well Done describes each day whilst sipping my coffee in bed each morning: set my mindset for the day (positive, hopeful and optimistic wins out most days!) and decide how I intend to spend the day and then get on with it. Before I know it, the kids are home from school, my wife is back from work and I’ve been as busy as they’ve been all day albeit in quite a different way and spent in a way that is on my own terms. I don’t see myself as truly retired perhaps for this reason – I am still very much tied to the work/school routine of my family. This is fine. After having been institutionalised in this structure and routine for pretty much all my life this is something I’m comfortable with. One day when our routine is more flexible we intend to travel a lot more but for now having activities that I can do inside when the weather is not so good – reading, writing, household chores, cooking, home/car/bike maintenance, piano playing; and outside on nicer days, exercising, gardening, shopping for groceries that I hope my family will enjoy for dinner or just getting out for a walk make me very satisfied and provides perhaps the most important change since retiring- greater peace of mind which is something I cannot put a price on. Good luck in your journey finding out what works for you.

  23. Perfect timing on this! I’m in a funny hybrid camp – I thought lots of travel was going to be perfect for me post-retirement…then found out that it was too much. So, retooling at this point. I think it takes a few iterations to find the sweet spots.

    Also – I appreciate an honest discussion of this subject because the “right” answer is to say you’re fabulously busy and engaged. There’s a lot of peer pressure in the FI community to toe that line…but it simply isn’t true for many people (like me) who are struggling with finding a good fit.

  24. i’ve tried a couple of practice retirement weeks but they were away from home so didn’t properly represent a non-vacation, non-work week. i’m going to try one this fall where we don’t travel. it feels like i have time to do what i want to do right now in addition to work, which is not stressful right now. i’m staying at work until i get a clearer picture of what i would do. the word “excitement” comes to mind. for me that’s a feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow. stability might be my enemy.

  25. Boggles my mind to be bored in early retirement. I have so many things on my list to do that I’d need to make a bit of a list about what to do, just to keep that structure while still accomplishing all the things! Right now, in this moment, the first thing I’d do would be to book a 14-day (max limit) stay at my favorite camping spot. Let a day lapse, and book another 14-dayer. I want to do so many things, which I can’t right now working 1.5 jobs. I think I’d have no problems. I’m also looking at FIRE in 10 years, if I’m lucky. Wants/desires might change by then (I might not be up to sleeping on the ground for 28 days at that point!).

  26. I think I definitely fit into Group 1, in that I could list loads and loads of things i’d love to do if I had time (Art/Pottery classes, write a novel, more hiking, learn chinese, etc. etc.) but I also know myself to know that I’m not a great internal motivator and I am also SUPER extroverted, so unstructured time alone might lead me to feel more paralyzed than inspired to follow through on all the things I really want to do.

    Before I started my current job, I had a 3 week period (half was jury duty, but that was still half as many hours a day as I used to work) where I wasn’t working. Going into that period, I had a list of all the great things I would accomplish in that time. Unfortunately, I finished almost none of the things, and I found it to be a super lonely time since no one was free to hang out when I was free. I also spent surprisingly more money trying to fill my time or distract myself.
    It was proof of a lot of things you’ve expressed previously on the blog, and I believed you before, but man was it so different to experience first hand. Its definitely given me pause about my feelings on FIRE. I don’t have a clear vision of what my life would look like post-FIRE that I’m confident in right now. So these days, I’m thinking about how I can build towards FI while dabbling in some of the things i thought I’d “do later when I have time” now instead.

  27. I’m not surprised that people would get bored. I think it’s more about not writing down why they are doing what they are doing. Without a purpose early retirement can be confusing. My dad retired early, but he knew he had to take care of the kids and manage the house. That schedule kept him busy and I don’t think he ever gotten bored.

  28. I officially retired 4 years ago, at 40. For me, boredom has never been an issue, but the feeling of not having something meaningful to do creeps in after a while, no matter how full of fun stuff my life is. My solution to this is to take on a gig (I’m a music producer and touring musician) and work until I invariably get tired of it again. Then I retire, again, and get to enjoy my newfound freedom, again!!! I realize not everyone’s line of work permits such “on again, off again” kind of patterns, so I’m very lucky in that regard, but when money is no longer an issue, the potential for seasonal or temporary employment considerably opens up so I guess any early retire could give this a shot if they ever felt bored, unimportant or lacking meaning and/or social interaction in their lives.

  29. I am also on the side of couldn’t imaging being bored. In my life now, still working full time and building towards FI, I look longingly at my accumulated tasks that I have not gotten to. I am an engineer, and so I like coding (my profession) and building things (my education). I suspect I would end up with useful side incomes in retirement, let alone now, if I didn’t spread myself so thin. I would make more time for beautiful, as opposed to functionary, fixes and enhancements to my yard.

    I look at retirement as a different thing. I see it as a downshift. Not having to work, means I can take a job that pays less that I enjoy more. I could see myself doing tech for the local school system. I am just picking a random example. The fact is that I would work on my projects first, and then, after a reasonable break, go back to working.

    I am a self motivator. I rarely, except when I’ve pushed to hard the day before, had trouble getting out of bed. That’s not my way. On the other hand, I consider my parents. Both were like me, or I am like they were, before they retired. Only my mother is super motivated in retirement. Both retired at roughly the same age, and they are only a year apart. They are divorced, and have been for a long time. But, they did raise me together. (I can say I am lucky enough that they only say nice things about one another, and are kind when at family events together.) Mom, though, is a machine. She is always moving and doing. My father is now fat and lazy. He gained about 40 pounds since retirement.

    So what’s the difference? I think some people just can’t stop. Mom, in her 70s makes me tired. It really does come down to the person.

  30. My folks sold their small business at age 68 after 40 years in the automotive industry. Dad lasted about 3 months before getting really, really bored and lacking in direction. Long story short, Dad & I now co-own an automotive workshop in rural Australia, and at age 70 he works as long and hard as any employee we have. He truly derives meaning and value from work, particularly in owning and operating a small business. His most fulfilling life will be to work as long as he physically can. I think I’m a similar personality, so am also planning a long working life, with good vacations along the way. My interest in financial independence is so that if I can’t work for some reason, then our financial situation is ok.

  31. I early-retired about 20 years ago, and have had times of busyness with part time projects such as starting a home rental business, working PT for my church, and helping launch a non-profit mission organization. These are the times I have felt the most sense of purpose, and now I am searching/waiting for the next opportunity. It took me a while to figure out that the short-term projects worked well for all parties involved. I have also tried the volunteer-for-a-day type work, and found that for me, it’s not really satisfying. Regarding money, I found myself over analyzing my investments because I enjoy following the markets, stock picking, etc…, and I had the time. I have come full circle, and now invest in index funds with a more hands off approach. My wife and I still have one teenager at home, so we travel mostly during summer and holidays. I can see this as an issue for the many early retirees in the future.

Comments are where the magic happens! Let's chat!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.