It’s exactly two years since we waved goodbye to our careers and embarked on our early retirement, what we always thought of as our next life. Now we’re reflecting on what we’ve learned and accomplished in these first two years of this next chapter of life, along with what we want to change in year 3.
This week’s post is the third and final part in the wrap-up of our first full year of early retirement. Today we’re talking about everything we’re consciously changing in year 2, based on what we’ve learned about early retirement and learned about ourselves.
A year ago, I issued the Use It Up Challenge, and lots of you took it on. (Tell me how it went!) But there was part of the challenge that we took on specifically — the nothing new year — that we didn’t fully live up to. So we’re leveling up this year.
Over the past two and half years of blogging about our early retirement journey, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from several dozen of people who’ve achieved financial independence. All the while, we’ve been going along on our journey, and noticing what spurs us along more than anything. Turns out our journey and those of others’ have one key ingredient in common.
Today we’re talking options, and keeping them open. Early retirement isn’t an ending, after all — it’s a beginning. And if we go into that beginning with a limited set of options, and no ability to change our course, we could be setting ourselves up for a less-than-ideal future. Here’s why it’s so important to have an exit plan from your exit plan, which really just means you’re giving yourself the financial and logistical resources to change your mind.
I definitely fell into magical thinking for years of our retirement planning, thinking I’d have time to do everything I’d ever dreamed of after we quit: travel the world, write novels, learn a gazillion languages, solve world hunger — you get the idea. But after talking to many early retirees, I’ve had to accept: Time will always be limited. And if I care about accomplishing goals or living a life of meaning, it’s crucial to go into retirement with an eye toward making time for what’s important, and ruthlessly cutting out what’s not.
It’s easy to think of early retirement as all about the escape. But then what? We don’t want any part of our life to be defined solely by absence, by its lack of something, in our case the lack of work. We want our lives to be defined by presence, to be lived in the affirmative, the ultimate opt-in to what fires us up and makes us launch out of bed in the morning. That’s why we’re busy crafting a life that keeps the stoke high.