A 10 Day Retirement

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I conducted an interesting experiment over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  For the first time in my life, I “retired” (or as close as one can come while still working).  In support of my experiment, I stayed off my computer as much as possible and Didn’t Write For 10 Straight Days.  In the 2 1/2 years I’ve spent building this blog, I’ve never taken more than 5 days off from writing, so this was kind of a big deal for me.

I took the time to enjoy a “10 Day Retirement”, a trial run in preparation for the real thing.

Time to simply live in the mountains, with my wife and my dogs.

Time to be content.

Time to think.

I've had an interesting 10 Day Retirement - It Gave Me Time To Think. Click To Tweet

It’s been a really good few days. Today, I share the experience with you.  Consider it “My Random Thoughts On A 10 Day Retirement.”

The Big Date

Big Announcement:  My wife and I have set our retirement date.  Technically, it’s not “official” since I’ve not formally announced the date at work.  My boss knows what I’m thinking, and I’m having some preliminary discussions with HR.  The wheels of Corporate Bureaucracy are starting to turn. Whether the date is “formal” or not, the reality is that retirement is approaching, and I know the Midnight upon which that clock will strike.  I recently put the date in a countdown app on my phone, and I’m enjoying watching it count down with each passing day.

Like the sun in the picture above, retirement is on the horizon and coming into view.  It’s going to be a beautiful sunrise, and I’m looking forward to it.

And yet….

Trepidation

In spite of the excitement, there’s some trepidation.  After 33 years of working my way into an office, or an airport, or a business meeting in some faraway place, it’s going to come to an abrupt end.

One Day I'll Head Into The Office, And The Next Day I Won't. Click To Tweet

The same thing is going to happen to you (if it hasn’t already).

Retirement is a big change, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.  I’m excited about reaching the starting line, but it’s impossible to know what life will be like in retirement until we actually live it.  I’ve heard from Others Who Have Gone Before that it’s common at this stage to be both excited and anxious.  Since we’re getting close, I decided now was a good time to take a mini-break and think about the excitement of life after retirement.

I encourage you to do the same.

There’s More To Life Than Work

I know, that’s a really obvious statement.  But as you think about Retirement, you really are facing a life without the obligation of Work.  LIFE without the obligation of Work.  What does that mean?  What does it look like?

Dunno, never been there, but I’m going to find out soon.

What does life look like for you, when work is no longer mandatory? Click To Tweet

I’ve thought a lot about the activities and Purpose with which you fill the days and how much they matter (a lot, btw).  Work is no longer mandatory, and your entire life becomes “Optional”.  In some perverse twist of logic, it’s now mandatory that you determine how you’re going to use your time. Think about how you’re going to use that Freedom, it’s important.

It’s your option, but you do have to choose.

You can define your Purpose. You can decide how you’ll fill your days. I’ve had a wonderful 10-day stretch, and I put it to use as an opportunity to think about life post-retirement and the activities that will fill my day, and the Purposes I’ll pursue.

At one point, I didn’t leave the house for a 48-hour stretch, the longest in the past 5 years of my life.  I went for an enjoyable 3 mile run down our gravel road and I walked the dogs a few times through the woods, but beyond that I didn’t leave our property.

It felt wonderful.

It was relaxing, and it was calm.

It was contentment.

I thought about a lot of stuff, and I enjoyed the introspection.

Have you taken time to think lately?

My 10-Day Mini Retirement

For 10 Days, I was able to minimize the amount of time I needed to devote to work obligations. The corporate e-mail traffic was slow over the holiday, and I was able to focus my time on thinking about life post-retirement.  I found myself thinking time and time again that this is as close to retirement as I’ll get until I actually retire.

It was a bit surreal.

I Love My Shed Man Cave

I painted my shed man cave, a job which was long overdue (looks nice, right?).  I relaxed in front of a fire with my wife watching Longmire (wow, does that show rock, or what?).  I volunteered at our local dog rescue and got a few dogs placed in their “forever homes” (rewarding beyond words).   I lined up a few guys from the Blue Ridge Mountains Photographers club (which I’ll be joining after retirement) to take some photos of the rescue dogs.

BTW, those guys CRUSHED the dog pics, here’s an example.  Amazing, right?

Sammy was adopted the week after this pic was taken.  We’re making a difference! 

I used my chainsaw on a few trees (have I told you lately that I love my chainsaw?  That Commercial-Grade Sucker cuts through wood like a hot knife through butter.  Argh Argh.).

I read a book and a few magazines.

We bought my “retirement truck” (ah, a future post, perhaps.  Come back, ok?  I plan to tell you more…).

We made reservations for weekend camping at nearby State Parks in April & May 2018, even though we don’t own a 5th wheel yet (Confession, we may have gotten caught up a bit in The Dream, but we’re going to make it happen!).

We went to a musical at our local Community Theater.

We laughed.

We spent a day in Chattanooga, viewing the city from the heights of Lookout Mountain:

Chattanooga & The Tennesee River From Lookout Moutain

I walked our four dogs, several times a day on the insanely beautiful 1.3-mile private trail off the back of our Great Cabin property.  Wow, are we blessed, or what?  Pause for a second on the picture below, can you smell the woods?  I am blown away every day when I walk around that loop.

It’s absolutely beautiful, and it’s right out our back door….

I Love The Woods Behind Our Great Cabin

I spent time thinking.  It’s important to think about Your Days. Your Weeks.  Your Months.  How will you fill the time which was previously committed to “Work”?

It’s been an exhilarating 10 Days, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.  I recommend it to everyone at some point in the year prior to your retirement.

Take Time To Think about what you're going to do in retirement! Click To Tweet

The 10 days have been an exciting time to Dream.  To think about a time when the work obligations diminish, and we have the freedom to decide how we’ll utilize our time.

10 Days, No Obligations

I intentionally avoiding obligations during the 10 days.  The time was free, just like it’ll be in retirement.  As the days at home unwound, I found myself “Thinking” and “Connecting” in the hours when I’d normally be writing. I thought about the amount of time I spend in front of a computer screen and decided “Not This Week”.   So, I decided not to write.  10 days spent thinking about what our retirement days will be like, without being absorbed by electrons on a screen.

It was exhilarating.

It was the closest we will come to “Experiencing Retirement” until I actually retire. The Work switch is now back “on” (When At Work, Work!), and I’m writing these words from my City Apartment after a crazy day of the reality that is work (I Love Electrons, really!).  But for 10 days, the work switch was “off”, and the Freedom switch was “on”.

Retirement is the Starting Line

I’ve decided to view retirement as a “Starting Line”, rather than a “Finish Line”.  Sure, I’ll hit a finish line at the end of a long and successful career, which I’ve enjoyed and for which I’m most thankful.  However, I want to live my life looking forward, and there’s no better starting line than the point in your life when work is no longer mandatory.

We’ve earned true Financial Independence and the elimination of the need for work.

It’s an exciting starting line.

It’s time to get started.

Retirement Is The Starting Line, Not The Finish Line Click To Tweet

Oh, the things you could do.

And the things you shouldn’t do.

It’s important to have your priorities in place for retirement.  I learned a lot reading this post from Mrs. Keep It Thrifty this week (Jaime, see, I told you I was going to share your post here today!).  Jaime and her husband are taking a mini-retirement, and they’re learning some things.  They’re learning to avoid “Becoming Invisible”, a risk I can relate to.  They’re learning the importance of dreaming together. That lady can write, and she’s singing my tune.  They’re thinking about a lot of the same things I am, even though they’re 20 years younger.  I love how we can all learn from each other.

From them, I’m learning to focus on the things that are important.

I encourage you to do the same.

My Decision:  Everything’s In Play

I’ve made a decision during my 10 Day Retirement.  I’ve decided that everything’s in play for our post-retirement life.  It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s nothing in our lives that we can’t choose the role it plays.  There are things we can choose NOT to do, and there are things we can choose to pursue with a passion.  Our choice.

Freedom.

It’s a clean slate, and we’re the artists.

I can’t wait to start painting.

Conclusion

If you’re nearing retirement, consider doing a “Dry Run” experiment, whatever that means to you.  Be intentional in creating an environment which is closer to your “Retirement Life” than your “Normal Working Life”.  Get off your computer, or your T.V., or your phone.  Be with the one you love.  And take time to think.

You’ve got a blank canvas in front of you.

You need to figure out what you’re going to paint.

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45 comments

  1. Beautiful post, Fritz.

    Since you already know how to appreciate each day and each moment, I don’t see you having any issues transitioning to retirement.

    What? You bought a retirement TRUCK? I did a double take on that one. Thought you’d sneak it in there (OK it wasn’t a sneak; I mean you did put it in bold letters). Do tell!

  2. Wonderful post, Fritz! The woods are beautiful, the dog photography is beautiful, I can almost hear you and Jackie laughing and see the happiness in your smiles. Absolutely beautiful! I’m so glad you are ‘warming-up’ for the starting line, I’m cheering you on for sure. Love to watch you choosing a happy and passion-filled great retirement. Awesome!

  3. I love this! I adore how you spent your days of zero obligation. 🙂 I guess that’s what FIRE is all about – living a life where you’re free to make many more choices without mandatory work.

    Also, those doggo pics look amazing! Good on you guys for taking nice photos of them!!

  4. Fritz this seemed like a great experiment and I think you are ready to make the dive. We often forget if humans need for down time to reflect and process life. Our days are often so busy with work and family (and blogs) that we miss that important step in healthy living. Glad you enjoyed it and that trail does look amazing.

  5. LOVE the idea of taking a 10 Day Retirement trial run!! Yes, another great post and I love how you willingly share your insight and thinking as well as those of other bloggers you read. I agree we all learn from each other, I too liked Jamie’s “A Marriage Lesson from a Mini-Retirement”. You guys have such a great plan, and tossing it all the paint up in the air, letting it fall on a blank canvas is a wonderful concept. It makes me think perhaps I should be a little bit more spontaneous, nonetheless I am anxious to follow you and see your plans come to fruition. Instead of retirement being a starting line I am a little surprised you didn’t use the analogy of a Triathlon Athlete transitioning between events …. as you are a swimmer, a bike rider and a runner. Ya know I love analogies!! Have an amazing work week – BTW for us retired people this is Saturday #2

  6. Hi Fritz, I can absolutely empathise. It is such a delightful feeling to not have any responsibilities, except what YOU want to do on any given day. Total freedom. I did 5 months rather than 10 days, to test it out, but once I went back, all I was planning for, was the day when we both retired fully.
    You have such a lot of fun ahead of you!

  7. I’ve got a five month or so retirement countdown and have several conflicts I need to resolve. A mini-retirement might help and I am taking 10 days off around the holidays. I have a long list of things I want to do in retirement, along with a long list of long-delayed projects around the house so filling my days is not an issue. I’m trying hard to smooth the transition at work for when I am gone but while the upcoming void is noted and worries folks a lot here, there is no plan for them to replace me yet. After 35+ years here, that bothers me. The other conflict is when and where to move. We originally planned to move after I retired to get away from sky high NY property and income taxes but will delay that for a couple of years to help get our daughter through her apprenticeship. The where is another story. Hubby wants to go to Florida but I love our woods and lakes here in the Hudson Valley. I’d prefer going south (to minimize snow and ice) but stay in that kind on environment. Your photo of the wooded path is right up my alley. Guess hubby and I have some talking to do. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Pat, powerful comment. I think you’ll benefit from your 10 days over the holidays, looks like my post was timely for you! I can understand being bothered by not having a successor, but I’d chalk it up as a typical corporate downsizing move. It won’t be your problem. Smiles. As for where to live, that’s a biggie. Visit a few places, perhaps for extended stays after you retire, and I trust the choice will become clear. Thanks for your note, we’re on very similar timelines. Keep me posted!

    2. Look into Eastern Tennessee or Western NC. Lots of expat NY/NJ folks, the weather has seasons, but little snow or ice. Mountains are awesome. That is where Mrs. 39 Months and I are looking to go when we hit FI and leave New Jersey.

    3. I lived in Hudson Valley for 10 years and it is a beautiful place. We moved to North Carolina 25 years ago and found a cheaper, more diverse, and equally beautiful place. You still get the seasons but a much shorter winter and a much longer spring and fall. While it’s not as good as Florida from income tax perspective, I like the seasons here better. Lots of NY/NJ/CT/OH people here.

  8. Great post Fritz – you’ll have to come visit us in NorCal – I’m working out of my garage part time (man cave) and hike with our dog if not mountain biking – so you’d feel at home 😉

  9. As teachers, we get 10 week breaks from work each year, which I refer to it as summer unemployment. It seems to go in 4 stages:
    10 days to recover, do nothing, and get extra sleep after the school year.
    7 weeks of high energy, fun, travel, and some productivity.
    A week of apprehension/fear/depression that the summer is ending.
    Finally a week of acceptance immediately before we go back to work.

    The last 5 summers we have been spent most of our time at the beach. It really is amazing having beautiful views near where you live. It must be so exciting counting down the days. Congrats.

  10. I love that you mentioned purpose – SO important in retirement. I just talked to a beloved young friend last week who is working toward early retirement “so I can do nothing if I want to”. It made me a little nervous. “Don’t forget about purpose. Early retirement can turn in a bad way real quick without a purpose” I told him.

    I saw this first hand with a guy up here whose parents sold their company and gave him several million dollars when he was in its mid-thirties. The last time I saw him he was lonely, bored, depressed and with a marriage on the verge of collapse. Lots of toys, but no purpose.

    I love, love, love what you’re doing with the dog rescue thing. Awesome purpose. 🙂

  11. Haha! If you can’t rock retirement, my friend. We’re all in trouble. You’re too thoughtful and curious not to have an awesome retirement. And I can’t wait to see what you do with all your free time. Cheers, my friend.

  12. Great idea, and one I intend to copy. Just not sure how.

    Like many of us, I’ve lived my life being “busy” all the time, both at work and on vacation. Not sure how financial independence is going to affect this. I’ve got 31 months to go till I’m free, and like you, I’m going to spend some of this time reflecting on where I am heading once I get to the “start line.”

    Thanks again for the great post

  13. The Starting Line.
    I love that.
    I have worked hard for 33 years. I can relate. I can’t imagine my life without work. I’m FI and could bail out but I’m not. Mostly I still like working. I am cutting back to part-time though. We’ll see how that goes.

    1. The beauty of FI is that we each get to chose what it is that we want to do. If part-time works for you, kudos. Live your own life. Dream your own dream. You’re free, take advantage, and live your life as you want to live it. You’ve earned that right.

  14. You’re making me salivate for July 2019, Fritz. Great reflections on how even 10 days can give you some idea of what to expect. I tried a few ad hoc days off this summer to experiment – but a single day hanging out in a coffee shop, biking around, isn’t really a viable experiment. And I was of course writing from that bar stool.

    Hope you get that big party organized for “the date” – I might just have to four-wheel my way up that mountain to celebrate with ya!

  15. A year into retirement, the best part is the freedom, like you mentioned, to do what I/we want to do each day. The freedom to choose what is important and enjoyable, but that is also a responsibility to one self. Purpose is critical but it doesn’t have to be some huge goal. It doesn’t have to be just one (like building a business / career while working). It can be multiple, some for society (i.e rescue dogs, helping others) and some personal (i.e. a hobby). Some big that takes time to build / do while others can be small and daily. The freedom to choose still require choice.

  16. Fritz,

    I think you would also enjoy joining RV Care A Vanners program of Habitat for Humanity. Buy your fiver and join us! Google it. Highly recommend building homes for families you have never met (yet)!! Our Habitat bumper sticker on our trailer reads “Travel with a Purpose”. ES. So satisfying to my innards. Travel with my Chevy diesel and fiver leaving a build site, smiling in and outside.

    1. Steve, ironic that you mention Habitat For Humanity! My wife and I have done some Habitat builds, and have talked about doing some builds while we’re traveling with our 5th wheel. I wasn’t aware of the Care A Vanners program, but have added it to our “Retirement Bucket List”! (Once something is on that list, I’ll never lose the thought, and hope to cross as many items off that list as possible in our “Go Go” years of retirement).

      Thanks for the great addition to the discussion, I hope to see you on a build site at some point in the future!!

  17. Love all your posts and pics! Well done! It’s such a breath of fresh air to see how you comment and connect to each person that chooses to reply. This creates deeper thinking for me.

    Retired this fall after 26 years as an elementary school teacher-wow, I never realized how many resources, books, units I had created. I’m still in the process of deciding what to downsize, keep or will want in the future. I’m striving to travel light but also realize downsizing is not a once and done job. Your posts of being flexible and realizing it doesn’t go exactly as planned is just what shined through for me-Kuddos for moving 2 times in the past several years. We kicked off retirement with an African Safari-,wasn’t our original time frame bucket list items but decided to say “YES” when some great friends asked us to join them. Such special moments and memories.
    Unplugging the tv, computer, etc. and giving oneself time to reflect and listen seems so important. At times I have become overwhelmed with so many choices and options in retirement and ideas we have at our fingertips. I’ve often wondered if retirement conferences, workshops help one in taking charge of ones self and where to put our energy in retirement.
    Thanks for your common sense and the many examples you give that help make connections to others retirement journey.

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