taking the long way home

Taking The Long Way Home

Do you ever find yourself “racing Google Maps” to see if you can beat their ETA to your destination?  How about following the detour recommended by Waze to save 3 minutes on your way home?  It seems many of us are pre-programmed to hurry, and we typically take the fastest route to our destination instead of taking the long way home.  The predisposition to hurry extends well beyond our time behind the steering wheel.

As I think back over my life, it seems I was frequently in a hurry.

  • Hurrying to finish up a few more emails before a meeting started.
  • Hurrying to get out of the office to get a jump on that dreadful commute.
  • Hurrying to get out the door for an appointment.

That stops now.

It's time to stop hurrying.  Retirement is the time for taking the long way home. Click To Tweet

Taking The Long Way Home

As I approach my second anniversary of retirement, I’m still working on breaking the habit of being in a hurry.  I’ve decided that I don’t want to be in a hurry anymore, and I enjoy the personal challenge of seeking opportunities to intentionally slow down.  I’m retired, so does it really matter if my line doesn’t move as fast as the one at the adjacent cash register?  Does it really matter if I don’t make it through the stoplight on this cycle?

Why do so many people stress about things that don’t really matter?

Retirement should be about intentionally reducing stress in our lives. It's time to challenge yourself to slow down. Click To Tweet

In my quest to find ways to intentionally slow down, there’s one method I’ve found which is my favorite. Every time I’m returning to our cabin after a trip to town, I have a decision to make.  I can either:

  1. Stay on the highway and get home a bit quicker, or…
  2. Exit the highway on a gravel road, taking the long way home.

 Recently I decided to always choose Option 2 and follow the gravel road in the picture below:

taking the long way home
I drive this road almost every day. Beautiful, right?

The Trade-Off of Time

Sure, taking the long way home may take a few more minutes than the highway, but the benefits I earn by investing those few minutes far outweigh the cost.  Since time is no longer my constraint in retirement,  it seems a wise investment to spend a bit of it to enjoy the things that money can’t buy.

It reminds me of what’s important in life, and it doesn’t really matter if I get home 2 minutes later, or that my truck’s a bit dusty.  It’s worth it to slow down and enjoy the views I get when taking the long way home.

Like the view of that pasture in the picture above, or of fog on my favorite river below:

the long way home
The Toccoa River, only visible if I take the long way home.

My wife and I saw an eagle once, while taking the long way home.  Had we taken the highway, we would have missed it.  Seeing an eagle?  Yeah, that’s well worth a few minutes of my time.

The Long Way Home – A Metaphor

Taking the long way home has become a metaphor for my retirement.  It’s a daily reminder of how life changes in retirement, and how we have to be intentional to get the most out of our newfound Freedom. It’s a reminder that enjoying an experience is worth a small investment in time.  Rather than having to worry about the future like I did while I was saving for retirement, I’m now free to enjoy The Present. 

Enjoy it we must.

Taking the long way home is my reminder to slow down and cherish every day I’m given.  To be intentional in savoring the present and all it has to offer. Sure, I could continue to take the faster way home on the highway, but that defeats the purpose.

I’m learning to live in the Now.

I’m learning that life is better when taking the long way home.

An old gravel quarry, with my gravel road to the left.

Reaching Our Destination

At some point, each of us will reach our final destination.  It’s unavoidable.  There’s no point in being in a hurry to get there.   Now that you have the time that retirement affords, learn to slow down and enjoy the journey.  You’ll arrive at your destination in due course, and you don’t want any regrets as you look back at the journey you took to get there.

Our retirement cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia

Conclusion

I encourage you to be intentional and focus on slowing down. Find ways to enjoy your journey, even if it’s as simple as choosing the long way home.   Life isn’t about hurrying through life and trying to save time.  It’s more important to be intentional with the limited time you have. I find that being in a hurry has a way of sucking the joy out of life, and I’m determined to slow down and savor every day I’m given.  Rather than worrying so much about what tomorrow may bring, take some time to concentrate on today. 

Taking the long way home.

It makes life better.

I encourage you to give it a try.  


What About You?  How do you remind yourself to slow down?  Do you agree that it’s important?  Let’s chat…

55 comments

  1. Supertramp – great band!

    I’ve become a lot more patient now that I only work half-time but I still find myself slipping into hurriedness more often than I want to. It’s a constant fight. When it comes to driving, the traffic in my area is so bad that it basically forces you into a hurried state of mind, because you never know when you’ll come to a dead stop and be stuck.

    Your cabin looks amazing btw

    1. A good reminder to take time to enjoy what is around us. Sometimes we miss the beauty of the world if we are always rushing around. I often take the back roads, even when we go to the “Big City” of Gainesville, Ga, we take the less traveled state hwy instead of the US 129. It goes through rolling hills with farms .

    2. Dave, I can relate to the traffic. After commuting 90 minutes each way in Atlanta’s horrendous gridlock, I savor The Long Way Home each and every day. Also, I now avoid Atlanta like the plague (um, make that the Coronavirus!)…

      Supertramp, indeed. You and I had a similar taste in music, Dave. Pink Floyd, as I recall, is also a mutual favorite. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Ditto for the reminder in this microwave world. We always say they our blood pressure drops as we cross the river into our small town after escaping the big city we commute to and from daily for work. After seeing the pic Fritz I don’t blame you for taking the gravel road!

  3. My whole career revolved around selling my time and expertise. After living by the clock all those years it has become a very hard habit to break. But, like you, I’m working to create the slower version of myself that enjoys taking the road less traveled.

  4. Great post! And also an excellent reminder that “taking the long way home” is a state of mind. While it’s important to have goals, and to work to achieve them, that should also be balanced with a “seize the day” mentality. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, or if tomorrow will come (for us), so if we’re granted an opportunity to enjoy a special moment or savor a unique experience – do it!

  5. I really love this! Wow! Exactly what I need! Just reading it makes my heartbeat go down already! Yes, one of the reasons for retiring in April is the fact that I have a really difficult time to relax and to not feel so rushed and stressed out all the time. 40 years working in a high stress environment does that to you. I look forward to hearing the sound of a river or eagle again! Thanks Fritz!

  6. Fritz – I’m enjoying your blog and discovered it three years ago when I had just recently retired. Before leaving the workforce, my boss implored me to get involved in city politics, give TED speeches, utilize my talents, etc. When asked what my retirement plans were, I would respond by saying that my life would be a very simple life, enjoying everyday pleasures that having this freedom would allow – and I love it! Time still flies by, but I’m now in the slow lane taking long walks with my dogs, discovering music I never knew existed before, cooking for pleasure, exploring my city and just savoring each and every moment. My activist days are behind me, as are living in the fast lane, always rushing here and there, always striving to be all that I could be, and I am fine with that. Laying a foundation for retirement while in the workforce, knowing exactly what it is you want from life and then achieving it helps in having a successful landing when the time to retire arrives. Good stuff, Fritz!

  7. Thanks Fritz for a timely reminder. After a year and a half of retirement, we are finally slowing down. We bought a motorhome and go camping as often as we can – not on weekends like the rest of the herd, but Monday thru Friday, or longer, when we have the campground to ourselves (almost). I also take my camera and we hike and I photograph everything, just to slow down the pace. Slowing down works wonders for your mental health.

    1. Garry, we’re practically walking side-by-side, congrats on 18 months of retirement. Funny you mention the “Monday to Friday” camping, that’s exactly the way my wife and I do it when we’re not on our cross-country treks. Looking forward to pulling the winter cover off the RV in the weeks ahead, had a reminder on my calendar this week to start booking some Mon-Fri spots at State Parks within a few hours of our cabin. It’s a great way to live life, and does help in the slowing down process.

  8. Great post. I love the idea of slowing down. I have often considered beating my GPS home to be an Extreme Sport that gives me an extra daily challenge. I think I might start taking our country road home from now on, even though it will take an extra 5-10 minutes.

    BTW- love the cabin. Looks awesome

  9. Kind of like the “brisk” morning walk that you and I took during one of your visits to our home. Right? My husband was concerned because our walk took so much longer than usual. For you readers, by brother and I DID start out with a brisk walk on our country road – but – the scenery got us captivated and we had to stop every few feet to “take pictures!” Savor the beauty in even a simple walk! Love ya brother.

  10. It’s really starts as a state of mind and then manifests itself in behaviors you’ve described. Why wait to start until retirement? Less stress, fewer accidents, more smiles can be had while still working with this attitude! Yes, easier said than done, but try being intentional about it as you go to work or while at work and see how your world view changes…

  11. We love to take the “long cut” home sometimes. The scenery is better, there are fewer cars, and we can enjoy our chats longer. I think that is a great way to live!

  12. Great article (and reminder for all of us), Fritz. Mary has been trying to get me to slow down for years. It’s tough to do. After I read this piece, I had her read it too. She says ‘hi’, by the way. She pointed out to me that Joseph (our son) and his wife live life this way already! Not sure how he does that … being an ER doctor and all. You’d think he’d been running at 1,000 mph 24/7. Anyway, I look forward to having the opportunity to dial it back in my own retirement. I’m getting exhausted racing against Google and Waze all the time! It’s time to start enjoying life. -Bob

    1. BOB!! Great to see you leaving your first comment on my site! You know you shouldn’t have given this to Mary to read, right? Just giving her more arrows for her quiver. Haha. It is, indeed, tough to shift gears, but we’re at the age when it’s time. Good luck on your final lap to retirement, it won’t be too much longer when you’ll find out what all the fuss is about. Thanks for making my blog a small part of it. And, greetings to Mary and Joseph (how did he learn at such a young age something it’s taken you and me our entire lives to figure out?). He obviously listened to his mother….smiles.

  13. Thanks for the post Fritz. I’m now in my second year of retirement after hanging it up at 54. I can completely relate to your thoughts. I still find myself getting testy with slow pokes at the stop light. But, your post made me think that maybe the person in front of me is practicing what you’re preaching! After all, we are in the snow bird capitol of the US. We started wintering in Scottsdale upon retirement. Each day is an adventure but also has some slowing down activities. Coffee and reading for two hours, hike, then happy hour. This has helped me “slow down” and enjoy this time together and with friends. Keep up the great work, Fritz.

    1. Stan, take it easy on that slow poke ahead of you, she’s someone you should be learning from. Wink. Glad your second year of retirement is going well, it sure beats life on the treadmill, right!? I’ve heard good things about wintering in Arizona, good for you for giving it a go.

  14. This is certainly how my husband and I live our lives. I was at the doctor the other day, and I had to wait 30 minutes. I read the paper, and looked around. The doctor apologised for the delay, and my response was – no problem, I’m retired, I’m not in a hurry, you’re the one that’s rushed off your feet. Today at the dentist, I was asked – what have you on today? I said nothing – you’re the ‘event’ of the day! That doesn’t mean I didn’t have anything to do, just no time pressures to do them.
    One day last week, it was a lovely spring day, so we went to a photographic exhibition in town. It wasn’t planned, but we had the time, and the day was nice. The exhibition was great, and we both came back energised.
    My friend is also retired, but her days are packed with activities, she likes to keep busy. I’m the reverse, I like to have lots of slow time. Each to their own! That’s the beauty of retirement, you get to choose how you spend your time.

    1. Erith, just one more example why you’re my “Retirement Hero”. I envy your ability to be intentional. I’m somewhere between you and your friend, with many activities filling our days. I love the engagement in retirement, but am also focused on finding a way to balance those activities with the ability to slow down. It’s a fun little challenge for retirement and I’m enjoying the process.

  15. Great advice, and though I’m not retired, I’m trying to live that mantra every day. Things will get done, stop and look, stop and listen, take time to help wherever you can.

    1. I just retired in August and have not mastered slowing down. I did make a point to move from Atlanta to the Northern Neck of Virginia which will be a much slower pace and will help me learn to slow down since things don’t seem to move fast here. I have enjoyed your insights and advice from you blog. Looking forward to the book. Here’s too the long way home.

      1. Paul, I think a geographical relocation to a more rural setting does help in the process. Moving out of the frenzy of Atlanta into the soothing calm of the Southern Appalachians has had a soothing effect of me. It sounds like you’ve experience the same. Ah….life in the mountains…

        Like Karen, we’re trying to live that mantra every day!

  16. Hey Fritz –
    I second the comment above about your blog being just what I needed to hear!! Gene can confirm that I’m a bit of a “just get me from point A to B” person. I know I’ve got the luxury of not rushing – just gotta practice it more often!!

    1. I have found that even if traffic is extra heavy and/or traffic stopped completely due to wreck, etc. or if a detour occurs , I take note of my surroundings. I try to find beauty in nature, amusement in joggers jogging by, the clouds above in our sky, and other such things. The same while standing in a line at places to eat , grocery store, etc.
      Each afternoon, when weather permits, I take time to put out bird/squirrel food and notice the movement of trees/ leaves, clouds, while walking down my long driveway to get the snail mail. Just simple things life has to offer if we slow down and take note.

  17. Ten to 15 years ago I would drive my parents from their home in MA to join our family at our favorite summer vacation spot in northern NH each year. Year after year, they always wanted to take the back roads rather than the highway. Not even close to retirement, I would dread the extra 30 to 45 minutes the route would take. As each year passed, I began to enjoy the extra time with my parents and the much more scenic ride.

    Now retired, I am grateful for those shared drives with my parents much more. I fully identify with your goal to take the long way home (or anywhere for that matter). It helps me slow down and appreciate my surroundings and the people I may be with. It’s so much more enjoyable and relaxing. Nice post!

    1. Mr. P, what a great story, and a great memory. Thanks for providing a great example of the value of slowing down. I’m sure you treasure those memories, and suspect the memories most of us hold near are the ones we made when we were able to slow down. Interesting thought.

  18. Love your photos Fritz and seeing what an amazing lifestyle you’ve achieved. It really is about balance and you set a great example for all! We also live in a rural setting and love being out of the hustle and bustle of the city. It definitely makes sure we “stop and smell the roses” and enjoy our lives!

    Some retirees slow down so much they become bored, restless, and fill their days with meaningless tasks. For example, a friend recently told his wife not to pick up a prescription on her way home. They would “save” it for the following day, just so they had something to do. In the next breath he complained about getting stuck in traffic. We’re going to share your blog on Pinterest and hope he reads it 🙂

  19. Fritz, what a great reminder, and I love the photos! I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV and need to make a point to take the long way home more often for the scenery and relaxing pace. Since I retired a little over a year ago, I have gotten a little better with this. For example, If I’m at the grocery store and my line is slow, and someone apologizes for the delay, I say that “it’s fine, I’m retired and have a lot more patience now!” I still fall back into old habits (waze, etc.) on the road though, so I will work on it, thanks to your reminder.

    1. And..that person in the grocery store grits their teeth since they’re trying to get their shopping done on their way home from work. They love retired people like us, right? Glad the reminder hit home with you, learning to slow down takes as many reminders as possible.

  20. Great post as usual Fritz , I look forward to them every week. As I am considering retiring at the end of this year at age 63, I find myself trying to figure out how I’ll spend my time. My retired friends all say they’re so busy they don’t know how they ever had time to work! And I can tell they’re eagerly awaiting my retirement so that they can drag me into some of they’re activities and commitments. I don’t want to have my time pre planned before I even retire. My hobby is restoring classic cars and I’m looking forward to having mor time to do that. I’m even looking into adding onto my garage and paying for it while I’m still working. And btw, there’s nothing like driving a classic car down a two lane back road and just enjoying the drive.

    1. Dale, thanks for being a regular reader, I’m pleased to know my words are having an impact as you approach The Starting Line. Enjoy your final year of work, you’re going to love life on this side of that line. I’ve always loved classic cars, wish I had the mechanical aptitude to work on them. Ironic that you mention driving one down a two lane back road…I’ve been toying with the idea of buying one for exactly that reason.

  21. I joke with my friends that I’ve become the old lady in the slow lane! I’m just not in a hurry since retirement a year ago.

  22. Really appreciated this post. Coming up on two years retired and finally realize I don’t have to fill my calendar up every day to feel like i have accomplished something. If i want to sit on the beach and read a book (which I am actually doing this week) I have accomplished exactly what I set out to do. Also realizing that I have fewer days left than I have spent, I need to take the time to appreciate each one, which I am also doing. Thank you for the perspective.

  23. For those who have achieved FI 10 or more years before the generation population, it will be a struggle to fit themselves into retirement life.

    Success and failure have a commonality in that they have victims.

    FI is a second chance at life to live life in according to your personal values – don’t be a victim to your success!

    You don’t have to take the highway anymore unless you are enjoy the speed and the commotion.

    1. Interesting point about early retirees having a struggle to fit into retirement. I didn’t retire “too” young (I was 55), and it’s been smoother than I could have imagined. I do read of some of the struggles of “super” young retirees, but I agree with you that we can all have influence on our situation, and we shouldn’t fall into the victimhood mentality that seems so prevalent in our society today. Seems especially true for folks who should be thankful that they have the Freedom, at such a young age, to make work optional. Many, many folks around the world are facing serious problems, and not fitting in due to early retirement seems pale in comparison. Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Great post and pictures. Mountains and rivers are so good at calming the soul and making stress just melt away. I retired two years ago and love the time freedom and ability to take it slow, but sometimes I get in the old bad habits so your post is a great reminder.
    Right when I retired I made a retirement playlist to enjoy while driving the long slow way. I discovered a song by Alabama called “I’m in a hurry but don’t know why”. It has such a great message; I wish I’d discovered it while I was still working.

    1. Great song, by a great band (I’ve always loved Alabama’s music, and their hometown of Fort Payne isn’t too far from our place in North Georgia). Thanks for adding it to the discussion! Glad to hear my words were a “great reminder” for you. We’ve earned the right to slow down!

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