60 Days ago, I retired.
After thinking about retirement for years, It’s Finally Happening. This is our new life, our new reality. I’ve long wondered what retirement would be like. Now, we’re living it, and I have the honor of sharing the experience with you, the reader, via the written word.
What’s Retirement Really Like?
7 Days into retirement, I wrote What The First Week Of Retirement Is Really Like. That article was popular, so I’ve decided to continue the theme of writing occasional posts on our retirement experience. I’ll be combining these posts in a new series titled: The Retirement Reality Series.
The Retirement Reality Series
- What The First Week of Retirement is Really Like
- The First 60 Days of Retirement (this post)
- 6 Lessons From The First 6 Months of Retirement
- The Biggest Lesson From my First Year of Retirement
- What I’ve Learned From 2 Years of Retirement
- Four Lessons From Four Years of Retirement
Thoughts From The First 60 Days Of Retirement
- Retirement is exactly like I thought it would be.
- Retirement is nothing like I thought it would be.
Yes, a contradiction, but it also happens to be true. There are elements of retirement that are playing out as I’d expected, and there are parts that are surprising. Today, I’ll share some thoughts on both, based on The First 60 Days of Retirement.
It’s really hard to explain what it feels like to be retired, but I feel I owe it to you, my reader, to attempt to explain the reality of retirement. If you, like me, have been wondering what it’s like to experience retirement, I trust this series will help shed some light on how life evolves throughout retirement.This is the story of my journey, told in The Present before it becomes The Past. Click To Tweet
I wrote the above sentence 3 1/2 years ago in my very first post, and it has become a guiding principle of this blog. For the past 3 years, I’ve shared the planning as we prepared for our early retirement. That Present has now become the Past, and each week of the journey is documented in Every Article Written on this blog. The theme continues with this Retirement Reality series, as I document our life in retirement.
The Present before it becomes The Past.
3 Things I Expected In Retirement
Let’s start with the things I expected in retirement. Here are the first 3 that came to mind as I let my fingers glide serendipitously (my favorite word) across the keyboard…
1. The Freedom Was Worth The Cost
For the past 33 years, we’ve been diligently saving, delaying gratification and working toward Financial Independence. The million dollar question: Was It Worth It?
The unequivocal answer: YES.
When I was 100 Days from retirement, I wrote 100 Days To Freedom. At the time, I was dreaming about what this Freedom would feel like. Now I know, and it’s exceeding my expectations. The realization of Freedom was best demonstrated on Day 38 of my retirement when I’d been awake for an hour before I realized it was a Monday. I just had to celebrate with a Tweet (I’d be honored if you’d join the 6,000 folks who follow me on Twitter):
Freedom. Yes, it was worth the cost.
2. Retirement Allows More Time For The Important Things
The Freedom of Retirement allows YOU to decide how you’ll spend your time, for the first time in your life. You’re finally Free to spend whatever time you choose, however you choose to spend it.
- Want to travel up to Michigan to visit your Dad? Done.
- Want to book a cross-country train trip? Done (trip scheduled for August, stay tuned for a post from the train!)
- Want to chill and read a book? Done.
- Want to go kayaking on the spur of the moment? Done.
- Want to explore that new mountain biking trail? Yup.
Time Affluence is a topic I’m planning for a future post. When folks think of Affluence, money is normally the thing that comes to mind. I’ve found, however, that true affluence comes not from material wealth, but rather from the Time Freedom that financial resources provide. Those resources provide the Freedom to do whatever you choose with your time. Time Affluence. (Stay tuned – that post is in the queue).
Yes, I expected the benefit of having Time For The Important Things in retirement, but it’s even better than I imagined.
3. We Don’t Think About Money
I had a head’s up on this one from some of my friends who retired before me, so I wasn’t surprised about how little I’ve thought about our financial situation since retirement. In my case, the majority of the time spent thinking about finances was in the time period 1-3 years prior to retirement. Figuring out When Can I Retire is a numbers game, and it’s not a coincidence that I wrote the 4-part series to help you answer that question 3 years before I retired. Based on feedback from others, it seems to be common that initial retirement planning focuses on the numbers, but they become less important as you approach, and enter, retirement.
From the time that we decided to work One More Year, we knew that we were going to be ok financially. We’re now reaping the true benefit of working that one additional year, as illustrated by how little we think about money now that we’ve retired.
We know we’re ok, so we’re enjoying our retirement life. Yes, we worked for it and we expected this benefit, and it’s a great feeling to be enjoying retirement without much time spent thinking about our financial situation.
Better to live “in the moment” while hiking in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge than to be worried about money, right?
3 Things I Didn’t Expect In Retirement
Now for the fun part. What have I experienced, in the first 60 days of retirement, that I hadn’t anticipated? I could go on for some time on this one, but I’ve chosen the top 3 surprises below:What are the top 3 things I didn't expect in retirement? Part II of The Retirement Reality Series spells them out. Click To Tweet
1. Going Against The World’s Flow Is A Great Thing
I never really thought about the reality that we live in a working world. The majority of folks work Monday through Friday and enjoy a brief respite of Freedom on the weekends. I’ve lived that life since I was in pre-school some 51 years ago, and I’ve lived it every day since.
Until 60 days ago.
Retirement changes all of that.
As I mentioned in Part I of this series, we now have 6 Saturdays in every week. The implications of that change are huge and unexpected. It seems obvious in hindsight, but it was simply a benefit I hadn’t taken time to think about prior to retirement, so it was unexpected.
Whether it’s been camping in a deserted campground on a weekday night, riding my mountain bike on empty trails which are notoriously crowded on the weekend, or swimming at my favorite mountain lake from an empty beach, the Freedom to go against the World’s Flow of “Weekend Freedom” has been a beautiful, and unexpected, benefit of retirement.
Experiencing life during the week makes many Good things Great. What’s sweeter is knowing that we’ll be enjoying this benefit for the remainder of our retirement years.
Going against the world’s flow is a great benefit of retirement.
2. The Transition Into Retirement Has Been Easy
I had a bit of apprehension as I approached my final working days. I wrote The Ten Commandments Of Retirement 3 months before my retirement, in large part to remind myself what I wanted my retirement to be in the event the transition proved to be a difficult one.
If we’re honest with ourselves, I suspect most folks share a similar concern as they face retirement. After 30+ years as a bit of a type-A “Corporate Type”, how would I do on adjusting to the retirement lifestyle?
I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about exactly that over the past year, and my writings have reflected that journey. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that my mix between “Soft” (lifestyle) and “Hard” (financial) posts has shifted over the 3 1/2 years of writing the post:
- Retirement Minus 3 years: 80% Hard, 20% Soft
- Retirement Minus 2 Years: 50% Hard, 50% Soft
- Retirement +/- 1 Year: 20% Hard, 80% Soft
Way back in 2015, I identified 5 keys to a great retirement transition in Will Retirement Be Depressing, and my wife and I have been diligently applying them in the 3 years since. One of those keys was to “Intentionally accelerate your development of external interests in your final 3-5 years of work”. I’ve done that, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want our post-retirement life to be.
I wasn’t sure until I retired if the approach would work, but it’s exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t be happier with the results, and encourage anyone within 5 years of retirement to replicate the process in a way that works for you. Think about what you want your retirement life to be, and begin building “bridges” of things that will last after retirement while in your final working years.
My transition into retirement has been easy (thus far), and I’m convinced that a large part of that is due to the intentional approach I took in preparing for my post-retirement lifestyle.
“What About Your Wife?”, I hear you asking. Based on the discussions she and I have had on the topic, I think she shares my opinion. We haven’t driven each other crazy (yet), and our adjustment to full-time life together has been easier than either of us expected. Be Intentional, and plan your retirement life together in your final working years.
Side Note: this blog is a tangible example of the intentional approach. I started it 3+ years before my retirement as a trial, and it’s developed into a true passion project that has survived beyond my working years. Build some bridges, they’ll likely help in your eventual transition into retirement
3. Variety Is The Spice Of Life
For years, my life was pretty predictable. On Monday morning, I would drag myself to the office. I committed myself to the task at hand, and I’d carry a bit of it home in my head at the end of the day. Repeat the process on Tues, Wed, Thur, and Fri.Squeeze in a bit of fun on the weekends, and repeat week after week after month after year. It sucks the life out of you after 30+ years. Click To Tweet
Retirement is the exact opposite.
Nothing is predictable, and there is no need for a routine. We’re avoiding routine like the plague and we’re intentionally pursuing variety in our retirement lifestyle, to an extent which I hadn’t expected. I’ve shared a bit of the variety with you in the pictures in today’s post, but it doesn’t come close to communicating the significance of the value that variety brings to your life.
Since retiring, I’ve camped with our new 5th wheel in 5 states, rode new mountain bike trails I’d never explored before, taken daily fitness classes at our local gym (Spin and Barre Above are my two favorites), been interviewed on 4 podcasts, read my first David Baldacci book, taught my brother-in-law how to fish for trout, and filled my days with things I didn’t have time to experience while I was working.
Our current lifestyle is evolving into a pattern of 1-2 weeks of traveling with our camper, followed by 2-3 weeks of enjoying our mountain cabin. We’ll see how things evolve in the future, and we’re keeping ourselves flexible in the approach.
Variety is, indeed, the Spice Of Life. I didn’t realize the extent of that statement until I retired.
60 Days in, the joy of retirement has exceeded my expectations. I realize I’m still in my retirement honeymoon period, and I’ll continue to keep you updated as things evolve via this Retirement Reality Series. To summarize the highlights from the first 60 days:
3 Things I Expected In Retirement
- Freedom Is Worth The Cost
- There’s More Time For The Important Things
- We Don’t Think About Money
3 Things I Didn’t Expect In Retirement
- Going Against The World’s Flow Is A Great Thing
- The Transition Into Retirement Has Been Easy
- Variety Is The Spice Of Life
What About You? If you’ve already retired, what surprised you most? Was your transition easy or hard, and why? What advice would you give others as they prepare for their transition to retirement? If you haven’t retired yet, what concerns you the most about your transition into retirement, and how are you preparing?
Let’s chat in the comments…