What Was I Thinking (when I was in your shoes)?

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What was I thinking?   

For each of us on our retirement journey, we’re walking in the footprints left by those who have retired before us. If you’re one year away from retirement, you’re standing in the footprints I left in June 2017.  What was I thinking when I was a year away from retirement?  That thought led to a new idea for how I can (hopefully) add value for you and resulted in today’s post, which seeks to accomplish that goal.  

I’ve decided to lay out my footprints for you, wherever you are on your retirement journey.  Breadcrumbs on the trail, so to speak. If you’re within 3 years of retirement, you’re going to be able to follow my “thought footprints” as I walked the journey 3 years before I retired. If you’ve recently retired, you’ll see what I was thinking in my first year of retirement. In today’s post, I’ll be providing a roadmap of my key thoughts as I walked along my retirement journey. 

Jump to wherever you’re at in the timeline below, and you’ll be able to see “What Was I Thinking (when I was in your shoes)”.

If you're 1 year away from retirement, you're standing in the footprints I left in June 2017. Today, I'm sharing what I was thinking when I was where you are on your journey. Click To Tweet

What Was I Thinking?

We can all learn from each other, right?  With that thought in mind, I’ve decided to create this “What Was I Thinking Timeline” to make it easier for you to find relevant content, regardless of where you are on your journey.  I’ll start each time period with a macro overview of what I was thinking about, then include the most relevant posts from the same timeframe.  

You can see What I Was Thinking when I was at the same point in the retirement journey that you're at today. Click To Tweet

I’ve also restructured my “Every Article Written” page to make it easier to place yourself on the timeline for all of my articles, adding the timeframe from retirement every 6 months in the calendar of my posts.  Have a look, and you’ll now find the following new tip at the top of the page:

The “What Was I Thinking” Timeline

With that, let’s have a look at the timeline, and answer the question of “What Was I Thinking” as I left my footprints in the sand.  As my regular readers know, I like to mix up both “Hard” ($$) and “Soft” (Purpose) articles, and have included several of each time in the timeline…

3+ Years To Retirement  (June 2015)

I started my blog in April 2015, just a bit more than 3 years out from retirement.  It was at this point of the journey that I started to get serious about retirement, and this line from my very first post is one of my favorite lines ever written:

“This is the story of my journey, told in the Present before it becomes the Past”.  

The Present that I was living at that time has now become the Past, but thanks to this blog the question of “What Was I Thinking?” has been captured for those who are 3 years away from their own retirement.  The biggest question on my mind was to determine when I’d be able to retire.

2-3 Years To Retirement 

At the 2-3 year mark, the question of “What Was I Thinking” is clear as you look at the archives.  I had identified my target retirement date and  I was getting serious about “The Numbers”.  My writing from this timeframe was more focused on the “Hard” topics ($ related).  It’s been interesting to watch the evolution to a higher mix of “Soft” topics as the blog matured, a trend that others have noted in their personal journeys, as well.

If you’re 2-3 years from retirement, it’s time to get serious about the math and determining when you can retire.

18 – 24 Months To Retirement

It’s less than 2 years to retirement, and it’s becoming a “top of mind” issue.  I’m checking the countdown app on my phone more frequently and starting to get serious in my thinking about life after retirement.  The question of “What Was I Thinking” is answered by my posts from this timeframe, which show an increasing awareness of the need to focus beyond the financial considerations.  Taking time to think about what you want your life to be in retirement has been proven to be the key differentiator between those who have a smooth transition and those who struggle with retirement.  It was at this point in time that I started thinking about broader retirement issues, and I would recommend the same approach for everybody following in my footsteps.

1 Year To Retirement

My countdown app is passing the 365-day mark, and each day I go to work is the last time I’ll work on that date.  By this date next year, I’ll be retired!  It’s time to get serious about putting the final pieces into place.  The transition to retirement starts now, and it’s a surprising amount of work to put everything in its place.

The Final Countdown

Retirement is just around the corner, and I’m ready to go.  All of the pieces are in place, and I’m mentally preparing for the huge adjustment that retirement brings.  This adjustment will continue for the next 18 +/- months and is a major focus in my upcoming book.

Retirement – The First Year

The honeymoon has begun!  No more alarm clock, no more commute.  Wipe that smile off your face…or not (hey, you’ve earned the right to smile, this is a huge achievement!).

Retirement – Year 2

The honeymoon is over, and a new transition to the long-term reality of life in retirement has begun.  You’ll find your life changes over the course of retirement, and it’s best to embrace the change.

Which Brings Us To Today

As I write these words (The Present, Before It Becomes The Past), I’m 20 months into retirement.  I had high aspirations for life in retirement, and I’m pleased to report it’s exceeding my wildest expectations.  Life is truly great in retirement, and I sincerely enjoy sharing my journey with you.  I hope your retirement journey is benefiting as a result.

In a few short months, my book will be published.  If you’re interested in the steps you should take to achieve a great retirement, I think you’re going to like it.  My publisher has agreed to let me share a bit of the book with you, and I’ll be giving you some sneak peeks in the next month or so.  It’s been a great project in my 2nd year of retirement, and I look forward to sharing it with you.


I realize that none of us walk the same journey to, and through, retirement.  That said, I think there’s tremendous value in learning from those who have walked this journey before us, and I trust that sharing “What Was I Thinking” as I’ve traveled the retirement path is helpful to those of you who are walking somewhere behind me.  

As for the future, I know not what tomorrow will bring, but I’m enjoying the heck out of the journey.

I’m also enjoying sharing The Present, Before It Becomes The Past. 

I’ll continue to leave some breadcrumbs on the trail…


PS:  A thought struck me at 3:30 am this morning when my (dagnabit) dog scratched on the door to go outside, and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.  That’s been a more common occurrence now that I’m retired, and I’ve learned to embrace it.   No problem, I don’t have to be at work today (haha), I can catch a nap this afternoon if necessary. The thought was about how I’m leaving footprints on my journey, and how others can benefit if I can just figure out how to leave them a map.

I got out of bed and started writing the words you’ve just read. 

Strange how retirement works. 


  1. I am in awe of your writing skills. Based on your PS: I read this 4 hours after you wrote it, which was after you got up and let the dog out. (I wouldn’t have used dagnabit, not first at least). Great resource. Already shared to my followers and groups on LinkedIn, Twitter next.

  2. As thought provoking as it is to reflect on your past it is equally as insightful to view my future through the rear view mirror of someone else. ( somewhat of an oxymoron). As I read your article this morning (Pre- workout at 5am), it hit me that I have not used an alarm clock for the past 10-12 years. That in turn sparked the thought that 3 years from now I may still wake up this early but not because I am going to work out but rather get in my workout before I have to be at work ( settled into my office by 7am). What will I do in that first month of retirement after the 5am routine? Should I plan the time adjustment for my workout to be later or fill the 7am GAP with a new hobby?
    You have stirred my thoughts Fritz…… Now I have to plan some more. Thanks for the nudge!

    1. Viewing your future through my rear view mirror. Wow, what an awesome concept. Love it! It’s interesting how your post-retirement sleep habits can change. I’ve never been a willing early morning rising, but now that I’m retired I savor those early mornings (though I slept in for the first 4 months of retirement, and only “discovered” the joy of 3:30 am wake-ups after a year or so of retirement). Time freedom is a wonderful gift.

    2. This is an AWESOME website. And with just under 2 years until my retirement date, I will be doing a LOT of reading. Thanks so much for memorializing your path for those of us on similar journeys…..

  3. Fritz,
    I followed your footsteps and retired a few months after you. I remember reading your blogs and finding them pertinent and reassuring, they were very helpful in answering many of my own retirement concerns. This latest blog organizes all your articles into your retirement timeline, it will be a helpful path for many that will follow in your footsteps….

    Thanks for being a great guide !

    1. Skip, thanks for your encouragement, it’s for exactly this reason that I continue to peck away at this keyboard week after week. It’s very fulfilling to know that the words I type on this keyboard are truly impacting people as they figure out this thing called retirement. I’m blessed beyond words.

  4. This blog is a saver with so many posts that I can’t wait to read and probably read again because your content is valuable and I especially appreciate the softer side even though I’m still accumulating. Ditto on your writing skills and writing style and readers can tell you put a lot of thought and time into each post. I personally find value in your blog even though I’m several years away ( maybe not as many I think )! Really great to meet you in person this past Saturday in Blue Ridge – one of the highlights of the weekend for sure – to sit for an hour and talk life and money was not something I do regularly!

    1. Dusty!! My new coffee buddy. It was great spending some time with you on Saturday, thanks for reaching out while you were in town. Also, I appreciate your comment that “readers can tell you put a lot of thought and time into each post”. It is a labor of love, and it’s encouraging when folks recognize the amount of effort I invest in this silly little retirement hobby of mine. Looking forward to that round of golf with you in the coming months…

  5. Just joined your web and catching up on all your posts. Retired mid 2017 and has been good since. Loved what I did and waited to retire at 75. People ask me what my plans are for tomorrow and I tell them I will decide tomorrow. No plans, no commitments, life is good. Will find time to read a few more of your posts. Thanks for the posts.

    1. “Just joined”!? What took you so long? Wink. Thanks for joining the team, happy to have you on board. You’ve got a great attitude toward your retirement, I’m sure it was a big shift from working until age 75 but it sounds like you’ve figured it out in the past 2 1/2 years. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, much appreciated.

  6. You and I retired at about the same time. I’ve enjoyed your Blog and others, for quite a while and must tell you that as many of them grow self-important and less interesting or even on point by the month (is going back to work, really “retired”?), I continue to read, enjoy, and find value in yours.

    Our path took us from the corporate world to a ranch in near solitude. No credit card mile hacks or Singapore cheap cafes are on our “must do” list. Everyone is different, and your Blog manages to touch on things that both travelers and I all still have in common. That bodes well for the continued success of your site, as I gradually winnow away the less useful and more strident writers and unsubscribe from them one by one. Kudos to you.

  7. Once again an insightful post Fritz!

    Absolutely love how you’ve chronicled your journey and captured “The Present, Before It Becomes The Past”. It’s heartening to read how you discuss the “softer” aspects of retirement as well as the financial concerns. I also believe that retirement is truly about life balance combining health, wealth, and happiness (attitude). Keep up the great work and looking forward to the sneak peeks of your book!

  8. Just found your site. I have a lot of reading to do. I’m hoping to retire at 55 at the end of Sept. 2020. The only plan i have is to to turn off the alarm clock. 33 years of municipal government, office life, sitting, meetings, sitting, politics, sitting, etc. I’m tired. And as you wrote, we’ve been under someone else’s schedule since kindergarten. It’s time for “me” and my wife. I am looking fwd to getting caught up on your writing. from what i’ve read so far you’ve documented the path to retirement and the retirement life amazingly well. looking forward to the reads.

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