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:
- If you’re retiring in 3 years, go to June 2015 and read When Can I Retire?
- If you’re retiring in 100 Days, go back to Feb 2018 and you’ll find 100 Days To Freedom.
- If you’re retiring THIS MONTH, go to June 2018 and read What The First Week Of Retirement Is Really Like.
- If you retired 6 months ago, jump to Dec 2018 to find 6 Lessons From The First 6 Months Of Retirement.
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.
- Contentment – A Personal Choice: My very first post, written on April 12, 2015.
- The Retirement Manifesto – How It Started: The story of the first 30 hours of this blog.
- When Can I Retire? A four-part series to help you determine when you can retire.
- Why Does Personal Finance Matter? How personal finance applies to our daily lives.
- The Purpose: What I hope to achieve with The Retirement Manifesto
- A Day With My Daughter (Leaving A Legacy): Life lessons to my daughter via her search for the perfect gun
- The Building Block Series: A four-part series on the building blocks of wealth.
- What’s In Your Bucket?: Build a bucket list for all facets of your life, not just travel.
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.
- How To Build A Retirement Paycheck: The Bucket Strategy, which I’ll be using in my retirement.
- The Ultimate Retirement Planning Guide: A guide to planning for your retirement, organized by stages of your journey. A compilation of my best posts, designed to help new readers find my most relevant content.
- The Millionaire Next Door: Lessons you should learn from wealth builders.
- When Is Enough….Enough? Define your “enough”, don’t get stuck on the treadmill.
- Your Plan Is Wrong. Plan Anyway: Plans change. Be flexible, and benefit from having a plan.
- 5 Steps To Take Within 5 Years Of Retirement: Take these steps toward a great retirement.
- How To Downsize In 24 Hours: We just got rid of 30 years of “stuff” in 24 hours. Here’s how we did it.
- Debt Free: When The Vision Becomes Reality: We just made our final mortgage payment. Ever.
- Can They Retire? A Case Study: A reader shares the details of their plan to retire at 55. Can they make it?
- The Best Retirement Calculator: A review of the four retirement calculators I used for retirement planning.
- A Simple Tip For A More Enjoyable LIfe: My goal is to swim across Lake Zurich. What’s yours?
- 5 Milestones To Determine “When Can I Retire”? 5 key milestones to determine your retirement readiness.
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.
- The Top 5 Retirement Concerns: The Top 5 concerns, and steps you can take to reduce anxiety.
- Retirement: Reality Vs. Expectations: A comparison of the realities of retirement, and how they differ from our expectations.
- It’s About Time!! Time, the rarest of investments. You get it for free, and spend it until it’s gone.
- 4 Challenges To Improve Your Retirement: 4 Challenges. For You. To Improve Your Retirement.
- The Top 5 Retirement Concerns: The Top 5 concerns, and steps you can take to reduce anxiety.
- Do You Have The Green Acres Syndrome? My wife and I have it, here’s what we’re doing to cure it.
- Achieving A Dream: An event worth living, and an article worth reading.
- What If You Live To 100?: How to insure you don’t outlive your money, with specific steps my wife and I are taking as a contingency plan against longevity risk.
- Stealth Wealth: I live a life of stealth, in a world of wealth. It’s my choice. What’s yours?
- Do You Want To Be Younger Next Year? Solve this mystery, can you can be younger next year.
- Purpose, Motivation & Life Aspirations: Find a purpose for your life. A Case Study, using cold water swimming as an example of building purpose, motivation and goals to improve your life.
- How To Move Your Retirement From Good To Great: Why we’re downsizing again, after only 1 year in our “dream retirement cabin”. We’re moving from Good To Great. How about you?
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.
- Our Retirement Investment Drawdown Strategy: Our drawdown strategy, in writing.
- 20 Steps To Take In The Year Before Retirement: A detailed checklist for your final year of work.
- The One More Year Syndrome: Why do folks continue to work after achieving Financial Independence?
- Seasons: We’ve been filling the barn with hay while the sun’s shining. Soon, we’ll enjoy the harvest.
- When A Home Sale Explodes (Good To Great – Part 3): How our home sale exploded after it was under contract, and how learning to hit curveballs can move your life from Good To Great.
- Why We Are NOT Buying Long Term Care Insurance: The numbers behind our decision to self-insure.
- The 10 Commandments Of Early Retirement: Want to retire early? Follow as many of these as you can….
- Your 4 Biggest Worries About Retirement: What folks who are good with money worry about retirement.
- A 10 Day Retirement: I recently conducted an experiment. I learned a lot. Today, I share my learnings.
- Should You Take Social Security At Age 62 or 70? An analysis, using our personal SS estimates.
- The New Tax Loophole That Benefits Retirees: A loophole in the new tax law that may reduce your RMD’s.
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.
- It’s Official – My Secret Is Out: The announcement of my retirement to 10k+ employees and the reaction.
- 100 Days To Freedom: How I’m feeling with 100 Days to go until retirement!
- The 10 Commandments Of Retirement: My self-imposed guidelines for retirement.
- The Ultimate Pre-Retirement Checklist: 5 Years To A Great Retirement. Every step you need to take.
- Alone. What I learned during two years of isolation. No one’s life is perfect. Deal with it.
- 11 Lessons Learned On The Path To Retirement: 11 Important lessons, and my #1 recommendation for what everyone should do before they retire (see Lesson #11).
- 6 Lessons Learned During 33 Years In Corporate America: My retirement speech.
- The Veteran: A World War II Veteran gives his advice on what makes a retirement great. A true hero.
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!).
- What The First Week Of Retirement Is Really Like: My first week, what it feels like to be retired!
- It’s Time To Live Like No One Else: Moving from a lifelong saver to a retirement spender.
- The First 60 Days Of Retirement: 3 Things I Expected, and 3 Surprises in my first 60 Days of retirement.
- The Uncle: Retirement advice from my wise Uncle, who also happens to be quite a character.
- What I Learned From A 7,000 Mile Train Journey: What I learned on an Epic Retirement Bucket List journey.
- Health Insurance In Retirement: Unsolved: Why I retired without a clear plan for health insurance.
- Time Affluence: Wealth isn’t about Money, it’s about having Freedom to do what you choose with your Time.
- The Long Goodbye: The true story of my Mother-In-Law’s Battle With Alzheimer’s.
- Resilience In The Face Of Market Volatility: Using the Bucket Strategy to offset anxiety over volatility.
- 6 Lessons From The First 6 Months Of Retirement: What we’re learning in retirement.
- A Simple Guide To Targeted Asset Allocation: How to achieve the correct Asset Allocation.
- 5 Keys To A Great Retirement: What 20 years of retirement research have identified as the 5 Keys.
- How Much Can You Spend Safely In Retirement: A look at the “Spend Safely” strategy for retirement withdrawals.
- The Great American Road Trip: 6,000 miles cross-country in an RV with 4 dogs – our 2019 plan!
- Freedom For Fido – A Story Of Finding Purpose In Retirement: The Story of my wife and why she started a charity.
- The Biggest Lesson From My First Year Of Retirement: Thoughts from my first Retire-versary.
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.
- A Life With Moving Sidewalks: Pursue things in your life that force you to adjust. Enjoy the ride.
- Avoid These 7 Mistakes Retirees Make: A look at 7 common money mistakes, and what to do to avoid them.
- A Baseball Game With Dad: Take time to do the things that matter, with the people who matter most.
- The Seasons Are Changing (and I’m writing a book): My writing has been less consistent, and now you know why.
- How (& Why) To Execute A Before-Tax Rollover: A tax optimization strategy to reduce the impact of RMD’s.
- Taking An RV Trip Across America (with 4 dogs!): Tips from our recent cross-country RV trip.
- The Dark Side Of Retirement: Ah…retirement, the land of milk and honey. Except when it’s not.
- A 94-year-old Couple Share The Secrets of a Great Retirement: Live from the mountains, it’s PR and Mary.
- Life After Fire: A look at life in early retirement, 18 months after crossing The Starting Line.
- A Step-By-Step Guide For Your Annual Financial Review: A checklist, with links to various spreadsheets I use.
- How To Manage The Bucket Strategy: A look at how we’re maintaining our bucket strategy in retirement.
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.