Importance of finding a purpose in early retirement after reaching FIRE (financial independence retire early): A recent early retiree’s thoughts...

 

Pinnacle Overlook, Pennsylvania 

My wife and I are recent early retirees at ages 51 and 48.  We’ve been slow traveling with our traveling companion Toby, a 13 pound Pomeranian dog since our retirement in August 2020.  We’ve spent a month or longer at various destinations throughout the eastern parts of the United States, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on finding a purpose after your retirement.

Getting to early retirement gave us a goal during our accumulation phase of our journey to achieve financial independence.  We were totally focused on reducing our expenses and saving much as we could towards our retirement.

Although we read about and discussed how we were planning on living our lives after retiring early, we didn’t really know what retirement was actually going to be like...It’s like the saying goes, “No plan survives first enemy contact.”  

Our initial plan called for two main things:

  1. Traveling more
We wanted to spend at least a month or longer at each destination so we can explore everything the locale has to offer.  We wanted to remain flexible as to the location.  We prefer somewhere near an ocean or mountains, but cities are ok too.  

One criteria for lodging is that they’re dog friendly because of our Pomeranian dog.  If near a park, even better!

We planned on living like we would normally live, that is, not like on vacation, but rather, like how we lived prior to early retirement.  To us this means no dining out or going out to bars during happy hour, no going to see attractions that cost arm and a leg (Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas), or buying every meal.

We were planning on visiting attractions that cost next to nothing, like visiting parks and nature areas, and cooking most of our meals at ‘home’.

     2.   Spending time with our family

We planned on spending time with our family once we retired early.  We realized time we have with our loved ones is short.  Our parents aren’t getting younger.  There’s just no way to make up lost time when they’re gone...

In between our monthly travels, we planned on staying with our parents in New York and with our brother and his family in North Carolina.

We thought about taking our parents to different parks, casinos, beaches, and mountains nearby during our time with them.  We wanted to make memories with them as we weren’t sure how many good years we have left to spend with them...

How did that work out?

This worked out as planned, believe it or not!  We spent a month in Ocean City (Maryland), 3 months in Atlantic Beach (North Carolina), Claysburg (Pennsylvania), and we spent few weeks here and there with our family.  So far so good...

Prior to retirement, we also thought about how we would spend our time after our retirement.  We talked about picking up hobbies, exercising more, and being creative.  

We knew we wanted to continue to read books, Mrs. Wandering Money Pig would continue to paint, I would learn a new language (to prepare for future international travels, hopefully), and I would start a blog.

With the exception of learning a new language, I would say we’re sticking to the script.  Hopefully, this pandemic will be gone in few months so we can travel to Canada!  We are pleasantly surprised at how well our initial plan is working out.  

Finding purpose, or whatever makes you focus and feel good while you’re doing it:

One thing I will iterate is the need to find something that you’ll truly enjoy doing.  This has to fill your day when you’re not spending time with family or traveling to and from different destinations.  Or, put it another way, your normal or routine day...

The spare time you’ll have after you retire will be quite alot!  Imagine you no longer have to prepare for work and do work.  That’s easily 9-10 hours a day you’ll have left over.  *Commute time, work time, and grooming time.  

In addition, because we no longer need to work, we no longer need to dress up like we used to.  We can lounge around all day in our pajamas if we wanted to...This dressing up routine will surely add few minutes to a work day morning ritual...Shorter for men, longer for women...

On top of that, my wife no longer need to put on makeup when we’re hanging out indoors!  This easily saves her several minutes.  

We also don’t need to work after hours either.  No more answering calls when I used to be on-call, or have to answer a question from the boss.

Initial euphoria fades after retiring early...

You know when you’re on your day off, you want to just veg out and not do anything?  You’ll probably enjoy that feeling for few days or even weeks, but most people will eventually hit a wall and start up the routine again.

After the initial euphoria fades in first few months of the early retirement, you’ll need to figure out a way to fill that extra time.  I totally enjoyed my first 4 months of doing almost nothing, but even with my laid back personality, I was feeling the need for something more.  

You’ll need to find that purpose that keeps you occupied, in a good way.  This purpose, if you truly enjoy it, will make your day go by real fast, and you’ll feel great doing it.  For me, this is when I’m being creative or learning something.  I feel this way when I’m writing my blog, creating YouTube videos, or reading books.  

I feel fulfilled when doing any of these things.  It’s like I’m in a ‘zone’ where time is flying by.  For Mrs. Wandering Money Pig, that purpose is painting.  She can spend hours painting and she’ll look happy doing it while she listens to classical music in the background...

Key takeaways:

  • Plan how you’ll live after you retire.  You may spend a month or few months doing absolutely nothing, but after awhile, you’ll get bored.  You’ll start to wonder, “Is this it?”  You may feel early retirement isn’t what it’s cut out to be.  You may have expected glamorous jet setting travels to exotic locales and may have expected 24/7 vacation mode of over eating, over drinking, and spending money like there’s no tomorrow.  If this is what you planned, then you should’ve saved up several million dollars to live this celebrity-like lifestyle.  But if you’re like most people, this lifestyle isn’t feasible unless you’re a movie star who makes millions a year...*Even then, most movie stars will flame out in few years at that pace...
  • Set a realistic expectation of your early retirement.  If you’ve been planning for early retirement for some time, then you already have an idea on how to live YOUR LIFESTYLE, and not emulate others.  Being yourself is always a good motto I live by!
  • Find that thing, a purpose, that motivates and makes you happy.  I can’t tell you what that is, but you’ll need to find it.  Everyone has a different motivator for a happy life.  Find one that works for you.  

Finding a purpose in early retirement cannot be overstated.  If you have one, your early retirement will be one of fulfillment and happiness.  If you don’t have one, then it’ll be one of unhappiness and emptiness.  Find that thing before you retire.  Don’t try to find it after you retire!

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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Please check out our YouTube channel ‘Wandering Money Pig’ showcasing our travels and our Pomeranian dog! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kl9f4W9sfNG5h1l-x6nHw


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