Mothers won’t agree, but nine months sure flies by!

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Retirement is full of changes, and after nine months that isn’t any different. Nine months or around 40 weeks is regarded as the average length of a full term pregnancy for humans. From my own family’s experience, I wouldn’t say that those months sail by unnoticed. Expecting moms experience a seemingly never-ending series of changes, many of which are unpleasant or uncomfortable. A new addition to the family is of course a happy outcome and that makes it all well worth it!

This week marks nine months since I left the workplace and my career of 23 years. In most respects, it is hard for me to believe that it has already been that long! I believe that feeling would be even more so were it not for the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lifestyle changes it has manifested for us all. But even in the atmosphere of lockdowns, reduced travel, and limited social interactions, I would say that time has passed quickly. Has there been a “birth” of some project or new venture that will define my next phase of life? Not yet, but as we’ll discuss, that isn’t a problem in the least!

What is the same and what’s changed after nine months?

As I did at the six month milestone, I thought it would be useful to review how things have been going across an array of categories. But I’ll try a new article format in the interest of keeping things fresh!

  • Schedule:
    • I’m still largely using mornings for a mixture of entertainment consumption, chores, and my daily walk. If I have a busy day ahead, I often cook dinner in the morning as well. For those who don’t know me – yes, I’m still up before dawn! That is seemingly just me and has nothing to do with whether I’m working or not.
    • Afternoons remain largely for skill-building and education that may yield my next project or business venture. Importantly, I’ve increased the overall time I’ve spent on this area!
    • I have a couple of Zoom happy hours each week and these remain an important outlet to stay connected to good friends, family, and former colleagues. I feel like I’m talking to the last group less these days, barring a select few people. I’m a bit sad about that given how many colleagues I enjoyed hanging out with. But from my reading I know this is common. Work tied those relationships together and with that gone and with little travel happening, it makes sense.
  • Skill building and making:
    • I’ve pushed much harder to make progress on my iOS development journey in recent months. I’ve now completed or made significant progress on three courses. I’ve also released a simple app on the Apple Store, and developed several others just for the entertainment of myself and some friends.
    • I’m still cooking a lot! I managed to make all seven of the Oaxacan moles (my recipe database is here), which was an extension of a long-standing bucket list item (make mole negro). But I’ve now moved onto Indian cuisine! I’m really enjoying this change and since we have no Indian restaurants in town, it’s rather self-serving. ?
    • I am learning tons about YouTube, video production, and a host of other things from the Two Sides of FI project that my friend Eric and I have begun. It’s still early days for the channel but I remain excited about the different directions it may go. I have much to learn so this needs to take even more of my time and I’m working on that presently!
  • Giving:
    • I had always planned to do more volunteer work in “retirement”, particularly since my financial giving is way down from when I was working. I’ve recently started volunteering once a week at our local COVID vaccination clinic and am really enjoying the gratification I get from it. I felt needed at work and volunteering is filling that gap!
    • I am also taking more phone calls from friends and former colleagues who are interested in early retirement, have financial planning questions, or related topics. At the core this is just being a good friend. I am happy that I now have the time to devote to such things without concern for what work or tasks are being put off, and I enjoy it.
  • Fun:
    • My family is still enjoying learning about our new home in the Central Coast of CA. We’ve continued to explore area hiking, as well as the many wineries and breweries in our town and close by. We are ever thankful for our temperate climate given the need for outdoor activities during COVID restrictions. Location, location, location!
    • Socialization remains as it has been for most of us – very limited. We have one couple we see occasionally and this has been a vital outlet. Moving away from friends and being geographically distant from family has been tough when combined with our present circumstance – and the opposite of what I’d planned after leaving work.
    • While I had been enjoying getting back into the World of Warcraft game, I haven’t played in a few weeks. First, a good friend with whom I enjoyed playing, has been busy with other things. Second, I’ve been enjoying my other pursuits so much that gaming time wasn’t a priority. Don’t worry: I’m far from being done with gaming, of course!
  • Emotional
    • As at the six month time point, my mental state remains… ever changing! Though I’m happy to report that the variability is now much less so. I still have days where my usual excitement about figuring out “what comes next” turns into concern or is otherwise unpleasant. On the whole those days are much rarer now, which is great!
    • I’m also working on taking time to clear my head and allow for uninterrupted thinking. I’ve realized that I have some bad habits to break, and some easy remedies have included taking my walks in silence and not bringing my phone. This is definitely a development area for me but I know it is one that will pay off many-fold!

So what’s next?

As I wrote above, there is no “birth announcement” about what comes next – YET. At times I find myself feeling like that means I’m somehow behind the curve. But it is at these times that I remind myself of my plan – I now have the freedom to take the time (or not) required to figure out what comes next. Skills building and pure educational time is a central and essential aspect of that! Importantly, there is no pressure to keep to any specific schedule. The hallmark of achieving financial independence is a lack of any requirement to “do something” that will generate income. I’m seeking the “next thing” because I want to, and am excited to create / do / experience something new!

I remain absolutely convinced that one of my many wandering paths will yield the fruit that will manifest as a central element of this next phase in my life. As my good friend Eric reminds me, most often you have to try and “fail” at a variety of things before you land on the one about which you are truly passionate and that will produce what you are seeking. This is so different than what projects in my work life were like, so it’s no surprise that at times I find myself forgetting that is indeed the nature of the beast! But I’m getting better about remembering that. I’ve got a few irons in the fire that could turn out to be that thing – but I’m totally OK if they are not! It’s all learning, growth, and yes – fun.

Once again, I am thankful for all those who are experiencing this journey with me – whether through the blog, the YouTube channel, or just in conversation. Your input and guidance means a lot. Most of all, I am grateful for my family. This is a huge change for all of us still – even nine months later. I am so thankful for the strong support I get even in my most uncertain of moods. I am excited for all that is still to come and know that it will be a great adventure!

image credit: “time flies” by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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