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Some days I’m shocked to realize how long it’s been since I left the workplace. Just a few days ago marked six months! This means it’s time for me to write another milestones post and reflect upon how things have gone. I’ve now been “retired” and in this next phase of life twice as long as when I wrote my three month post, and while much is the same, there have indeed been changes…
Many things remain the same as after three months
Largely, my daily routine – as much as one can call it that since it does vary, is unchanged. I wake around the same time, and I tend to do the same chores after my early morning “catch up on all the shows and movies I missed in recent years” session. Once the day gets rolling, things become a bit more variable. I’m still doing the vast majority of cooking for my family, and am enjoying it tremendously. I often prepare dinners in the morning, as I find it a great start to the day. I’m overdue to make another Mexican mole, but you’ll see in my Notion recipe database that I’ve now made six different styles! I also take my daily walk before noon most days, and I’ve kept up my trend of listening to lots of audiobooks. Lately I’ve been filling in the gaps in my Malcolm Gladwell catalog, which I’ve really enjoyed.
After lunch tends to be when I focus on personal development and self-improvement. As in previous months, that largely involves improving my coding skills, specifically Swift for iOS apps. I’m still not sure to what this will lead, but I’m enjoying it and it always feels productive for me when I get a couple of hours in. I also spend one afternoon a week writing this blog. To be honest, sometimes it feels more like a chore to get started. I’m no longer working so I don’t really want to feel scheduled, right? However, once I get going and particularly once I’m done, it’s really fulfilling. I really do get a lot out of processing what I’m feeling and capturing it in writing. It’s the main self-improvement activity I undertake presently.
Unfortunately, one thing that also remains the same is the way the COVID-19 pandemic necessarily restrains me and the family from undertaking travel and other fun pursuits. Since we moved just over five months ago, that means we still don’t really know many people other than our immediate neighbors. As a result, our ability to socialize, even outdoors and at a distance, is quite limited. We’ve made a couple of friends via wineries, and that’s really great. But otherwise my primary outlet for human contact outside of my family is via social media and Zoom happy hours. The latter remain really important to me, and those two evenings each week are times I really enjoy. I know this circumstance is not permanent, and that we are of course all going through it, but it is certainly an odd thing in combination with leaving the workplace. It can feel pretty lonely at times, for sure.
So what’s new? There are always new surprises to uncover
On the lighter side, I’ve been really surprised how until recently, I haven’t spent tons of time playing video games. Gaming has always been important to me, and I often commented about how I’d use retirement to catch up on titles I’d missed or to replay favorites. All that changed after the latest World of Warcraft expansion launched a few weeks ago. Now I really enjoy some game time each day – particularly late evening when I get really tired watching TV. On the flipside, it was also unexpected that I haven’t been playing more tabletop/board games since leaving the workplace. Lorri and I really enjoy them, and I’d assumed we’d get back in the habit once I had much more free time. While I know this will change – we’re going to set aside time each week – it was unexpected to be sure.
A much bigger surprise for me has been that I would have any interest in something even remotely related to my former work. Don’t worry, I’m not pining to get back into a corporate job! Rather, I’ve enjoying taking a few consulting calls each month. These are largely just an hour commitment each time, so not something that competes with my other pursuits. However, I’ve found it fulfilling to act in an advisory role, and the income it produces with little effort is certainly appreciated. I don’t feel at all compelled to expand the amount of time I spend on this, but I am enjoying the few hours I take on. It’s nice to use my brain in a comfortable way and in addition feel like I’m helping others. This may well change once I’m able to do in-person volunteer work after things improve. That’s something I’d definitely planned to do that hasn’t really been possible to date.
On an emotional level, much remains as before – and by that I mean highly variable though on the whole very positive. That said, at times I feel like I’ve struggled with adapting to my new “retired” life. I’ve realized how important the positive validation I used to get from work was, and how its absence makes me feel. At times I’ve felt under-appreciated despite my efforts to contribute, and that has led me to be a bit short with my family. That’s definitely not something I anticipated and certainly not something I am happy about. I’ve learned that I need to be more open about what I’m feeling and work to understand the root cause and how to deal with it appropriately. Of course, any big change can provoke strong emotions, and leaving the workplace certainly qualifies. I believe working through these feelings will make me a stronger and better person for it! Therefore I am grateful for these emotions, even though they are challenging at times.
These are just a few of the things I’ve noted to be the same or different since my last milestone post. I hope you have found this to be informative. So much is written about how to FIRE, and as such tends to be very focused on financial matters. As I’ve tried to do since the start, my aim here is to make things more personal.
Even with all the twists and turns that come with massive life changes – particularly the trifecta of a pandemic, moving to a new area, and leaving the workplace – I remain really excited and appreciative of my post-FIRE existence. Despite the changes since my last milestone post, one critical thing that remains the same is my certainty that I’ve made the right choice. I am thrilled to have the freedom to spend my time as I want, and to not be on someone else’s schedule, operating against their priorities. At times that huge opportunity can still feel overwhelming, but on the whole it is less so than it was early on.
I look forward to all that is to come and that means the great times as well as the challenges! I am so fortunate to have the wonderful and supportive family I have and to be on this journey with them. I am also grateful for you, my readers, for your continued support and your feedback. I wish you all the very best of good health, well being, and happiness.
PS – I hope most of you got and appreciated The Princess Bride reference in the post title and the associated image. Wallace Shawn’s portrayal of Vizzini is a favorite of mine and I’m sure of many of you as well. I’m overdue for a rewatch! If only Lorri enjoyed it as well…
image credit: https://villains.fandom.com/wiki/Vizzini