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Hi, I'm FIRE and loving it, but . . .
Old 11-11-2010, 01:42 PM   #1
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Hi, I'm FIRE and loving it, but . . .

After 6 years of ER (quit my executive position at 50), I just found this forum, but have been thinking about such a site for years. When working, I of course had many colleagues with whom I could discuss work issues. Since then, really no one to discuss retirement issues (former colleagues don't want to hear it . . .). Until now -- Nice!

I'm happy not to ever work for anyone else again, and financially able to live in a vibrant area (half hour from San Francisco) with endless things to do. No kids, no mortgage. Wife and I travel a great deal, and enjoy our stay at home activities, too. For me, that means outdoor stuff, staying fit (better than I've been in 20+ years), cooking and eating better, reading and learning new subjects, paying attention to public affairs, etc. Lately, some volunteering at public schools -- closest thing to a "job" since retiring.

I've experienced a lot of the positives (mostly) and negatives (some) discussed elsewhere in the forum, without listing them here. Future discussions I may like to participate in: Though I wouldn't trade my new life for old, it still isn't . . . complete. Though I'm constantly busy, I feel I need something big to do. I'm considering options for starting a business -- not for money, but for the challenge and purpose it can provide. Or, maybe not . . .. The mental approach, and self-esteem issues, for most ER'd American men who had hard-driving careers are a big deal.

Life is good. How to maximize its rewards . . ..
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:38 PM   #2
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Welcome, emitch.

There are lots of great people on this forum to discuss anything with.... be it retirement-related or not. Bacon is a perennial favorite as are dryer sheets. LOL

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Old 11-11-2010, 02:49 PM   #3
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Welcome Emitch.
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:55 PM   #4
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Lately, some volunteering at public schools -- closest thing to a "job" since retiring.
Hello and welcome.

I'm curious specifically what you do for volunteer work at public schools. I've done volunteer adult literacy tutoring in the past but after 5+ years decided to try a few other things. I've thought about calling the local public schools to see what I might do there, as education is the area in which I'm primarily interested in volunteering. But something has always stopped me - probably the thought of working with kids at my age.

I'd be interested in any experiences you'd care to share.
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Old 11-11-2010, 03:20 PM   #5
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Welcome! My husband and I are not FIRE'd yet, but I had a thought about your search for something "big" to do.

I've been thinking more about the volunteer experience recently and it occurs to me that many people who are new to volunteering may not make a distinction between volunteering to provide services to others (food bank, meals on wheels, tutoring kids) versus volunteering to make changes in the community (advocating for neighborhood improvement, changing problematic policies at local or state levels).

I volunteer with a nonprofit group that does advocacy work and there are more big things we'd like to accomplish than I would ever have the time for. I feel lucky to know and work alongside these people. I've volunteered with service groups and although they do great work I got much less satisfaction from it.

So if you (or anyone) is looking for something meaningful, one place to look might be local groups who are working on something you care about. I know some people hear "advocacy" and think "Eww, politics, no thanks" but there are plenty of issues to work on that don't require impassioned public speeches or standing on street corners with protest signs. It just needs to be something that resonates with you personally.
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:59 PM   #6
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Welcome to the board, emitch.

When I discovered this place over six years ago, my concern was that ER seemed too easy. What was I missing?!? The answer was that I wasn't missing a thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emitch View Post
Though I wouldn't trade my new life for old, it still isn't . . . complete. Though I'm constantly busy, I feel I need something big to do. I'm considering options for starting a business -- not for money, but for the challenge and purpose it can provide. Or, maybe not . . .. The mental approach, and self-esteem issues, for most ER'd American men who had hard-driving careers are a big deal.
Life is good. How to maximize its rewards . . ..
Before you start that "big thing" you'd probably want to understand why you're not satisfied with the status quo. Gotta take responsibility for your own entertainment and not seek it from the gilded cage comforting structure of the office environment. You should have a goal to work toward, not a big gaping hole to run away from.

Of course the solution to your question could reside in figuring out why we must feel that we have to maximize the rewards of a life that's already good.

Sure, life is good. But... but... but maybe we can crank the slope on that hedonic treadmill up to 11+!
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:00 PM   #7
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Friar, you should definitely look into the local school volunteering possibilities. I work with high schools helping teachers by providing one-on-one student assistance/tutoring for in-class assignments. These classes typically have over 30 students, and the teacher is often consumed with class management matters (volunteers don't cross that line -- only provide academic help). In public high schools, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear, most kids couldn't care less about getting help, but a few in every class really need and want it. Helping them is personally rewarding, and the teacher will appreciate it more than you can imagine. Elementary and middle school kids are probably more receptive, I think, but it depends . . ..

I've met other volunteers of all ages, from 20's to 70-ish, so I don't think age matters much (as long as you are "quick" enough to deal with the kids).

The only potential problem is getting in the door. I work through a volunteer organization that is affiliated with the city's school district, and they "certify" me (not a big deal - a half day class, and a TB vaccination) to be in the classroom with kids. It is hard to just call a school and get in, but that is certainly a way to start, even if it is to find out how to proceed. Every district I assume could have a different process.

I should warn you about something else I have found. In today's high pressure environment for teachers there are many who, even though they certainly need help, won't ask for it because of a paranoia regarding outsiders spying on their job performance. But, given this exists to varying degrees (more in budget-cutting big cities, I suspect), remember that in every school there will be at least a few teachers who are self-confident or courageous enough to want a volunteer in their class. Ideally, this is why a third party group that provides volunteers directly to requesting teachers is better than going through a school principal, for example. You want to be in a classroom where the teacher really wants you. They are out there, you can find one.

Good luck.
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:07 PM   #8
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I feel I need something big to do.
Welcome to the board.

Here's my suggestion as for something big, something worthy !

Start making the world's largest rubber band ball or ball of string. And people who meet you will remember you and talk about you long after you are gone.

Notice from the photo that if you put your string ball outside then you have to chain it down. Otherwise someone might steal it from you and take the credit.





Tin Foil Ball
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:11 PM   #9
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Good points, Nords, thanks.

In fact, my wife is perfectly content with the "good life" we live, with none of the yearning I have whatsoever. Yes, it's satisfaction, or disappointment, that comes from internal psychological factors (or demons, as the case may be). We all could use some self-analysis on these matters . . ..
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:23 PM   #10
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Blaster, Why didn't I think of that . . !!
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #11
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Though I wouldn't trade my new life for old, it still isn't . . . complete. Though I'm constantly busy, I feel I need something big to do. I'm considering options for starting a business -- not for money, but for the challenge and purpose it can provide. . . ..
I can relate to this, to a certain extent. I retired this past January, and although I love my recreational/hobby/fitness pursuits (and especially the ability to enjoy them whenever I want to now), I also felt the need to do something that perhaps better satisfies that "purpose" you describe. So, for me, I've become involved with a few organizations that advocate for causes that I believe strongly in. These are organizations I have supported (in a small way) for years, but never had time to really get involved with (in a major way) until I retired. I write articles for their newsletters, attend meetings to represent the organization when that's called for, and basically do whatever they need me to do to help out. It's been very satisfying (and also frustrating at times), but in the end it does make me feel like I am contributing to a larger cause.

I'm sure this approach won't work for everyone, but it works for me. With the balance between this work and my other (more selfish) pursuits, life in retirement is pretty complete for me.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:23 PM   #12
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Welcome, Emitch. I must say this is a great thread and reflects how we all feel about ER. I too sometimes have the need of something big to do and whilst I've identified a few possible things, I doubt I can get myself immersed with it now. I think I'll like to enjoy a few more carefree years of ER first. But just to share, one of those things I've identified is a charity organisation to provide education and prepare kids/teens/young adults for working life. It requires a half year commitment for every intake - can't miss the classes which are twice a week. That is a bit taxing for me now as I only ER this year - will think about it later.
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:02 PM   #13
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You are retired. Why not just do whatever it is that makes you happy? Shouldn't that be fulfilling enough? If it makes you happy, isn't it "big"? The things that make me happy may be irrelevant to some/most people, but because they make me happy I see them as something big.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:40 AM   #14
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Friar, you should definitely look into the local school volunteering possibilities...They are out there, you can find one.

Good luck.
emitch, thank you for your comprehensive reply. I'm actually retired in a fairly rural area (in Vermont) and I think getting into a school might be a little more low-key than in a larger district. I do have one indirect connection with the local high school already (I'm the chairman of the American Legion scholarship committee in our area), so that might be an in. I agree with your comments about some teachers and their "paranoia;" I noticed that at the adult learning center where I previously taught. Some of the paid staff initially seemed to feel threatened by me a bit.

Thanks for your help.

BTW, my earlier screen name used to be "jtmitch" - maybe we're related!
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:50 AM   #15
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This is a common theme from those who retire early but I must admit perplexes me a bit and makes me question if I am just weird, lazy, selfish or all the above?

I am absolutely obsessed about not working one day longer than I have to. (I have a mega corp middle management job). To me, I can't imagine needing to do "something important" in retirement. I want to sleep in, watch a lot of tv, get a lot more exercise, cook and eat well, visit with friends and family, and watch a lot of sports while enjoying drinks with friends! This is basically called "weekends" right now for me and I want to do it full-time!! LOL

I do not feel the need to do anything meaningful now nor can imagine ever feeling the need to do that. I feel I have 20 years of striving for that goal which has mostly just made the people above me in the organization wealthy.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:59 AM   #16
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...I can't imagine needing to do "something important" in retirement.

I do not feel the need to do anything meaningful now nor can imagine ever feeling the need to do that.
+1

Since retiring five years ago I've done extensive research of the above. I've learned being retired is "something important" and "meaningful" in it's own right.
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Old 11-12-2010, 10:31 AM   #17
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Great discussion, folks, thanks.

Skyvue, I completely understand, and have been living the "every day is a weekend" life you describe for six years, knowing it is the life goal of most people. I wouldn't for a minute try to convince you, or RAWahoo or old.snake, that it isn't what you should be doing.

It's just that for some people, including perhaps RAE, Moscyn, and I, it isn't enough to sustain the happiness. It isn't a matter of "cranking the slope on the hedonic treadmill up to +11" (I like that), Nord, but more like not letting it slowly fall below 10, 9, 8, . . .. Working for someone else and making them wealthy (my old job description, too, and I was good at it) isn't the answer, as we all know.

Here's an admission. I realize that my FIRE life is the envy of most people, and whenever I hear from my working friends I'm reminded again how good I have it. But, there is only one very, very small group of people who I envy. Those who LOVE their job. Not the many who claim to love their job, just to rationalize their life of entrapment, but those who really, truly love their job -- you can see it in their work -- and wouldn't trade it for anything, pay or no pay. It's often seen in the arts, sports, or jobs where there is direct helping of others, but it just needs to be a perfect match of work purpose and worker personality. It's one of the few life experiences I never had. I get a little taste of this now in the many enjoyable things I do, and occasionally in doing charity work. Just wonder if it isn't too late to look for that . . . perfect, fulfilling, work for myself or along side others, no jerks, not too much time taken away from my other fun, no commute traffic, labor of love.

Or, to set the bar a little realistically lower, helping with local advocacy/charity organizations, as a couple of you have mentioned, may be just the right balance . . ..
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Old 11-12-2010, 11:05 AM   #18
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You only live once. You sound energetic and capable. If you want to do something big go ahead and do it. Ever thought of starting some kind of non-profit? Or organizing volunteers for a one time project?
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Old 11-12-2010, 12:22 PM   #19
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"You only live once." That says it all, Martha. Each individual has their own interpretation of what that means to him/her.

Yes, that's exactly along the lines I'm thinking, perhaps starting a non-profit or, easier, doing some one time big projects. Thanks.
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Old 11-12-2010, 05:29 PM   #20
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But, there is only one very, very small group of people who I envy. Those who LOVE their job. Not the many who claim to love their job, just to rationalize their life of entrapment, but those who really, truly love their job -- you can see it in their work -- and wouldn't trade it for anything, pay or no pay. It's often seen in the arts, sports, or jobs where there is direct helping of others, but it just needs to be a perfect match of work purpose and worker personality. It's one of the few life experiences I never had. I get a little taste of this now in the many enjoyable things I do, and occasionally in doing charity work. Just wonder if it isn't too late to look for that . . . perfect, fulfilling, work for myself or along side others, no jerks, not too much time taken away from my other fun, no commute traffic, labor of love.
It sure is nice to see someone else note this, something I've shared here many times. A few people even get angry when you mention this small group of IMO lucky people, swearing no one loves their job.

I've been very fortunate with my career - if for no other reason that it's brought me to FI. But while it's had it's great moments/events, I never really loved it. I am thinking about retiring soon, to find that job I truly LOVE for at least some of the years of my life. Few people ever get to join that small group...I may try.

We're all on our own paths, nothing wrong with most of them...
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