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Old 04-15-2016, 01:14 PM   #21
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Welcome from another RE former high achieving medic.

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Originally Posted by languagefan View Post
Hello everybody,

It all went as planned. I retired early. Own a flat in Canary Islands, no debts, and a bit of saving for the rainy days. Earn enough to have a simple life as I envisaged. Published a number of books. And after 5 years life has become incredibly quiet, if not boring. I am feeling restless for I don't have enough "meaningful" activities in my life. Went to Brazil and Vietnam doing some charity work for 6 months, and now life has become painfully quiet again.

Awesome achievement! You have made a difference in people's lives. Nobody said that volunteering had to be a life sentence.

The early retirement was well deserved. I suffered from post traumatic stress working nearly a decade in war zones with Doctors Without Borders, and even though it was long time ago, I remained fragile and stress prone working as a specialist doctor later for national health services.

Of course your ER was well deserved. Enjoy it.

I come from a very high achieving family, and can't somehow deprogram my earlier programming of needing to constantly achieve high and doing "important" things to be happy.

You have probably spent a lifetime fulfilling your family's expectations, as well as your own. Try to develop some new, more modest expectations. Mine have changed completely since ER. Having a day full of rich experiences and feeling inner happiness is one of my favourites. Today was a winner!

I thought early retirement in a tranquil place, writing, and living a slower life was going to suit me, and things went perfectly and even better than planned.

I am 48, currently single, divorced with a grown up independent and successful son. I feel demotivated to fill my life with the "usual" retirement activities, have already travelled widely across more than 40 countries and travelling per se has lost its buzz. Strange enough I am stuck in the middle of my latest book which is ironically about happiness!

I wake up late as there are too many hours to fill in each day, and lay my head on the pillow with relief that the day has come to an end.

Most women around my age are working mortgage slaves, or have complex situations left from their past marriages, and I don't earn enough to take over someone else's financial responsibilities without damaging my life style big time.

Life here is incredibly comfortable and problem free that the comfort zone stops one from taking risks again and making it rough again.

How wonderful! Take the time to appreciate your good fortune every day. Share it with others too.

Having been a doctor is a kind of pain in the neck, as everybody looks baffled to hear that I retired to live a humble life and left all social "importance" and wealth associated with it behind.

I think we are mixing in different circles. Besides, who cares what people think?

Have been looking at options like doing a PhD somewhere, but it feels like complicating my life simply for the sake of it for escaping boredom!

I've taken online courses and in-person workshops for my own enjoyment, but I have decided that I don't care to take any courses that require exams. Besides three university degrees are quite enough.

I guess I am not looking for an easy answer, more like sharing, and hoping to learn from experiences of others.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:35 PM   #22
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Thanks very much for taking time to write this detailed response that was worth reading a few times. Take good care and stay well wherever you are.
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Old 04-15-2016, 02:40 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by FIREmenow View Post
Maybe the approach is wrong to some extent........

Maybe not asking "what can I find to do to fill my time", but instead "what is my real passion and where can I possibly find the time to pursue it?"

You may find the answer to the second one may not be possible in the Canary Islands.
As physicians we are hard wired to be driven, successful. As such I am not at all surprised at your feelings given your age.

I agree with this posters comment about pursuing one's passion. It isn't always about "retiring" but moving on to something else.

You clearly are intelligent and have much experience - in language, medicine and travel. It seems to me you have much knowledge and wisdom to impart to others. I realize you are writing but what about actually teaching? This can take many forms, of course.

Good luck to you!
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Old 04-15-2016, 02:45 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by FIREmenow View Post
Maybe the approach is wrong to some extent........

Maybe not asking "what can I find to do to fill my time", but instead "what is my real passion and where can I possibly find the time to pursue it?"

You may find the answer to the second one may not be possible in the Canary Islands.
This is SO true!
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Old 04-15-2016, 03:50 PM   #25
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languagefan, I am a new retiree, myself. What I am finding is that it is a bit different than I imagined. I won't say I'm "struggling" with what I'm finding, but after having life drag me around by the collar since I was old enough to send off to school, now I have almost no schedules to keep. It is a different feeling. Sometimes it exhilarates me, sometimes it makes me feel weird, like "there must be something I should be doing now"....which I attribute to all of those years when there probably really was something I should have been doing, but was just "blowing off"..

Here is how I am trying to handle it: First of all i want to at least be sure I am being healthy. Eating correctly, not too much. Getting some exercise, and healthy recreation every day (in my case that's usually golf, walking not riding in a cart). Nothing crazy, just making sure I'm not falling into any destructive habits. I like a cocktail in the evening, and I just have to be mindful not to overdo that aspect either.

As far as "empty hours", I'm just going to let that happen. I read, fiddle with the guitar, write a bit. Not force myself into anything. Keep a little house (DW still works, so I might as well make it look like I did at least one thing),

I'm looking at it like an "adolescence"...a time of change. What I want to do with this time will come to me, if I let it. My dad once told me that the best advice he got about retirement was to make no real commitments on his time for at least 6 months. I am following that advice. I'd rather have too little to do right now, than sign up for too much, and find I've traded one rat race, for another.

My partner who retired 2 years before me referred to it as "retirement guilt", which I think he meant that feeling that we should be "doing something meaningful". In other words,

"chill"...let it come to you..

good luck!
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Old 04-15-2016, 04:50 PM   #26
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Fascinating discussion - I'm OMY and I worry about the "fulfilling" aspect of no-longer-working for a paycheck. Being in the tech industry, it is very difficult to take any significant time off and then return. But then I want to set my own terms for leaving and not be forced out. So to go back and try something new? Yes possible, but scary too. No answers yet on my end but I'm enjoying the feedback.
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Old 04-15-2016, 04:58 PM   #27
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+1. I found the Get-A-Life Tree exercise in several of Zelinski's books to be very helpful.

I also suffer from a need to be productive/occupied most of the time. I find my time easy to fill Spring-Summer-Fall, but Winter is a real challenge for me...I just sorta get through some Winter days each year.
This is an interesting thread! Also interesting that this is the 2nd time in a week someone has recommended the Zelinski books and the Get-A-Life Tree to me (one outside this forum).

I'm considering ER after 30+ yrs at a Megacorp. It's been a good ride but am sensing another rough road ahead and would like to retire on my own terms if possible (me 55). If I bring ER in discussions with friends and co-workers the "what will you do with your time" comes up quite a bit.
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Old 04-16-2016, 01:09 AM   #28
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I have to say after less than 3 months my husband was very excited working for the lawyers, he is doing technically consultant. His brain has been resting on his last job, but it certainly came alive. He only put in 22 hours a week, but he doesn't have to commute. All is good.


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Old 04-16-2016, 01:46 AM   #29
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Can you start something at home like developing a new strain of a plant to make it grow better there. You could watch it for 30 years develop into something fantastic like a research garden. I read about a man who did that with peas but you could do orchids or roses or something whatever grows well where you are. Maybe develop a new cheap way to make pure water from swamp water or a transport device for the women who walk miles twice a day to carry water from a stream. The ground isn't smooth enough for a wagon or cart don't know why they can't lay pipe but over miles is expensive and they don't own the land, maybe a one wheel cart or some sort of vest to carry the water instead of a bucket on the head.
You might enjoy teaching a class or leading a tour group or helping build houses for the poor or having your own little zoo. Keep thinking.
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Old 04-16-2016, 06:24 AM   #30
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I'm a bit surprised that we don't see mare of these threads here. A lot of ERers are fairly driven or they couldn't have achieved ER in the first place. It isn't surprising that a fair number of us would decide it isn't for us. Maybe many of those folk never join a forum like this or drop out when they return to work.

I agree with FIREmenow that finding your passion would resolve the issue but there is the rub: a lot of us never do. I suspect looking for it is part of the problem. I worked with a guy who retired in his mid 50s and quickly got bored. He went back to school for that PHD you mentioned and now teaches at Colorado State. He is now happy as a clam. Turns out he stumbled into his passion at school.
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Old 04-16-2016, 07:34 AM   #31
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One of the very few things I can be jealous of: people having a singular passion. It seems easier to organize your life around that, especially in work.

One cannot jump from being a surgeon to a rocket scientist easily, alas. There is one serious advantage you have now in being FI: you can explore much wider.

So apart from the get-a-life tree exercise I'd suggest to explore: try something, see if you like it. If that excites you even for a few days, that's success right there. Even if it then fades away.

A few meditation books might also be helpful. That can help you being happy doing nothing at all, without any goals etc. This can be a good start: The Skill of Happiness - Matthieu Ricard

Or just watch the author's Ted talk to start somewhere: Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness | TED Talk | TED.com

Just random pointers, might be useless for you. In any case, make sure you keep getting the basics right: eat well, get regular exercise, make sure you have some social interaction / love in your life.
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Old 04-16-2016, 08:06 AM   #32
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LanguageFan - you have a hole in your life and that can be answered by 2 things:

1) looking for a companion that shares your interest (a wife or lady) who likes the same interest or can interact with you in a more intellectual and spiritual level. If you have that someone, it will fill your life.

2) If you decide to remain single, and you want to fill that void and are tired of traveling or doing worldly stuff, you'd want to lead a Buddhist life of meditation. Searching for the meaning of life takes more than 10 - 15 years, and that could fill your time. The master monks in Tibetan lead quieter lives by living in a cave and meditating in that cave for 15 - 25 years alone. Much more quieter than what you have described. I've met a couple of monks like that, being a Tibetan Buddhist. You don't have to be an cave ascetic, but you can spend a couple of hours a day in meditation. By emptying your mind, you see more of the universe .. your mind expands beyond the physical. After these monks are enlightened, they don't need worldly stimulus to make their life full. It's amazing just being around them.
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Old 04-16-2016, 08:10 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by languagefan View Post
Having been a doctor is a kind of pain in the neck, as everybody looks baffled to hear that I retired to live a humble life and left all social "importance" and wealth associated with it behind.

Have been looking at options like doing a PhD somewhere, but it feels like complicating my life simply for the sake of it for escaping boredom!

I guess I am not looking for an easy answer, more like sharing, and hoping to learn from experiences of others.
Hi languagefan. Even though you are a doctor, have you thought about seeing another doctor - one that helps people deal with depression? I'm just guessing but it sounds like you might find some help there.
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Old 04-16-2016, 10:26 AM   #34
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Quotes from Richard Bach
Quote:
If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.
Quote:
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
I retired a year ago and every one expected I'd be back in a couple week, 6 months at most. I've always been a driven person, but taking some time out of the rat race has been good for me. I've learned a lot about myself.
One thing I was going to do was learn to operate a machine shop. I started off with a model engine project. I've put that on hold, not because I don't want to operate it, but I don't really need a show case in my living room of model engines like my father in law had. It just doesn't do it for me. But I have another project that needs a couple of custom metal pieces... so I'll go make those.
I think it is best to find a passion and work toward it. Some people need the work to provide the goals or structure, some don't. Retirement does not mean you can't do things that look like work. I'm setting up a lab so I can design electrical devices... and other projects.
Look at were you can make a difference for others or yourself. What do you want to figure out, make, or change. If you get your self worth from others... this can be a problem.
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:15 AM   #35
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Thanks very much for all comments posted on this thread. Reading some felt very emotional.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not in any form or way short of ideas about how to fill my time! No!

Through last five years I have done a diploma in educational coaching, learned to cook various world cuisines to professional level and helped friends entertain many people on different occasions, travelled abroad 8 times for a good length of time, published a number of books, learned Spanish from 0 to fluent, taught Spanish and English to a number of acquaintances, did some extensive gardening and tree surgery to help revive a big piece of land of a friend, organised hiking trips and picnics for younger travellers every weekend for about two years, went to Brazil and Vietnam helping NGOs, and hosted many couchsurfers. I read extensively on Buddhist literature, and joined different yoga, meditation and alternative groups. I organised a few dance workshops which continued a short while. And I bought a fantastic apartment from bank foreclosures through lengthy written negotiations in a foreign language when I was a beginner, and I also helped three other friends do the same. I also gave up driving to be physically more active walking out and about (And yes, of course I sought medical advice, and I don't suffer from depression, remember most of us don't feel brave enough to share our vulnerabilities with others this openly , many of us don't even admit them to ourselves!).

In fact at some point, I spent so much time on my laptop/iPad working on my last book, and spent so much time reading online that wrist and back pain showed me my limit and made me incapable of computer work for a few months.

Then one day, I gave up this compulsive need to be an active leisure and pleasure agent. It was exhausting. What I lack now more than anything else is motivation and meaning in my life. And probably more than that to unlearn all my childhood programming that makes me identify my value with how productive I am work-wise.

I don't know for sure whether the social status, and public attention and recognition I received in the past is an important factor, or my upbringing and family ambitions.

Yes, I know what others think should not matter, but in real life, the disappointed and confused looks and comments of every stranger, date, or acquaintance (some of whom have done nothing whatsoever with their lives!), when they hear that you were a high flying, high earning doctor, and then resigned to writing a book every now and again, pierces through your soul one way or another.

The last straw on camel's back that led to my ER was when I learned that my role model, the man I worshipped, who was a fellow doctor, broadly published author, and medical business man, died of stress induced heart disease at the very young age of 54!

What I know is that my subconscious mind plays the most important role. I enjoy the evenings with a comedy or documentary that I watch eating the food that I have cooked. Why?! Because you are allowed to chill in the evening without feeling guilty. And funny enough, weekends are allowed to a certain degree as well! But I can't enjoy watching my favourite comedy during the day! I feel alright reading news, or something that helps make my Spanish more solid. I don't like to go shopping during the day even if the fridge is empty, probably because I find myself among the "wrong" lot of people, or within the wrong time of the day to be choosing between different kinds of peanut butter!

I know that meeting a woman with whom I share values and hobbies would definitely help. Yet, those women are normally working to pay their mortgage, and not many women with similar ambitions and passions of my age around on a sunny Island. I have dated a few times, and believe me or not, most women don't really feel amused by the idea of seeing a very highly educated and able bodied man of my age living a slow life of pleasure and leisure, when in fact he could produce **** load of money (even if that is at the expense of being in 2,000,000 debt!). And I look so well when I am well that people can't possibly imagine how unwell I could have been when stress used to break my back.

My ER was definitely the right decision as my previous life style was going to kill me sooner or later. And I planned everything by the book -then- being sure that ER in a nice and tranquil place and writing would satisfy me. On the other hand life is so comfortable and trouble free, and finances are so marginally and only marginally perfect, that I find myself trapped in this most desirable little paradise. I can't possibly find my previous positions in the medical world again, and can't afford living the same quality of life in a fast and expensive EU capital.

Writing this thread and reading through your words is helping put things in perspective. More so, as most of you are being incredibly tactful in your use of language and sharing your wisdom for which I am grateful.
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:32 AM   #36
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Keep looking, she's out there somewhere. Mine is sleeping in my bed right now with my dog cuddled up next to her. She was one of the "rich husband, big house, big parties" kind of gal until her husband started dating younger women and she was down the road. It's taken a while but I think she is understanding the value of paid off smaller houses and going places and eating well.

Good luck!
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:34 AM   #37
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.... I don't like to go shopping during the day even if the fridge is empty, probably because I find myself among the "wrong" lot of people, or within the wrong time of the day to be choosing between different kinds of peanut butter!
I'm pretty sure there's no wrong time of day to be choosing between different kinds of peanut butter. Either that, or I've been doing it wrong for the last 50+years.
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:42 AM   #38
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"chill"...let it come to you..
+10! Boom!
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:44 AM   #39
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@Robbie: will do. And thanks for sharing the beauty of a good moment of your life with us.
@redduck: you made me laugh loud! Thanks
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Old 04-16-2016, 12:40 PM   #40
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Languagefan, congratulaions on ER!

I am planning to ER in 2017 at age 57 after I sell our business and currently am going thru similar feelings of how I can productively fill my day.

I believe we all do need a purpose in life which gives us pleasure and a sense of direction. This purpose changes as one ages and goes thru life's various stages. Usually in the 50's people look forward to their children settling down and thereafter look forward to the arrival of grand kids. Grandkid can potentially create a new purpose in people's lives. I am not there yet because my youngest is still in college.

Hope you can find an ideal partner who fulfills your life or alternately you can be a foster parent or even adopt a child. Having someone to care for (wife or child) will surely change your life's purpose.

Cheers!
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