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Retired early and baffled!
Old 04-15-2016, 09:55 AM   #1
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Retired early and baffled!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:12 AM   #2
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Welcome, languagefan.

Your situation is unusual, but there are many folks here with unusual situations of different kinds. One thing not so unusual is how some others react to those of us who have given up position/power/status for the ER life - many of us get the "baffled" reaction.

I found Ernie Zelinski's books helpful in getting over the hump of "I should still be doing something important", which I hit about a year after ER.

Hope you enjoy the fellowship here. We look forward to hearing more from you!
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:15 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by languagefan View Post
I come from a very high achieving family
If it helps, most people would consider early retirement a very high achievement indeed.

You'll get more useful input from others here, but that just leaped out at me.

Welcome!
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:21 AM   #4
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@MBAustin: thanks for your response. I will look in to the book you mentioned. Even though I have read in depth from Buddhist teachings and literature, being a medic tells me that a sense of "newness", stimulation and purpose, are somehow inherent to us, and may be crucial for our happiness.

@braum...: thanks for your comment. I will ponder more on that.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MBAustin View Post
Welcome, languagefan.

Your situation is unusual, but there are many folks here with unusual situations of different kinds. One thing not so unusual is how some others react to those of us who have given up position/power/status for the ER life - many of us get the "baffled" reaction.

I found Ernie Zelinski's books helpful in getting over the hump of "I should still be doing something important", which I hit about a year after ER.

Hope you enjoy the fellowship here. We look forward to hearing more from you!
+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.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:28 AM   #6
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I retired early 14 months ago at 54 from a pretty successful engineering management career which paid well and required high achievement. My first few months after retirement were about resting and catching up with loved ones, then the "should I be doing more" hit. After a few months of somewhat struggling for a new routine and "achievement anxiety", I've discovered that pursuing my art (painting, quilting, weaving) seems to be fulfilling me in ways I hadn't expected. I'm not sure how long I'll feel this way, but am enjoying the new normal routine, which continues to include time with loved ones.


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Old 04-15-2016, 10:42 AM   #7
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@Midpack: Thanks. I had thought of winters and that is why I moved to Tenerife where eternal sprng allows you to be out and about all year round.

@Texcurtis: thanks. I came to this point after trying many different activities. Organised hiking activities for youth, did a bit of art work with a friend who is an artist, hosted almost 60 couchsurfers, and organised picnics for them. Learned To speak Spanish (my 6th language) fluently, and brushed my French, taught Spanish to new coming expats, and English to locals..and at some point all these felt like compulsive filling of my time, and I felt exhausted with this compulsive need to fill my time....
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:46 AM   #8
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I can't relate very well to having nothing to do as I am always thinking about some big or small idea, project or adventure.

Is there something you always wanted to do but never had the guts? Do you like sailing or boating? Any hobbies that you might like to pursue? Hiking, camping, outdoor stuff?
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:03 AM   #9
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@Fermion: Glad for you. I guess I answered your Q earlier above.
The only thing that I have never done nor had the guts to do was to start a business from zero and make it successful. Having said that crisis has hit Spain really hard, and there are very few lines of business you can run here in Canary Islands. I have been exploring this over last 5 years, and as I should risk my only savings, I have not found something that I want to risk it yet.
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Don't be baffled language Fan
Old 04-15-2016, 11:08 AM   #10
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Don't be baffled language Fan

High achievers seem to have the hardest time with E.R. Perhaps all you needed was an extended break.

Many people, including a bunch on this forum, have similar thoughts, frustrations, etc. You're still young and, if you need to pull the plug on E.R., go ahead and get back into the game. I'm unsure if the concept of permanent retirement makes sense for any of us. Recovering from Burn Out takes time but, if you're recovered, don't let your confusion with E.R. hold you back.

I have had similar thoughts and in trying to figure it out, have read as much as I could find on the topic. One of the most useful books, for me, is The Retirement Maze. One of the authors retired early (at 51), became disillusioned, wrote the book and eventually returned to his profession.

Good Luck.
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:26 AM   #11
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@Tracy: many thanks. Food for thought. My ER didn't come about only solely for fun, and leisure. Stress of working as a senior health manager kept driving me to serious nervous breakdowns due to past history of post traumatic stress. So, I don't have a good reason to feel guilty about not achieving high and often now. It's a kind of catch 22 situation. It's a complex mix of emotions, upbringing, ambitions, previous high achievements, greed, ego, lack of social importance, reactions of others, mindset not fully ready for the "defined" retirement entitlement.
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by languagefan View Post
....and at some point all these felt like compulsive filling of my time, and I felt exhausted with this compulsive need to fill my time....
I wouldn't think the goal is finding other ways to fill up your time in an attempt to fend off your compulsive needs. You've been able to fill up your time doing very worthwhile stuff so far, but it sounds as if that strategy is breaking down. Maybe it's time to deal with the exhausting compulsion itself.
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:04 PM   #13
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How about working one or two days a week ? That would get you up and about but leave plenty of time for other stuff. There's always a need for doctors in special situations where you could work out some sort of arrangement.
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:27 PM   #14
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A feeling of disorientation after retirement is not at all unusual. Here are three books I found to be outstanding and which I posted on another thread dealing with the qualitative side of retirement. I highly recommend them to support you in this exciting new phase of your life.

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Old 04-15-2016, 12:57 PM   #15
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I am not ERd, but have found activity/exercise goals and events to be very helpful to keep me sane when other aspects of life move into the insane area. Of course where you are, there may not be many staged events, but maybe traveling to a few would be a possibility.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:00 PM   #16
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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.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:05 PM   #17
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This may be a cultural issue where you say you come from a high achieving family where "doing important work" is viewed as the key to happiness.

I'd start there.

I grew up around a few trust funders who never worked a day in their life--much less at anything even vaguely important--and they're quite happy with their little art studios and boat/car restorations. They couldn't care less about what others or family think or what their 'contribution' to society might be.

It's a matter of what you--and others expect of yourself.

You retired early and are living in the Canary Islands for crying out loud! Sounds pretty successful to me!!

If your main issue is boredom from lack of intellectual stimulation, maybe you need to find something as simple as tutoring, a local city project or something similar; something that forces you to get out there.

Again, I'd start by sitting on the beach at Tenerife with a drink and getting your arms around what is hanging you up, which seems to be family expectations, either real or imagined.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:06 PM   #18
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I've recently been working through some of the same things as I get prepared for retiring in my late-50s. I'm wondering what life will be like after my work-related validation indicia are gone; the title is gone, the big office is gone, and the valuable and important work is gone.

Unlike many here, I genuinely enjoy my work, but, ultimately, I'm finding that I want to address life on my own terms, and that means that I want to stop answering to colleagues and customers. To do that, by definition I must go my own way; the label "retirement" isn't really part of that equation for me, but is rather a shorthand way of saying that the only person I answer to is myself.
I still have 7 or so years to go, so we'll see if I feel the same way then.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:08 PM   #19
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@redduck: thanks. That is why I am staying put trying to understand better what and why life is bugging me this way rather than resorting to another path which would leave me in another discontent situation elsewhere.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:12 PM   #20
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@Marko: thanks for very insightful comment. It is great to be understood.
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