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Adjustment to Early Retirement
Old 09-01-2015, 01:45 PM   #1
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Adjustment to Early Retirement

DW and I are now just 7 months from early retirement. A lot of folks have talked about the adjustment that takes place between the working world and a life of independence. I have even heard it described as like the adjustment that comes from "leaving a bad relationship!"

My questions for those of you who have already early retired is: how long did it take you to adjust to not working? Was there anything you did to help you prepare? Or, might have?
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:24 PM   #2
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Good that you are asking now...

It was painless but it took a month or two for me to settle into new life patterns (though always tweaking), but I was over my job/career within a week, never regretted pulling the plug. But I read How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free and Work Less, Live More at least 6 months before I retired, and that made a critical difference for me. And joining this community well before I retired was also very helpful, honest.

IMO being financially prepared is the easy (but not simple) part, being mentally prepared and having something to retire to (not just something to retire from...) are the hurdles some people aren't prepared for. The books helped me with the latter. There are more than enough books on being financially prepared for retirement, it's not rocket surgery, though people agonize over their numbers to no end (including here some).

But we're all different, it depends on how much of your identity is wrapped up in your work, and how full your non-work life is before you retire. Nothing wrong with work being a large part of who you are/were, but it has everything to do with how easily one adjusts to not working...
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:16 PM   #3
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It was painless but it took a month or two for me to settle into new life patterns (though always tweaking), but I was over my job/career within a week
+1

Actually, it took me less than a week. I was working at 100 mph at 4pm on my last day of work. I only had one day, about 2 weeks later, where I said "gee, we .... um THEY ... should look into doing such-and-such this way instead". I never called them to discuss it - they can figure it out without me. I have spoken to my ex-boss twice and former coworkers about a dozen times since leaving. They're all stressed out. I'm not. The only stress I have now is watching the volatility in the DOW and the S&P. I need to stop looking the markets !

Hit send to soon ! I want to add that I did not define myself by my job and had a long list of things I wanted to do, most very very simple things that I just could not do while working. I have no ambitious travel plans. I am happy being home and doing "whatever I want, whenever I want".
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:41 PM   #4
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My wife and I retired the same day in Jan. I literally had no adjustment period at all. I didn't miss work from day one. My wife on the other hand, was just about in tears off and on, for about 2 months. I think the main difference is that I'm an introvert and shes an extrovert. She really missed the daily interaction with co-workers a lot of whom were close friends. I'm just as happy when I'm alone as I am when I'm hanging out with other people.
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:46 PM   #5
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Just over a year, still adjusting. In my case I would describe Divorcing the employer, as I would have continued working a few more years under different circumstances.
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:48 PM   #6
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It took me several months, but gradually I stopped waking up every morning with a huge grin on my face.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:03 PM   #7
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I had the previous year where I was sidelined/exiled "on special assignment" to live in Paris while the new company decided if they needed me. During that time, except for a few appearances, I had very little, if anything to do.

After a year of sitting in cafes drinking espresso, it was pretty easy to RE, but still took me over a year to 'come down'.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:10 PM   #8
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When I left my last place of employment, a little before lunchtime, I wondered how long it would take me to become truly comfortable with the retired lifestyle.

By the next morning, I knew.

So I guess it was something like 18 hours.

That was nearly 14 years ago, and every day since then has proven the wisdom of the move.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:11 PM   #9
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We've been ER'd for just 6 months, but still adjusting, in a good way. I was a bit of a w*rkaholic, but was planning my escape from all the corporate people BS for almost 2 decades.

Over time I gradually developed "parallel identities" outside of w*rk other than the "good soldier & team player" (ie pushover & sap) and "go-to tech expert" (ie enabler of others' incompetence). This has helped me survive the decades in the corporate snake pit, and these other identities like husband to DW, great friend, sea kayaker, photographer, musician, and so on are now central to my life.

Still I sometimes feel these identities are somehow less legitimate than the old w*rk one. My mind realizes that this is shear nonsense, but my heart evolves more slowly. Habits of the heart, especially unhealthy ones, can die hard!

So I believe every adjustment to ER is unique, some easy, some not so. My only advice is to be kind to yourself and take the time needed, without laboring under any preconceptions. As for me, whether it's a typical good day or a rare bad day in ER, I NEVER think I should go back to w*rk!!
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:18 PM   #10
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When I left my last place of employment, a little before lunchtime, I wondered how long it would take me to become truly comfortable with the retired lifestyle.

By the next morning, I knew.

So I guess it was something like 18 hours.

That was nearly 14 years ago, and every day since then has proven the wisdom of the move.
Wow! Some of you guys adjusted quickly. A music buddy of ER's from MegaAuto also adjusted overnight.

Decades ago, my university advisor called me "at risk" and a slow learner. Guess he was right...

Must...practice...doing nothing, I mean ER, harder...
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:40 PM   #11
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Decades ago, my university advisor called me "at risk" and a slow learner.
I'm really, really hoping that you're going to tell us your advisor retired older than you did!
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Old 09-01-2015, 05:30 PM   #12
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Everyone is different but for me I was shocked that I was able to go from crazed corporate lackey checking international email at 2 am, going back to bed and up at 5 for the east coast email.....to almost a dead stop. For two months I was in sort of a blur and did not do much other than work out and read.
Then I got back into doing more.


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Old 09-01-2015, 05:49 PM   #13
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I was also a crazed corporate lackey and adjusted quickly overall. It took no time at all to get used to NOT having the alarm clock go off at 5:45 a.m. I was on one non-profit board already and picked up another volunteer gig soon after - in fact I took on more than I should have in hindsight.

Remember, you can always hang out here with us whenever you aren't sure what to do!
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Old 09-01-2015, 05:57 PM   #14
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Probably took me a year - my last year of work I put in 1 or 2 days week, so my last year of work was mostly my transition. I had a bunch of hobbies going by then, so there wasn't much of an adjustment after I pulled the plug totally.
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Old 09-01-2015, 06:21 PM   #15
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+1 to the qualitative being a little more challenging than the quantitative -- at least for me. Quantitative was lots of planning beforehand, accelerating over the last year or so, when it became clear that post-merger mega-corp life for me would be less than something I would want to be involved with long term.

I have had (sometimes very) demanding high level corporate legal jobs for >20 years .. so more or less tied to my phone/laptop, traveling alot and working solid weeks. I was more than ready to do less and had spent the past year or two ramping up two or three hobbies, accelerating my side-job of investing/trading, and taking on volunteer leadership roles; I never worried about filling my time -- I have A LOT I want to do, so that's not been a concern. But still, it's a process and I think it will take a few more months. I do not give my former employer or role a second thought, though I do maintain irregular correspondence with a handful of the people in my former team.

Qualitatively has taken some adjustment both for me and DW. We had lots of discussions about it and thought we were reasonably prepared, and even had a few weeks head start as I more or less didn't need to regularly report to the office for about the last month of my nominal employment -- and still the first few weeks post actual RE day were not as smooth as we would have hoped. Small examples include sharing of kid help/driving, kids (DD and DS are teens in HS) and DW taking all the cars and leaving me 'housebound' all day, household chores stuff, intra-day time management (DW still has a SAHM schedule full like before and I now have little or none), and even things like planning social events and bedtime/wake time.

We've made great progress in the past 2 months since ER, mostly by converting the guest room to an office for me, and cross-sharing all of our family icalendars with each other and also coming up with a better elevator speech for the ubiquitous " ... but you're only xx years old .. what do you DO all day?" It's also helped alot that I'm getting into the habit of doing laundry and loading/unloading dishwasher unprompted. Very positive improvements so far and not to suggest that it was really at all 'bad' in the real spectrum of things -- I guess my very fresh advice from 2 months into it is that (1) you do need to plan for the qualitative side and more than you may think depending on circumstances ... good news, you're already here on the site and asking and researching; and (2) don't underestimate the reality of the need to give that side of the plan serious thought and effort.
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Old 09-01-2015, 06:50 PM   #16
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I'm really, really hoping that you're going to tell us your advisor retired older than you did!
Yep, marko. He's still w*rking. Hehh, hehhh, hehhh...
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Adjustment time .... not very long!
Old 09-01-2015, 07:14 PM   #17
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Adjustment time .... not very long!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickernick View Post
My questions for those of you who have already early retired is: how long did it take you to adjust to not working? Was there anything you did to help you prepare? Or, might have?

To prepare, I spent a significant effort to learn from the experience of others on this board and get very comfortable that finances would not be an issue. Also I made sure that I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I retired. Here we often hear that one should retire TO something rather than just FROM something. I think that's a really good thing to consider. Of course part of this was serious discussions with my DW to ensure she was on board and comfortable with it.

When I actually retired, it probably took me 2 ....no maybe 3 minutes to adjust. I was quite busy from day one with projects I wanted to do so. It took me almost 6 months to begin forgetting what day of the week it was. Now it's always the start of a weekend with no Monday in sight!

Good luck with your planning!
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Old 09-01-2015, 07:22 PM   #18
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Walked out the door and never looked back. Blink of an eye and it was over. No attachments.
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Old 09-01-2015, 07:41 PM   #19
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Walked out the door and never looked back. Blink of an eye and it was over. No attachments.
+1
I needed zero adjustment period as well, but had lost all attachment to my career/work long before FIRE so it's no surprise.

Weird, it's like I never worked, as my new "job" is me, as in designing my life. As noted above, quantitatively, I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing financially, such that money is not my focus now.

Qualitatively, although I read a lot of books, bookmarked more web pages than I thought I ever did, it is still an unfolding/discovery process. Just today I mapped out what my vacations would look like for the next ten years (I refuse to call it a bucket list as that cutesy phrase has always made my skin crawl).

We're all different, but I do believe the two main issues anyone retiring has to deal with are quantitative and qualitative in nature. I really like this guest blog post on A Satisfying Journey blog dealing with the qualitative aspect:

A Satisfying Journey: 9 Tips For Making Retirement More Satisfying
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Old 09-01-2015, 07:55 PM   #20
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It didn't take very long. I guess maybe for the first couple of weeks after retiring, my eyes popped open at the usual time each morning (too early), and so I did get up and look for things to do around the house, but after that, I eased into a new, more relaxed routine. Occasional thoughts about work projects would pop into my head for a while, but that faded with time also. Overall, the transition was pretty easy for me.
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