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Do you have to be busy in FIRE?
Old 08-07-2017, 08:23 AM   #1
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Do you have to be busy in FIRE?

I am in my early 50s and just FI. I am in a self-defined semi-retired status for a few years, but I am thinking to be retired completely forever in about two years (to be eligible to buy group health insurance).
On the other hand, I do not want to keep myself busy in retirement. In particular, I have no interest in volunteering, teaching, studying, donating, etc., since I am teaching at a university now and doing those things and get paid. In retirement, I just want to do some travel, stay home web surfing, get up late and take a long nap ever day, visit and help my aging parents, help my children if needed, and do some gardening.
Is it OK not to get yourself intellectually challenged in early retirement? I read many threads here and other places that FIRE people (proudly) claim to be "busier than ever" and seem to be (implicitly) ashamed to (admit to) just be persons to have leisure days without anything important happening. For me, if I have to be busy every day, I would prefer to have someone pay me to keep me busy. Otherwise I just want to be lazily passing my own time and do not care about whatever are other people's views.
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:49 AM   #2
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No, you sure don't have to be busy. I'm not very. The only things I'm worried about is sitting around too much and eating out of boredom, and losing my good health. So I run a lot, and do a few other active things, but I like doing those things. I volunteer a little bit, but only things I want to do, and I have no problems saying No to things I'd call Work. I also like to try to keep my mind sharp doing online number puzzle games, trivia games, reading, stuff like that. I almost never turn the TV on until the evening news. But if I did, that'd be my business.

I do get asked sometimes "What do you do all day?" (I think we have a thread on that) and my general response is "Whatever I want!" I generally won't talk about sitting in front of my laptop most of the morning surfing boards like this. If pressed I might just make up a day about going for a long run or walk, reading a book, doing a small house project, and streaming a movie in the evening. Or I'll just say that I do something different every day, no day is typical. Or I'll turn it around and ask what they'd do if they had most every day free. If they can't answer, I might tell them retirement probably isn't for them, so they should keep going to their 9-5 job!
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:52 AM   #3
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I think (for me) the difference is how I choose, or choose not, to be busy. Most days are somewhat regimented until perhaps 10 AM (walk dog, coffee and web surf, b-fast, work out). After that, pretty free form (except my PM nap).

So, IMHO, you're opting out of extensive "engagement/scheduling" is a perfectly sound approach to your retirement.


Edit: I should add that I eagerly look forward to "wine time" at the end of each day.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:04 AM   #4
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It's "OK" to not do much in retirement, as in the police won't come and arrest you for being lazy. But I think for most people, lounging around all day doing nothing is kind of boring. It sounds great in concept, especially after a long career of constantly busy work days and hectic weekends, but doing "nothing" gets old pretty quickly.

IMHO, you need some sort of hobby or some personal interests that make you happy and give you some sense of satisfaction when you are spending time on them. Gardening is a great one that many people enjoy (myself included), but there are countless others. Traveling is another. The book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free has lists of many, many more if you are in need of some additional ideas.

Oh, and I completely agree with RunningBum's goal of keeping one's mind sharp by doing fun mental games like puzzles, or by reading a lot, or maybe learning a new language. You need to keep your brain active and semi-challenged as you get older to stay mentally sharp and help stave off dementia.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:06 AM   #5
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Of course you don't have to be "busy" in RE. I quite agree with you. I spent my entire career being too busy and part of the reason for ER was to escape that. I find myself actively shunning "busy" activities. I cut back on my volunteering because it was too busy, and now I have the right balance. Several years ago I joined a social group to meet new friends, and while it has been fantastic, I remember early on going to five events in five days and thinking "too much". I'm an introvert and find my energy in quiet, solitary activities. I like to do one or two important things every day and let the rest go with the flow.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingaway View Post
I am in my early 50s and just FI. I am in a self-defined semi-retired status for a few years, but I am thinking to be retired completely forever in about two years (to be eligible to buy group health insurance).
On the other hand, I do not want to keep myself busy in retirement. In particular, I have no interest in volunteering, teaching, studying, donating, etc., since I am teaching at a university now and doing those things and get paid. In retirement, I just want to do some travel, stay home web surfing, get up late and take a long nap ever day, visit and help my aging parents, help my children if needed, and do some gardening.
Is it OK not to get yourself intellectually challenged in early retirement? I read many threads here and other places that FIRE people (proudly) claim to be "busier than ever" and seem to be (implicitly) ashamed to (admit to) just be persons to have leisure days without anything important happening. For me, if I have to be busy every day, I would prefer to have someone pay me to keep me busy. Otherwise I just want to be lazily passing my own time and do not care about whatever are other people's views.
I had a sister that was a tenured full professor at one of NYC's more famous universities. She died at age 49 after a battle with a quick moving cancer. I think having a phone conversation with me, which would certainly be a non-"intellectually challenged" event would have been her preference, than to stay at work till she died. I think you should go as soon as you can. Visit your parents now while they are in good shape, when they are wearing diapers its no fun. Talk to them now about anything , later on you might not get a chance to have a real conversation, let alone a stimulating one of an intellectual level. See the kids? They might be too busy with their lives to fit you in. Its OK, as long as they are happy thats should be cool with you too. Dont wait to die at your desk, or go traveling when all your bones hurt, or when you are really helping your parents and cant leave their side at all. Well you asked for views , thats mine
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by flyingaway View Post
I do not want to keep myself busy in retirement. In particular, I have no interest in volunteering, teaching, studying, donating, etc., since I am teaching at a university now and doing those things and get paid. In retirement, I just want to do some travel, stay home web surfing, get up late and take a long nap ever day, visit and help my aging parents, help my children if needed, and do some gardening.
One of my greatest accomplishments in retirement - maybe my only accomplishment - is learning to simply "be". I discovered I didn't have to set goals, measure accomplishments, or schedule my time at volunteer activities to be happy and enjoy life.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:18 AM   #8
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You can do what you want, but personally I would be bored without my hobbies and at least some events and social get togethers on the calendar to look forward to. For me the anticipation is part of the fun.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:18 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by flyingaway View Post
I am in my early 50s and just FI. I am in a self-defined semi-retired status for a few years, but I am thinking to be retired completely forever in about two years (to be eligible to buy group health insurance).
On the other hand, I do not want to keep myself busy in retirement. In particular, I have no interest in volunteering, teaching, studying, donating, etc., since I am teaching at a university now and doing those things and get paid. In retirement, I just want to do some travel, stay home web surfing, get up late and take a long nap ever day, visit and help my aging parents, help my children if needed, and do some gardening.
Is it OK not to get yourself intellectually challenged in early retirement? I read many threads here and other places that FIRE people (proudly) claim to be "busier than ever" and seem to be (implicitly) ashamed to (admit to) just be persons to have leisure days without anything important happening. For me, if I have to be busy every day, I would prefer to have someone pay me to keep me busy. Otherwise I just want to be lazily passing my own time and do not care about whatever are other people's views.
Of course it is OK to do whatever you want in retirement! I think when people say they are busy, they mean that they have more than enough fun things to do, in order to fend off boredom. I am busy too; Frank and I eat lunch at a restaurant every day, and then we go for a pleasure drive and while driving around, run any errands that we might have (if any). For me that's a "fun kind of busy", not like being at work.

As for intellectual challenges, I think you will find the right balance for you. I always thought I'd take classes and so on, but I haven't done that at all. I do surf the internet trying to figure out various puzzling mysteries that I come across and that intrigue me, and this keeps my mind active. Sudoku is fun for me, too. Frank reads historical physics manuscripts now and then, but only when he wants to; he also plays musical instruments and enjoys ham radio.

My interests in retirement aren't at all what I envisioned they would be, before I retired. I was sure I would want to garden, but now that I have the time to do that, I'd rather do other things. Like write this post.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:38 AM   #10
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The reason people are busy in retirement is because they choose to be. I've gone through a few stages in my 2 years of retirement. The first 6 months I spent doing pretty much nothing at all ! My days were spent reading and gazing out over my backyard (more gazing than reading). The second 6 months I was crazy busy. I started doing things that (I thought) I always wanted to do; turns out I was doing way too much and while I was happy I wasn't as happy as I could have been. The third 6 months I dropped a few activities and started finding the right balance. My fourth 6 months is much more relaxed. I do enough to keep me stimulated mentally and physically and have truly narrowed down my activities to things I love and would be unhappy if I had to stop doing them.

It's an evolutionary process. Not having to go to w&rk is an experience many of us haven't had in 20 or 30 years !
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:48 AM   #11
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You can do what you want, but personally I would be bored without my hobbies and at least some events and social get togethers on the calendar to look forward to. For me the anticipation is part of the fun.
Every day I see your posts describing shows and concerts you have been to. I love the arts too, but I simply couldn't handle the pace you set!
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:48 AM   #12
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It's up to you. There are people here who sound pretty solitary and others who are social butterlies and everything in between. There are people here who just can't quit 'working' in some capacity (e.g. paid part time, volunteer, or consuming hobbies) and others who say they just let each day unfold as it may, and everything in between. Some people prefer routine and others are constantly looking for new adventures. Some people have ramped up fitness, others not.

You have to do what makes your retirement enjoyable.

And just as life changes in pre-retirement, I assume many retirees lives change voluntarily too. You can be active, withdraw, and back and forth in retirement - isn't that the attraction?

Note: It is funny what constitutes "very busy" in retirement, it certainly changed for me. When I think about all I packed in a day when I was at my career peak, it makes me tired. These days I usually have 1-3 activities loosely planned, along with routine stuff, in any given day - and that seems busy to me now. And if I don't get what I had planned done, no worries at all, there's always tomorrow.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:55 AM   #13
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One of my greatest accomplishments in retirement - maybe my only accomplishment - is learning to simply "be". I discovered I didn't have to set goals, measure accomplishments, or schedule my time at volunteer activities to be happy and enjoy life.
+1 I was running at 120% for so long during my career, it was a relief to have nothing to do! Volunteering was definitely not on my agenda and I found that I soon resented almost any intrusion on my free time.

But! I have to say that I'm busy as h*ll all day anyway!!
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:02 AM   #14
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Can be very busy admiring scenery, contemplating belly button. or just doing nothing. At times I actually accomplish something useful.
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:12 AM   #15
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One of my greatest accomplishments in retirement - maybe my only accomplishment - is learning to simply "be". I discovered I didn't have to set goals, measure accomplishments, or schedule my time at volunteer activities to be happy and enjoy life.
+2

To this I would only add, learning to tune out the voices that disapprove or find fault with the retirement and lifestyle choices I've made.
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:13 AM   #16
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Each person's path and experience in retirement is unique. There is no right way or wrong way to do retirement. There will be no boss defining what to do and how to do it. Do whatever you want, answer to no one, and don't look back.
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:21 AM   #17
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There is no right way or wrong way to do retirement. There will be no boss defining what to do and how to do it.
You must be single...
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:26 AM   #18
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You must be single...
I am now, thus I can do the defining.
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:55 AM   #19
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Not a rhetorical question: how do you define "busy"? If it means being occupied almost every minute of the day, then I'm not busy. If it means doing something most days, then I'm definitely busy. And, in that latter context I do think one should be "busy."
Watching TV all day, every day, does not sound like an enriched life to me. But there have been individual days when I have done that. Other than that, as long as one has interests to pursue, I see no reason why one has to be "busy" all of the time in retirement.
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:12 PM   #20
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Thanks for all the comments.
Looks like that I do have things to do every day, such as pulling weeds from my lawn, fighting pests (bugs, rabbits, and squirrels) in my vegetable and fruit garden, but I just do not feel that I am busy with "important" things.
I am in an unpaid summer break period, which I use to experience or experiment my retirement life.
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