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View Poll Results: Poll: How happy are you in your ER stage?
0-2 years into ER, happier than expected 30 18.29%
3-5 years into ER, happier than expected 20 12.20%
6+ years into ER, happier than expected 32 19.51%
0-2 years into ER, neither happier nor less happy than expected 42 25.61%
3-5 years into ER, neither happier nor less happy than expected 18 10.98%
6+ years into ER, neither happier nor less happy than expected 12 7.32%
0-2 years into ER, less happy than expected 7 4.27%
3-5 years into ER, less happy than expected 1 0.61%
6+ years into ER, less happy than expected 2 1.22%
Voters: 164. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-30-2014, 07:21 PM   #41
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I realize this poll is not even remotely scientific, but based on the results so far...

For us proactive early retirees, it appears that the happiness level kicks up a notch after year two of retirement and then again after year five, surpassing original expectations. That's good news for those of us at an early stage.
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:21 PM   #42
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I'm at 1 year and it's been pretty awesome, which is what I expected so I voted in the "neither more happy nor less happy" bucket.

The timing of my ER was very sudden. Found out about possible mass firings at work on a Saturday after returning from vacation, and walked in Monday morning to an 8:30 am meeting where the boss told me to pack my $hit. That was about 2.5 years earlier than scheduled, and it took me a while to adjust to ER. Part of that was becoming the full time caretaker of my our 2 year old and other kids. I figured he'd be almost 4 by the time I ER'd (and therefore much less of a handful).

I can't think of a single time I've been bored. There's always something to do and if anything I feel like some days I could use a less busy schedule (I look forward to empty days on my calendar!). I might re-evaluate ER after the youngest enters school and again when the youngest leaves the house in 16 more years. Until those milestones, I think I'm sticking with it.

The enjoyment of ER to me is mostly the ability to explore or do anything I want and devote a lot of time to it in big chunks. And not having to panic Sunday evenings that work is just a few winks of sleep away.

I still get up early to my alarm clock every day to get the kids packed up for school, but I don't hate getting up early like I used to when I was working. I'm getting up and doing something for myself and my family, not for someone else in exchange for money.

I know my day will start with a short walk to/from school with the kids where we can chat about things and enjoy nature. Then I'm free for most of the morning and early afternoon to do whatever.
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Old 10-30-2014, 10:46 PM   #43
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Retired 7 months, earlier than planned, and at age 48 (in the range of the study group). Neither happier or unhappier than expected, but my nature is to be optimistic and I guess I have a high happiness baseline (in contrast to DH who is more pessimistic). Despite the study, I expect to be happier after 2 years of retirement, but not just because of rosy aspirations. I expect things to settle down considerably. We retired early because DH and I were both part of a layoff. Because the layoff was a few years earlier than we had planned to retire, I got another job. However, I wasn't happy, mostly because I wanted to focus on our home remodel, and so we decided we were ready for retirement now, after all.

However, in the last year in a half, we've sold our previous primary residence, moved to our retirement home. Then, moved to an apartment near my new job, then moved back to our retirement home (3 moves in about a year). We undertook a total home remodel that we should finish up next month. At the same time, my MIL, who is 93 and has Parkinson's (and who has always been a bit difficult), may be developing dementia, as she thinks we're out to get her. She's always had a defiant personality, so it's difficult to say she's losing it -- but it does seem so. It's heart wrenching to want the best for someone who isn't making good decisions for themselves and who is angry at you for helping. Dealing with my MIL is very much like dealing with a troubled teenager. We also haven't put much effort into developing social connections in town, as we've been busy with these other things. I'm in need of some nearby social connections, for sure.

I'm in one of those valleys we all walk thru from time to time. SO...If I'm not unhappy now -- imagine how good it's gonna be when things return to a better state! Besides, I'm kind of a frugal nerd -- was in a simplicity circle probably 15 years ago. I've got some great examples and inspiration to draw upon, both from those folks I knew back then, as well as folks on this board. So, if things don't turn out exactly as planned - well, at least we'll have a comfy home and we'll adjust.

Poll me again in 18 months
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Old 10-31-2014, 03:00 AM   #44
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I voted 3-5 years into ER, neither happier nor less happy than expected which is not strictly true, because I had no expectations whatsoever connected with how happy I would be in ER. I don't think of happiness that way. I can tell you whether I am currently feeling happy or not, but I never, ever think of the future and speculate as to how happy I expect to be. I hope this doesn't sound as if I'm being awkward!

However, I can report that I am a little less happy than I'd like to be at this point but that is mainly because my life is in a bit of a holding pattern right now. I am not doing anything new or particularly different. That will hopefully change at some point in the next few years. In the meantime, I'm gently stuck in a fairly pleasant rut. However, had I continued to work, I'd probably be at the same point. My job, which had used to be thrilling had, at the time of my layoff, graduated to being merely enjoyable. If I were still working today, I would probably be feeling in a slight rut with it, which is exactly how I'm feeling with my ER life right now, in general.

I didn't save for FI with the intention of being happy - I did it so that I could be financially secure without needing to work. Happiness, for me, is something that has no connection to whether I am working or not.

I'd like to be able to report to y'all how deliriously happy I am. Sometimes when I log onto Facebook, it seems as if all my Facebook "friends" are eating fantastic food in wonderful restaurants, visiting many different interesting countries, and hanging out with fascinating, and beautiful people. Then when I think a bit more about it, I realize that I have other Facebook friends who don't post all that often. Perhaps they're the ones who are averagely happy, but don't feel like posting status updates to the effect of, "Today is a moderately acceptable day. I do quite like it, and am feeling content with myself" because, well, how dull would that be? I have a sneaky feeling that if there are any ER's here who are having a less than excellent time, they may well not want to admit it to the rest of us.

Or maybe not!
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Old 10-31-2014, 10:58 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
I'd like to be able to report to y'all how deliriously happy I am. Sometimes when I log onto Facebook, it seems as if all my Facebook "friends" are eating fantastic food in wonderful restaurants, visiting many different interesting countries, and hanging out with fascinating, and beautiful people. Then when I think a bit more about it, I realize that I have other Facebook friends who don't post all that often. Perhaps they're the ones who are averagely happy, but don't feel like posting status updates to the effect of, "Today is a moderately acceptable day. I do quite like it, and am feeling content with myself" because, well, how dull would that be?
Along those lines, you might find this article interesting...

How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy - The New Yorker

A quote from it:

Quote:
"In every study that distinguished the two types of Facebook experiences—active versus passive—people spent, on average, far more time passively scrolling through newsfeeds than they did actively engaging with content. This may be why general studies of overall Facebook use ... so often show deleterious effects on our emotional state. Demands on our attention lead us to use Facebook more passively than actively, and passive experiences, no matter the medium, translate to feelings of disconnection and boredom."
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Old 10-31-2014, 11:18 AM   #46
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I voted 0-2 years neither happier or less happy. I'll be 3 months retired as of tomorrow (11/1). The first two weeks started out well until my mother's health declined dramatically. She ended up in the hospital and after 4 days peacefully and painlessly passed away. I had to cancel a backpack trip, kayak trip and a biking trip that were planned for September. I'm her executor, so have been very busy with memorial service, dealing with her small estate and timeshares. I was just starting to see light at the end of the tunnel and then on Tuesday my purse was stolen ($200 cash, $200 in gift cards, credit cards, my checkbook and my mother's estate checkbook). This past week has been spent in damage control - I keep remembering one more thing I had in my wallet or purse that needs addressed.
However, I have still found enjoyment in my first few months of retirement and have not missed work or regretted my decision. I'm already planning some fun snowshoe and XC ski outings with friends and just signed up for a Glacier Travel class to prepare for some mountain adventures next year.
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:04 PM   #47
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I too had to accelerate my ER thinking as rounds of large layoffs finally got to me too. Luckily I received health care benefits in early retirement.

It took me a few years to feel comfy with the new situation. Felt a little bad in late 2008 and early 2009 with that big stock decline. Were we going to be mired in a Depression like my parents went throug? Luckily things got better. Most of the last 11 years have been quite pleasant. Yes, there are slow days but I always seem to get involved with something.
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:38 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wishin&hopin View Post
Along those lines, you might find this article interesting...

How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy - The New Yorker
That's an interesting article wishin&hopin - and the point about active vs passive engagement rings very true. I had not thought of online engagement in those terms before, but it makes a lot of sense.

Thank you for posting it.
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:46 PM   #49
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I'll put myself in the unhappy category. I certainly thought my life in general would be better off by now, and it was work that was holding me back on some things.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to not be working, it's just that life isn't turning out as
good as I had dreamed.
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Old 10-31-2014, 01:44 PM   #50
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Happier than expected so far (6 months in). I'm starting to get my hands around what we need out of pocket and the numbers look very good. It helps that overall our investments have gone up since I retired and that's net of $20K we withdrew for living expenses (don't expect to need any more withdrawals this year).

Socialization isn't a problem; right now I'm over-scheduled with church volunteer activities but that will abate (somewhat) after I get off the vestry (governing board) in January.

The one negative is that I look back on my career and think what I would have done differently. I pretty much fired myself at my last job when the BS got too bad, and I left the employer before that because I was running out of things to do and hadn't found another opportunity in the company even though I applied for multiple openings. I can't bring myself to make long PowerPoint slides with the latest corporate gibberish ("drive superior performance to deliver enhanced customer experience to all stakeholders") and I'm non-confrontational, which meant that I let people get away with crap. Ordinarily I learn from my mistakes and use what I learned to improve things going forward. Here there's no "going forward" because I'm (happily) done working for a living.

I think I need to write a LinkedIn article on what I've learned.
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Old 10-31-2014, 03:21 PM   #51
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I voted happier than expected, mostly because everybody kept saying how much of a bad idea it was for me to retire so early. All the gloomy predictions have been proven wrong.
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Old 10-31-2014, 03:46 PM   #52
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Becoming happier. While FI for several years, at 60 was able to pull plug and materialize a good pension and move to another gig I was recruited to. It didn't work out to my satisfaction so I bailed not long into it. Hence I was unintentionally ER at 60, but that's not all that early really. One thing I know, I am/was DONE working. I'm VERY happy to not work other than missing some of the people.

Biggest issue is finding interesting things to do. I've done the photography, model airplanes, woodworking, built houses and additions, and I'm just sort of done with it. So I make it a point to exercise a lot (which has always contributed to a sense of happiness, working or not). Fortunately DW and I get along great so look for things to do and that helps. Worst part is two kids and now 5 GC both living overseas. We are now booking our third trip to Africa this year for December, and those flights are not fun. However, the ties to family and ability to make the trips really are the highlights of our retirement. We thought traveling always would be fun (and not just to see family) but the time spent traveling to family uses up our tolerance for other pleasure travel.

I think part of the increasing happiness is recognizing that I can't work anymore, just not cut out for it and it's all used up. So I had to leave it and start retirement. When I was 60 I think there was a twinge of guilt or some such, as in I really should be DOING something with my life. As a few years go by, that just doesn't seem so important. Instead, it's been replaced with joy that I'm retired at a point where I'm still healthy enough to enjoy it.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:47 PM   #53
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I would be amazed if many people who are still here on a forum essentially created as cheer leading for ER would admit to being unhappy. Those who were, went back to work, or moved to the Amazon or something.

When you are retired there is more time where you are in touch with you. This can good, or not so good. Distractions are less, as is the stress caused by commutes, horrible bosses, office politics and today's extreme requirement to be more PC than the next person. If you are a you know what, you know to walk on eggs if you work.

So overall, I am very pleased to be retired, and furthermore to avoid any and all volunteer work. I am lucky to live in a very good place, at least relative to most other US places, to have good health, to have good relations with my sons and my relatives, to have a loving and very attractive girlfriend, and to have a doctor who treats me like a human. If I weren't happy, I would be an idiot. However if I ever get ecstatic for more than a minute or so I would assume that I have suddenly gone mad and will soon need hospitalization.

Ha
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Old 11-01-2014, 01:23 PM   #54
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12 years in and am a bit surprised how easy ER is. More $ than I can spend, more time to waste as I please, just passed my colonoscopy.

What's not good?
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Old 11-01-2014, 02:11 PM   #55
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I can't change my poll response, but the more I think about it, I should have answered differently.

I'm 13 years in, and I consider myself happier than I originally expected (my poll answer was "about as expected")

In the early years of ER, I knew there was enough to get by on for life, so I expected a certain satisfaction level.

But as time has gone by, I have come to realize that it's better than "getting by."

For one thing, I believe I'm healthier now than I was then. That's a huge thing. And DW is also healthier now than then, so we are truly lucky.

For another, I have more hobbies to enjoy now than I did then. So does DW, and we enjoy them even more, since we can engage in them whenever we like.

Finally, the market has been very kind to us. Entering ER in 2001, we have seen a couple of big declines, but overall the trend has been very positive. I've learned so much (a good bit of it right here (THANKS, EVERYONE!!!)) about asset allocation, withdrawal rates, diversification, etc., that I have high confidence in being able to enjoy our remaining years even more fully than initially expected.

Yes, life is good.
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:41 PM   #56
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Heading five years into retirement already and just turning 50, I would say it is just as I imagined thanking a lot to this forum.... However I must admit if I did not enjoy spending a significant amount of time alone, I probably would be unhappy as my GF and my friends all still have to work.... I am also not a type A person, and I have no interest whatsoever in learning new hobbies, or needing to have a purpose in life post career. I am a master in the art of piddling and wasting a day away, and really have no desire to improve on that...


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Old 11-01-2014, 07:47 PM   #57
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Hi Mulligan, any pointers on the art of piddling?
This might be a good thread on its own.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:01 PM   #58
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Hi Mulligan, any pointers on the art of piddling?
This might be a good thread on its own.

Oh ya, Lsb... First of all don't immediately get out of bed when you wake up...slowly transition by catching some morning news while half awake in bed ... Then get Krueg machine warmed up around 8, and head out to the driveway to pick up the morning newspaper... Drink 2 cups of Java while reading paper, then eat breakfast and then scan the internet and obligatory emails and forums with post coffee soda. Next thing it's you know it's 11. Shower cleanup and hit morning walk and workout at local SNAP fitness and then it's 1 when you get home... Eat late lunch, check up on cnbc and internet and it's 2:30. Go walk and play 9 holes of golf come home and it's time to fix supper. A few hours with GF who just got off work and then come home and I just barely have time to watch one of my season long hockey bets before it's time to watch Oreilly Factor while I am drifting off to sleep for the night. That's M-F as I do more stuff on the weekend...last month I put a floating perrigo floor in my small 4X6 downstairs bathroom... Probably an 8 hour job...But I'm such a piddler it took 3 weeks to get it all done as I had to work it around my routine!


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Old 11-01-2014, 08:29 PM   #59
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6+ in. I'm not dead. That makes me happy.
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Old 11-01-2014, 10:25 PM   #60
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I chose "0-2 years into ER, neither happier nor less happy than expected", as I had pretty high expectations, but was flirting with "happier than expected" on one count below.

At six months into ER (both voluntary and planned):

- I am *much* more relaxed - no longer worry about things I need to do to meet others' workplace agendas, how well I may be doing them, etc.

- I have been quite content (and so far not bored) just taking things as they come - day-to-day household stuff, reading more, some socializing, some impromptu travel, a bit of volunteering, etc.

- I am in somewhat better physical shape - I have time to exercise more regularly, am eating better and have lost a few pounds (though still targeting a few more)

- Spouse and I are doing fine with new routine.

- Finances are on track.

- Fortunately we have had no significant personal crises or other surprises.

- In particular, and in excess of expectations, I have been pleased at how little I miss my former work and whatever social or self-identity I got from it. I thought I was pretty tied up with that, but there really has been no hole to fill there. From what I hear about current goings on at former workplace, I still am glad that I moved on.

As my first ER winter approaches, however, I am beginning to think that I could clarify some longer term goals, and begin to work on them in a more structured way than I have been - a little more focus, perhaps. I can easily see how someone could become disenchanted over time if personal expectations remained either unformed or unaligned with day-to-day activities. I think that ER provides the freedom to experience, learn and/or contribute more than one can ever hope to do in a lifetime. As someone else here said in another thread (perhaps it was W2R) "So many things to do and oceans of time in which to do them." In ER, it's up to the individual to decide (and then do, if any doing is needed).

Ask again in a couple of years.
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