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The retiement blues
Old 08-02-2008, 08:01 PM   #1
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The retiement blues

I have been feeling kinda down these days. I retired in January '08 and went through a flurry of activity to clean up and fix up the homestead. Lately, I have been in a funk. I am starting to feel like my life doesn't matter anymore since I left my career. Yes, I do have many activities including my volunteer work at the animal shelter, but just feel like I'm out of the mainstream of life these days. When I go to the grocery store and other places I see the "worker bees" and actually feel a bit of envy since I'm no longer part of the professional community. I have even found myself looking at the help wanted ads but have found nothing I really want to do.

Perhaps it's due, at least in part, to my location near DC where "what you do" is everything. I think is these feelings are also due to my deep work ethic. My first job was at the age of 16 and I worked my way up the hard way. I even worked my way through college and grad school without any assistance from family or student loans and graduated with honors. I also passed the CPA exam on the first try which was an enormous effort. You know, I just miss that feeling of accomlishment.

Perhaps this will improve when by DH retires with me in about 9 months. I hope so. Just curious if anyone else went through the "retirement blues" in the first year or so.
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:49 PM   #2
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A lot of people enjoy a number of maladies when they retire. Its sort of like moving to a new part of the country by yourself...

Your work social life changes or disappears. You're home all day when most or all of the people you know are at work. Without structure a lot of people end up with the low common denominator of laying around doing the things we used to use to take a break from the working day, except now those things become your day.

Early Retirement Activated Attention Deficit Disorder is also a common affliction. Its easy to do a lot of things but get very little done. (see below)

Having a spouse and/or children around all the time can be a big help to figuring out how to restructure your life. They can also become part of the problem when you find out that relationships that worked great with 40-50 hours of space around them work a lot differently when the space goes away.

I think the best description of the situation is from someone who pointed out that disorganized, underachieving school kids suddenly become constructive and organized workers when placed in the structure of a corporation or even the local fast food joint. Take the organization, goals and structure away and you have to make up your own.

I find its helpful to have a bunch of lists. Big projects, little projects, errands, shopping lists, things you want to cook, places you want to go both far and near, fun things. Yes, a list of fun things! I find its sometimes easier to crash on the couch and flip on the tv rather than think of something more constructive and amusing to do.

Another early retiree says that the bane of the early retirees existence is too much free time in the mornings. You read the paper, check your email, look at 3 internet forums. Now your brain and thoughts are all scattered around a hundred different disparate ideas and directions and it's gonna keep sorting those and considering them well away from your conscious thought. Thats not going to lead to a productive and interesting day. Antidote is to have something or somewhere to go first thing in the morning, the gym, a coffee shop with a friend, etc. Look at what your life was before...you got up, got ready for work, drove there, checked your voicemail, and had a bunch of meetings and things that you knew needed to be done. There were people popping in to pull you into things. Your boss, peers and subordinates were watching what you did and how you did it. And on weekends you had all that stuff you'd put off all week that needed to be done, and relaxing in preparation for the next wave.

Structure, structure, structure, and oh yes....expectations!

Relax. You're a motivated self starter that for the first time in a long time has nothing crucial to start, and no deadlines.


Recently, I was diagnosed with E.R.A.A.D.D....
Early Retirement Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.

As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide my car needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mailbox earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk, where I find the can of Coke that I had been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I realize the Coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered. I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water, and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day...
the driveway is flooded,
the car isn't washed,
the bills aren't paid,
there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter,
there is still only one check in my check book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled, because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check the forum and see if there are any new posts...
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Purron View Post
Just curious if anyone else went through the "retirement blues" in the first year or so.
Sorry.

I check the surf forecast first thing every morning. Do you have a hobby or some other interest that gets you out of bed-- other than your DH making getting-ready-for-work noise?
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:09 PM   #4
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There is a currently ongoing thread about gardening. We always do a bit of gardening -- well mostly my wife in the last few years -- but this thread got me motivated. We have a side yard (15' x 60') that I stopped watering for many years, since our children are grown. The aforementioned thread motivated me to clean it up to convert to a vegetable garden.

For the last few days, my wife and I have been working on the yard in the morning before it gets too hot. I use a pick to uproot the clumps of remaining grass. She beats the root clumps to shake off the dirt before throwing the grass away. We work on it for an hour before jumping into the pool. Oh, that is good.

We are almost done. Darn good exercise. Next season, I may be able to show Khan pictures of my harvest.

Can you think of something to do around the house or yard?
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Old 08-02-2008, 11:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
Recently, I was diagnosed with E.R.A.A.D.D....
Early Retirement Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.

As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide my car needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mailbox earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk, where I find the can of Coke that I had been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I realize the Coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered. I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water, and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day...
the driveway is flooded,
the car isn't washed,
the bills aren't paid,
there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter,
there is still only one check in my check book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled, because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check the forum and see if there are any new posts...
Bunny, this is great work. It reminds me of Art Buchwald or Irma Bombeck, two really funny people. Congratulations.

Ha
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:08 AM   #6
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I have been feeling kinda down these days. I retired in January '08 and went through a flurry of activity to clean up and fix up the homestead. Lately, I have been in a funk. I am starting to feel like my life doesn't matter anymore since I left my career. Yes, I do have many activities including my volunteer work at the animal shelter, but just feel like I'm out of the mainstream of life these days. When I go to the grocery store and other places I see the "worker bees" and actually feel a bit of envy since I'm no longer part of the professional community. I have even found myself looking at the help wanted ads but have found nothing I really want to do.

Perhaps it's due, at least in part, to my location near DC where "what you do" is everything. I think is these feelings are also due to my deep work ethic. My first job was at the age of 16 and I worked my way up the hard way. I even worked my way through college and grad school without any assistance from family or student loans and graduated with honors. I also passed the CPA exam on the first try which was an enormous effort. You know, I just miss that feeling of accomlishment.

Perhaps this will improve when by DH retires with me in about 9 months. I hope so. Just curious if anyone else went through the "retirement blues" in the first year or so.
I am not retired - - so maybe I don't know the answers, but I couldn't sleep and was thinking about your post. Thought I'd share my thoughts.

Do you know any other retired people? I'll bet they don't define themselves by their jobs (so it might help to know some).

Try channelling that drive into accomplishing something measurable in retirement. For example, you could design a workout program that will culminate in being able to run a 10K or marathon, and then get started on it each morning. As you reach milestones in your progress, you would have good reason to feel proud of your hard work and accomplishment.

Also, I think you are right that a lot of this could improve when your DH retires, too. Sometimes it is not easy when one partner is retired and one isn't.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:20 AM   #7
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Perhaps it's due, at least in part, to my location near DC where "what you do" is everything.
Just curious if anyone else went through the "retirement blues" in the first year or so.
While I nearly always got paid for doing novel, interesting, dangerous activities. I never ever defined "who I am" by my occupation. Others did that in an attempt to define me, to my total indifference to any definition. That was and is the key to avoiding a lot of one-upmanship games.

Retirement was a transition from one form of daily activities to another. Albeit the retirement version is infinitely more pleasurable.

Having a naturally curious mind, and dozens interests and many hobbies does me well to prevent "brain rot". Even after doing extended "belly button contemplation", there is still the satisfaction of having done the best I could with what I had/have.
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:54 AM   #8
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Perhaps it's due, at least in part, to my location near DC where "what you do" is everything. I think is these feelings are also due to my deep work ethic. My first job was at the age of 16 and I worked my way up the hard way. I even worked my way through college and grad school without any assistance from family or student loans and graduated with honors. I also passed the CPA exam on the first try which was an enormous effort. You know, I just miss that feeling of accomplishment.
Many on this forum have expressed the same issues. I also retired and moved from the DC area (Yeeehaaaa! No more traffic!).

Found myself sitting on the back porch with a friend saying "I've done everything I said I was going to do. I don't know what to do next."

That's a problem.

The solution is as varied as the individuals seeking it. But it did dawn on me that I was going to be brain-dead if I didn't find something. Still don't know what, nothing "grabs" me with the enthusiasm that I had. But for now, I got a job that if not exactly mind-stretching at least gets me out with other people.
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:12 AM   #9
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I've come to the conclusion that just as there are those who can retire early and those who cannot, there are those who will thrive in retirement and those who won't. Some individuals lack the capability to manage their own entertainment and/or self worth without being "productive". The only known treatment is to join support groups either as volunteers or, for those with more acute symptoms, through actual employment.

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Old 08-03-2008, 07:57 AM   #10
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Try some part time work. IF your a CPA, that should be easy to find. For me, I'm too busy working on my golf handicap.
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:58 AM   #11
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I'm not retired yet either, so I may be all wrong.

In preparation for exactly what you describe, reading How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free (Zelinski) and Work Less, Live More (Clyatt) could be very helpful. Your library may have either/both if you don't want to buy them. The Get-A-Life Tree exercise alone from Zelinski was worth far more than the price of the book to me - I think it will keep me busy in retirement for many years. And the branches of the tree will probably spawn new branches as I explore them.

I have found that almost everything I've accomplished so far in life personally and professionally all comes down to constantly having goals for myself. Without those ever changing goals, I probably would have drifted through life maintaining the status quo, and had a lesser life for it. I expect I will be have to have goals for myself until I go poof, although the goals will be very different in retirement.

I am also somewhat of a workaholic. Time will tell, but I'm not sure I'll experience "worker bee" envy. Right now when I am working late, snarfing down lunch at my desk, responding to e:mails on my BlackBerry while on vacation (as expected) or answering the occasional call at 2am or some ungodly hour - I think I will be able to put "worker bee" in proper context.

DW and I have been together for 29 years now and we love each other dearly. And we both look forward to being together more often, but we both know that being together 24/7 would not be healthy for either of us. YMMV

For exactly the same reasons, I expect to hit the same state of mind as you have in retirement, but I'm also determined and already thinking about how to get through it. Even then I expect there will be challenges I haven't anticipated. But I'll get through it, and so will you. Best of luck...
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Old 08-03-2008, 08:04 AM   #12
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Any illusion I might have had regarding my significance has long since been vanquished, so that's one issue I won't have to confront. But during my practice retirement a few months ago, I had no problem finding worthless things to do. I'm a world-class dabbler, and there are thousands of things I haven't dabbled in yet...
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Old 08-03-2008, 08:09 AM   #13
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I went thru a period of loneliness because I was retired but all my friends were still working including my SO . I joined a gym and started making small talk to some of the women soon I had a few friends and a new life . I also have started fixing up my house in prepartion for a possible sale .
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Old 08-03-2008, 08:17 AM   #14
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Some individuals lack the capability to manage their own entertainment and/or self worth without being "productive".
I'll go out on a limb and say that you have been "told" what to do, most of your life (e.g. you "must" get up, go to school/w*rk, support your family, etc.)

In retirement, assuming you are "healthy" in a financial and physical sense, nobody is telling you what you "must" do.

For some (who may not have a "passion" that retirement will let them persue) this is a problem.

Like anything you have done in life (e.g. school, w*rk, marriage) you don't get "all the answers" immediately. It takes time (and effort) to feel comfortable in your new "situation".

It's like the person who was in a profession that required them to wear a uniform (military, police, doctor, nurse, fast-food worker, etc.) There are "standards" that ensure that you all look the same (e.g. uniform ). It's easy to get dressed because you don't have to worry about what to wear - because you wear the same thing every day. However, if you are not in that situation, you have to give thought to what you will wear every day. That takes more time, effort, and thought. Retirement is no different. Sometimes, it takes a little w*rk to find out what is best for you.

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Old 08-03-2008, 08:46 AM   #15
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The loss of structure and the job's social network are the biggest ER problems. Since I go to the gym daily, both of these problems are solved.

My one ER passion is to avoid bosses (DW excepted). The thought of some fool telling me he/she needs this or that completed by tomorrow morning is enough to remind me why I'm retired.
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Old 08-03-2008, 09:12 AM   #16
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But for now, I got a job that if not exactly mind-stretching at least gets me out with other people.
I am still working part-time, so I know what you are talking about. I refuse the full-time offer to have more free time for myself, but afraid I may have too much of a good thing.

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I'll go out on a limb and say that you have been "told" what to do, most of your life (e.g. you "must" get up, go to school/w*rk, support your family, etc.)
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I don't think it is that Ron. Some people, myself included, just do not feel right when we are not producing something with our time. For some of us, a life of 100% leisure just does not feel right. Same as eating nutria, it may be good for people, but you can't force them. That's why I suggest a vegetable garden. It is not really for the economic reasons, though one would feel better with a bumper crop. It is so that we feel that our effort produces some tangible results, even though it may cost more than going to the grocery store.

I also the type who wonders if all the equipments in the gyms should not be wired up to generators to produce a few meager watt-hours while people exercise. By the way, I read that a person can sustainly output only 100 Watts. That seems about right, because a horsepower is only around 750 W.

P.S. By the way, older retirees sometimes face the same problem, but to a lesser degree. By seeing that there are more people around them with the same age retiring, that may help their mentality. In addition, you know your time is running out, and that your physical, and often mental, abilities have declined. But early retirees do not have this "luxury".
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Old 08-03-2008, 09:26 AM   #17
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Bunny, this is great work. It reminds me of Art Buchwald or Irma Bombeck, two really funny people. Congratulations.
Oh I totally stole it and just changed a couple of things. I think thats about the 5th time I've posted it here too.

So I'm uncreative AND repetitive.

But I have no trouble filling up a day. Gabe and I are gonna go get his grampa and take him to breakfast, then we're going to chuck-e-cheese. Afternoon nap and then we're going to the park up the street that has the water fountain/play feature. Its got a water cannon that Gabe has imagined to be his fire hose for putting out all the imaginary fires at the park.

We'll be lucky to get home by 7 tonight...
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Old 08-03-2008, 10:29 AM   #18
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My one ER passion is to avoid bosses (DW excepted). The thought of some fool telling me he/she needs this or that completed by tomorrow morning is enough to remind me why I'm retired.
T-shirt spotted recently in Walmart: I'm retire; do it yourself...
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:33 AM   #19
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Thanks for all your comments and suggestions folks. I know this is a "phase I'm going through" and I'm glad to be retired. It's a beautiful day and DH and I are planning to enjoy it fully then grill out tonight. Wine WILL be involved. Guess I just need some more of those messages explaining how bad work is to remind me why I left in the first place
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:00 PM   #20
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CFB, I would add to the bottom of your manifest, " where are my car keys?"
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