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Old 06-20-2020, 07:09 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by socca View Post
I find that in order to maintain the contrast, it's useful to never forget what it was like to be an employee.

This brings up some interesting questions:
• how can someone appreciate money if they've never been without it?
• how can someone appreciate being a business owner if they've never been an employee?
• how can someone appreciate being a homeowner if they've never been a tenant?

I have distant relatives who have never been without money, never been an employee, and never been a tenant. Oddly, they don't seem overly thrilled with their relatively privileged status. On the contrary, they seem quite adept at finding ways to make themselves miserable.
Yeah, I've enjoyed re-stoking that contrast effect a little, by (for example) reviewing a list I made of reasons to retire. I listed most of the negatives about work, and reading about them helps me remember.

It's strange. Even though it's only been a year, it feels like another world now.

I keep a journal, so I can also re-stoke the contrast effect by reading old entries -- e.g., times when I was going through stressful periods at work.

Another method is to meet up with old work colleagues. They invariably talk about stress and dysfunction in the workplace. A lot of their brain pan is filled with that stuff. I always leave those conversations feeling glad I'm out. I don't give a moment's thought to any of that stuff anymore.

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Originally Posted by jollystomper View Post
Maybe what I bolded is the difference.

I did not feel "relief" at retirement. I felt like "I have completed a good career, well done". I do not need anything beyond that knowledge.

I like to build things, and for me the satisfaction of what I have built remains every time I view it. My plans, my handiwork - the object might be 40 years old, but I still feel the same satisfaction at completing it, and how it is still being used and enjoyed.

I completed a career that I never expected to have, was paid way more than I expected for a job that was more a hobby than work, gave my family a good life through it, and left behind items that people are still using to do their job and be productive. That type of satisfaction (or "high") never fades.

Our different views may just be based on different attitudes about our careers.
Nope, but that's a good perspective. I feel similarly about my own career, maybe a little less positive, but overall, I take pride and satisfaction in what I accomplished, and I know I made the world a little better. I only mentioned the "relief" angle because someone else talked about it earlier in the thread (he described it as removing a thumbtack from your rear end). It's the flip side of the "high," but it's the same principle.

Like you say, that feeling of "satisfaction over a job well done" does not fade with time. Right, and that's the difference I'm pointing to. An enduring feeling of satisfaction isn't the same as the "high" I'm talking about. The feeling you're referencing existed long before you even retired, and it will continue to exist as long as you're alive. The temporary "high" I'm talking about happens specifically because of the change from work to retirement, and it derives from the contrast between those two conditions. The job or life satisfaction you're talking about doesn't. So, we're just talking about two different things.

My guess is that you didn't experience much of the "high" I'm describing, and so you're finding it hard to understand what I'm talking about. It's like the engineer said above -- the contrast depends on your starting point. If your job and life satisfaction was already high, you aren't going to experience the *bump* necessary for a high (or alternately, for a big sense of relief).

That's a good thing. The "high" is temporary. It's a function of change, of contrast, and of the brain's adaptation to change over time. But really, it's enduring life satisfaction that matters.

This is a very imperfect analogy, but you might think of it as akin to the difference between the intense rush of "falling in love" -- with the chemical soup you are bathed in (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, all the hormones) -- compared to the enduring enjoyment and satisfaction of a great long-term relationship. The first always fades -- because that's just how the brain works -- but the second continues (or rather, can continue).

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Originally Posted by pdxgal View Post
This is my fear too. Glad to hear you found it unfounded. In what ways are you more intellectually stimulated now? What are you doing?
Mm. Lots of things. I'll list them, because I like lists, lol.

1. Reading. Lots of reading. Some pretty heavy subjects. Atheism, Christianity, intelligent design, stoicism, the afterlife, psychology. I've always been a reader, but when I was working, a lot of my brain pan was taken up with work-related stuff. I've been reading a lot more, now that I'm retired.

2. OLLI. I now consider OLLI a "must" for any city I would choose to live in retirement (unless they had something else equivalent). Unfortunately, this has been shutdown lately.

3. There's a progressive (?) Christianity book discussion group I attend. It can be stimulating, and some of the reading has really helped clarify things for me. Unfortunately, this is shutdown at the moment.

4. Reviewing and reinforcing my own old ideas, which I've forgotten. I do this through journals. Part of my intellectual stimulation is just reminding myself of thing I've learned but forgotten.

5. Podcasts.

6. I talked about the lure of social media, but there are intellectually stimulating groups out there, too. I've interacted with some pretty interesting and smart people on various platforms -- and plenty of dumb ones, too, lol, but that's stimulating in its own way.

7. Making new friends. This is easier in retirement than when working. I'm just beginning, and it's hard with the shutdown, but meeting new people is always intellectually or at least socially-emotionally stimulating.

8. I'm able to do more writing about subjects that interest me. When I worked, all my writing energy was channeled into my career. Now that energy is freed up, and I'm enjoying the process of writing and blogging.

Overall, I'd say that intellectual stimulation feels much more available to me now than it did when I was working. When I was working, the intellectual stimulation was definitely there, but it was channeled in a pretty narrow and consistent way. I would pursue other interests outside of work, but most of my best mental energy was expended on work projects.

Now that I'm retired, my mind is free to go wherever it wants, and to spend all that energy on whatever interests me. It's also much more flexible. If something becomes boring, I can just shift to something else.

I'm definitely a believer in lifelong learning, so that's an essential piece of retirement for me.

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Originally Posted by Jakob View Post
Hello ER Eddie,
I really appreciate the post. You hit on a lot of topics that I’ve been thinking about. I am not yet retired but considered retiring at 62YO. One of the topics you mentioned is a big consideration for me. That is, engaging in meaningful activities. I do have hobbies that I would like to explore more deeply. Such as, musical instruments and community service. I have worked in the healthcare system for 30 years and I would like to continue some humanitarian service. What speaks most loudly to me is the ability to structure my time and using that time purposefully. As you stated in your post, that may not be for everyone. And I get that. But for me it would be important. Currently I am off work due to COVID-19 and a health-blip. All is good. And I feel in better shape than I have in 20 years. Thanks for the post.
You're welcome. I'm sure you'll find something meaningful to do in retirement -- sounds like you've already got plenty of experience and some ideas to explore.

I'll just throw this in, without knowing whether it applies to you. After 30 years in healthcare, some people who retire need a time period where they can just focus on themselves -- taking care of themselves, getting themselves healthy, recharging, or just enjoying things. Healthcare can be a stressful industry to work in, and it's constant focus on what other people or the system needs. I worked in that industry myself. I know lots of people who are great caretakers of others, but who tend to neglect their own feelings and needs.

If that fits you at all, make sure to allow plenty of time to just relax and do whatever you feel like doing. Shrug off guilt about not being "productive." Don't buy into messages about what you "should" be doing with your time. Don't worry about doing meaningful work or service for a while. Just let yourself relax and enjoy the freedom of retirement -- of not HAVING to do anything for anyone else or for some hospital system.

You're obviously a service-oriented person, so that need will arise naturally, when you are ready. But give yourself plenty of time and permission to just relax, unwind, and enjoy not having to do anything.
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Old 06-20-2020, 10:07 AM   #62
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I guess my only disappointment with ER, I have a disability and pretty much knew I would qualify for the insurance but preferred to work but when we were bought out started drawing. Its generous but assumed I would have a little left to continue to invest which I enjoy doing. Wrong. Really goes. P&C in my state alone is a disgrace. But some months dont have to draw and can just reinvest the payout.
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Old 06-20-2020, 08:14 PM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post
Yeah, I've enjoyed re-stoking that contrast effect a little, by (for example) reviewing a list I made of reasons to retire. I listed most of the negatives about work, and reading about them helps me remember.

It's strange. Even though it's only been a year, it feels like another world now.

I keep a journal, so I can also re-stoke the contrast effect by reading old entries -- e.g., times when I was going through stressful periods at work.

Another method is to meet up with old work colleagues. They invariably talk about stress and dysfunction in the workplace. A lot of their brain pan is filled with that stuff. I always leave those conversations feeling glad I'm out. I don't give a moment's thought to any of that stuff anymore.



Nope, but that's a good perspective. I feel similarly about my own career, maybe a little less positive, but overall, I take pride and satisfaction in what I accomplished, and I know I made the world a little better. I only mentioned the "relief" angle because someone else talked about it earlier in the thread (he described it as removing a thumbtack from your rear end). It's the flip side of the "high," but it's the same principle.

Like you say, that feeling of "satisfaction over a job well done" does not fade with time. Right, and that's the difference I'm pointing to. An enduring feeling of satisfaction isn't the same as the "high" I'm talking about. The feeling you're referencing existed long before you even retired, and it will continue to exist as long as you're alive. The temporary "high" I'm talking about happens specifically because of the change from work to retirement, and it derives from the contrast between those two conditions. The job or life satisfaction you're talking about doesn't. So, we're just talking about two different things.

My guess is that you didn't experience much of the "high" I'm describing, and so you're finding it hard to understand what I'm talking about. It's like the engineer said above -- the contrast depends on your starting point. If your job and life satisfaction was already high, you aren't going to experience the *bump* necessary for a high (or alternately, for a big sense of relief).

That's a good thing. The "high" is temporary. It's a function of change, of contrast, and of the brain's adaptation to change over time. But really, it's enduring life satisfaction that matters.

This is a very imperfect analogy, but you might think of it as akin to the difference between the intense rush of "falling in love" -- with the chemical soup you are bathed in (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, all the hormones) -- compared to the enduring enjoyment and satisfaction of a great long-term relationship. The first always fades -- because that's just how the brain works -- but the second continues (or rather, can continue).



Mm. Lots of things. I'll list them, because I like lists, lol.

1. Reading. Lots of reading. Some pretty heavy subjects. Atheism, Christianity, intelligent design, stoicism, the afterlife, psychology. I've always been a reader, but when I was working, a lot of my brain pan was taken up with work-related stuff. I've been reading a lot more, now that I'm retired.

2. OLLI. I now consider OLLI a "must" for any city I would choose to live in retirement (unless they had something else equivalent). Unfortunately, this has been shutdown lately.

3. There's a progressive (?) Christianity book discussion group I attend. It can be stimulating, and some of the reading has really helped clarify things for me. Unfortunately, this is shutdown at the moment.

4. Reviewing and reinforcing my own old ideas, which I've forgotten. I do this through journals. Part of my intellectual stimulation is just reminding myself of thing I've learned but forgotten.

5. Podcasts.

6. I talked about the lure of social media, but there are intellectually stimulating groups out there, too. I've interacted with some pretty interesting and smart people on various platforms -- and plenty of dumb ones, too, lol, but that's stimulating in its own way.

7. Making new friends. This is easier in retirement than when working. I'm just beginning, and it's hard with the shutdown, but meeting new people is always intellectually or at least socially-emotionally stimulating.

8. I'm able to do more writing about subjects that interest me. When I worked, all my writing energy was channeled into my career. Now that energy is freed up, and I'm enjoying the process of writing and blogging.

Overall, I'd say that intellectual stimulation feels much more available to me now than it did when I was working. When I was working, the intellectual stimulation was definitely there, but it was channeled in a pretty narrow and consistent way. I would pursue other interests outside of work, but most of my best mental energy was expended on work projects.

Now that I'm retired, my mind is free to go wherever it wants, and to spend all that energy on whatever interests me. It's also much more flexible. If something becomes boring, I can just shift to something else.

I'm definitely a believer in lifelong learning, so that's an essential piece of retirement for me.



You're welcome. I'm sure you'll find something meaningful to do in retirement -- sounds like you've already got plenty of experience and some ideas to explore.

I'll just throw this in, without knowing whether it applies to you. After 30 years in healthcare, some people who retire need a time period where they can just focus on themselves -- taking care of themselves, getting themselves healthy, recharging, or just enjoying things. Healthcare can be a stressful industry to work in, and it's constant focus on what other people or the system needs. I worked in that industry myself. I know lots of people who are great caretakers of others, but who tend to neglect their own feelings and needs.

If that fits you at all, make sure to allow plenty of time to just relax and do whatever you feel like doing. Shrug off guilt about not being "productive." Don't buy into messages about what you "should" be doing with your time. Don't worry about doing meaningful work or service for a while. Just let yourself relax and enjoy the freedom of retirement -- of not HAVING to do anything for anyone else or for some hospital system.

You're obviously a service-oriented person, so that need will arise naturally, when you are ready. But give yourself plenty of time and permission to just relax, unwind, and enjoy not having to do anything.
Hey, ER Eddie,

If you need an OLLI fix, the Univ. of Michigan OLLI is currently offering lectures online and they are free. Plus they've opened up their catalog of previously recorded OLLI lectures, for free, too.

OLLI-UM is free through August at which time they'll reassess.

You can sign up for their Daily OLLI email which lists the next few upcoming lectures with links to join.

(I'd include links but am writing this on my cell phone.)

omni
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Old 06-21-2020, 08:21 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
Hey, ER Eddie,

If you need an OLLI fix, the Univ. of Michigan OLLI is currently offering lectures online and they are free. Plus they've opened up their catalog of previously recorded OLLI lectures, for free, too.

OLLI-UM is free through August at which time they'll reassess.

You can sign up for their Daily OLLI email which lists the next few upcoming lectures with links to join.

(I'd include links but am writing this on my cell phone.)

omni

Thanks, omni.

The thing I appreciate most about OLLI is the sense of community that develops, plus the in-person interactions with the teacher and fellow students. You can't really duplicate that via online courses. You can join some of them via webcams (which I don't have set up), but it's not the same, especially when it's someone else's OLLI.

Even though I listed OLLI in a response about intellectual stimulation, OLLI is probably more a social stimulation than an intellectual one, for me. The intellectual piece is there, but I can get that in any number of other places (Youtube lectures, online classes, etc.). It's the social community that makes it special, for me.

I appreciate the suggestion, though.
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:40 AM   #65
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Great post. I wanted to compare my thoughts to these after I had been retired for a year. Some were the same, some were different:

1. Hey, an economic collapse. Neat. --> this reinforced my retirement plan, I saw even at the lowest levels it did not impact my retirement lifestyle from a financial perspective.

2. I figured out when I’m going back to work: never --> Agree.

3. I significantly underestimated my expenses -->it is the opposite for me, I overestimated our expenses and have spent a little more than a 3rd of what we planned.

4. The honeymoon lasted about 6 to 9 months --> I am still on the honeymoon, it is still fantastic to get up a be able to decide every day what I want to do, and I have a wide selection of options

5. I needed “meaningful work” sooner than I expected --> my meaningful work is whatever I choose to do.

6. The lure of social media --> I see "social media" as a trap I choose not to get wrapped up in. I want to maintain my mental and physical abilities, focusing on these keeps me away from social media.

We are all figuring out this retirement thing as we go along, the great news is that we are fortunate to be in this position in the first place, and that is what I keep focusing on.
I found myself agreeing with every one of these items and how you responded. I am one year in and quite happy.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:47 AM   #66
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I started listing what I won’t miss about work the last year of the job. It was a rare day I couldn’t add to it. 5 years later, I still pull it up (note on iPad) on occasion and get a chuckle from it as well as a profound sense of gratitude for being able to get to the other side of it.
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Old 06-25-2020, 10:12 AM   #67
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Interesting observations, ER Eddie!

Regarding the economic collapse - we are not yet able to look to the final stage of the pandemic and its effects. My financial adviser thinks that we are about 1/3 of the way "there," - meaning a readily available and effective vaccine - but he doesn't really know. This situation is so unprecedented. I felt wary enough to reduce my distribution for 2 months by about a third, but my FA is back to full speed ahead and my normal distribution in July.

I'm throwing in with the group where the honeymoon never ends. I do get the distinction you are making, but everytime I think about my situation, I end up smiling so broadly. Post-retirement is, honestly, delightful! Every time I make a to-do list it gets headed "Delicious Day [Date]" It's been 2 years, and I'm still feeling the joy.

One aspect that I think you and I have exchanged some remarks on earlier was the idea of "making a change." You would think that retiring in and of itself would be change enough for a while, but I find myself wishing for changes in all areas. I too had originally thought of moving, but am feeling less like that now, due to the sober realization that I will probably have to move again at some point due to getting old, so why move twice? But I want CHANGE. New window treatments, furniture, pots and pans, house plants. I didn't anticipate longing for so much change!
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Lessons from My First Year of Retirement
Old 06-26-2020, 05:30 AM   #68
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Lessons from My First Year of Retirement

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Originally Posted by Pellice View Post
Interesting observations, ER Eddie!

Regarding the economic collapse - we are not yet able to look to the final stage of the pandemic and its effects. My financial adviser thinks that we are about 1/3 of the way "there," - meaning a readily available and effective vaccine - but he doesn't really know. This situation is so unprecedented. I felt wary enough to reduce my distribution for 2 months by about a third, but my FA is back to full speed ahead and my normal distribution in July.

I'm throwing in with the group where the honeymoon never ends. I do get the distinction you are making, but everytime I think about my situation, I end up smiling so broadly. Post-retirement is, honestly, delightful! Every time I make a to-do list it gets headed "Delicious Day [Date]" It's been 2 years, and I'm still feeling the joy.

One aspect that I think you and I have exchanged some remarks on earlier was the idea of "making a change." You would think that retiring in and of itself would be change enough for a while, but I find myself wishing for changes in all areas. I too had originally thought of moving, but am feeling less like that now, due to the sober realization that I will probably have to move again at some point due to getting old, so why move twice? But I want CHANGE. New window treatments, furniture, pots and pans, house plants. I didn't anticipate longing for so much change!


I feel the tug for change you describe as I wind up what could be my last real job in two weeks - just in time to be shut down from doing very much due to the pandemic! I like your Delicious Day list a lot. One thing I won’t do is go out and celebrate the end of my biweekly paychecks, as a lot of people seem to, by buying A NEW CAR. We might even get rid of the oldest one. I also hope I can avoid the fantasy of buying real estate I don’t need. For now, my 2020 Delicious List is going to be about building a fence, deck and patio. I can at least justify those expenses as investments we can enjoy, which will help me fill some time, and that will add a bit to home value.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:55 AM   #69
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One thing I won’t do is go out and celebrate the end of my biweekly paychecks, as a lot of people seem to, by buying A NEW CAR.
Likewise.

Everytime I think about updating our cars, I do a mental poll of what I really prefer and it always ends up being money in the bank (vs large purchases).

We have a 2013 and a 2015 vehicle(s) and they are doing just fine.
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:27 AM   #70
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Well said.

I do take part in a few online discussions. Two are niche hobbies, where my input actually is valued, and one is a newspaper comments section, where I find people's reactions to my comments rather interesting. But I don't get caught up in arguments there, any more than I would in real life. Not worth the bother.

Facebook? Strictly for fun photos of people's kids, grandkids, pets, and hobbies.
I used to get travel ideas from a well-to-do friend's FB vacation photos, but even she is having to stay home these days!

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Expressing your opinion is....just wasted karma.
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:39 AM   #71
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Well said.

I do take part in a few online discussions. Two are niche hobbies, where my input actually is valued, and one is a newspaper comments section, where I find people's reactions to my comments rather interesting. But I don't get caught up in arguments there, any more than I would in real life. Not worth the bother.

Facebook? Strictly for fun photos of people's kids, grandkids, pets, and hobbies.
I used to get travel ideas from a well-to-do friend's FB vacation photos, but even she is having to stay home these days!
I have found the best use of Facebook is participating in the groups. I have some odd interests like archeology and petroglyphs of the American west and sure enough there are private groups for these interests.

I find the private groups are more about sharing and less about trolling.
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Old 06-26-2020, 09:44 PM   #72
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Keep it that way. A prof where I graduated was fired last week because of a comment on fb that was't considered pc and another one will probably go this week. A friend of mind gets kicked off fb regularly for poking his finger in the lefts eye but just comes back. Probably not worth your time.
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Old 06-27-2020, 07:17 AM   #73
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I'm throwing in with the group where the honeymoon never ends. I do get the distinction you are making, but everytime I think about my situation, I end up smiling so broadly. Post-retirement is, honestly, delightful! Every time I make a to-do list it gets headed "Delicious Day [Date]" It's been 2 years, and I'm still feeling the joy.
I've been reading about Introversion lately (Big Five, not MBTI), and I recognize that my personality may be playing a role here. What I mean is, Introverts are characterized by (among other things) low positive emotionality. That is, they experience less joy, enthusiasm, and excitement overall than extroverts do. That's a very reliable finding. It seems to have something to do with differential firing in the reward centers of their brains. It doesn't mean they experience more negative emotion (that's a different, independent factor, Neuroticism); just less positive.

I've taken probably 20 introversion-extroversion tests, and I always score very high on introversion or very low on extroversion. For example, I was at the 5th percentile on the Extroversion scale I took yesterday, meaning 95% of the population is more extroverted than I am.

I think personality is a factor here. I think my introversion (low positive emotionality) causes me to experience less joy, excitement, and enthusiasm for all sorts of things. I've noticed that characteristic in me for a long time. I just don't get the *charge* out things that most people do -- career achievement, marriage, family, nice home, buying stuff, big vacations, praise, attention, social status, etc. It's not that those things don't register; it's just that I don't get all that much of a kick from them.

I think this extends to my experience of retirement. I think some people are just predisposed to experience life with plenty of happiness and joy, and that's how they experience their retirement, too. That's just how they're wired. I'm wired the other way. I have less positive emotion. That was true before retirement, and it's true of retirement as well. So when people talk about retirement being a perpetual state of happiness, I don't get that; I can't relate. It's just not my experience.

So in addition to the external factors we've talked about before, I think personality (specifically introversion-extroversion) is probably a factor in the experience of retirement, too. To clarify again, I'm talking about Big 5 introversion, not MBTI, which is different. I say that because so many here identify themselves as introvert based on MBTI.

If other high-level Big 5 introverts are listening, there's a danger in getting your expectations unrealistically high, based on other people's experience of retirement. If your own experience doesn't match theirs, you can begin to wonder if there's something wrong with you or your retirement. That just adds unnecessary suffering.

I'm talking to myself, too. I'm reminding myself that I'm wired differently than most people, and so I shouldn't use their experiences as a yardstick to evaluate my own.
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Old 06-28-2020, 02:41 AM   #74
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I've been reading about Introversion lately (Big Five, not MBTI), and I recognize that my personality may be playing a role here. What I mean is, Introverts are characterized by (among other things) low positive emotionality. That is, they experience less joy, enthusiasm, and excitement overall than extroverts do. That's a very reliable finding. It seems to have something to do with differential firing in the reward centers of their brains. It doesn't mean they experience more negative emotion (that's a different, independent factor, Neuroticism); just less positive.

I've taken probably 20 introversion-extroversion tests, and I always score very high on introversion or very low on extroversion. For example, I was at the 5th percentile on the Extroversion scale I took yesterday, meaning 95% of the population is more extroverted than I am.

I think personality is a factor here. I think my introversion (low positive emotionality) causes me to experience less joy, excitement, and enthusiasm for all sorts of things. I've noticed that characteristic in me for a long time. I just don't get the *charge* out things that most people do -- career achievement, marriage, family, nice home, buying stuff, big vacations, praise, attention, social status, etc. It's not that those things don't register; it's just that I don't get all that much of a kick from them.

I think this extends to my experience of retirement. I think some people are just predisposed to experience life with plenty of happiness and joy, and that's how they experience their retirement, too. That's just how they're wired. I'm wired the other way. I have less positive emotion. That was true before retirement, and it's true of retirement as well. So when people talk about retirement being a perpetual state of happiness, I don't get that; I can't relate. It's just not my experience.

So in addition to the external factors we've talked about before, I think personality (specifically introversion-extroversion) is probably a factor in the experience of retirement, too. To clarify again, I'm talking about Big 5 introversion, not MBTI, which is different. I say that because so many here identify themselves as introvert based on MBTI.

If other high-level Big 5 introverts are listening, there's a danger in getting your expectations unrealistically high, based on other people's experience of retirement. If your own experience doesn't match theirs, you can begin to wonder if there's something wrong with you or your retirement. That just adds unnecessary suffering.

I'm talking to myself, too. I'm reminding myself that I'm wired differently than most people, and so I shouldn't use their experiences as a yardstick to evaluate my own.
You're speaking to me that's for sure. So many people have asked me in my life "Are you excited?" about something that might elicit that response in them and I always have felt defensive in saying "I never get excited". Which is very true. I think I also experience less joy and enthusiasm as well, but also less sadness and loneliness.
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:11 PM   #75
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My FIRE lessons

Such an interesting thread! My own experience from my first 2.5 years of FIRE are quite different than the OP. Here we go…

1. Hey, an economic collapse. Neat.

Here we agree. My first withdrawal from my IRA was planned to be in April 2020 just as the market tanked. But I had already setup for about 6 years of withdrawals in cash so I still sleep well knowing we can weather this storm.

2. I figured out when I’m going back to work: never

Debating about whether I would want or need to go back to work was never a part of my thinking. I enjoyed my career but always knew that I would leave when we had enough assets to live comfortably with some buffer. I had lots of folks tell me I would be bored and miss the challenges of work but I would just smile and say “we’ll see…” For those who are in doubt during their first year, I would advise to give it some time and don’t rush back to the grind. Retirement is a huge transition for most people and you need to actively think about how you want to spend your time.

3. I significantly underestimated my expenses

We have significantly overestimated our expenses. We tend to be conservative in our planning and our investments has done better than planned so we are accelerating some home improvement projects. I now know that I could have FIREd about 2 years earlier (at age 55) but hindsight is 20/20.

4. The honeymoon lasted about 6 to 9 months

I’m still on my honeymoon after 2.5 years. Maybe that’s because I did not have a sense of overwhelming euphoria when I quit work as some have described. I would describe my feelings then as being excited about the next phase of our lives with all the freedoms we now have.

I still feel that same way every single day. Sometimes it hits me when I’ve slept in a bit. More often, I get that feeling of excitement as I’m headed off in the morning to golf, pickleball or some other activity. I suppose it may wear off at some point but it has not so far.

5. I needed “meaningful work” sooner than I expected

Not me. I have absolutely no guilt what so ever about doing whatever I want.

However, I have chosen to volunteer my time to a non-profit and I do consider that meaningful. But it is not meaningful work. I do it to give back to those less fortunate and it makes me feel good to do so. But I don’t get the same sense of accomplishment as when I worked so I don’t consider it “meaningful work.” I have no guilt without meaningful work.

6. The lure of social media

Again my experience is very different. When I was working, I had no time or patience for social media and I felt a little left out. Since I FIREd, I’ve enjoyed spending time connecting on several sites, including this one.

Previously, I would not have taken the time on social media to provide a lengthy reply like this one. I spend the time I want on social media with no regrets.

7. A lesson of my own – you can’t plan everything

Like many here, I spent years with my spreadsheets planning the financial aspects of FIRE and read books like Ernie Zelinski’s to prepare for the non-financial parts of retirement. But shortly after retirement, our family experienced unexpected and serious health issues that have prevented us from living out all of our retirement dreams.

I am hopeful that we are turning the corner soon on those health issues but my point is to understand that life is still full of unknowns. Retirement is wonderful, but life always has its challenges and not every day will be perfect. But it still beats working!
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Old 06-30-2020, 05:33 AM   #76
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I realize there is another aspect to this -- another factor that influences how we each experience the transition to retirement differently. You might read on if you're trying to set your expectations for how retirement will feel. It's one other factor to consider.

It occurred to me that when I listen to other people talk about their retirement experience, I often hear a "set loose" theme. They feel a large increase in their sense of freedom and free time. They feel liberated, set free to do things they just didn't have time for, previously.

I'm different (what's new), in that I've always valued freedom and free time very highly, and so I've passed by many things (marriage, children, promotion, big house, etc.), because I valued my freedom and free time more. My only real obligation is to a dog, lol. In addition, in the 6 years leading up to retirement, I was only working 20 hours a week. That added even more free time.

So, prior to retirement, I already had abundant freedom and free time. I had arranged my life that way. I had tons of free time. When I retired, my free time increased by about 20%. That was nice, but it wasn't a big change. I had plenty of freedom and free time prior to retirement, and afterwards, I had a bit more. But it didn't represent a major change in my lifestyle.

In fact, I have often remarked to myself, "My life in retirement isn't all that much different than my life before retirement." And it isn't. Prior to retirement, I was doing pretty much what I liked, when I liked, for as long as I liked. After retirement, I have 20% more free time, which is nice, but it's not a big shift in lifestyle. My life isn't much different now than it was before.

For other people, though, it's going to be very different. They have more marital and family responsibilities than I do; they work full time; they have more stuff to take care of; more work responsibilities, etc. -- and so, they have less free time to just do what they want, when they want. For them, the increase in free time in retirement is going to be much larger, probably an order of magnitude larger, maybe a 200% increase or more, compared to my 20% increase. And so, they will experience retirement as a liberation and a huge expansion in free time.

Since I'm a big fan of freedom and free time, I can easily imagine how that would lead those people to feel a long-lasting sense of happiness and satisfaction about retirement, especially when they think back on how things were before. The change in lifestyle for them has been dramatic. For me, it's been relatively small. Like I say, my life hasn't changed all that much, really.

If you're setting your expectations for retirement, you might consider this angle. How much freedom and free time do you feel right now, in your current work and family life? How much additional free time will retirement grant you? If you're like me and had abundant freedom and free time prior to retirement, then retirement may not feel like a big change. If you're like others who live very busy, responsibility-filled work and family lives, then retirement is going to feel very freeing. Enjoy.
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:47 PM   #77
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One more lesson. I was reviewing my 2018 and 2019 journals today, and I saw repeated entries about how stressed I was at work. Even though I was only working 20 hours a week, and I wasn't particularly busy, I was still feeling quite stressed. It's just the nature of the work.

It would often affect my sleep on workdays, so that I would go through the days sleep deprived, which messed with my mood and mental acuity. It would take me Saturday to recover.

I'd forgotten all about that. In retirement, I have hardly any stress at all. Things are remarkably calm and peaceful. I've got very little to worry about.

Anyway, so that was one more lesson I forgot -- that retirement is remarkably stress free (knock on wood).
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:56 PM   #78
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I was well aware of my stress due to work and I actively did things to relieve it. It was only when I retired that I realized that I was only relieving 10% of it. That first month of ER was a huge burden off my shoulders.
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Old 07-06-2020, 08:58 AM   #79
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Appreciate this so much. I retired from public school teaching. Freaked out at how much sad ruminating I was doing and went back to teaching at a Catholic school. It seemed to be the perfect balance then Covid hit, and it stopped being fun. I’m signed on to continue this school year but am terrified. Will have more in place and ready to go for when I reretire. I feel like I need some work as I’m just no good at keeping busy without a job, but I need the flexibility to travel when rates are cheap and it is possible to do so again.
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