After nearly one year since ‘retiring’, I look back on how I’ve been keeping myself busy and interested in life
I finished up my last IT contract gig as a Project Manager in August 2018. Now it’s May 2019 and I’m 10 months into early retirement. It’s my longest break away from work since I left university when I was 20 and so far I’m really pleased with how things are going for myself and the immediate family. I’m not one to sit back and smell the roses and so far I’ve been able to pack in a whole lot of interesting things that I could never have done in a full-time job. Some of the highlights have been:
- I’ve walked the Lycian Way in Turkey
- Explored China, Armenia, and Georgia
- Survived a silent meditation retreat in Thailand
- Cycled around the South Island of New Zealand and New South Wales
- Volunteered at the Wilderness Society and helped them with the Ethical Paper campaign
- Continued a daily meditation practice and stuck with a 4-day/week yoga schedule and continued playing badminton twice a week
- Marched with the Extinction Rebellion, something that was miles outside my comfort zone and thus really, really awesome
- Founded Below7, an online store for lightweight travel gear
- Started a Philosophy Course at the School of Philosophy
I’m in a much better place then I was a year ago. My fitness and health have improved (cycling 2,000km around NZ and Australia tends to do that) and I’m simply haven’t been in the sort of stressful situations that come with corporate life. Healthier and more much more chilled would be a good way to describe it.
I have found that a task list is necessary to keep idleness from taking hold and spoiling the wonderful opportunities that early retirement offers. Each morning I write a list of things I want to get done today. For example, my list for today is:
- Swim 1,600 meters
- Study Facebook and Instagram advertising
- Reply to the weekend emails and contact two outdoor suppliers on Alibaba
- Write a blog post about ‘Life after FIRE’
- Attend a Facebook Advertising Meetup tonight in Melbourne
- Call someone about studying a full-time TEFL course in July
- Test packing and weigh a carryon bag
Outside of these self-imposed activities, all of which I enjoy doing, I’ll also spend time doing stuff like listening to music, reading books from the library, make a simple lunch, take a walk in the woods with my wife and clean up the house.
For me taking a long-term break out of the workforce isn’t all about relaxing. It’s about having the time and energy to focus on projects that I find meaningful and interesting. These projects require discipline. They need a dedicated time each day to work on them, long term goals setting and writing task lists. This may seem like ‘work’ but if the project is something I’m truly interested in doing then these productivity hacks simply make doing the task more enjoyable. It’s quite a different experience from working simply for the money. On Writing by Stephen King and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami are great books about how authors find ways to keep themselves creative and disciplined on long-term projects while having a lifestyle similar to that of someone who is retired from the 9-5.
How’s FIRE working out for me? Great! I’m lucky to have this opportunity and intend to make the most of it.