You might be wondering what it’s like to suddenly unplug from the corporate matrix. Well, it’s been about three weeks since I’ve officially stopped going to work and I’m starting to get a feel for it.
It, meaning: The detoxing process.
It, meaning: The life without spending eight hours a day in a cube thing.
So up front, before I get into it, I’ll state that I haven’t been sitting on my ass doing nothing. My retirement has not been, so far, much like your average American’s dreams. There has been no golf. Or beaches. Or drinks containing adorable miniature umbrellas.
Instead I’ve been focusing quite a bit of time and effort on moving — finalizing the sale of my single family home and becoming a renter again along with my wife. This has been keeping me plenty busy.
It’s probably also worth noting that it’s only been three weeks — hardly enough time to come to any serious conclusions about my new life.
But that being said, I figured it be worthwhile to document how things are going so far.
So here it comes.
- I’m sleeping better. There’s this sense that a weight has been taken off my mind. If thoughts have any mass at all, even at the electron level, then that statement is literal since I no longer have work-related garbage taking up space. Hoo-bleeping-ray. I cannot overemphasize how terrific this is.
- I haven’t once cared about the money. I haven’t peeked at my Vanguard accounts. I’ve seen a few tickers of the market variety but these sightings have been unintentional and quickly forgotten. (Anyone want to tell me how April went?) This is a good sign — that I’m not going to turn into someone who becomes paranoid about the financials, I hope. I did not quit my full time techno-nerd job in IT/Software to worry about money forty hours a week instead.
- I signed up for health care using my state’s health connector — MassHealth. And so far it’s going fine. Final approval for subsidy should be arriving soon, and I’m already covered. I was also able to keep my PCP.
- Life just feels right so far. My wife is, oddly, still working (and will be through August, she thinks… she’s stalling a bit.) Me, on the other hand — well, I’ve been glad on a daily basis that I haven’t had to go into the office. The openness of my schedule is a revelation.
- I wake up, I help her with her commute (I drive her to a public transit junction 2 miles from our soon-to-be-former-home) and I start doing move-related stuff. Packing, Craigslist-ing stuff, searching for potential landing points, checking out neighborhoods. I’ve never had such a logistically stress-free move. Moving while working full time is a full-on Horrible Thing. Moving while not working? It’s just moving AKA Stuff to Do, no big deal. I don’t have to negotiate time off with my manager to handle unexpected tasks, like signing a purchase and sale agreement or replacing carbon monoxide detectors prior to an inspection from the fire department. Nor do I need to sneak into an empty office at work to make private phone calls. Instead I just put on music and work at my own pace on these things instead of frantically sandwiching them in between everything else I’m expected to do. It’s great.
But aside from all of that, what I’ve been enjoying most is just this feeling of relief — relief that it’s over, relief that I’ve finally pulled the trigger and executed plans, relief that I’m not working anymore, talking to people at the office anymore, getting peppered with company emails about new policies and procedures, new hires, departures, new humans created either directly or indirectly by co-workers, upcoming quarterly meetings (volunteers wanted!), and whatever else.
This sense is pervasive. When my brain idles, it returns to this feeling of relief, which resembles low level euphoria, similar to how you feel when you’re laying in the outside on a cloudless day, the light all around you, warmth and rightness and peace.
The result of this is that I’m much, much more relaxed. We’ve had a couple of spectacular days around here, sun-drenched whoppers that assure you that summer is two steps away, and I’ve been walking out of doors, just soaking it up. I don’t know about you but hanging outside on 70 degree days is my idea of a pretty good time — when the weather is this nice, just existing is enough to make me feel terrific.
Aside: I remember days of similarly awesome quality last year, 2014, you know, WAY, WAY back when I was stuck in the office. And every single time we had a nice day, I promised myself anew that I would not be working at the same time the following year — that next year, Future Me would be outside on these days.
Let me tell you: Future Me has not been disappointed.
On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself just sitting doing nothing, breathing deep, and reveling in a sense of contentment. It probably helps that spring is here. Yesterday, I spent an hour or two sitting in my backyard. Initially I thought I’d read a book but that lofty goal turned into simply staring at the clusters of leaves popping out of oak tree branches around my house, a shade of green so impossibly bright it looked like a synthetic invention, maybe something Willy Wonka sprays on Everlasting Gobstoppers. I see a pair of cardinals flirting with one another, and remember reading somewhere that they mate for life, which makes me smile because that means they’re in for an awfully long haul, those little red bastards. Then I took a deep breath. There’s this feeling of fullness accompanying the experience, unnamed richness.
I know, I know – it sounds like I’m getting all crunchy. It’s strange for me too — I’ve been an indoors-person most of my life, tied to computers and monitors and devices, and suddenly I’m talking about breathing and appreciating nature like I just warped out of the 1960s. Like, woa, dude, far out. Got any LSD?
But I’m writing about this stuff because it’s where my attention has refocused. My eyes are involuntarily seeking out beauty, and it’s not indoors. It’s not on a screen.
A while back I wrote about this phenomenon I named the Veil of Cthulhu. It’s my metaphor for how my view of the entire world changed when I was working too many hours for a manager I hated at a company I didn’t feel much connection to. It partially blinded me — the work misery bled into every aspect of my life. Naturally beautiful things stopped registering as such. Senses became partially blocked. Colors darkened, mixing with gray. It became difficult enjoy the little things, the tiny moments of experience that make life worth living.
Put another way, it became difficult to be present.
I’m currently experiencing the reverse of that. Details pop out. The world appears brighter, nearly painterly, like something Bob Ross would casually toss on a canvas.
I don’t want to adapt to this feeling, ever – although I’m certain that I will. At the very least, that rainbow will surely disappear in a few months. If it’s one things that humans are good at, it’s getting used to our current environment, whatever it is that happens to be. (Damn you, hedonic adaptation!)
So by the time I’m writing Detox Part 6, I’m unfortunately sure to be typing stuff like “Birds… so boring now. Hope to replace them with hungry Bengali tigers and fat, previously-happy-but-now-terrified-bunnies enclosed in a small, fenced-in area. Will hire Metallica to play live heavy metal background music for the event for added excitement.”
And then I’ll get used to that, too.
A Whiff of Weirdness
If there’s one strange thing that’s going on so far, it’s that I occasionally feel a bit odd that there’s no longer anything that sucks balls going on in my life.
Read that again. I know, I know. It sounds crazy. It is crazy. Totally bat-shit.
So look, I acknowledge that I’m a bit nuts. Heck, I’m the guy who briefly went into therapy for the first time in his life, basically because he was having trouble giving himself permission to quit. You know, permission to move on to the next phase. Permission to be happy.
The thing is, I’ve become very, very used to toughing things out. Specifically, to toughing out the work grind. Part of my personal training to become accustomed to office environments included rewarding myself for dealing with the unpleasantness.
I’d talk to myself. Stuff like: Well, this isn’t a bowl of peaches or anything, but hey, you’re getting paid, and paving the way for a better sort of life in the future. So that’s awesome at least!
And my own internal positive feedback loops made me feel good, generally speaking – despite the fact that most days in the office resembled a full-on battlefield, with my role in the conflict being that of the ever-expendable infantryman.
Put another way, I learned how to take pride in my ability to gut it out, day after day. To squeeze in exercise before work. To manage to cook dinner at home even after 12 hours of continual mayhem, no matter how tired I was. I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t just tolerate the office grind — my attitude, once adjusted to focus on the positives and endure, allowed me to thrive.
But things are different now that I’m on easy street. Even with all of the move-related tasks, I have an abundance of free time, plenty of cycles. I’m well-rested. I’ve been napping when I feel tired, eating healthy, getting light exercise in here and there.
So it follows that I no longer have to work from a position of exhaustion — so I don’t. I don’t have to be anywhere at set times. I don’t have to be seen with my ass in an office chair to fulfill visibility requirements. I don’t have to look at my calendar or compulsively check emails and devices.
There’s nothing to tough out any more. If I want to pursue something, I pursue it. I go for a jog, take a look at an apartment, drive to someone’s house to take their old moving boxes.
The constant pressure and prodding of the office is gone, and without it, I admit I’ve felt a bit unmoored and anchorless, as though I’m utterly without weight. This is the weirdness that I occasionally feel, pinpointed: it’s a sense that a lack of sucky responsibilities chained around my ankles somehow makes me less grounded.
If all of this sounds a bit disorienting at times, that’s because it is. But I also want to be clear that it’s simultaneously liberating and awesome.
I’m finally feeling something different. For the past fifteen years of my office existence, I’ve felt variations on a theme, and that theme was the mass and heft of work and responsibility.
Now that that’s all done — the working years, the accumulation, the (at times) desperate struggle through the grind, I feel utterly buoyant by comparison. But what comes with that buoyancy is, occasionally, a brief feeling that I’m adrift on the wind.
unbearable incredible lightness of being.
An Invitation to Touch Down
Late last week, literally the day after we signed the lease for our new apartment, I received a message on Linked-In from an ex-co-worker.
The guy who sent the message is from the job I remember most fondly during my working years — a place I think of as StartupVille.
He’s a good human being. An engineer, through and through. Dedicated, meticulous, hard-working, and missing an emotion chip, like Data from TNG, pre-upgrade. But also loyal and friendly.
And he’s with a different employer, now. Another startup, one that he’s been with for about three years. I could already see from his email what he wanted. There was an opening for an employee of type: Me.
At any other time in my life, I would have responded to this request very differently.
First I would have immediately started questioning everything. Am I happy with my current job? What might this new place pay me? What are their prospects for success?
They’re a startup, after all. Maybe I could get a whole bunch of stock options. Maybe they’d be successful and I’d wind up rich.
Maybe the product is exciting — a real game changer. Maybe it’s a place where I’d feel proud to work (for a while). Maybe I could pretend I’m making a difference.
I’d be mentally setting up an interview. How many employees does the company currently have? How many clients? What’s the pipeline look like? The profit model? License-based? Or support and services heavy? What stack does the tech run on? What are the particulars of the position?
And so on.
But not this time. This time — as fond of Data as I am — I let it all go.
I took a deep breath and typed a response.
I briefly considered updating my work status to ‘retired’ but then thought better of it.
Then I went into my notification settings and turned off all email alerts. Because the truth is that I don’t want to be bothered by these sorts of things any more. They no longer have anything to do with my life.
From here on in, I’m linked-out.
🙂 <– smiling is what I'm doing after reading your post 🙂
😀 <– Smiling is what I'm doing since leaving my employer.
Aren't you done in a month yourself?
YES!! 1 month calendar time, 19.5 working days!
So cool, ABS, I can’t wait to hear about it(!)
“But I’m writing about this stuff because it’s where my attention has refocused. My eyes are involuntarily seeking out beauty, and it’s not indoors. It’s not on a screen.”
I hope my attention experiences a similar refocusing in retirement. I half-seriously worry that my screen-addiction will interfere with the pursuit of my true goals in retirement (and, ironically, I periodically voice this concern in the MMM forums). But then I remind myself that I will no longer be tied to an office computer for the majority of my waking existence, which should make it much easier to unplug.
>>screen-addiction will interfere with the pursuit of my true goals i
I used to worry about this too. All I can say now is: don’t worry about it. After a couple of weeks away from the grind, being on your computer will likely feel a lot less interesting to you. You’ll still plug in for periods of time, but it’ll be in spurts and you’ll batch together most of the activity for the day in a single go. The obsession with living in real-time on the internet goes away fast when you start to experience living in real time out of the office.
At least, that’s how it worked for me. I log in for about half an hour a day to do all of my online stuff, and then I’m out. (This does not include non-online computer activity, such as writing.) I’ve also dismantled push email and notifications on my phone. I’m going back to basics: If it’s an emergency, people can call me — otherwise, it can wait.
Congratulations– looks like you’re gonna have a great transition!
The nice thing about the move is that it gives you a project to work through for a few weeks, some exercise challenges, and a fresh start.
However you may also hear from well-meaning friends who think your move is a downsizing to save money and recover from your horrible mistake of leaving your job. Be ready for skepticism from people who think you’re still having problems. It may take a while for them to share your joy.
By the way I still see rainbows, and it’s been 13 years…
>>I still see rainbows, and it’s been 13 years…
Loved this. I’m hoping that’s how it works for me too.
So far, no one has commented on our downsizing but I’ll keep my awareness up. It makes sense that some people would be suspicious of the quote “real reasons” behind our move.
I’m new to your blog, read the last 3 posts including this one, love it! I’m having trouble following your charade about not letting people know you are retired. That’s the truth, and who cares what other people think. Part of being free, as you have mentioned, is the ability to say what you want to say. Truth would work for me. If they have problems with that, eff em. If they want to know how you could retire so early, just say I have been doing extreme saving for many years, and now have enough that I don’t really need to work any more.
>>That’s the truth, and who cares what other people think.
Right, I understand that most readers want to see what happens if you just flat out tell your employer you’re retiring. The shock and awe. The jealousy. The confusion. And since I kept this information to myself, I don’t have CW reactions to share, which is kind of disappointing.
But my own position is simply that I don’t want or need to see any reaction from anybody. I don’t feel it’s their business. As an added incentive to keep things to myself, I’ve identified most of my CWs as ‘Guardian‘ types, and if there’s one thing that’s been made very clear to me on this FI/RE journey over the last 15 years, it’s that Guardian types in particular have difficulty understanding people who do not want to work anymore. Why would I want to have this conversation with people? What is the benefit?
Linked-out haha. I can’t stand moving, but that’s probably because when I’ve done it in the past it’s just destroyed my weekend. This time of year is definitely adds a boost of happiness because of everything turning green and the nice weather. Wonder how long it’ll take for the wifey to see how much fun you’re having and join.
>>when I’ve done it in the past it’s just destroyed my weekend
Yes, exactly – you burn your weekend moving and then you’re back at work, giving you a beautiful 12 uninterrupted days of slog with little respite. This isn’t fun for most people.
>>Wonder how long it’ll take for the wifey to see how much fun you’re having and join.
Hopefully not long. I’m going to need someone to go hiking with. 🙂 She’s already getting jealous but just struggling to completely cut the cord. I think she’s about 3 months behind me emotionally — she’s in the “I could quit/I want to quit” phase instead of the “Damn you all, I’m going to quit immediately” terminus.
Wow, I hope to be able to make similar experiences. At the moment I’m still stuck in my job. Way too early for FIRE, but I can’t let go of this thought. I have to find a way…
You can definitely do it. Keep writing about it and stay focused — there will be no stopping you!
That sounds great. We just realized that mid-2018 s now our “most likely” time frame, and mid-2017 is a definite outside possibility. 🙂 I can’t wait to just sit and enjoy the green and Bob Ross like wonders of nature without all the work jibber jabber going on in the back of my brain. Sounds wonderful!
I love hearing from people that are so close. Aside: I also love reading the word “jibber-jabber.” Awesome.
I think you are in for a treat. My experience was about six months in I started to discover there was this whole side to my personality that was going unexpressed. Suppressed by The Man. Sans the man, you discover the One And Only True You. It’s that ‘being present’ thing you noted earlier just in hyper-drive. I enjoyed the journey of self rediscovery immensely.
>>you discover the One And Only True You.
Reading this comment makes me very excited about what’s to come, thanks for sharing this. I’m just starting to shake the old office-worker parts of myself off, and I suspect it’ll take a few months to work through it, but it already feels great.
Congratulations on the first steps of detox! Very inspiring to read as I keep watching my FIRE countdown. No golf or beaches in my visions, either (or at least not daily!) — just sitting in the sun on a weekday afternoon with some iced tea and a book sounds pretty good.
>>just sitting in the sun on a weekday afternoon
You, sir, will not be disappointed. Promise.
“The thing is, I’ve become very, very used to toughing things out. Specifically, to toughing out the work grind. Part of my personal training to become accustomed to office environments included rewarding myself for dealing with the unpleasantness.”
Oh God, this is me, and I was just thinking about this as I am trying to gird my loins to tell the boss I am leaving. There is this nightingale sense of failure for not continuing to just tough it out. I’d tell anyone else that that is crazy! But somehow this is a part of my process I just need to experience and work through.
>>I’d tell anyone else that that is crazy!
Not crazy. Being tough becomes part of your identity as you fight through the years. So it makes sense that it feels weird to suddenly say: I’m not going to do this anymore. Part of your brain feels like you’re surrendering — giving up — and you are NOT someone who gives up, are you? (Hell no.) So there can therefore be some internal resistance to quitting.
Just keep reminding yourself that you’re still tough as nails. You’re so strong, in fact, that you’re going to leave your job because you simply don’t need it anymore. It’s a pretty brave act, in the end.
I found your blog through MMM not very long ago, have been checking it everyday for updates, and haven’t yet been disappointed when you’ve posted one (this one was no exception). You have a wonderful writing style and it’s so interesting to read the contrast between your old and new lives!
Hey Emily – It’s always great to have new readers, and thanks much for the warm comments!
Sounds like you’re detoxing nicely 😀
I had a similar experience when I quit my job a while back, you can read about it here: https://mentalmodels.io/the-decompression-jerk/
Hope to hear more from you in the future, don’t go full-on hippie on us and disappear!
I read your blog entry – it’s a great analogy, thanks for sharing this. I don’t think I’ve even hit that final deceleration jerk — I’m still in the slowing down stages. My guess is that I’ll get the jerk once we’ve completed the move, mid-June, but I’m really just speculating.
>>don’t go full-on hippie on us and disappear!
This made me laugh – I don’t think I’ll be living in the woods anytime soon. Just trying to be more mindful and aware of my computer use — and at the same time, continuing to seek out things that provide sustainable happiness instead of instant gratification.
Come on! Burning Man 2015 – who’s in?
Very happy for you! I definitely noticed a huge uptick in my interest in nature as soon as I started making the transition to homeschooling and SAHDdom.
Today was a rare 80 degree May day here. Kids had a doctor checkup. A bit challenging to do it on the bike, but we did it. Close to 10 miles each way. Kids blasted it speed wise on way there despite a few huge hills, then on way back we took it slow and hit three different parks on way home, stopping at the first to eat the picnic lunch I’d packed, since the appointments were right before noon.
Sunshine and fresh air are some of life’s best medicine. Enjoy!
PS- depending on how “into it” you get (I am close, not quite) there are quite a few adults who’ve found keeping a nature journal is quite therapeutic. Even rudimentary field notes, pressed leaves, basic sketches can be really fun to do.
>>Kids blasted it speed wise on way there despite a few huge hills, then on way back we took it slow and hit three different parks on way home, stopping at the first to eat the picnic lunch I’d packed, since the appointments were right before noon.
Such a great way to spend half the day. I can’t believe your kids are in good enough shape to crank out 20 miles without collapsing in a heap. Sounds like someone has been training them up.
Ah… the post I’ve been waiting soooo long for (as well as the part 2 – infinity). I guess I’ll do a big reveal here, well, sorta. I worked for a suck-ville contract engineering company for 15 years, and now work for an international NOC (National Oil Company) that expanded into the GoM (Gulf of Mexico). Let me tell you, many of the blissful moments that first year, on a lesser scale, blew my mind. I don’t have to show up to work at a set time. I have 100% free healthcare. I have as much time off as I need for my family (basically the Trump Card on any request, like my plan to take a sabbatical next year). Yeah, I pretty much will never return to an American employer, but I do struggle to leave this one…
I also fret, admittedly over-thinking it I hope, that Retirement (not ever being told what to do) is the ‘last best thing’ in life. What if I peak too early? Because the body does eventually degenerate, and the wealth eventually becomes irrelevant (as long as it covers the future hip replacements and whatnot). But I still enjoy the ‘idea’ that more wealth or accomplishment will make me happier in my old age, although the truth is, only health matters, and that is less predictable and controllable than wealth at this point…
I’m excited for you (and the whole ER community, starting with the Terhorsts and Khadderlis). Humanity needs a push toward being happier, knowing the World and our inner potential more, and doing less of the relentlessly consuming out of a cycle of unhappiness or discontentment…
Congrats Doom 🙂
>> I do struggle to leave this one…
Makes sense, given the perks you’ve listed. If you’re happy working, keep working — it’s a good place to be.
>>But I still enjoy the ‘idea’ that more wealth or accomplishment will make me happier in my old age,
Studies show that older people tend to spend less, even when they have plenty of funds available at their disposal. Not saying you won’t be an exception, but just laying down the trends. I will readily admit that the age thing played a large role in my own urgency to leave my job this year. I’m now 38 and want to enjoy some of my peak adult years without the burdens of work.
>> my plan to take a sabbatical next year
This is a terrific idea for you. Get your feet wet in a risk-free way. Do you have any specific plans for what you might spend the year doing?
I know it sounds cliche, but I plan to visit lots and lots of National Parks with the kids during the summer. The kids are finally at an age where they can do some serious hiking. I have lots of planning to do though…
Hey, cliche things are fun too. No shame, EV. I have a few national parks on my own list.
Isn’t it amazing how you miss the stick poking you in the eye after you extract it? If you’re like me you may carry that expectation of looming pain into your ER life as you’re kicking butt on a volunteer or home project. in your mind, you’ll know that you absolutely need to complete task X by a looming deadline or else…or else, what? Then you realize there is no blow coming to your cerebral cortex. Your fellow volunteers are wandering off trail and no one is demanding that they send an exception report. Your home project just looks at you like, “Dude, go take a break. I’ll be here when you get back. This is hard to get accustomed to. And I imagine you can continue to be a workhorse in ER life, just with a more carefree attitude. But me? I’m letting the wind toss me around for a while. At least that’s what Present Me is saying while Future Me urges me to find some focus. Who knows, this workhorse may return to the plow eventually. However, the reins will be made of rainbows not titanium. Journey on. And while you’re looking at the wonderful green leaves don’t miss out on the bees. Up close, they’re amazing: http://sdnativebees.tumblr.com/
>>I’m letting the wind toss me around for a while.
I am too. Tired of being a workhorse. I’ll be running on low power, charging up, at least through summer. I kind of assume that I’ll find things to start getting obsessed over eventually — maybe writing, maybe volunteering, maybe I’ll get uber-into my guitar playing — but I’m not putting any pressure on myself whatsoever for at least the remainder of 2015. And that might turn into forever.
Love reading your comments, bilge.
bilgepump100, you should focus on starting a blog. I can’t get enough of your comments 🙂
Detoxing from the cube sounds rather jarring. In the best way. Your backyard leisure time sounds dreamy. I adore watching birds. They fascinate me. Today I had cardinals, bluejays, sparrows, titmice, gold finches, house finches, white winged doves, and a red-bellied woodpecker. May your newfound affinity for nature be Everlasting.
I don’t think I’d recognize a house finch if one landed on me. Outside of cardinals, the only other birds I recognize in my back yard are robins, jays, and the occasional crow.
Speaking of robins, we had a pair erect a nest on our garden hose last year. Since it was at chest-level, I was able to take a snapshot of the kids. Totally fascinating to watch them grow up and fly away. The process took about three weeks.
What a beautiful image. I see symbolism, here.
A part that really stood out for me was: “The thing is, I’ve become very, very used to toughing things out.”….”Put another way, I learned how to take pride in my ability to gut it out, day after day. ”
My experience exactly.
It sounds like, now that you’re not working, you’re able to enjoy simple pleasures more easily. Based on other similar accounts I’ve read, it appears that this is common. But given that this isn’t obvious prior to retiring, I wonder if most people end up budgeting too much for entertainment, only to realize that just going hiking, being out in the sun, or even hanging out in the yard are at least as enjoyable (and certainly less stressful) as compared to all the big activities planned while working.
Thanks for documenting this whole process! It’s entertaining and enlightening.
>>you’re able to enjoy simple pleasures more easily
Yes, this is accurate.
>> I wonder if most people end up budgeting too much for entertainment,
Possible — and may be particularly true for the extreme ER crowd, who tend to enjoy nature and simple living more than the mainstream.
But it’s also true that peoples’ definitions of entertainment vary wildly. I’m happy reading (cheap to free), exercising (same), and lazing around. Others want to travel a lot, and travel can be pricey depending on what you’re looking to do. (Although studies also show that most people do the bulk of their travel in the 5 years immediately following retirement. After that, frequency dramatically drops, which would immediately rein in spending.)
As a general comment, it does appear that many people vastly over-save for early retirement. It goes with the personality type : As people we tend to be risk-averse planners, and don’t want to screw it up. 🙂 That being said, a very common comment I see on ER forums is: I worked too many years, could have jumped ship earlier based on my actual spending patterns.
Which makes your point.
So proud of you! And loved the “Linked out” reference.
Total business opportunity here for linkedOut!
I’m so happy your transition has been a good one so far! Sounds like you’re going to be just fine. 🙂
I’m just over 2 months out, but I think my anxiety and OCD kept me trapped in the “you just made a huge mistake” feeling longer than normal. I’m working through all of that slowly but surely. I just went through my closet and have 90% of my “dressy/work clothes” ready to donate (keeping a few dressy things just in case of weddings or other gatherings). I deleted my Linked In profile over a month ago. I threw out a whole bunch of work-related items or they’re bagged/boxed up ready to dump as soon as I’m more comfortable letting go. it’s definitely an ongoing process!
I have started gardening and planting flowers again, and it is very therapeutic just hanging out outdoors… can’t wait to start seeing rainbows too. 😉
I’m so glad to hear you’re finding your groove — I knew you would! I had that awful mistake feeling for a few piercing seconds almost every day the very first week. Luckily, that feeling was combated by the incredible “holy crap thank god I’m not at work” thoughts, so it wasn’t a fair fight.
Loved reading about your work-purge, it’s so good to see the picture of you discarding those parts of you to make room for the new, awesome stuff — very inspiring!
Ah, that wonderful lightness of being! I understand how you might be concerned you will adapt to it.
But having been away from the office environment for a year now I’ve been able to keep that feeling. One little pattern I have developed is making sure at the start of each workday I do something I know my former colleagues cannot possibly do, but would love to be able to. In this case it is is making breakfast for my 7y.o. daughter and getting her ready for school; while workers are rushing off to get to their cubicles I am enjoying the company of my child and participating in her growing up.
And thanks for the update…I wasn’t sure if you were going to spend the next 6 months sleeping in!
Congratulations and it’s fantastic to hear of someone else who doesn’t feel the hankering to get back to work that seems to afflict many even after they don’t have to.
Remember how interesting the world was as a kid? Well, it’s gotten even better and now you have money and control over your own destiny. What’s not to like. The fascination hasn’t faded even after three years for me – keep that rainbow flying!
Linked-out; love that! I linked out immediately too, which makes it quite amusing that I was feeling down lately that I haven’t been head-hunted!
Like you, I also moved and rented a house immediately after leaving work. I think I detoxed for a good 9 months – this included getting sick, like I hadn’t been for years. I don’t know if this was my body de-toxing or what, but it happened. Lots of naps happened too! Year 2 saw us purchasing a home and moving again. I am in year 3 post-work and still adjusting – detox phase to adjustment phase. Still learning to embrace my freedom and letting myself be OK with ‘lacking ambition’ to do ‘more’ with my life. I still struggle with justifying my existence to some family and friends, and I look forward to hearing if you have these struggles. Since we moved to a new town, I had to answer the ‘what-do-you-do’ question a lot in meeting new people. I also didn’t own my freedom, so I likely made it more difficult for myself.
Interestingly, I hardly ever require naps now. It seems that getting a solid 8 hours of sleep a night is very good for me.
Embrace the crunchy! Given the current state of our environment, I think more people need to reconnect with their surroundings. Yep, I am one of those environmentally-bent people. 🙂 OK, I need to get off this computer and back out to the gardens. Cheers, Lisa.
Just popping in to say how much I am enjoying your writing. You’ve got a great blend of humor, honesty, and story telling and it’s a delight to read. I’m about two years away from early retirement, and I’m soaking all these insights up. Kudos!
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Enjoyed reading your blog. I did the same thing 10 years ago, although I was in my late 50s before pulling the plug. I’ve never looked back.
Hi, I really enjoyed reading this. I can definitely relate to the: “Put another way, I learned how to take pride in my ability to gut it out, day after day. ”
I am very near dropping out of work now. However, I have actually dropped to 4 days a week, rather than go cold turkey. Even one day less at work has made such a qualitative difference.
I am a bit worried that I would be bored eventually if I did give it up full time, but that may just be a fear based thing. Thanks for sharing your experience, it is inspirational to someone like me.
Great post! I can really relate to your feelings that you had while working for “the man,” I experienced a lot of the same things while I was still working. I’m not exactly retired now, I’m a stay at home mom, but life has gotten infinitely sweeter since making the transition (even though these days my work seemingly never ends!). But there is something incredible about being able to create your own priorities and choose how you are going to spend your days. Now my days consist of diapers and toys and cutting fruit into impossibly small pieces. But I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else 🙂
Congrats brother, I actually lost my job a while back. But it was related to how much time I’d decided to put into my own business/website. Best thing that ever happened. I was able to work it like my real job and now it is! I’m never going back to “work”. Life is too short.
Wonderful read first thing this morning! Absolutely what I needed to hear today. I walked out on a miserable job I hated working for a soulless employer I had grown to detest, performing functions that no longer had any meaning or relevance in my life. My sudden, accidental retirement left me breathless initially. I am just now (six months later) beginning to understand that I don’t have to set up each day with elaborate plans and schedules and goals, nor do I have to accept feelings of failure when everything doesn’t get done according to my rigorous spreadsheet mentality mindset. The most difficult challenge I’m facing is not boredom, not a lack of funds, not loneliness (all of which I continuously worried about). It’s learning the process of relaxing and letting go of a frantic, structured chaotic existence. Smell the roses, smell the roses, smell the roses. I am learning. Thank you for an inspirational post on this lovely day; I will take at least a moment to roll around in the awesomeness of answering to no one. Peace!
I love this post. I am so happy for you!
Have you ever considered upping your workouts as a way of having to still deal with some challenge and difficulty?
Hey, just found your site. This is awesome. May I offer my congratulations for having the guts to ‘go for it’ once your savings allowed it and not to hang on. Obviously a tough choice, but looks like you smashed it.
This is where I am now – “Put another way, I learned how to take pride in my ability to gut it out, day after day. To squeeze in exercise before work. To manage to cook dinner at home even after 12 hours of continual mayhem, no matter how tired I was. I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t just tolerate the office grind — my attitude, once adjusted to focus on the positives and endure, allowed me to thrive.”
Out on the bike before work as it’s the only time I can train, home, cook, chill, sleep, repeat. I, also, enjoy the grind to some extent. But for how long, who knows. I have a way to go until FI, but I am cracking on.
Will be reading how it plays out for you now that YOU ARE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEe 🙂
Pretty awesome stuff. It took me around 6 months to really slow down and settle in to the early retired life. Now I have zero problems looking at my calendar with absolutely nothing on it for the week and think how glorious that is. Maybe I’ll go swimming on Thursday. Check out that local historical mill on Tuesday. Revisit some well known trails on Wednesday. Walk 2 miles to the store to grab a part, then walk back 2 miles, all just because I can and because it doesn’t matter if it takes 2 hours. (My life this week 🙂 ).
Keep living the FI. 🙂
You’re a model ER citizen, and I love to see all of the walking.
My new thing: Placards. They’re everywhere in towns — outside of old fire stations, affixed to town halls, next to the crosswalks spanning rivers. And they all tell you something about the history of the place.
Old me felt he never had time to read these things. New me stops and reads every damned one, visualizing the past contributions of others.
The world is pretty interesting.
Congratulations, a reward well earned
It was at least 6 months before I stopped thinking about the office, and things only got better once that bit of baggage was gone 🙂 Life is a rainbow
Love this new feel of writing you have! keep it up! this is what we all have been waiting for! what’s it like when you have the ability to choose for yourself, EVERYDAY!
Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful! Good luck on the move
I’m close…maybe three years out…Questions I have…when is the optimal time to take social security…and I worry about medical emergencies which can suck you dry(even with insurance)I’m 56—looking at 60 to pull the plug…much older than you..
This article on Schwab’s site will help answer your questions re: optimal time for you for SS.
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Wow. My last day of work was 4/1 and I relate to your post beyond belief. My husband is also retiring in the fall. We just sold our huge house and moved into our rental townhouse. Sold or gave away 2/3 of our furniture and have been donating carloads of items to Goodwill, the library, the animal shelter, Crsigslist and tons on friends. We have our youngest still living with us at 14 and the three of us are ecstatic over our simpler life. Big congratulations to you!
>> Big congratulations to you!
Right back at you. Neat that your last day was April Fools. I’m going to assume that was intentional. 🙂
Our moving experience seems to have mirrored yours. Lots and lots of purging. We’re finally on the other end, unpacking what we didn’t give away.
Glad to hear you’re on the other end and unpacking. Awaiting an update with bated breath. Living vicariously will have to do for a while longer. I am so curious about the transition, although I’m guessing you’ve been so busy with moving, you haven’t gotten to that point of blissful stillness quite yet. Regardless, I’m certain it’s better than reporting to the cube.
I hate to prod you into doing more work, but I am also eagerly awaiting an update on how things are going for you (esp. post-purging/downsizing–I wonder if that has lifted another few pounds off your shoulders).
Sadly, my purging strategy is to downsize my possessions before even attempting to downsize my living space. The fatal flaw with this plans seems to be that it lacks immediacy–I can procrastinate indefinitely. Props to both you and DW for actually making it happen (and presumably reaping the rewards 🙂
Thank you! Life is settling down after our move in May and lots of work to our new home, a much smaller townhouse. To say I’m less stressed than I’ve been in ages doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’ve had time to do a housesit for 2 of the sweetest yellow labs and just joined my husband on a business road trip to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM with very little notice. It ended up being a vacation for me and I got to spend time with my husband instead of saying goodbye for yet another of his frequent business trips. My heart and spirit are coming around to this freedom thing and it’s sweeter than I could have imagined. I hope you’re in a similar blissful state. 🙂
I have just finished reading your blog from the beginning to the end. I am most grateful to you for your writings, which I think are some of the most sincere and realistic of the FIRE community. I hope that retirement is great for you. I am also looking forward to retire but in a few more years, as I love my job and it is an important part of how do I justify my existence in this world. However, I want to be free to pursue other goals and be closer to family and friends. So I suppose it will be in 5 to 8 years time.
I cannot understand why you do not have a much wider readership. I think that you should put this information as a book. It is an odyssey of the modern world, with much wit and full of very interesting characters (Cthulhu comes to mind). In any case enjoy and please keep us informed of how retirement is working for you.
This is exactly what I dream about when I think of my retirement:) Thanks for sharing!
Gah, I’m so jealous! Wait for me, about 4 more years and I’ll join the club of FI.
This was an awesome read, made me smile and makes me want to become FI even more badly now.
Really great post. Can’t wait to join you. Only 20 work days to go. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. 🙂
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