Is Early Retirement Boring?

One of the more frequent criticisms I hear about early retirement is that, “I’d be bored if I retired and quit my job.”  (As if an interesting life doesn’t really exist outside the confines of a job.)

Personally, I hate the term ‘retired‘.  It comes with too much emotional baggage to be a useful word.  It’s one of the reasons why I don’t self-describe myself as ‘retired’ on this blog.  (I prefer “financially independent.”)  For many people, the word ‘retired’ just means sitting around on the couch, watching TV… pretty much just waiting around until they die.

That traditional description of retirement DOES NOT describe me or my life.  I’m still actively trying to better myself and my life… not just waiting around to die.  For those with the determination and discipline to reach a state of financial independence at a early age, the thought of sitting around all day, is a pretty repugnant idea.

Instead, I live life on my own terms…. from outside the confines of a ‘job’.

But is it boring?  Do I live a boring life now that I don’t have a job?  And, how much structure and determination does a person really need to succeed at this whole “early retirement” thing, without getting bored?

Today, I’m going to take a stab at showing you how I answer these questions…


What Gets Me Up In The Morning?

For anyone contemplating a life of financial independence, answering the question “What’s going to get you up in the morning?” could be one of the most important questions you’ll ever ask yourself before sending that final email to your boss.

When we’re working, staying ahead of the bills and keeping our boss happy probably tops the list of things that get us up in the morning.

But after leaving the job?  You really need to know what’s going to get you to drag your ass out of bed every morning.

For me, the biggest part of my answer is my kids.  They need to get to school every weekday morning, and this has me regularly waking up at 6:45AM.  The school system sets our schedule, but the real answer is that I’m committed to being a good parent and raising my kids to adulthood.  Part of that means getting them to school to get a good education.

walking to school
I walk my son to school every morning.  Not only does it get me up and out of bed every morning, but it helps fulfill my commitment to being a good parent.

Most people would call this ‘a purpose’, and I do agree that having one once you reach financial independence is a very good idea.  This is what’s going to get your sleepy butt out of bed every morning.  For some people, that purpose could be as simple as exploring the world.  For others, it might mean running a small business, or donating their time to worthy causes.

Having a purpose is not boring.  A purpose is something you dedicate your life energy too.  It’s going to take a significant amount of your time every day, and that means it’s a big personal commitment.


Daily Tasks & Personal Projects

A good purpose gets me a long ways, but it’s not going to fill absolutely every spare hour of my day.  This is where my daily tasks and personal projects come in.

Every morning, I do something — I sit down and write out my list of tasks for the day.  It is an old habit from my working days, but I still do it to stay focused, organized, and to avoid forgetting important things.

Usually I write these tasks on a sticky note. Or, more often I just open a Google Keep note on my laptop.

google keep daily tasks
An example Google Keep note with my daily task list.

Many of these tasks are simple every-day life tasks: Do the laundry, go grocery shopping, cook, mow the lawn, fix the sink, and so forth.  By-in-large, these tasks could absolutely fill a day, but I purposely make room every day for a creative project.

Why?  It makes me happy.  To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement, and the thrill of creative effort.”

Those words couldn’t be more true.  Long ago I realized that making things with my hands brought me happiness.  So I strive every day to work on some creative project.

This blog is a perfect example of one such creative project of mine.  I make very little money from the blog, but I really enjoy creating it.  It’s a passion project.

When I’m not blogging, I find myself building things with my hands for fun.  Like this bluetooth speaker I recently built…

speaker controls

Or, I make things to give to others… like this picture frame I gifted a friend for Christmas.

frame smallSometimes I make board games for my kids too.  They love games, and making them happy makes me happy.

tokyo highway

Then, there’s creative projects that improve my life — like this coffee table from a couple of years ago…

Side Table
Yes, I really built this coffee table and use it every day!

I certainly didn’t need to build any of these things.  I could probably have gone out and bought whatever I needed.  That’s not really the point.  I do this for the fun of it.  It’s a challenge — I like to learn new skills, and the sense of accomplishment when I’m done can’t be beat.

I highly recommend that everyone find themselves a creative outlet in life.  Whether you’re financially independent or not, take a little time out of your day to do something creative.

Having these creative personal projects will keep you too busy for TV, and the satisfaction of accomplishment will make you a far happier individual.


Take Time For Self Improvement

For anyone who thinks ‘early retirement’ or financial independence might be boring way of life, I would ask the question — Do you find self improvement boring?

One of the best uses of my hours are tasks dedicated to self improvement.  For me, this means improving my physical fitness by getting in a good run or workout.  Or, by reading a book or newspaper to improve my mental fitness.

You see, I’ve never thought of myself as a perfect person.  Far from it.  I try to approach life with a humble attitude, and I do the best I can to always keep improving.  I know I can be a smarter person, that’s also in better shape.  I also strive to be better father to my kids and a better husband to my wife.

These things don’t happen for free of course, they require significant effort on my part!  This is one of the reasons why financial independence is so awesome — you finally have the free time to really work on yourself.  No longer are there silly excuses like a job to get in the way!

For me, the amount of time I spend on self improvement activities varies greatly.  Some days it will only take-up a little of my time.  Other days it’ll be a lot of time… it totally depends on the day.

If the weather’s nice, I might go hiking and spend half the day exercising.  Other days it rains, and I’m indoors doing a ton of reading.  It just depends.

The point is, with the right attitude you’ll never be bored in financial independence — There’s almost certainly something about yourself that needs improvement.  So get to work!


The Saturday Question

If, after all this, you still feel like you could be a holdout to the “I might get bored” crowd, let me ask you one final question:  Do you get bored on Saturdays?

Most people would say, “Absolutely Not!  My Saturdays are the best days of the week, where I really get to have fun!  They’re usually totally filled with activity!“… and this is the perfect answer to the boredom question.  You see, once you finally reach a state of financial independence, every day becomes like a Saturday.  Every day becomes your day to fill.

At first, this seems kind of overwhelming, and you worry “How could I possibly fill up all that time?”  But you really do manage to fill-up every minute, just like any other Saturday.

Try this:  Think about all the things you do on Saturday right now — That’s probably a pretty good snapshot of how you’ll fill your days once you reach financial independence.

In fact, most of people I’ve talked to who are retired (or financially independent) actually say, “I don’t know how I ever had time for a job.”  In most cases, their life became busier than it ever was, once they quit that 9-to-5 job!

Do you think you’ll be bored in retirement?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


[Image Credit: Flickr]

17 thoughts on “Is Early Retirement Boring?

  • May 25, 2019 at 3:21 AM

    I actually feel sorry for people who aren’t interested in anything, or have no hobbies. That’s a weird existence to me

    • May 25, 2019 at 10:03 AM

      My wife and I always joke about one of us quitting and “retiring” so that we can live everyday like it’s a Saturday and spend more time with our two boys. Like you I’ve got so many fun projects I want to take on that I never have the time to do so with just 1 Saturday a week.
      One day we will get there!

    • May 25, 2019 at 2:55 PM

      Post more about board games! I’m an amateur game maker as well and would love to hear about the games you’re making for your kids.

  • May 25, 2019 at 5:06 AM

    Man. Gets you thinking if you’re like me – within reach of the “decision”… Your setup looks a lot like what I’ve contemplated: a healthy amount of time for domestic chores, kids, etc. But also some time for exercise plus passion projects (writing, or remodeling projects.)

    My sticking points are two — I kind of enjoy the people interaction at work, even the friction with some a-holes makes it, I dunno, spicey? Getting past sticking point two – loss of cash flow – I’ll be ready to take the leap.

  • May 25, 2019 at 6:09 AM

    I’ve been anything but bored since I left work. Granted, we’re preparing for the move to Panama, but I still can’t find enough hours in every day.

    I’m similar to you in that my daughter is what gets me up every morning… literally! It’s been wonderful to spend the morning with her and see her off to school before working on my own stuff.

    I’m excited to get settled down in Panama so that I’ll actually have more time in my day. I have so many projects I want to get done and try my hands at that I couldn’t ever imagine getting bored!

    Have a great weekend!

    — Jim

  • May 25, 2019 at 10:21 AM

    I’m very excited that FI is within reach, looking for a good buyout and they are starting to happen in my workplace which is downsizing. My fear is that my time will be swallowed up between miracle baby (mb) and elderly parents. I’m not sure what my superpower ‍♀️ is, not very handy, not into gardening, I write for a living and it has become a chore. Lately I have been pondering that I don’t have to have it figured out before I pull the plug (or the finger ).

  • May 25, 2019 at 11:33 AM

    My kids were grown and out of the house before I retired. I wonder how hard the transition is going to be for people like you, Financial Samurai and others with young kids. The fact is your kids stop wanting much attention in their mid-teens and have very little time for you during and after college as their own lives become the center of their attention. The time you spend now devoted to their care will have to filled up with other things. Since mine were grown there was no transition for me, but it will be different for you.

  • May 25, 2019 at 11:40 AM

    Boring people get bored. Exciting people can’t find enough time in retirement to do all the things they want to do. I think boredom is a choice. The problem is more along the lines of “social isolation” and “not feeling useful” in retirement. When you are working, you don’t have to try and you see people all day. And in terms of being useful, your work is dictated to you. In retirement, you have to put effort into it, it doesn’t just fall into your lap. You have to go out and meet people or Skype with people online. You have to start projects on your own that make you useful and give yourself meaning. Just throwing up your hands and saying “bored” because those things aren’t falling into your lap is the trap that most people fall into.

  • May 25, 2019 at 1:07 PM

    It is very important to have something to retire to than from. If you don’t have something fulfilling in retirement you can fall into the trap of doing nothing and start an unhealthy lifestyle.

    Creative outlets are the best and like you I take pride when I make something (or fix something) that I would otherwise have to pay someone else to do.

    I like blogging as well because it allows you to interact with like minded people and keep you socially engaged.

  • May 26, 2019 at 7:40 AM

    Hi Mr. Tako,

    The dog’s picture is amazing. I could not imagine a better picture to represent the title of the post.

    You definitively do not look to be bored with all the mentioned activities. Important is not to have the mentality of sitting around on the couch and watch TV as you mentioned.

    Unfortunately, I do not have a practical answer about the topic of the post. From what I can see from my vacation period I do believe that I would not get bored. There is always something to do, to work on, to read, etc.

    All the best.


  • May 26, 2019 at 10:23 AM

    Great Post
    Like you, I am frequently asked – don’t you get bored? 8 years in, I can safely say that I have never been bored. Between creative hobbies, normal chores, cooking, exercise, frequent travel, volunteering for a local charity, I certainly don’t get time. A long time to go before I start watching daytime TV!

  • May 26, 2019 at 10:25 PM

    You’re keeping quite busy. I think that’s the key. You need to have a little structure to keep you busy and have a little time for self-improvement. Nice job with the chores too.
    I enjoy being a SAHD/blogger too, but summer is coming up. I’ll have to figure out some projects to do with our son. He’s getting old enough to do something fun, but also resist it. Kids, right?

  • May 27, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    I was very surprised by how busy I still feel post-‘retirement’ (I also still have tasks, like blogging, which I guess is kind of like a job).

    I think one of the big things that keeps me busy was slowing down. When you work all the time you rush through things. Now I will happily sit with my baby for an hour while she eats. Your day gets full very quickly when every task isn’t a race to the finish line.

    I love it.

  • May 27, 2019 at 10:22 AM

    You’re staying busy without a job. Life won’t get boring for you, especially with two young kids! 🙂

    With summer coming up, it makes sense to take the kids out camping and teach them things about nature.

  • May 28, 2019 at 8:06 AM

    I don’t think getting bored is a big issue for most of us who are or are seeking early retirement. A lot of early retirees frequently have a side gig and have developed hobbies in anticipation for when they retire. I agree with FIREcracker’s comment about social isolation is probably a bigger hurdle for many. Your friends and family may still be at work or in school during most of the week. Many people enjoy the occasional lunch or drinks after work with coworkers or being a part of the company’s softball or bowling team kind of activities. Just the coming together with a coworker and discussing how to solve a work-related problem. This is why early retirement isn’t necessarily for everyone.

  • May 28, 2019 at 1:03 PM

    I’m 6.5 years into FIRE and still rarely bored. I do the same things I used to do on Saturday…7 days a week. Still, I’m contemplating whether I’m properly giving back so I’m looking into part time work for a non profit.

    Great post but…needs more pix of delicious food!


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