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.
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.
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…
Or, I make things to give to others… like this picture frame I gifted a friend for Christmas.
Sometimes I make board games for my kids too. They love games, and making them happy makes me happy.
Then, there’s creative projects that improve my life — like this coffee table from a couple of years ago…
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]