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The Financial Independence, Retire Early Movement (FIRE) inspired me to retire at the ripe old age of 34. They say that once you go into retirement that your life expectancy goes down. So, what do I do with my life to ensure that I can keep the candle lit? I do a lot, of course! It’s just not centered around making money… although I still have found a way to make more than I need as a byproduct of doing what I love.
In this article, I’ll go over the things I do in my early FIRE inspired retirement that keeps me engaged and loving life. Many folks lived their working years on autopilot and if you follow the same recipe while retired you probably will find that you were expecting more and received less than hoped.
In my case, I’ve found a few things that have made retirement absolutely thrilling.
It’s no mystery that a major component to living a happy and healthy life is to get exercise. But, in my new retired life there is no excuse to miss the gym. Although I have had a healthy gym habit for years, I have really come to enjoy my early morning gym routine.
I used to fret, trying to get through my workout each morning. I was worried that if a machine was taken at the gym or if I got to a slow start, it would set me behind for the rest of the day. But that concern is no more!
Since I have retired, I take my time in the gym. Somehow, I usually don’t spend more time there than I would have in the past… I’m just way more relaxed. The stress has melted away.
Another activity that I have picked up is riding my bike to lunch every day with my wife. Many of you know my wife has decided to continue working from home because she loves what she does… but at lunch we both hit the road and ride our bikes to lunch.
Tampa, our home, is a great place to ride and the extra exercise is something I never would have been able to do during my working years since coming back to work all sweaty after lunch is usually frowned upon (although not always).
I Cook myself a Large Brunch… Everyday
During my working years, I would just skip breakfast every day. But once I retired early, my mornings were suddenly wide open after I finished my morning workout. So, I started making myself scrambled eggs.
Then it became eggs and toast. Naturally, I upgraded scrambled eggs into an omelet… filled with fresh vegetables of course. There was no better way to think about the next 40, 50 or 60 years of my retired life than with a delicious, made from scratch breakfast to start each day.
I make myself brunch every single day.
It’s one of the most rewarding things I d.. The meal I make is nutritious, fresh, and its affordable for my retired lifestyle. When I’m done eating it, I’m full… satisfied to continue with whatever day it is and whatever it has to offer.
Cooking brunch has become almost an extension of my morning exercise and workout routine. It’s something I do in silence… no TV. I have come to enjoy the process and that in of itself has become the reward.
I Take my Dog EVERYWHERE
Since I started embracing my new FIRE life, my dog has benefited tremendously. In the past, Bill, our family miniature labradoodle, would have spent his time patrolling our house for intruders (or sleeping) the entire time we were at work or school.
Now, Bill enjoys copious belly rubs, walks multiple times a day and is ever more in tune with his human attendants.
Having a dog has always been a positive experience. As a FIRE retiree and dog owner, however, it’s a whole new ballgame. I take my dog on short car trips to the store. I take my dog to lunch, to the pharmacy and to places he’s not necessarily welcome such as to friends’ houses (those who don’t have dogs).
I Watch the Sunrise
Watching the sunrise each morning has been a particular joy. Normally, I’d be getting ready for work, commuting, or sadly already at work when the Sun came up for the day. Now that I have the free time, I intentionally watch it come up.
Usually, I will time my morning run so that the last half will be after the sun has crested the horizon. This takes some flexibility, especially in the spring and fall months when the Sun’s schedule changes by a minute or two each day.
The result is more times than not a spectacular display. What most people don’t realize about watching a Sunrise is that the lighting changes drastically over the course of a few minutes… and so does your perception of what you are surrounded by.
Taking the time, in my new retired life, to enjoy this once-a-day phenomenon has paid off tremendously… it sets my mental landscape and attitude to tackle whatever comes next. Its an opportunity to enjoy every day doing what I could never enjoy while working.
I Help with my Kid’s Homework
Previously, after slogging through a full workday I would come home exhausted. Not from doing anything useful, rather from reaching peak boredom and trying to stay awake in my cubicle for hours.
This version of me was cognitively incapable of helping my children with their homework… not because I was unwilling to but because I literally had difficulty understanding their primary school work.
Now, when they come home, I’m fresh. I’ve been busy all day but I’m not tired. I’m prepared, excited and motivated to help them succeed in their coursework.
This realization of how differently I feel helping my own children succeed really does highlight how becoming Financially Independent gives you so much freedom. Freedom to live a life worth living.
I No Longer Anticipate the Weekends
When you stop and think about the anxiety the average person gets that is related to the day of the week it is mind blowing. I found myself, trained since elementary school, to look forward to Friday and by Sunday or Late Saturday to start loathing Monday.
These emotions are completely ridiculous. Every moment should be cherished. It was not until I was able to break the cycle completely by Retiring from a normal 9-5 job did, I realize this.
I no longer look forward to the weekend.
I no longer have anxiety caused by Monday over the weekend. I no longer savor the sweet reward that is a vacation.
I live free and do what I want from day to day. Using the FIRE method to get out of the rat race did not leave me rich… but it did leave me free and that alone has been probably the single most powerful benefit.
I’m no Yogi but having the time to meditate has been another game changer. Building my mental muscles has helped me stay present and enjoy the Retired Lifestyle I so saw desperately sought while working a normal job.
My normal 40-hour work week in the past was comprised of only 2-3 hours of actual work. The rest of the time I usually just browsed the internet or was stuck in a meeting that wasn’t relevant to the work I did.
I was trained to check out. I was trained to numb myself to the present. If I wasn’t numb, I would have had an anxiety attack.
By solidifying my meditative practice, I’ve been able to unwind this programming. Over time I have been able to learn to dial back to the present moment and enjoy the ups, downs, and the in-betweens of life.
There are many ways to meditate… I use the Headspace app on my smartphone only for 10-15 minutes a day. It’s a small investment to get a major piece of your life back.
Retiring Early is What YOU Make it
Thanks to the FIRE movement I retired early and live a peaceful life… but so what? I’ll tell you that it didn’t come easy… not the FIRE part, but the peaceful part. After you retire, you will learn that it takes time, effort, and pain just like anything else to make it a worthy experience.
Yes, you can retire and go jump on the couch and veg out on Netflix until your days are done… and many people do. But if you want to make retiring early an exciting and rewarding achievement then you need to find some hobbies… and some presence of mind.
Start by noticing what you do and do not like to do. Notice your mood. Write it down. It may take some time to try and find the patterns (such as anticipating Mondays). Once you have found a positive trend… hone in on it and expand the activity or thought.
If you find a negative trend, try to understand it. Don’t act immediately… at least not until you know why a certain activity makes you feel a certain way.
Retirement is a time to truly develop the mind in a way that was never possible while slaving away in a cubicle. How successful you will be at it will be wholly defined by you and the effort you put towards shaping it. I hope you enjoyed this article… I always love to hear reader comments so write them down below!