Thinking Of Early Retirement? Here Are The Dos And Don’ts

The Dos And Don'ts Of Early Retirement

As close readers of Mighty Investor know, I don’t believe in "retirement."  My mantra is financial independence yes, early retirement no!

Why?  Because people who think of themselves as "retired" often slide into a zombie-like mode of shuffling along.  Quasi-aimless.  It ain't good.

That said, post-job my lifestyle is chill enough and autonomous enough that I do have some advice for anyone contemplating retirement. 

Here's a list of do's and don'ts for early retirement.  We'll start with the Don'ts.

Early Retirement Don'ts

  • Don't burn bridges with your last employer.  Huge numbers of early retirees miss the comradery and intensity of work.  They realize that total autonomy isn't the holy grail they thought it was and go back to work.  So don't burn those bridges!
  • In fact, if you can, negotiate a leave of absence rather than fully quitting.  Keep all options open!
  • Don't assume that nirvana is about to bloom.  Your identity will be in flux big time after you leave work.  So don't be surprised that, after a month of glee (which feels exactly like being on vacation from work) if you find yourself rather out of sorts.  In fact, prepare for some serious existential angst.

Early Retirement Dos

  • Give yourself some time to just chill and rest.  Like a few months.  As long as you want.  It's time for you recharge the batteries big time.  If you let yourself rest a bit, you will find your health massively improves.  After leaving my intense job and just resting for a few months, I found I got way fewer colds and the ones I do still get are pretty mild.  So recharge those batteries.
  • Do have a plan.  Though I advocate a bit of rest, I suggest you do have a rough plan for what you will do with your time.  Otherwise, the rest/vacation phase will morph into angst.  So plan for X months of rest and then pivot to something more directed and dynamic.  Your plan doesn't have to be epic, but a little structure will go a long way.  Something like, "after three months of total relaxation, I plan to pursue hobbies X, Y, and Z.  I plan to visit cities or counties A, B, and C.  Etc.  You can always tweak your plan as you go--and choose more rest if you want.
  • Here's a suggestion that should help you develop your plan.  What were those hobbies you had way back when you were in high school and college?  You know.  The passions you pursued just because you loved them and no other reasons.  Those activities that by the wayside because adult life got insanely too busy.  I suggest you intentionally pick those hobbies back up.
  • Before you actually retire, start a file (physical or electronic) where you list all the things you want to do when you have time and retire.
  • I have a friend who prepared this file for years before he left his job at an insurance company.  The many is just loving life.  He has more to do than he could possibly accomplish with his days.  He's studying Latin, learning about Italy, studying theology, spending time with his granddaughter, helping his wife build her business as an artist, etc.  The point is: the plan was already set for him.  He had a million things to do.
  • Do get out of the house several times a week.  Work is a huge part of your social life.  Make a point of getting out and meeting people in retirement.  That can be a coffee at Starbucks, an event at church, a meetup with like-minded people.  Whatever.  But do make a point of developing new social patterns.  This is important.  People wilt if they don't get enough varied social interaction.  You don't want to become a recluse!

This List Is Just A Start

I plan to add to this post over time.  If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.  I'll add your ideas to the list as appropriate.

Early Retirement Dos And Don'ts -- Reader Suggestions

Reader Steve Ark suggests, "As a fellow post jobber I’d suggest an athletic pursuit, running, walking, hiking, tennis, etc.  I’d also recommend one or more paid side hustles because you might miss earning money and volunteer work often doesn’t quite fill that need to be relevant in some of us."

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