Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Today is The First Day of The Rest of My Life

"I'm free, I'm free!" exclaimed the prisoner as he rushed into the street. "So what," said the nearby little girl who heard him, "I'm four." - old joke

Yesterday, I walked out of my office for the final time yesterday. I am now retired, in my forties. Part of me wanted to say, " I'm free, " and the other part of me thought, "So what." After all, I still (hopefully:-) have half my life ahead of me, for the "third phase."

For me, Phase I - Education and Phase II - Working were investments. Phase III - Retirement is the reward. Looking back, I feel I invested well in the first two phases. I studied hard during the education phase and I worked diligently in the working phase. Now, I want to make sure the retirement phase is also successful.

Interestingly, progression within a phase or to a new phase moves from more structure and certainty to less structure and more uncertainty. For example, in grade school the curriculum is essentially fixed. In college, a student needs to choose among a multitude of courses and majors that will set the direction for his or her future. For my work, the objective was to create a competitive advantage to be the best product or service in market. There were never clear or certain solutions. Retirement seems to be even less structured.

So I am going to take some time to engage in this phase and plan the future. Already, we have invested significant time in understanding the financial aspects. Now, I want invest time thinking about what our family will be doing (e.g. lifestyle, continual learning, exciting adventures etc.) over the next few decades. I expect this will be a tremendously fun time :-)

Here are a few elements that I know will be part of the future:

Healthy lifestyle. We will transition to healthier living, especially with respect to exercise. I am currently about 20 pounds heavier than I was as a freshman in college. Five years ago, I was below my freshman weight and had significantly reduced my cholesterol. Now it's back up again. Also, I need to eat better. My wife, who has a BS in Food Science, has long been working to improve daily diet, with low compliance by me. I will be able to stick to it better now.

Preparing our daughter for her future. The future for our children be a challenging one with lots of change and transitions. As a parent, I want to prepare her to be successful on her own. Important skills will including critical thinking capabilities, adaptability, agility and creative problem solving. I hope to give her these skills to build upon her traditional education. To do this, we will also need to participate in the process of continual learning, which I am sure we will enjoy.

Choosing adventures. When I graduated from college, I took an eight week backpacking tour of Europe. My second longest vacation was a two week trip to China for the adoption of our daughter. Although we have taken 10 day vacations to Australia, Thailand, and Alaska, I look forward to extended trips that we will be able to take.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance , check back every Wednesday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


Chief Family Officer said...

Congratulations! And good luck with the "third phase"! I look forward to reading about it :)

Dimes said...


Lisa said...

Awesome!! What a great feeling!

Kris said...

Congratulations! I am closing in on my last work day, as well, and will be very interested in reading about your experiences in the 3rd phase.

Terminating the 2nd work phase is proving to be more emotional than I had anticipated. I have mixed feelings about retiring early - anxious to be "free", but concerned about leaving a structured work day and dealing with greed, of all things. I know what it will take for me to be financially independent and the importance of choosing life over money, but still....its tough to walk away from a large salary. (assuming no option of returning)

I am currently considering going part time to help with the transition and making plans for my dream job. The desire to get going on that dream should help squelch any reservations about leaving work.

Millionaire Mommy Next Door said...

Congratulations! We seem to share some exciting things in common - We retired in our 40's, I'm a personal finance blogger, we love to travel, AND we adopted our daughter from China, too! She's 2 1/2 years old now. We feel so darn lucky to afford to stay at home and raise her together.

We've always been very involved in hobbies, so now we do more of them. I exercise my intellect through writing on my blog (I share how I retired early). And we volunteer.

Best wishes for an easy and joy-filled transition into early retirement! Enjoy life!

Super Saver said...

@ Chief Family Officer, Dimes and Lisa,



Thanks. Good luck on achieving your goal of financial freedom.

Another thing to be ready for is the surprise of family, colleagues and friends who find it hard to believe anyone would, could or want to retire in one's forties. Everyone keeps expecting me to say I'm going to another company or starting a business. A topic for a future post :-)

@ Millionaire Mommy,

Thanks. Congratulations to you too, especially on your daughter and being able to spend time with her. Hopefully, our experiences can help others achieve a goal of early retirement :-)

Nina Lumberio said...

Congratulations! Good luck to the third phase of your life...

living off dividends said...

i'm getting ready to quit my job too!