Friday, March 21, 2008

Rewards and Challenges of Early Retirement

Since retiring in my forties in October, 2007, I have had no regrets. It has been great experience with both rewards and challenges. Here's what I've experienced over the past five and half months.


  • Excellent time flexibility. When I was working, it required extra effort to make sure I could attend the family events. Even with that effort, business travel or other commitments sometimes had priority. Now family events receive top priority, from pre-school teacher conferences to family vacations. As a result, I have maximum availability for our child's activities. I won't miss seeing our three year old grow up. From going to school to our regular games, I wonder if she sees me too much:-)

  • No daily commute. I do not miss driving 45 minutes twice a day trip for work. I do not miss traffic backups due to weather. I do not miss waking up at 5:30 AM to get to work. A side benefit is that my gasoline bill has been reduced by half.

  • Flexibility to experiment in depth. From exploring new work to new hobbies, retirement offers great flexibility to try and learn. I done part time work in a job with some elements of my dream job and learned I absolutely love to work directly with the end customers of a business. I'm testing a business idea on the Internet and may take some golf lessons.

  • Challenges

  • Managing income. A regular paycheck is one of the great benefits of working. No need to worry about from where the money is coming. Since we don't have a pension or receive Social Security, we need to consciously manage our investments to have sufficient income each month.

  • Being overly available. Retirees seem to get a higher proportion of volunteer requests, since it is assumed they have more discretionary time. While I do not spend time working, I don't feel I have more discretionary time to offer. A similar challenge was being overly flexible for part time work. In the interest of being a good employee, I offered to work any time on any day. Next year, I will restrict the hours to only those that I would like work.

  • Not being defined by work. A job, career or title can be part of how a person is viewed by others, especially when meeting for the first time. People are often surprised when I say I've retired. Many friends and former colleagues expect that I will be announcing a new job or career any day.

  • Even with the current economic issues, I am still glad I retired last year. I fully agree with the old saying, "No one ever said on their death bed that they had wished they had worked more."

    For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back every Friday for a new segment.

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

    Copyright © 2008 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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