Friday, January 16, 2009

My Life Improvements from Retiring Early

After taking early retirement in October, 2007, I spent the following year transitioning into this new phase of life. Although the 2008 economic decline has caused me to be overly focused on the financial elements, I've been working on other important life areas in early retirement. Here are some of the ones that have been improving for me:

  • Health and fitness. Just prior to retiring early, I was sleeping about 6 hours a night, drinking eight cups of caffeinated coffee a day, getting almost no exercise, was overweight by about 15-20% and had pain in my feet and ankles. In addition, my exit physical showed an irregular heart beat.

    Sixteen months later, I'm now sleeping 8-9 hours per night, drinking an occasional cup of decaffeinated coffee, doing strength exercise three times a week, lost 7% of my weight, and almost eliminated the pain in my feet and ankles. In a stress test, it was determined the irregular heartbeat was not a health risk and probably due to drinking too much caffeine.

    For me, the biggest surprise was how rapidly my sleeping hours increase. For years, I had been only sleeping 5-6 hours a night and waking up at 5 AM, without an alarm. Now I need to set an alarm if I want to wake up before 8 AM.

  • Personal growth and development opportunities. While working, my educational activities were primarily related to my career or business, either technical or organizational.

    In the past year, I've taken the time to learn more about topics in which I have a personal interest, which I may want to expand to an income producing opportunity. The courses I've taken are related to home repair and landscaping, which I may expand to real estate investment. I've also taken a gourmet cooking class to experiment with the idea of a restaurant business. I plan to take a travel and tourism course in the spring to also explore my income producing interest in that area.

  • Social. Using a set a concentric circles to represent my personal contacts, I would put them in the following order from the inner most circle to the outer most:

    1. Family
    2. Close Friends
    3. Neighbors, and good friends
    4. Immediate work colleagues
    5. Other company employees and external work contacts
    6. The rest of the world.

    Looking back, I was spending the majority of time during my work years in circles 4 and 5, which was important to do for my career. Now I'm spending much more time in circle 1 and increasing the time spent in circles 2 and 3.
  • Overall, I am still glad I retired early due to these improvements in my life. And hopefully, 2009 will be a better year financially :-)

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

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

    Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


    Anonymous said...

    The aspect of your excellent list that hits me the hardest (as a not yet retired boomer) is how you were able to re-prioritize spending time with people on you list of social contacts. It is sometimes painful to think about how much time working people spend with people who, if we never saw them again ever, it wouldn't bother us. Thanks for reminding me!

    Anonymous said...

    I'm coming up on a year of retirement and can really relate to most of the changes you write about. I had to laugh because I normally get about 9 hours of sleep now that I allow myself to wake up naturally (and I've reverted to being a night owl, which is how I was before I became a professional 23 years ago). Today, I had to YANK myself out of bed to be ready for a 9:50 dental appointment and said to my husband "why on earth did I book this so early?" He just laughed at me, most people would not view that as early at all!