Reflecting on my First Year of Retirement

A Year has Passed Since I Retired

Wow, a full year has passed since I said goodbye to a twice monthly paycheck, corporate meetings, and working long hours.  My retirement anniversary was August 1 and it was celebrated silently while on a cruise to Alaska.  Pretty fitting, to be traveling on my retirement anniversary seeing that we have been traveling for about 7 of the past 12 months.

Lots of Traveling in the Past 12 Months

The past year has been pretty eventful.  We’ve visited the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, eaten fresh lobster directly from fishing boats in the Bahamas, and visited spectacular national parks (including Yosemite, Sequoia NP, Yellowstone NP, and Denali NP).   We’ve meandered in the Pacific Northwest, seeing lots of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  And we cruised the beautiful Alaskan coast and saw awe-inspiring glaciers crumbling into the sea.

Long Island, Bahamas

Deans Blue Hole in Long Island, Bahamas

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands

What I’ve Learned Since Retiring a Year Ago

Looking back on my first year, I have learned a few things and am sure to learn and rethink things as time progresses:

  • Off the Hook.  Before I retired, I normally received hundreds of emails, conducted presentations, received numerous phone calls and led meetings every day.  Now I get almost no phone calls and a handful of emails daily.  No one seems to need me anymore ;).
  • From Blue to Rosey.  After we took our first 3 month of travels and settled back in for a few months, I felt a little down. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a really upbeat optimist and rarely do I get down.  After a bit of research, I learned that it is actually normal — it is called post retirement depression.  Never anticipated that one!  Once I knew what it was, I filled my day with fun things to do and it passed.
  • Slow is the New Fast.  I’ve learned to slow down.  When driving, there is no need to speed or rush from one thing to another. This is strange when I think how I used to run around like a chicken with his head cut off.  It is pretty cool to simply live in the moment in a more calm way and not rush about.
  • Humpday Smumpday.  Everyday is a weekend.  You can do things when others are working, no more fighting crowds. However, I do miss the anticipation that used to build as the week progressed.  I remember getting excited for hump day (only a couple more days to go before the weekend) and how special Friday afternoon felt when I left work.   I have to admit that I miss that.  Most days I don’t even know what day of the week it is because they all feel the same.
  • Boredom is Self-Inflicted. I get asked a lot “are you bored to death?”. Nope. I figure if I am bored then I am not using my creative juices to find fun things to do to fill the day.  I sleep in, don’t have to rush through my daily workout, ride my bike a lot more than I ever have, play golf, fish, and boat. I find new places to take pictures, and I keep myself sharp by learning new skills.
  • Chill Out! A few months into retirement, I started freaking out about money. Will we outlast our nest egg? Will the stock market perform well? Should I get a job? After all the hard work we put into gaining financial independence, I was still worrying about money and not allowing myself to enjoy retirement. Then I came to an epiphany. I remembered a co-worker from the past that said that people drive themselves batty worrying about sh*t that never materializes. He called it “chasing ghosts”. I decided to stop chasing ghosts and start enjoying every minute of my retirement.
  • The Yearn to Learn.  I have learned Spanish a little better than before (but still a work in progress).  I have learned more about photography.  I’ve spent more time reading and researching interesting things. I learned new programming languages (ASP.NET, C#, AJAX) and am working on a product that be used via the web, tablet or phone.  So if any of those ghosts I was initially chasing come to fruition, I can always find a job with my new skills. Too bad my golf game still sucks :).
  • Come out and Play. When working, my friends and I would plan to play golf on the weekend, play racquetball in the mornings, etc. When you retire, many of your friends are working during the week so you can’t just call them up and ask them to hit the links with you when the mood strikes. On top of that, we moved, so we had to find new friends. So you have to meet new friends that are retired (or semi-retired) and learn to enjoy new things on your own.
  • Boyz 2 Men. Our retirement coincided with our boys going off to college and living on their own. Our boys have become men. It has been fun watching them discover their own strengths, struggle a bit, and course-correct when needed. For us, the hardest part is not having them around the house. With Skype and texting, it is easy to stay in touch, but we still miss them everyday.

I am looking forward to another year of retirement, continuing to find my way, and learning new things.

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12 thoughts on “Reflecting on my First Year of Retirement

  1. Robert & Robin Charlton

    Great article Steve! I found myself nodding my head at a lot of your points, especially the one about not knowing which day of the week it is (although I find it’s a bit easier during football season!). You’re also right about boredom being self-inflicted: it’s a good reminder that early retirement doesn’t have to equate with non-productivity. Rather, we get to choose what we’re productive at and how much time we want to devote to just playing and having fun. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the important topic of how we direct our energy once working for money is no longer the primary driver.

    Reply
    1. smiller257 Post author

      Hey Bob! Seeing that you have been retired for about 6 or 7 years, it would be interesting to see if you have learned other things that will be coming my way in the future :). Give Robin my best! How long are you guys hanging out in Maine?

      Reply
  2. Derek

    Steve, I think I’m 10 years behind you in terms of finally hanging up the work shoes, but your blog is inspirational and has absolutely made Susan and me reevaluate what’s important in life. BTW I’m writing this entry from my office in between meetings. I got to the office at 7:30AM and I’m hoping to leave at 5:30. Some things never change!

    Reply
    1. smiller257 Post author

      Hi Derek!

      I certainly remember the days of being at the office at 7:30 a.m. and earlier. I used to get up at around 5 a.m. every morning when I was working so that I could get a workout in before work. Now its really hard to drag myself out of bed before 7:30!

      It’s so funny, I called to get a dental appointment and she said she could do it the next day because they had a cancellation. The appointment was at 9 a.m. and found myself trying to decide if I wanted to go that early! Funny how a year changes your perspective.

      Now with that said, I was up this morning at 6:30 a.m. because I have a started training for a half century (biking 50 miles). It is still hot here in Florida so I decided to get up earlier to beat the heat. I rode 20 miles this morning in 1.5 hours. I should be in good enough riding shape for the half century in about 6 more weeks.

      Tell Sue I said hello. And you know I think you can retire lots earlier than 10 years — you could do it 5 years or less if you really wanted to ;).

      All the best!

      Reply
  3. Scott

    Great post Steve! I’ve been really curious whether you were going to rejoin the workforce with another entrepreneurial venture. Are you working on something or just keeping your skills sharp? Anyway, great to hear you and Lynn are enjoying your trips! Come see us next time you’re in Denver.

    Reply
    1. Steve Miller

      Hey Scott! Not planning to rejoin the workforce. I am developing an app and plan to hire someone to manage support and maintenance once it is done (fully outsource it). It just gives me a way to keep my skills sharp without having to work full time. I only work on it a few hours per week when the mood strikes.

      We would love to see you and Diane sometime when we stop into Denver.

      Reply
  4. Lori and Randy

    Hi Steve,
    Randy and I found your blog through an interview that Billy and Akaisha recently re-posted about you and your wife. They have asked to interview us as well and we are working on our responses to many of the same questions that you both answered.
    We just began a blog a few weeks ago (free-tirement.weebly.com) because we have set a retirement date for right before I turn 50, which is about 18 months away. We also have a son who will still be in college when we leave the workforce for full time travel. So, we have some neat things in common with you guys!
    Thanks for this post. It really helps me to relax a bit about the huge transition we will be making. I will refer to this post if/when I experience any of the same angst and remember it is completely normal and will pass. Looking forward to following your blog. Take care and happy travels to you both!
    Lori and Randy
    Misawa, Japan

    Reply
    1. Steve Miller

      Hi Lori and Randy,

      It is always great to hear from kindred spirits. I took a look at your blog, I like the fun look and feel of the site and it is well organized, I could not find a way to subscribe to your blog, but sign me up if you can (steve@webetripping.com)!

      Billy and Akaisha was a big influence for us, as were many other early retirees. Like yourself, we wanted to travel while we were young enough to fully enjoy it.

      As you mentioned, you will feel some angst in your first year of retirement, but it will pass. I noticed on your blog that you guys are considering living in Thailand upon retirement. i am looking forward to seeing how you like that. One thing we have realized over the past year of traveling is that we love living in the US. It is just the little things like watching professional and college football, prime-time shows, and accessibility to friends and family (our boys especially) that compels us to stay anchored here. But you never know, you may love living overseas.

      Good luck on your next 18 months, we are pulling for you! Keep in touch and feel free to reach out to us anytime if you have questions or just want to chat. We met another early retirement couple (Robert and Robin at http://www.WhereWeBe.com) that we talk with almost every month and have visited with in Maine. It is always good to have other couples to talk with during your journey.

      Steve and Lynn

      Reply
  5. Lori and Randy

    Hi Steve and Lynn,
    We checked weebly and the version of the blog we use does not offer a subscriber option for whatever reason. We will look more into it. Thanks for checking it out!
    We don’t have plans during our “go years” to retire anywhere In the states. We did chuckle about the football dilemma since Randy already gets up in the wee hours here in Japan to watch the Saints play, so that doesn’t bother him much. Plus, the convenience of technology means that he can watch the games he wants to online, but he will be on a beach in Malaysia or a hillside apartment terrace in Ecuador enjoying a beer while cheering for his teams.
    The main reason we will avoid stateside retirement is that, by our research, our retirement dollars will stretch SO much farther overseas, especially regarding medical tourism. The health care we have received overseas so far has exceeded anything we could expect. Since we will be ‘going naked’ without insurance, like Billy and Akaisha, overseas is where we will reside. Plus, after living and traveling overseas for 17 years, it is what we prefer.
    Maybe during our “no go years” when we eventually qualify for Medicare we will settle somewhere back in the US. Even our son has no plans to live and work in the states. He is getting his minor in Mandarin Chinese and hopes to work for the State Dept. one day and travel the world himself.
    As for us, the world and all its myriad of sights, sounds, cultures, and unique experiences is calling us. I just hope we can even scratch the surface, for our list is very long. We keep changing our first retirement travel destination and now it looks like I will celebrate my 50th with a few months’ stay in Italy to kick off our early retirement and have a very memorable milestone b-day. We loved Italy when we visited a few summers ago, so poking forward to returning.
    We do follow the Charlton’s blog and have their book as well. Would love to meet you all in the future and compare notes
    Take care,
    Lori and Randy

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I knew what you meant :). We loved Italy too and would love to return. If you guys ever find yourself in Florida or Colorado, look us up!

      Reply

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