Retiring to a Better Life

I read a fair few early retirement blogs and when my favourite bloggers do a podcast interview, I listen to that as well (and of course, I listen to every episode of Aussie FIREBug).

So I think it would be fair to say that I know a reasonable amount about the FIRE movement and its concepts.

A number of bloggers/podcasters talk about retiring to something rather than retiring from something. Most notably standing out in my mind as someone who has said this is Paula Pant from Afford Anything – but I can’t remember the article or the podcast that I heard this on – but I am pretty sure it was her!

In the AWP household, I was the one who found early retirement and financial independence and once we were together, I introduced it to Poopsie. I was probably in my early-ish 20s when I first came across it. At the time, I really liked my job so I didn’t think about early retirement as retiring from something. Conceptually, I liked the idea of not working anymore but more than that, I liked the idea of having my finances sorted out and having the freedom to do what I wanted.

However, over the years, that has certainly changed. While it’s hard to know exactly the cause and effect, the more I learned about early retirement, the more I seemed to hate my job.

In actuality, these two things were probably not significantly related. I was getting older and more senior in my career and I had started to achieve the goals I’d set for myself. I found myself almost treading water, trying to figure out what the next goal would be. In the midst of this, frustration with my job grew and knowing that early retirement was an option made that a lot harder to deal with.

I ended up changing jobs before returning to my old job in 2019. While this was the best choice at the time, it hasn’t solved my problem of not feeling like I have a direction or anything I want to work toward in my current organisation. Frustration has continued to grow and possibly even intensify.

There is absolutely no denying it: I am looking to retire from something.

However, I accept the advice from those who have retired early that this is not the best mindset to have. It is far better to retire to something.

I definitely have a few of those: more time with Poopsie, more time with family and more travel.

But are these enough to fill a life? Perhaps not.

I also know that for me, having some purpose in my life is very important to my mental health. While I don’t want that purpose to take the form of a job in early retirement, there are many things that people can find purpose from. I’m still looking for mine.

Poopsie and I don’t even have hobbies that could sustain us in early retirement. We both like reading but, even though I read a lot, I will need to do a lot more than that in early retirement.

I recently said to Poopsie that it feels like we wake up, go to work, come home and go to sleep and then do it all the next day. I know this is true for many but it’s not the life we want to be living. While work still needs to take up the majority of our time, we don’t want it to become the majority of our life. We need to ensure we are doing the things we love and the things we are interested in now, not waiting until we are retired to do so. We want to make the most of our life now which we hope will then spur us into early retirement where we can pursue our purpose, passions and hobbies.

So 2020 will involve a little bit of soul searching for us as we try and figure out what we want our early retirement to look like and work to start making that a part of our life now.

What does your retirement look like? Are you doing as many of those things now, while you’re still working? How were you able to incorporate them into your pre-retirement life? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!



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10 Responses to Retiring to a Better Life

  1. The only reason I’m working right now is that I can’t afford not to … I have a 7 year plan to retire at 55. In these 7 years, I will explore what I’d like to retire to – like you, I’m vague about retiring to more travel and time with family & friends. I started veggie gardening last year and absolutely loved it.

  2. Ugh! I can relate to being frustrated with the job. Though I don’t mind the actual TEACHING part of teaching, having to sit through 2 meetings so far this week after work (one of which was utterly irrelevant for me) drove me crazy. Dropping back this year to 3 days/week will be perfect for working out what to do when I eventually pull the pin altogether.
    I know that I’m a bit of a hermit when I’m away from work, so I already know that most of my time will be pottering around at home. I’m in the middle of a 3 year blitz of renovations to make sure that my place will be perfect for Old Lady Frogdancer – veggie garden, big verandah for family celebrations, low maintenance front yard, big high fences to keep our marauders/zombies if the apocalypse comes… that sort of thing.
    Travel will be a big thing for me.
    But honestly, as long as the world has books, Netflix, the internet and dogs, there’ll always be something to do.

    • Oops. That fence was intended to keep OUT marauders and zombies – we don’t have any here as pets!!!

    • Meetings are definitely the worst! My sister is a teacher and I always find it amusing that most people think teachers teach 9-3 (or whatever) and that’s it. But as you say, there’s plenty of meetings, planning and marking outside of that.

      Oooh, I’d love to hear more about your renovations and veggie gardening! I need some inspo!

  3. Ozstache says:

    I don’t think it matters much whether you are retiring TO or FROM something, as long as you believe retirement will make you happier than working. I thought I was retiring TO something, but in hindsight it was the getting away FROM that gave me most satisfaction. Sounds like you already have some credit on the FROM side, which means the TO side is easier to solve because it only has to better than the low bar set by FROM.

    • You’re right Ozstache, I definitely have the FROM part all figured out. I certainly have ideas about the TO part, but do wonder if it’s enough. I have pondered maybe going down to four days a week to see how I like that – but that’s something I am still thinking about (and who knows if I’ll be allowed to do so). Thanks for stopping in. We should catch up sometime soon, it has been a while!

      • Ozstache says:

        I sent you an email last week suggesting a catch up but you may have missed it. In any case, with the escalating COVID-19 situation, it’s probably best we do this when things calm down a lot. In the meantime, take care and I will keep reading your now regular updates of your blog.

  4. There is probably much to be said for a transition to retirement, going part time or casual if your job allows it so that you can ease into things and start figuring out what you actually want to do with the extra time.

    Personally I enjoy the actual job that I do, it’s just that it’s maybe 20% of my time at work vs the 80% that gets spent on all the other stuff which is mostly bureaucracy and red tape.

    When I retire my kids will still be in school so I think that will probably take up a fair chunk of my time, but I should have more time for running, reading, watching all the sports and tv shows/movies that I simply don’t have enough time for at the moment. So I’m not really too worried about not having enough to keep me occupied, although admittedly it’s far enough off that I haven’t thought about it in too much detail.

    • A part of me does wonder if I am not working if I really will do all those things I think I don’t have time for… or if I will just sit on the couch. I don’t think I will sit on the couch, I think there is plenty for me to do. However, a lot of the things I want to do may end up costing money so I suppose it might mean we need a bigger ‘stache. We probably need to game out a few of these scenarios or maybe do some “trial” periods (almost like a staycation). Thoughts to ponder. Thanks for stopping by as always and thanks for linking this post on your blog!

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