A few weeks ago I introduced you to a few people in the blogosphere that are also writing about retiring early in life. I can’t believe I forgot to include Tim at Canadian Dream, the fist of such bloggers I discovered when searching for others of a similar mind.
A couple days ago, he wrote a post about coping with his obsession with retirement, which made me laugh because he described my own retirement obsession perfectly. Anyone that knows me though, knows this is not the only thing I obsess about. I don’t really like the word obsess, I prefer “engage with passion” or “exude excitement about,” but I digress. Tim suggested some tips to get you over such an obsession in the interest of actually enjoying your life right now.
A few years ago, while on a spa vacation with my friend Vicki, I booked a session with a therapist there. She asked me what brought me in. I told her that I weighed myself every morning and I wanted to know whether this was normal. Well, what she didn’t say was that I was perfectly normal, that everyone does this, and that it probably is how I maintain this petite figure. She instead asked me, “What else do you obsess about?”
I hadn’t really thought of weighing myself as an obsession, it was just something I did in the morning when I got up. But she was right; I told her the truth, “Everything." She asked me for specifics. I started by telling her that I reviewed my financial situation every day—sometimes more than once a day. She asked me how that made me feel. I said I loved it, because I wanted to retire early and I enjoyed watching my progress and fantasizing about retirement. She said good.
She asked me about vacations, was I the type to wing-it or did I have to plan every hotel room, every train ride, and every restaurant reservation. Well of course I had to plan every detail. That was half the fun; combing through travel books picturing myself there, fantasizing about all the fun I would have. She said good.
Then she asked me how I felt when I weighed myself every morning. Well this was a no-brainer. If it was less than the previous day, I felt fabulous; if it was more, it pissed me off for the rest of the day. She said not so good. She said there is nothing wrong with obsessing about things. It was part of my personality (and gave me some theories—absolutely right, by the way—about why that was). As long as my obsessions gave me pleasure that was great. It was a way to enjoy my future retirement early, a way to extend the fun of vacations by savoring them in advance. That was all fine, she said, but I had to give up obsessions that did not make me happy.
She told me that if she had several months to work with me, she would work me up to throwing out my bathroom scale. But she knew I wasn’t ready for that. So she recommended instead, that before I got on the scale each morning, I should ask myself what kind of frame of mind I am in. Will it ruin my day if the scale says something bad? If it will, don’t get on the scale that day.
So go ahead, obsess about retirement if you want, but only if it makes you happy.
You didn't forget about me. You just put off the best for last right? *grin*
I agree obsession can be useful if directed properly. Perhaps that is why I don't even own a scale. I find I'm happier off not knowing what I weigh. Besides my waist size provides enough of a check point (ie: if they get tight I need to stop enjoying things so much and get out of the house more or if they are too loose I can enjoy that extra piece of cake).
Posted by: Canadian Dream | April 14, 2008 at 10:44 AM
Wow! We're the same! I weigh myself every morning without fail. Down = good, up = bad. I recently spent an entire year planning for a four-week trip to Italy last May (including studying the language). Before retiring, I spent time every night trying to work out how long my money would last if I earned X return and spent Y% each year. BUT...I weigh 113, I had a wonderful trip, and I'm now 60 and have been retired for 10 years. Personally, I think we have it right!
Posted by: Kathy Sterndahl | February 09, 2012 at 02:50 PM
@Kathy: Perhaps this is a shared trait of the early retirement personality? Makes sense to me!
Posted by: Retired Syd | March 31, 2012 at 10:36 AM