Every year on this day, the first Sunday of August, I wake to my alarm at 6am and ask myself, “Why am I doing this again?” I pull myself out of bed and put on my biking clothes, “I am never doing this again.” Halfway up the first big hill, in the drizzly fog, I glance down at my odometer and wonder, “How can it possibly be that we’ve only ridden 5.74 miles?”
But at mile 22 I feel terrific! It’s only nine more miles and they are all down hill. When it’s over, I’m so glad I did it again, the Tour de Peninsula, a fund-raising ride for the San Mateo County Parks Foundation. Doug and I, and whichever friends have decided to join us on the Slow Motion Riders team each year, head over to the local brew pub to enjoy our traditional celebratory lunch of whatever the heck we feel like eating and drinking, guilt free.
I love it.
Which brings me to the subject of other things I think I hate and will never do again, and then do again and actually enjoy.
When I retired on March 1st of 2008, I thought I’d never work, ever again. Never. And then in August of 2010, I signed up for a part-time consulting gig in my old field, and strangely enough, I really enjoyed it. As you know, I just retired from that one on Monday, not because I didn’t enjoy it but because, even though it was a part-time job, it grew to be a part-time job with full-time responsibility. Even when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work, which as you might imagine, was really starting to cramp my retirement!
At this moment in time, it feels like I’ll never want to work again. I’ve felt so light and carefree this week. I love not thinking about work. Not working is one thing, but not thinking about work is the real reason to retire. So right now, it feels like I’ll never want to work again. But never is a long time.
While it may or may not be probable, it is possible that I will live to see 100. That’s over 50 years of retirement. Here I am in year five of retirement, and I realize that I have no idea what I’ll actually be doing over the next 50 years. I’ll tell you this though, I’m going to spend it doing whatever I feel like doing. Right now, I definitely don’t feel like working, even a little. So that’s what I’m going to do right now, not work, even a little. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop using the word never.
How Do You Know You’re Retired if You’re Still Working?
The (Half) Million Dollar Question
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I like the "live each day", "Live each month" feel to this post.
Things change, we change, roll with it.
You like metaphors!!
Posted by: Canadianmdinvestor | August 06, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Getting up at 6 a.m. sounds like "work" to me - then again, you did have a good reason.
Posted by: Suzanne | August 06, 2012 at 06:58 AM
I'd bet "yes", you will work again. Work can be fun & enjoyable when one gets to do it on their own terms.
Posted by: Scott | August 06, 2012 at 08:47 AM
Great ride yesterday!!! Yay for not working!
Posted by: Ila | August 06, 2012 at 10:39 AM
I agree with Scott. Work can just be another activity that one decides to do or not, the key is to keep it in the category of "doing whatever you feel like doing".
Posted by: Steve | August 06, 2012 at 12:00 PM
So here's my theory on this topic, (inspired by an Author, Napolean Hill)....Napolean was a famous author about 100 years ago who studied the most successful men of his day to determine why they were so successful....Men like Ford, Carnegie, etc were his key subjects and what he concluded was, at least for a man, that the whole reason to become "really successful" or "rich" is almost always tied to wanting to impress the woman in your life....He observed that once your basic needs are met, and maybe a little more for entertainment, etc, there really isn't much point to becoming "more successful" - if not for the goal of impressing your gal....
So as a man, I have to admit there is some truth to this....And therefore one of the reasons I'm ready to hang up my jersey at 45 is that my wife claims she would rather have me home to play with her, versus being at the office/on airplanes/etc, to "impress" her....
And since I don't have a mistress, a fling, a cute secretary, etc, the idea of continuing to work once we can meet our basic needs (plus a few extras) does seem kind of pointless....
And of course I've explained this to her to make sure that she finds my lack of ambition rather flattering to her....But not sure if she buys it, though its actually kind of true....
So Syd, do you have a similar thought process as a woman bread winner, or do you think I'm just sort of out in left field...?
P.S. If you decide the latter, don't tell my wife.
Posted by: New at this | August 06, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Never work again? Depends on how you define "work". I've been retired for almost fourteen years now and I keep busy with my slate of volunteer work. (This week and next, it is more like "crazy busy".) But since I don't get paid I don't feel the pressure of a paying job: I can do it or not, as I see fit.
Some of my volunteer work involves things I can do on my own at my own pace, a good match for a "self-starter". Other volunteer jobs are more formal and, in addition to being useful to my community, serve a social function that was once occupied by my career job.
I find my volunteer work more fulfilling than I did my previous work. But I don't get paid so I am retired, by any reasonable measure. I'm sure there are other early retirees who do much the same thing.
Posted by: dgpcolorado | August 06, 2012 at 01:48 PM
@New: Well, I won't claim to speak for all women, but I don't think that would be the motivation for the breadwinning women out there.
All I can do is look at my motivations (and the other women will have to chime in to say whether this is just me or rings true for others.) In my case, I know that I am highly motivated by appreciation. So if someone tells me that they want me to work for them because they think I am wonderful, and then keeps telling me how much they appreciate me when I'm working for them--well, it's like crack to me. I am an appreciation whore.
It was very hard for me to break away from this last gig for that very reason. The money is irrelevant. It's the appreciation that I'm addicted to.
Is that the evolutionary flip-side to the male motivation of impressing a gal? Don't know.
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 06, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I think the key is to have a part-time job with NO responsibility -- you get a little challenge, a little stimulation, a little money, with none of the stress or anxiety. But, regardless, it's great to be in a position where you can do what you want. So, congrats. to you!
Posted by: Tom Sightings | August 06, 2012 at 02:12 PM
dgp: For the reasons you mention, I could definitely see myself doing volunteer work, though.
Tom: I think that's right. Or alternatively, a job with a limited time-frame. Something that ends on a specific date or at the conclusion of a project, so you know you're done when you're done.
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 06, 2012 at 02:16 PM
That is really interesting, Syd. I could actually care less about appreciation at work except for what it might do for my ability to impress my gal!
P.S. We all really appreciate your hosting this blog!
Posted by: New at this | August 06, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I have been ERed for nearly 4 years. In that time and for the 7 years before that working part-time, I did some volunteer work, mainly during the school year (my volunteer work is with schools). I like it a lot and it has two key features I despised about working: Nearly all of the volunteer work is nearby so I have an easy "commute," and I almost never have to get up early to go to them.
The organizers of one of the volunteer tasks throw a few dollars at me mainly to compensate me for my expenses (i.e. gasoline) so I don't consider this a money-making venture.
Posted by: deegee | August 06, 2012 at 09:17 PM
"I love not thinking about work"
Spot on. So liberating. Nice to enjoy Sunday arvo's without dreading Monday.
Posted by: Gouldee07.wordpress.com | August 07, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Syd, I just wanted to thank you for your inspiring blog. I have been reading your posts for the past couple of years on my work blackberry. Your words keep me inspired. I just turned 40, have a wife and 2 kids, and am hoping to semi-retire soon from my job as a Director of a shipping company. I value my time so much more than material things so I am looking forward to an early retirement. It's much harder to do with 2 kids, but living below our means since my wife and I married at 22 has allowed us to build a nice nest egg. We always avoided debt (aside from our mortgage) and we paid off our 4 bedroom ranch just before my 36th birthday and remain debt free with some nice savings invested in a couple of no load stock funds. My wife has spent the last 4 years home raising our little ones and soon it will be my turn. If the market can provide some historical returns over the next decade or two, I should have enough to live on until I'm 59 1/2 when my 401k money kicks in without having to deal with the high stress jobs anymore. I will have time to spend with my daughter who is 5 and son who is 9 as they grow up. Thank you again for allowing me to better visualize my dream and what it will be like. Best of luck!
Posted by: Don Woods | August 07, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Don: Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you are well on your way, paying off your mortgage by 36 is so impressive! Sounds to me like you will make this happen--good for you! And how nice to be retired when your kids are still home rather than after they are all grown up and gone! I sure like reading a comment like this . . .
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 08, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Syd, I think it's the "thinking about it all the time" that would be the killer for me. also, frankly, the getting presentable and leaving the house. I work because I like it and I can use the money, but when Im not working I rarely thinka bout it (although I may have a design in the back of my head), and I work when I want and I play when I want.
You are absolutely right-you can change your mind whenever you choose-thats the great thing about retirement.
Posted by: Barb | August 08, 2012 at 09:09 AM
Barb: Yep, the thinking about it all the time is the problem. I actually liked the getting presentable part and leaving the house though. Yesterday I got the best of both worlds. I got presentable and left the house at 5:00 to go meet my former co-workers for a glass of wine after their work day. Perfect solution!
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 09, 2012 at 07:59 AM
This is a great post and good insight into how retirement is. With my parents close to retirement it is good to read about your events and activities and hope the same for them.
Posted by: senior living scottsdale | August 09, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I just retired at the age of 59. It's been a month now and I cannot believe how busy my life outside of work is. Will I work again? Not full-time and taking your advise, I will wait a year or two before looking for part-time/consulting job. I do have a lot of hobbies and sports related activities so I'm good.
Posted by: Custom55x | October 10, 2014 at 05:28 PM