August 25, 2010

More of My Highest Highs Since Retiring

My Highest Highs post of a few weeks ago generated a nice batch of comments. I thought it would be useful to take a look at a few more of the most positive events of my experiences at being without work. As with the previous post, I ask you to share your comments and feedback. Do any of these highs mirror any of your experiences so far? If you are still working, which one sounds most exciting or encouraging to you?

  • Deepened Relationship with My Spouse. After 34+ years of marriage you would think I would have figured out exactly what I need to do to keep my wife happy. Beside the answer every husband knows which is to always agree with her, there is a process in building a strong, lifelong relationship that continues to this day. Since I came off the road and have spent most of the past 3,500 days with her, I have developed a much deeper appreciation for her strengths and abilities. I have learned that what I say (or don't say) has an immediate effect on her self-confidence and contentment. I have discovered sides of my personality that would never have been uncovered without her efforts. My post on learning more about the person beside you has some additional thoughts.

  • Teaching Myself Guitar. No one will ever mistake me for Eric Clapton or George Harrison. But, after 6 months I can play many of my favorite songs. I can entertain the grandkids with passable versions of nursery rhyme songs. I'll be ready to play carols at the holidays. After 40 years without it I realized I missed making music. Deciding to buy a guitar, a few beginner books, and making time in the schedule for regular practice have been important steps for me. I noticed a need and have taken the steps to satisfy it. I doubt I would have done this when I was working. There just wasn't time to feed this part of me.

  • Working as a Mentor to a Just-Released Convict. Something way out of my comfort zone was deciding to go into state prisons to mentor to men who are nearing the end of their sentences. Then, upon their freedom, I begin a 6 month mentor relationship that involves almost daily phone calls, twice a week visits, occasional taxi services and some money when things get really tight for them. Most importantly, I am trying to act as a mature male role model for guys who have had serious issues in their past. There have been times when I was afraid I'd say or do the wrong thing. There were times I wondered what I was doing in this foreign culture. But, at the end of the day, I knew my taking a chance on them was resulting in them taking a chance on themselves. This has been a totally new experience that I am glad I risked taking.

  • Taking Long Weekends on the Spur off the Moment. This never happened before retirement. The schedule of chores, work-related commitments, and family activities did not allow for this type of spontaneity. Now, if my wife and I decide on a Thursday night, or even Friday afternoon we need a change, we can make quick reservations on the Internet, pack in an hour, and be gone until sometime Monday.That freedom to shake up the routine is a fabulous feeling. I wrote about the Importance of Vacations  a little while ago because I have proven to myself these breaks are important. But, until retirement I couldn't just do it. There was a long process involved. Now, we are gone when we want. Freedom!

  • I can Try New Things and Drop them If They Don't Satisfy. Like learning to play the guitar, I like to try new stuff. I need a high level of mental stimulation. I'll try on-line college courses. I'll look at videos on TED about subjects I've never even heard of. I'll go to the library and pick up a few books on a subject I can barely pronounce. And, then, if I'm not getting the mental rise I want, I drop whatever it is, and try something else. This freedom to dabble in new experiences and abandon them at will is all part of the freedom of retirement.  I have a fair number of commitments in my life. Finishing everything I start is not one of them. I used to feel bad about starting something and then letting it go. I'd worry about the time or money I had invested in a project. I'd worry about my lack of follow-through. No more. Retirement has given me the OK to do what I find I like and stop doing what I don't like as much. I've learned to say,  "No."  I've learned to accept the fact that some of my choices will be flawed. And, I'm fine with that.

So, do any of these Highs sound familiar? Does anything on this list spur you to do something about it? Have you had very different experiences than I have?  Please share your comments and feedback. We are all here to learn from each other.


  1. I have a big problem with starting a project and then quitting halfway through. My wife gets on me because I have stuff all over the place.

    I lose interest too quickly. Any ideas?

  2. It sounds like you have a very tolerant spouse!

    My only suggestion would be to think a bit longer about what a particular project or activity is meant to accomplish for you before taking it on.

    At least for me, I try to decide why I want to do something and what I hope to accomplish. Then, I have a goal to shoot for. As the post above makes clear, I don't always follow this plan!

  3. You make retiring sound very nice. I have a few years to go but I'm looking forward to it.

  4. There are both ups and downs. I write about both so I invite you to read some of the other articles on this site. Everything isn't a bed of roses!

    But, I encourage you to stay positive. It has been a great ride so far.

  5. Wow! These exactly some of the reasons I want to retire! I hate not having the time to do the things I want. I'm only 21, but I plan to save and invest my way to an early retirement at 35 so I can finally enjoy my life.

  6. Congratulations on your aggressive goal to retire at 35. It can be done with a combination of very aggressive money management, and some luck.

    My only suggestion: there is lots of life to relish before you retire. I wasted too many years only thinking about the future and forgetting about all the great stuff going on around me. Being in the "now" while planning for the future gives you the best of both worlds.

    Best of luck, and please visit here often. I'd enjoy reading about your journey.

  7. I share your joy at being able to drop everything and go somewhere just because we want to.

    Last weekend, the forecast for the coast of Maine was spectacular. We left on Sunday and returned on Tuesday, checking the Internet for a hotel with a senior discount. It was amazing to be walking the beach on a Monday morning, stopping for coffee, driving along the spectacular coastline, and not having to look at the time even once. Freedom. We've earned it.

  8. Hi jazz angel (great name!),

    I stopped wearing a watch almost 2 years ago. Time speeds bye quickly enough as we get older without being reminded of it constantly!

    I LOVE the coast of Maine. I grew up in the Boston area and miss the rugged coast and dramatic waves. Glad you had fun.