Guest Post: Why You’ll Become Busier After Retirement

Darrow Kirkpatrick, still rockin’ the rocks at 50

A few weeks ago, I met another early retiree while attending the financial blogger conference in Denver. I found I had a lot in common with this guy, from our shared former career to our optimism about life in general. Darrow Kirkpatrick retired at age 50 and told me he is finding life to be more fulfilling, and oddly at least as busy, as it was when he was employed.

Since he has a few years on me, I asked if he’d be willing to share his own perspective on what the transition has been like, and here’s what he came up with, to share with you:

Why You’ll Become Busier After Retirement

I reached financial independence and retired from my software engineering career at age 50 last year. My wife Caroline and I were hard-wired for frugality and saving, from the start. We avoided debt, lived in the same modest house for the past 16 years, minimized commuting — I worked from a home office, saved a third or more of my salary, and invested in stocks, bonds, and bicycles instead of fancy German vehicles.

Recently I was asked: “Why did you retire early? That threw me. Doesn’t everybody want financial freedom, so they can do exactly what they want in life? Even if you love your work, wouldn’t it be nice to do it exactly as you please, a little or a lot, on your own schedule?

The first answer that jumped into my mind still seems the truest: even though I had a rewarding career and was passionate about my work at times, I simply liked other things better. Being outdoors, for example. I’ve always loved hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. I did some of the best climbs in the country with some of the best climbers of my generation. And I’ve ridden for days across Moab backcountry with my teenage son. Those were the peak experiences of my life.

So freedom was way more important to me than stuff or status. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would retire as soon as I was able. I wasn’t going to be one of those fat cat business guys who kept working because he didn’t have a life….

But the reality of early retirement has surprised me a bit. Of course, I never bought into the stereotypes: morning on the golf links, afternoon at the beach, evening in the hot tub. But I did expect to have more space in my life after I retired. Actually, I got busier.

I could have more space, if I wanted. But, I don’t want to. Once there are no longer any obstacles to pursuing your dreams, life changes. You take on new interests, and deepen old ones….

My biggest new interest is what you’re seeing right here. I’ve always loved to write, so I learned some new tools, and began blogging about saving, investing, and retiring early. I found I had a lot to say about the transition to retirement, and that people were interested in reading about it.

Research and writing is the backbone of my new weekly routine. I still keep a fairly standard work schedule, but it’s by choice now, and that feels totally different! Plus blogging lets me produce something creative that’s valued by others — a product that I’m proud of every single day. Perhaps most importantly, it’s plugged me into a network of savvy, interesting people who are making a difference in the world.

As part of writing a blog I continue to grow my understanding of personal finance, especially the issues around retirement income, and living off a distribution portfolio. I also spend time managing our own portfolio. I generally do nothing — I’m a passive index investor — but occasionally I need to take income or harvest gains to fund our living expenses.

But it’s not all about personal finance now. Travel, always an interest, went into overdrive after I left my job. We spent a week on one of the less developed islands in the Bahamas, visiting old friends. It wasn’t your typical beach resort vacation. Other than air fare, it was free, because we were living with locals. We hiked, caved, snorkeled, deep-sea fished, and boated around some of the most pristine and untraveled oceanfront scenery in the world. I generally hate beaches, but I fell in love with the place.

After the Bahamas, we spent a couple weeks climbing and mountain biking in New England and Acadia National Park, Maine. More recently we spent 6 weeks living cheaply out of our camper van, traveling in the Northeast and Rockies. We saw cool national parks like Dinosaur and Mesa Verde, scouted mid-sized Western cities for possible relocation, and climbed and mountain biked everywhere we could.

I’ve been a serious rock climber since my teens. But in later years my passion for climbing leveled off and other interests competed. After I retired, I started climbing regularly again, going to the climbing gym during the week and out to the rocks on weekends with friends. I updated my climbing rack and rope and started leading routes, something I hadn’t done much in recent years. I don’t climb as hard as I once did, but it’s still fun!

On the home front, I’ve ramped up my cooking skills. While I was never a dysfunctional male in the kitchen, I wasn’t perfectly at home there either. Now I do all the grocery shopping, and cook on the days that Caroline works. (She stayed at home for years while raising our son, and now — as a public school teacher — she’s working a little longer so we can get retirement health benefits.) I can assemble a tasty, healthy meal from a menu of cheap possibilities without half thinking. It’s not quite gourmet, but the true cook in the house seems satisfied.

Yes, you’ll get busier once you’re financially independent, but it isn’t just about more activity. I try not to neglect the inner life either. I keep up a long-time reading interest in psychology and spirituality, and I’ve attended two retreats in the past year. Enlightenment seems as far off as ever, but today is good enough!

So I’ve been plenty busy in my “retirement.” And I’ve heard the same from others who’ve become financially independent or retired early. Most of us who leave the modern 9-5 working world don’t slip into a life of permanent leisure. Sure, we may take a little time off for rest and relaxation. But eventually life fills up with other productive activities.

There are several reasons why life becomes fuller even after so-called full-time work has ended:

  1. All the projects, goals, and activities that were not possible when you were working, now become possible. If you’re like most of us, you’ll have a backlog of things you couldn’t do before. But now your dreams are accessible. You have the time and resources to do what you want. You no longer have any excuses.
  2. You break out of old patterns and are exposed to new people, places, and things. You move away from old work-related contacts and activities and enter into a new orbit. You gain new experiences and become more interesting to others. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle.
  3. Lastly you realize you are in a later stage of your life, and it won’t last forever. I don’t know if this is true for Mustachians who retire in their 30’s. But in my 50’s it is crystal clear that I’m not getting another shot. I’m currently blessed with the time, money, and freedom to do what I choose. So it’s now or never!

Just because your full-time working years have ended, doesn’t mean the rest of your days will be spent sleeping in late, sunning on the beach, or sitting in the park. Oh sure, you can do those things if you want. You should do those things. Just be forewarned, you’ll probably be just as busy as you were at any other time in your life!

You can sleep when you’re dead.


Darrow Kirkpatrick is an author, software engineer, and investor who retired at age 50. He is an experienced rock climber and enthusiastic mountain biker, and writes regularly about saving, investing, and retiring at Can I Retire Yet? He is married to a schoolteacher and has one son — an amazing artist, engineer, and climber.

  • Dragline October 6, 2012, 6:37 am

    Very nice. Being a couple years shy of the big 5-0, I can relate. And the choice of activities sounds wonderful.

    I’d be curious to know whether the person who asked “Why did you retire” was older. I have a pet theory (ok, so I stole it) that the Baby Boomer generation puts such a high value on working (and not saving) that most of them can’t imagine retiring early, if at all. Part of it is just living in denial that they are actually getting older.

    But most younger people (Gen-X and Millennials) grasp the concept almost immediately. I can’t imagine too many younger people asking that question.

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 6, 2012, 9:16 am

      Thanks Dragline. In this case the person was 30’s, in the media. But I like your theory and suspect it’s accurate in most cases!

    • mike crosby October 6, 2012, 2:16 pm

      Well I’m in my upper 50’s and I’d say either most of my boomer friends are dead or have half their brains wasted away from all the drugs.

    • Freeyourchains October 9, 2012, 11:43 am

      It’s because some of us our fresh out of college life, and we get thrown into a cubicle with our dreams dashed for 10 hours a day. When college was 3 hours of new material a day, plus 1-2 hours studying/homework/reviewing material and the rest was fun time learning new skills, meeting new friends, and developing passionate team work in academic clubs. Not to mention sleeping for 9 hours a night for the 10 am class the next day, and potentially finding your SO.

      So FI would be a lot like college, except your mostly self-educate instead of paying a tuition, you cook your healthy foods instead of prepared buffets, though you kind of struggle at first finding new people because they are all working so much and spending so much.

  • rod October 6, 2012, 6:49 am

    I am still in this search of this freedom you have! Good article. I hope to meet you out there someday! Then mmm will pedal up too. I find that work finds me, and I am happy for that, for now. sometimes I have to escape, 2 days at a time does it for now. I can envision 6 days for me, 1 for them. That seems fair to me. Thanks for the vision.

  • rjack October 6, 2012, 8:06 am

    Darrow – I’m 52 and just retired 3 months ago. You are now my role model for the right attitude to have towards retirement for those of us that retire closer to a more conventional age.

    It took a month or so for me to realize that I’m free to do whatever I want! I’m still discovering how to balance my time between social, intellectual, and physical activities, but I’m having a lot of fun along the way.

    I’m off to your CanIRetireYet blog for some more reading!

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 6, 2012, 8:10 am

      Thanks rjack! Congrats on your recent retirement too. Yeah that feeling of freedom takes a while to sink in: I’m still experiencing it. You’re right: balance is key. That’s why I still “work” some, but it’s exactly the work I want to be doing….

  • Eschewing Debt October 6, 2012, 8:31 am

    We are 20 years younger but our situation is similar to yours- I was a schoolteacher before we had kids, my husband is an engineer, and we are living like it sounds like you did so my husband can hopefully go part time in about 10-15 years. Your story really resonates with me because of that so I look forward to reading your blog and loved this post!

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 6, 2012, 9:39 am

      Nice ED, thanks. I can vouch that the engineer/schoolteacher combo makes a great team!

  • Executioner October 6, 2012, 9:03 am

    This makes perfect sense to me. I always feel busier on vacation and during long holidays than I do during the regular routine. Glad you are able to live for yourself now!

  • Heath October 6, 2012, 11:03 am

    Another wonderful role model to add to my growing stash :-)

    What you describe is exactly how I imagine my future self. I too am a software engineer that adores the outdoors and climbing. Your descriptions only heighten my motivation and dreams. Now, the trick for me is learning to be patient and enjoy the journey!

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 6, 2012, 2:14 pm

      Thanks Heath, I hear ya. The patience thing was really hard for me too. In early years I failed at it and it hurt me. Later I learned to pace myself. It is really important to make each day count and not defer happiness.

  • rubin pham October 6, 2012, 11:34 am

    darrow kirkpatrick is probably the best financial blogger out there.
    i have been following his blog for some times now i can tell his advices are sound and his integrity is real.
    best of all you don’t have to put up with all the swearing!

    • rjack October 6, 2012, 11:43 am

      Damn, I like a little swearing when it is used to emphasize a point. :)

      • Dragline October 6, 2012, 11:59 am

        Fuckin-A, Bubba! ;-)

        • Chris October 6, 2012, 5:33 pm


    • Mr. Money Mustache October 6, 2012, 1:09 pm

      Wow Rubin.. what a great burden it must be to be forced to read Mr. Money Mustache, a substandard personal finance blog which hurts your delicate eyes with swear words.

      I wonder if there’s any solution to such a dilemma, other than leaving slightly impolite comments here in my living room?

      • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 6, 2012, 2:27 pm

        Sure, I run a generally G-rated blog. But Mr. Money Mustache is just too damn good to miss….

      • Fast Body Blast October 6, 2012, 4:10 pm

        Nice call MMM!
        I actually like a little colour and flair.

      • da55id October 8, 2012, 5:43 am

        Here’s a solution for chrome users:


      • Plastic Kiwi January 29, 2016, 2:11 am

        I know I’m not supposed to reply unless I’m adding something. ..but Ha Ha Ha! I really lol’d. I read Ruben’s comment and got all ‘where is it?…Here it is!’ I love your rebuttals MMM.

  • Jamesqf October 6, 2012, 12:23 pm

    Oddly enough, my situation’s a fair match for yours. Oh, there are minor differences: I loathe any sort of travel that involves airport security or passport control, for instance. But I spend plenty of time hiking, biking, riding the horse, etc. Yet I still get the mental stimulation (and income!) that comes from doing pretty bleeding-edge software development.

    Sure, I wish there were more hours in the day (one reason I hate wasting any of them standing in airport security lines, or crammed into airline seats), but it’s not as though I could trade boring old work for interesting other stuff, because the work is just as interesting.

  • ultrarunner October 6, 2012, 2:18 pm

    Looks like Vedauwoo, with the High Park Fire raging in the distance…

  • Holly@ClubThrifty October 6, 2012, 4:02 pm

    That is awesome- great story. I am 32 and I aspire to do exactly as you did- retire at around 50!

    Enjoy it- you’ve earned it!

  • Doug October 6, 2012, 4:52 pm

    The idea of being busy after retirement is consistent with my observations also. While not fully retired yet (I’m now working on an income producing portfolio so that will be possible) I have worked on and off and find I am quite busy doing other things when between paid employment jobs. it works like displacement, when free of the borden of a job the time is freed up for other things I want to do.

    Periodically you hear of people who are retired and are bored with nothing to do. It must be another one of those urban myths with absolutely NO truth whatsoever to it. It’s like the stories you heard in the 1970’s about someone who built a carburetor that would give a full size American car 200 MPG (even more per Imperial gallon) but you can’t buy one because the oil companies bought the patent. Both of these urban myths are 100% FALSE.

    • Jamesqf October 6, 2012, 9:59 pm

      Nope, at least one of those myths is true. (What’s a carburetor, Grandpa?) I could introduce you to my neighbor, who retired (at normal retirement age) a year or so ago, and now spends most of his time sitting in front of the TV doing the 12-ounce curl.

      Now I will admit that he spent a lot of his free time before retirement doing the same thing, but still…

      • Debbie M October 8, 2012, 8:36 am

        An aunt of mine hires recently retired fifty somethings as personal helpers. She finds that many of these spend their first year fixing up all the things around the house that have been bugging them (and catching up on sleep of course), and then they run out of things to do, so she finds them to be good employees.

        And in my experience, most grown-ups have one hobby, which they do quite well at, and they don’t want to try anything else new because it makes them feel like an idiot. Imagining these guys retiring, well, I’m thinking you can’t do most hobbies all day long every day (except possibly if it’s really multiple hobbies like being in the SCA).

        I’m going with the not-a-myth camp.

        • Doug October 8, 2012, 9:22 am

          Why can’t a person try new hobbies and experiences, or travel to someplace they’ve never been before? In the days before 911, you could request a tour of the cockpit (often successfully) of a passenger plane in mid flight. It was awesome, getting the panoramic view up front. What I noticed, is even at that altitude, the Earth still looks flat, you can’t see the curvature from up there. That should give you an idea of how big the world is so there’s a lot to see and do out there. I don’t know how any body with a lifespan of less than a million years could ever get bored of seeing, doing, and experiencing all that big world out there has to offer. the only limiting factor is having enough money.

    • getagrip October 16, 2012, 6:20 am

      I’ve seen people get energized upon retirement and some go into a funk. It depends on the person. My old next door neighbor retired when I was about 10 and basically sat around and watched TV for 15 years before passing away at 80. He did such interesting things as check the furnance to make sure it wasn’t running to hot. It was a good thing the furnace repair guy was a patient man.

      On the other side of us, we had neighbors who became busier via volunteering, participating in community activities and clubs, than they’d ever been during their work life. Over the years I’ve seen others in the neighborhood become a mix. Much of it was attitude, and to be honest, a bit of money. Those that had the right attitude, and were careful with their money, seemed more relaxed and did a whole lot more.

      • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 16, 2012, 8:27 am

        Thanks getagrip. Yeah, I’ve seen some retirees whose idea of social stimulation was to schedule some repair work and chat up the service guy. Sad. Also, I believe there are studies showing that people who aren’t worried about money have more fulfilling retirements. Duh. Just another example where less (expenses) is more (happiness).

        • Frank July 4, 2013, 5:19 am

          yep – I suspect boredom in retirement is associated with insufficient funds to do more interesting things – there may also be an association with planning/saving habits – if people have other interests and spent time thinking about what they want to do, they probably will have enough to do – learn, live, love, exercise, socialise, help others, challenge the brain, etc.

          OTOH – a co-worker of my partner – an older single male – is probably a bit on the low IQ – has taken years to learn some standard procedures – doesn’t want to take holidays – claims the workplace needs him – apparently time off he does nothing, so really has no other life outside work – I can see him watching TV for the majority of his retirement …

    • bob October 21, 2019, 8:03 am

      I’m concerned I may be one of those bored retirey’s. I’m 56 and on the verge of retirement. I had knee surgery earlier this year and so had sort of a “practice retirement”. It scared me – I really had this daily sense of not knowing what I’m going to do with myself.

  • SusieQ October 6, 2012, 5:04 pm

    Right on! We’ve been retired for a few years (early – I’m 49, husband is 58) and we are loving it! We’ve never lived “big” and because his company offered the executives “deferred compensation” we were able to save over half of his pay for retirement, which now pays out monthly for 15 years straight. I have to say – we have never come close to spending that monthly amount, so continue to just reinvest it. We are loving doing the things that WE want to do, WHEN we want to do them, with the people WE choose to do them with! And you are right – if you have hobbies and interests, you’ll be busy all the time. We don’t know where our days go, seriously. We’ve just taken up to heading out to AZ for the winter months to get away from the snow and just love it out there. We bike, hike, walk, swim & socialize regularly. It’s like a 5 month vacation! So when we are home, seems we are busy doing things around the house here. But truly, if you learn to live simply and below your means, retirement will be everything you had hoped it would be, and hopefully a great deal less stressful!

    For those of you working towards this goal – keep up the great work. We honestly believe it’s a much richer, more fulfilling life when it’s not so cluttered with all the “crap” that people can accumulate over the years. And while we can afford all of the luxuries everyone else has……….we just don’t want them.

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 7, 2012, 7:26 am

      Thanks for the inspiring comment SusieQ. You just got me psyched about being retired and, heck, I already am! And that’s a good point about how reducing clutter actually enables a more fulfilling life.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple October 6, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Cool post! Can’t wait to check out the blog. In fact, I already read the Class B RV post you linked.

    So a question about that. We are tent campers. I considered getting a small teardrop for about $6k that could be towed by our Matrix. But we passed on that. Now I’ve been looking at used Class B RV’s. By looking at, I mean occasionally perusing the local auto trader mag. I’m far from ready to buy.

    Your Class B – how well would that work for a family of four? I’ve got 2 boys, one 6, the other 3 months. My neighbors have a camping van (Ford Sportsmobile) and 3 kids, and it’s quickly getting to be too small. I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to buy one. We currently don’t vacation often enough to make it worthwhile, and don’t plan on retiring for quite a number of years. But I’ve considered renting one for some of our longer vacations. We tend to camp at Joshua Tree ($15 a night) and there are some BLM areas nearby too.

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 7, 2012, 8:01 am

      Hi Marcia. Our Class B is pretty much a 2-person vehicle. It can be made up into a king-size bed, which might work for a family, while the kids are small. But not too realistic later. I believe Roadtrek has some models where the front seats make up into small beds. But the living area in any Class B is going to be pretty cramped with more than 2 people. Renting would be a good way to find out, without making a big commitment.

  • Chris October 6, 2012, 5:50 pm

    I suspect that intelligent, conscious, deliberate people don’t have an issue with boredom during freetime, period. I notice a lot of people are spring loaded to say, “what would I do with all that free time, I’d get bored!”, REALLY, you’ve got be Fucking kidding me. I day dream about the freedom of retirement. When I’m enjoying a three day weekend (like I am right now), I take deep, conscious breaths and saturate my innards with the breath of freedom!

    I’m starting to think you either get it or you don’t. You’re either pre-wired for the capacity to embrace total freedom or you’re forever dependent on work to both satisfy your ambitions and occupy your time.

    Congrats Darrow, I read your “About” section over coffee this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the points about character and values that were passed down from your father. Sounds like you did a pretty good job yourself.

    • Jen October 7, 2012, 12:02 am

      All of us hear that occasionaly from various people and it still continues to amaze me. What a waste of human life one must be (pardon me) if one needs a job and a boss telling them what to do with their time. No interests, no hobbies, no dreams?

      • SusieQ October 8, 2012, 6:56 am

        AMEN!!! I guess I consider us “well-rounded” folks! Seriously, if you don’t have a hobby now and are still working, GET ONE!! Take a class on something that interests you, start finding out what you might like to do – so that once you are FREE, you can pursue it with gusto! I actually have ADD when it comes to my hobbies – which is OK when you’re retired!

        OH, and don’t forget to give back to the world with all of the time you do have – find an organization that you believe in and can support, and then volunteer a few hours a week doing something for/with them. If you can contribute a bit monetarily, I’m sure they’d appreciate that, but your time is just as valuable.

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 7, 2012, 8:06 am

      Thanks Chris, I appreciate that. Yes, I’m grateful for the head start my parents gave me. And, yeah, there really are people who get bored in retirement. I read about it not infrequently. If you’re going back to work you love by choice, great. But to go back to a dull job because you can’t find anything more interesting in life, that’s sad. P.S. I really savored those 3-day weekends too….

    • Jamesqf October 7, 2012, 1:02 pm

      “I suspect that intelligent, conscious, deliberate people don’t have an issue with boredom during freetime, period.”

      You’d be wrong. For me, at least, the problem is finding things that engage both mind and body. For instance, if I’m hiking or biking a familiar route, even though I’m enjoying the physical part, my mind gets bored unless I have some problem to think about – and I do work out a lot of work-related things when out hiking &c. Of course the reverse is true: I get the physical equivalent of boredom sitting in front of the computer, even though my mind’s fully engaged.

      The difficulty with mental exercise is that I usually need someone else to set the problem for me, and give me a good reason (money works!) for pursuing it to completion. Otherwise I get distracted. Again, the converse is somewhat true: I’d rather get my exercise helping my neighbors cut their firewood than by lifting weights.

      • Chris October 7, 2012, 2:01 pm

        Great, then go back to work and I’ll be enjoying the hell out my freedom to the fullest!:)

        • Jamesqf October 8, 2012, 4:30 pm

          What’s freedom, though? Isn’t it doing what you want to do? If I want to do something that provides me with intellectual challenge, lets me feel that I’m doing something productive, doesn’t prevent me from doing other stuff that I enjoy, and just incidentally brings in a good bit of money… Well, exactly how am I unfree?

          To be honest, I worry more about the spectre of forced retirement: being told that I can’t do stuff I want to do (and do well) simply because I was born in a certain year.

      • Annamal October 7, 2012, 5:15 pm

        Have you tried Audiobooks?

        They’ve changed my life and my walking.

        There’s enough non-fiction audiobooks out there that you could be chewing over 100’s of problems while walking.

        • Jamesqf October 7, 2012, 9:03 pm

          Some of my favorite listening is plays and such (I have most of Shakespeare on my player, and isn’t that kind of amazing?), but most books just don’t seem to translate well.

          I also really dislike audio (and video) for anything that’s not pure streaming entertainment. It’s too easy to skip over things, either inadvertently or because the creator intended to create false impressions.

          I don’t think books are quite the same thing, in terms of what I might call brain exercise. They really don’t present problems to solve in the same sense that e.g. figuring out a way to use a GPU to speed up a seismic tomography app does.

          • Mac July 13, 2016, 2:30 pm

            Try online courses from Universities, there are many, they are good and on various topics.

    • Doug October 10, 2012, 8:35 am

      I would agree fully that intelligent, conscious, deliberate people don’t have an issue with boredom during free time. It’s fully consistent with my observations. I should add that those who are bored and don’t know what to do with free time aren’t very creative. A job is a nuisance that gets disrupts my life and gets in the way of things I would rather do. Temporary jobs aren’t bad because you can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, and part time (no more than 3 days a week) would be tolerable, also. As for going back to the misery of permanent, full time employment, FORGET IT!

      • Ra;ph December 25, 2015, 12:28 am

        Doug, I agree that work sometimes gets in the way of life. But sometimes your job is doing what you enjoy, I teach off road & ATV driving (as well as trucks) and my work satisfies my bush driving habit.
        The bad thing for me is when I finally stop work I will have to buy a 4×4 to indulge my habit. Or there is also a possibility of having done enough to enjoy the memories and take up something with my SO that is not so hard on the body.
        Time will tell

    • Ceres Green October 10, 2012, 8:50 pm

      I think you would find that most of us older folks out here didn’t grow up with the knowledge or have a forum (such as this one) to see that life could be any different than putting all our effort into working.

      I “retired” a couple of months ago because I reached a limit to my ability to work 60 plus hours a week which I have been doing for 30 years. I had been reading this blog for about a year and finally realized that things could be different and that I do have a choice so I took that leap and retired having reached my minimum financial retirement needs.
      Now I feel like I’ve just woken up from sleepwalking through life and don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been working out and reading and trying to learn to relax and realize how much I have personally sacrificed for the sake of work. I don’t even have any hobbies so right now I’m just going to give myself some time to recuperate and figure the rest of my life out. I’d even like to have the opportunity to “get bored” for a bit. :)

      So please don’t disparage us or get smug at how busy you are in retirement; not everyone has had the same vantage point. It’s much more helpful to provide encouragement to those who just “woke up” and have a blank slate of retirement to figure out. The last thing someone needs to hear when they just jumped off the work wagon is how they have been doing it all wrong and they need to get “busy” like it’s some kind of competition for doing retirement “right”.

      I’m happy that times are changing and these blogs and forums are available for people to see that there is a lot of opportunity to have a full life that doesn’t revolve around all work.
      P.S. My husband has been successfully self-employed for 40 years and enjoys what he does. He has been scaling back his work for the past few years and only taking clients he wants to work with now. He says he’ll retire when people stop hiring him. :)

      • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 11, 2012, 5:18 pm

        Hi Ceres, thanks for your perspective and the heartfelt comment. I’ve heard similar stories from other older workers. I don’t think anybody here wants to disparage your dedication or sacrifice to work, or your need for space to figure out who you are in your new life. The point is not to fill up our lives with busy activity, but to understand who we really are and what we really value in the world. You may enjoy, and surely deserve, to relax and even get bored. And I’m going to guess, if you’re the kind of person who reads MMM, that you’ll soon enough create a new full life for yourself.

      • jlcollinsnh October 11, 2012, 5:58 pm

        Hi Ceres….

        Congratulations on your retirement!

        I’m going to guess we are around the same age, I may even have a few years on you.

        As I’ve said elsewhere, my own process to FI involved any number of mistakes and blind alleys. Like you, I knew no one else even trying this, or even if it was possible.

        Now with the internet and blogs like this one kindred spirits are easy to find and the paths are well lit. I’m thrilled for those younger folks coming along behind us. And a bit envious.

        Take all the time you want being ‘bored’. Taking time to enjoy the stillness has wonderful value. You can always make other choices later as it suits you.

  • Clint October 6, 2012, 6:19 pm

    Inspiring story. I also enjoyed the feature video on you on Yahoo Finance’s Financially Fit channel earlier this week. If only I had found all these great minds 10 years ago. I’ll be 50 in about a year and won’t be able to hang it up just yet. But I’m still shooting for an early start.

  • JaneMD October 6, 2012, 11:01 pm

    Glad to hear that he’s enjoying retirement at 50 and feels like travel is one of the new frontiers to explore. To Jamesqf – love to hear if you are considering replacing bike or car with the horse . . .

    I was just trying to explain to a friend what type of blogs I follow and which communities I’m active in. ‘Anti-consumerism and frugality . . . I carry a spreadsheet to walmart and BJs . . . ‘ I recognize that I’m not close to early retirement, but am working much more on debt free.

    • Jamesqf October 7, 2012, 12:48 pm

      Re the horse: She’s a replacement for some of the time I would otherwise spend mountain biking or hiking, otherwise not. If anything, I use the car a bit more, as I keep her at my friends’ ranch some miles away – but I’d probably drive about as much getting to trailheads anyway.

  • Wade - Retirement Researcher October 7, 2012, 6:40 am

    Congratulations on all of your recent success with your blogging and writing. It’s great seeing you guest post on what has also recently become another of my favorite blogs. Wade

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 7, 2012, 8:11 am

      Thanks Wade. Your research is a foundation and inspiration for anybody interested in retirement or financial independence. Keep it up: we appreciate it!

  • jlcollinsnh October 7, 2012, 8:08 am

    Hey Darrow….

    Great story here.

    Like you, I expected ‘more space’ when I retired. Looked forward to it, in fact.

    But there is so much cool stuff to do one of the sweetest challenges has been making sure there is enough simple downtime stillness in the mix.

    I’m one of those Baby-boomers Dragline mentioned above and, as I’ve written about here on MMM, I’ve stepped in and out of employment on several occasions over the years. Each time, this was met with disbelief by from my peers.

    It wasn’t until I started blogging a 1.5 years ago that I realized there were kindred spirits out there, most much younger that I. As you said so well: “…it’s plugged me into a network of savvy, interesting people who are making a difference in the world.”

    In fact, yesterday I just met The Mad Fientist up in the White Mountains. Beautiful drive thru the autumn leaves and great company over lunch.

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 7, 2012, 8:30 am

      Thanks jlc. I’ve just started following your RSS, and enjoy your story as well.

      It is so important to make space for that ‘downtime stillness.’ I’m still working with that in my life, but have 5-15 minute spaces in my day each morning, afternoon, and evening — for quiet.

      And oh you reminded me of that White Mountain granite with the fall colors — heaven on earth.

      • jlcollinsnh October 7, 2012, 9:29 am

        If you ever make your way back out here, coffee’s on me!

    • mike crosby October 8, 2012, 11:13 am

      Hi Jim, I know you’re not plugging your interview with him, but if anyone wants to listen to a great interview podcast, I enjoyed it immensely.

  • Joe @ Retire By 40 October 7, 2012, 9:41 am

    I quit my career a few months ago and I’m getting less sleep than ever. I’m raising our toddler and he keeps me 110% busy when he’s awake. When he’s asleep, I’m working on my blog. Once he goes off to school, I’ll have a bit more time to explore other options, but it’s just too busy right now. When he’s older we’ll explore other activities too. Right now it’s mostly running around in the parks. :)

  • JT October 7, 2012, 11:38 am

    Darrow, I saw you featured on Yahoo’s Financially Fit section the other day and enjoyed the video. When I read the article about you, I couldn’t believe the sheer number of complainypants that commented on it. I think they need to get down with Mr Money Mustache’s Optimism Gun.

    Keep it up.

    • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 7, 2012, 7:02 pm

      Thanks JT, I appreciate that. I really notice the optimism and positive attitudes here at MMM. It’s palpable! Fact is you do need some things to go your way (plus a ton of hard work) to make it to financial independence. Complainypants would do well to focus that energy on their own life, and create some of their own good fortune.

  • Tony October 7, 2012, 12:47 pm

    A lot of people are so used to the employed life that once they retire, they go back to their employer.

    • Doug October 8, 2012, 2:53 pm

      A lot more people don’t.

  • traineeinvestor October 7, 2012, 5:54 pm

    So much to do and so little time in which to do it!

    I will be retireing in mid-2013 (age 47) and have started telling a few close colleagues as well as family members. The two recurring reactions so far are “what will you do? You’ll be bored” and “but the money is so good”. We have enough for our needs and I’m more worried about running out of life before I run out of things to do – quite frankly it’s going to be hard to sit through the last ten months.

    Thanks to bloggers like Darren and MMM (among others) for all these great posts which keep me focused and on track.

  • jet October 7, 2012, 8:14 pm

    yup, yup, I know that I would be just as busy if I didn’t have 9 hours a day locked in to a schedule…. my house and garden would be immaculate and a lot more productive for one. It’s been so long since I’ve spent time in the garden that I had to ‘sweep’ my patio pavers with a shovel yesterday.

  • Tamara October 7, 2012, 8:19 pm

    Pretty much a “ditto” here to SusieQ’s post. Retired at 48 and 56 respectively, and likewise utilizing a deferred compensation stockpile to help fund the first 15 years of pre-SSN, 401K, Medicare, etc. retirement. We’re currently at a 2.5% withdrawal rate, considerably less than what the prevailing advice seems to be, but we are very happy living on this amount and have no need for more at the moment.

    We have a small camping trailer, and are planning to spend about 50% of the year on the road in 2013, primarily hiking, biking and soaking up as much history as we can around the USA and Canada. When we are here at home we take advantage of a fantastic lifelong learning program at our nearby university (which we bike to . . . particularly now that gas has temporarily zoomed to almost $5 a gallon here in S. California) to satisfy our need for intellectual stimulation. Add in about a dozen additional interests and hobbies each, and life is very full and very satisfying.

    There is no question you need to pursue a satisfying retirement exactly the way you pursued a satisfying career (assuming you did so). My standard response to any “Gee, aren’t you bored?” query is either “Boredom is a choice” or “Only boring people get bored” depending on how tolerant I’m feeling.

  • pachipres October 7, 2012, 9:53 pm

    Thanks MMM for posting this article. I downloaded the free e-book on retirement and it is a very informative read and well researched too!

  • Freeyourchains October 9, 2012, 11:17 am

    But you’ll live longer, learn things quicker, and store more memories and knowledge if you get over 9 hours of sleep everyday ;-)

  • Kathy Abell February 26, 2015, 11:40 pm

    re: You can sleep when you’re dead.

    Starting probably a decade ago, my siblings and I worried about our elderly mother (she turns 88 this year) not getting enough sleep (she was not aware of how often she was falling asleep throughout the day). Her standard reply to us: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” She once told me she stayed up so late because she didn’t want to miss anything. Now that she is living in the memory care unit of an assisted living facility due to her advanced dementia, we treasure those moments when she is awake and alert. She will get plenty of sleep when she’s dead.

  • Garrett July 26, 2017, 2:54 pm

    “But in my 50’s it is crystal clear that I’m not getting another shot.”

    I think this is shortsighted. As an engineer and an optimist, he should be considering AT LEAST a 200 year lifespan. At least!


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