How Not To Lose Yourself in Retirement

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“So, what do you do?”

How many times have you been asked this question? If you live in North American, I’m willing to bet, a lot. Given that our society places so much emphasis on “live to work” instead of “work to live”, I’m not surprised we believe we are our jobs.

So, what happens if we reach financial independence and quit said job? Who do we become?

My answer to that question has changed from “software engineer” to “author”, but for the first few years in retirement, I had to no idea how to answer it.

Not only that, when I lost my work identity, I also lost my friends. Since we spend so much of our time at work, our co-workers naturally become our main social circle. So, when we retire, it can feel like the circle is moving on without us. They continue getting promotions, raises, and awards to feed their egos while we stagnate.

No longer tethered to society, we could find ourselves alone, friendless, and trapped in a tornado of self-loathing.

Or at least that was my biggest worry before giving my notice. My plan was that I was going to become a “world traveller,” an identity that would be a good distraction while I figure things out.

Over time though, I’ve realized that distractions only work for a little while. You can run away from your problems, but they will eventually catch up with you. You can’t simply run away from your job; you have to run towards something better.

As predicted, now that my values have changed, I have lost touch with ex-coworkers, classmates, and people who used to share my values. It’s not that we don’t get along or they’re bad people, it’s simply that, over time, the things that they care about (moving up the corporate ladder, buying/renovating their home, buying the newest gadget, etc.) are things I no longer care about. Plus, they can’t just meet up with us at 2pm on a weekday. *exasperated sigh*

It’s like we’re speaking different languages. But that’s okay. Retiring changes your values, and you may need to change your friends too. And keep in mind, this isn’t just specific to early retirees. As people get older, their priorities shift, so changing their social circle is just a natural part of life.

From talking to other early retirees, I also discovered that building a whole new identity is incredibly difficult. I started building my author identity for 7 years while working, so in that sense, I ramped my way up to my new identity. Others quit without creating a new identity, struggle, and end up right back at work. Some are perfectly happy with this decision, while others continue to feel unfulfilled and wonder “is this it?” And some never even take the leap, telling themselves “just one more year” while continuing to work out of fear.

For those who are struggling, here are 3 things I’ve learned in retirement that might help:

1) Change Your Mindset

Photo by Shashi Ch on Unsplash

Avoid Black and White Thinking

I’m guilty of this. As an intense person, I tend to like extremes. One time we went to a Jjimjilbang (bath house) in Seoul and while Wanderer was trying out all the different temperature pools, I was oscillating between only two—the scalding hot one and freezing cold one. He called it “insanity.” I called it “best value.” After all, why waste your time in boring, lukewarm water when you can feel exhilarated? Plus, I read that hot-cold therapy is good for your circulation.

But this type of extreme, black-and-white thinking limits your options. Sure, it can simplify things and at times, even help you make decisions quickly, but it also creates unhappiness and paints you into a corner (literally, in my case, since the hot and freezing pools in the Korean bathhouse were in opposite corners of the room).

I’ve missed out on friendships, opportunities, and creative solutions because I deemed them “not good enough”. I ended up putting myself under a ton of pressure, trying to be a perfectionist, because there’s only one maximized “right” way and alternatives are dismissed.

In the case of someone stuck in their job, they may be thinking their only options are to keep working the hateful job or retire and lose their friends and identity.

But in reality, there are other options. They can go down to part time, switch to a lower paying but more enjoyable job, start their own freelance business using their existing skills, or build a whole new community who share their new values.

They’re just not able to see these options because they are stuck in the “black-and-white” mindset.

If you want to be happy in retirement, avoid this type of thinking. Your options aren’t just “keep your job but be unhappy” or “create a better, more impressive identity in retirement or be considered a failure.” There are a whole lot of options in between. 

Whenever I catch myself getting stuck in this fixed mindset, I journal about my thoughts, feelings, and fears. This gets the worries out of my head so I can focus on coming up with creative solutions. But even just being aware of these extreme thoughts is helpful.

 

Fight Fear with Gratitude

As an anxious person, I have a tendency to project into the future. My mind goes into a spiral, picturing all the worst-case scenarios and my body freezes in fear. This prevents me from taking action.

I’ve since learned it’s impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same time. So, whenever I feel fear (which is 99.9% of the time), I think about everything and everyone I’m grateful for, do some mindfulness meditation (using the free Insight Timer app), and take deep breathes until my body calms down. 

No matter what your situation is, there is always something you can be grateful for. Even just being alive, for instance. During this pandemic, so many people have lost their lives, simply being able to breathe is a gift.

Cherish that gift.

 

2) Change Your Identity

Get Comfortable with Uncertainty

One thing I learned from face planting and getting 200 rejections in the writing trenches, is that in order to build a new identity, you need to learn to cope with uncertainty.

Trying to publish a book takes years (sometimes decades), so I had to learn to tolerate uncertainty and rejection. This meant that even though I was trained by my job to expect a bi-weekly paycheck and a step-by-step approach to projects, I had to unlearn all that in order to build my new author identity.

Because we’ve been trained in school and in our jobs to work on tasks to completion and be financially awarded for them, it’s a real mind-f*ck to put in the effort and get no return. And not only that, but we also don’t know if we’ll ever be rewarded for our efforts. What if we languish without a new identity forever?

Human brains are trained for immediate gratification, so to go against that, we have to retrain our brains. The more you can learn to accept uncertainty, the more likely you won’t give up and feel deflated.

How do you to this? We’ve discovered the best way is to have multiple projects going. Work on something you’re already good at, and then switch between that project and the project involving new skills you’re trying to develop. That way you can enjoy the process, instead of obsessing over results and immediate gratification, because you have the confidence that you can accomplish the first project. For example, I created an author website for a friend while I was working on the blog, so that I could feel confident about my existing coding skills while developing new writing skills. An artist friend of mine, worked on painting and graphics design while she learned how to write a novel.

 

Pivot Your Identity

Creating a new identify from scratch is hard. So, why not pivot your existing one using all the experience and skills you’ve learned over the years.

If you were a software developer, start an online course teaching people how to code. Give an online talk at your college, inspiring upcoming grads to become financially independent. Or contact your alma mater and help them with recruiting. You can even volunteer as a mentor for programs like Technovation, teaching girls how to code.

Basically, whatever role you had, you can create a course teaching people the skills you learned in that trade or give talks, inspiring others in your trade to reach financial independence or simply to get their finances in order.

No one says you have to throw your identity away. Consider pivoting your identity if building a brand new one seems too daunting.

 

3) Change Your Social Circle

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

Change Your Values, Change Your Friends

I know what it’s like to be in a room full of people (before covid, obviously) and still feel alone. I’ve always been a misfit. “Having a flat Asian face,” not speaking English, eating “gross stinky tofu” at lunch, and wearing ugly thrift store clothes meant that I couldn’t join the “normal kids” circle. I was the weird Chinese kid who nodded when the grade schoolteacher told her “don’t climb the fence” and then climbed it because I couldn’t understand what she was saying. Being surrounded by people with the opposite values and not quite fitting in is my norm.

Once I discovered FIRE, my values changed even more. No longer did I care about climbing the corporate ladder, defining my worth with luxury handbags, or buying a big house or a car to keep up with my co-workers.

Yes, it was sad to lose touch with my work social circle, but this provided a whole new opportunity to find friends who “get” me and have similar values.

I’m eternally grateful to be a part of Chautauqua and to the FI community for finding new, like-minded friends who share my values.

If you’re struggling with no longer relating to your old circle of friends because your values have changed, consider coming to a Chautauqua, going to a ChooseFI meetup, or any other FIRE-related event. In addition to the FI community, parents can also join the WorldSchoolers and travellers can go to the Nomad Summit meet ups that are held around the world (or at least, will be once travel restrictions are lifted). We’re all going to have to sit tight until the pandemic is over and it’s safe to meet in large groups again, but in the meantime, to give yourself something to be excited about, make a list of communities you like to be a part of and reach out to some of them online. You can also start your own community by creating a Facebook group, starting a blog, or a creating a podcast.

It’s normal to be sad about losing your work friends, but don’t let that keep you from finding new friends who are a better fit for your new values.

 

What do think? How would you find new friends and be comfortable with your new identity if you retired?


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63 thoughts on “How Not To Lose Yourself in Retirement”

  1. Ugh, that question applies 1000% in DC. Pretty sure you won’t find a higher concentration of Type A lunatics anywhere else in the world. Spending two years of my 20s in South Carolina was the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental heatlh; that perspective was everything.

    I look forward to the day when I can answer with “whatever I damn well want.”

    1. “Pretty sure you won’t find a higher concentration of Type A lunatics anywhere else in the world.”

      I don’t know. It’s got pretty strong competition from Toronto.

      Very cool that you managed to escape that mentality in SC though! Chiang Mai, Thailand did that for me. Very spiritual place.

  2. Any thoughts on the FIRE couples that get divorced? Pete (MMM), Joe (AdventuringAlong), LivingAFI… plenty more examples in the MMM Forum in the post-FIRE group. One would think that not having money issues (the #1 stressor for married people) and achieving a monumental goal together would strengthen that bond, but apparently there is more to it.

    1. yeah I was wondering the same thing, is there something I’m missing when we see these FI bloggers end up in divorce?

    2. Divorce is very, very common these days. Its not exclusive to early retirement. And I’m willing to bet more divorces are caused but financial stress vs financial security

    3. I think it happens when two people grow in different directions and their values are no longer aligned. Or if one person has to live in the shadow of their other person’s success. That’s never fun. Relationship are hard work and you have constantly be communicating and making sure you are on the same page. I’m not a relationship coach so that’s just my 2 cents.

  3. I think this whole “finding our identity” problem is very common in our generation (millennials), not just after retirement but in general. I certainly struggled with it most of my life. Personally, I like what you wrote about avoiding black-and-white thinking and focusing on doing things that we love. This can probably (hopefully?) help us building an identity that suits us.

    1. I think this whole “finding our identity” problem is very common in our generation (millennials)

      –> Why do you think that is? My guess is that it’s related to social media and how it’s a distorted rose-colored view of other people’s lives. They only show the good, not the bad. That’s why I stay off social media now. It’s done wonders for my psyche.

      1. Good question. I’m sure social media is part of it but there are also other factors. Most of us millennials were pretty young in 2008 and I guess the financial crisis shaped our identity. We had it a lot harder than boomers did at our age, and we had to find new ways to survive, which probably defined our identity. Plus a lot of us have developed depression at some point in our lives, which can also contribute to the “I don’t know who I am” feeling. And yes, staying off social media is very good for the psyche, I wish I could do it more often 😀

        1. No doubt social media amplifies this phenomenon, but looking for an identity, or meaning in one’s life is as old as humanity itself.

          See: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

  4. Good tips. It’s best to transition slowly. If you can change to part-time first, that’s a great option.
    I became a stay at home dad when I retired so I had plenty to do. It wasn’t a smooth change, but at least I can slide into it. Being a SAHD gets easier as the kid gets older too. That’s the nice thing about it. I can work on other things more now that my son goes to school.

    1. So glad it worked out for you, Joe! Did you stay in touch with your ex co-workers after becoming SAHD? One of my friends is struggling after she quit her job to become a SAHM. She’s an amazing mom but didn’t feel like she was “enough” since she kept hearing about her ex co-workers get promotions, raises, etc. It’s hard not to be competitive if you’ve been in that mindset for so long.

      Would be super curious to hear your tips.

      1. A few years ago, my company closed (I was an engineer) and I was offered a paid MBA degree. For the next two years, I was not working but I was going to online school. So while I was a SAHM, I was proud to say that I was an MBA student. Yes I admit, I wouldn’t feel good if I just said “SAHM”. Maybe because traditionally it means that you are relying on your partner’s income? In this case, I actually had a stipend so I was not a dependent. When I FIRE, I plan to have some kind of part-time or maybe even a full-time low stress remote job. I am back to work now full-time.

        Note: For your friend, I stayed in touch with my former co-workers. Interestingly enough all of them were happy for me. I don’t know if it’s because of the MBA or just me fulfilling my dream of being with my baby.

  5. Social circle is definitely the big change, at least for me. I think for most FIRE people, even long before quitting job, the social circle starts to diminish. I don’t have any friends who have even the slightest iota of interest in early retirement. They are all still into a consumer lifestyle. I have no interest in cars, houses, expensive vacations, etc, and they have no interest in financial freedom and early retirement. I spend my days doing whatever I want, and they’re all stuck at their 9~5 jobs. I’ve noticed a drifting apart of friendships and most likely many of these people I’ll never/rarely interact with again. There’s simply no longer a common grounding to base a friendship on.

    FIRE can be a lonely road, and I believe you’re 100% correct about forming a new social circle.

    1. Yeah my social circle already diminished as I’ve found it harder to keep in touch with others that don’t have the same values. I have put my family first and that has led to the diminishing of the circle.

      But I agree now is the time to rebuild a new social circle and find folks with similar values.

      I also agree that we have to get rid of black/white thinking. It’s cost me too many relationships thinking I was right and they were wrong. Neither answer was correct.

    2. That’s a good point. Now that you mention it, I also found my circle beginning diminish even before we quit out jobs.

      For us, I think the fact that left an expensive city where everyone is stressed all the time and only thinks about work, in order to afford their crazy rent or mortgages was the turning point. That’s when we finally found people with the same values. People in other fields we never would’ve met had we stayed. And even after coming back during a pandemic, we’ve been able to reconnect with like-minded Chautauquans who live in Toronto. Now we don’t feel lonely at all (well, except for during lockdowns) 🙂 Yay for the FI community!

      1. There are Chautauquans living in Toronto? (Besides you two, of course). We need to start thinking about organizing some meetups – post Covid.

  6. I believe in an off ramp. I went from a high powered job to an easy one of 8 hours a week of consulting that still paid all the bills and kept me a minor celebrity of sorts. Starting this month I’ve stopped consulting, but the five years of part time work got me ready for where I am now. I’m no longer worried about reporters not calling me to quote me in the newspaper or on TV. I’m more worried about my tennis serve and if the fish are biting.

  7. This is a great article. I can’t wait to have this problem!

    I have a very active mind and am not afraid I will get bored after FIRE. I want to learn to play an instrument (blues harp), write my book, fish, fish, fish, travel mostly all around the USA and it’s natural environs. So many things await.

    Like FIREcracker I’ve always been a misfit too, for my own reasons, but a misfit nonetheless. FIRE is absolutely what I want, and people that really care about me support that.

    1. *misfit five*! I don’t get why people are so desperate to fit in. Being a misfit and rebel is fun 🙂

      Hope you get to have this problem soon!

      Side note: blues harp?! Very intriguing. Never heard of this instrument until now. Where in the US are you most excited to travel to after FI?

      1. Hey FIREcracker! Blues harp is slang for the harmonica. I used the term to allude the blues style which I love. Minimalist, travel friendly and I love the sound.

        You know there are so many places. Bozeman, MT, Northern MI, the Catskills, Yosemite, the Boundary Waters, Mt Zion in UT. Almost made it to the top of Grand Teton once. I want my revenge!

        No BS your book had such a huge impact on my life and with a little luck and some more hard work I’ll join your FIRE ranks soon enough.

        And yes, my misfit nature is one of the keys to my success. 😉

        1. Lol. Clearly, I’m not “with it” when it comes to music lingo. Need to brush up on that 🙂

          Thanks for your kind words on my book, FIRE Junky! Hope you can join our FIRE circle soon!

  8. I’m coming up on 5 years of FI and when people ask “What do you do?” my first thought is “My super hot girlfriend” because I’m still 12 deep inside, but I find “Mostly retired but I do some consulting and teaching” to be the socially acceptable answer.

    I often get back: “But you’re too young to be retired!” …as if I’ve committed a felony. It’s ok, it helps me filter out the people that I won’t be spending time with. I’ve become a firm believer in “If it’s not a HELL YES then it’s a no” because Lost Opportunity Cost doesn’t just apply to money.

    When you’re not mainstream finding friends is a lot like dating – you read 1000’s of profiles, write 100’s of messages, go on dozens of dates…..sometimes for years…..to finally find a good fit. You just have to put in the work. Not always fun but totally worth it in the end.

    1. Good for you Lance. Most people don’t realize that friendships, or any type of relationship for that matter, does, in fact, require work. I’ve pondered why, over the years, and the answer that seems to fit best is that we begin/learn how to make friends when we are children. At that age, we don’t even realize that we are ‘working’ at something. Think about it: does a baby keep track of the number of hours spent building up core and leg muscles to be able to transition from crawling to walking? Of course not. Nor do they think of it as “work”. And yet, if some researcher decided to keep track of the number of hours spent on this task, I bet it would be enormous.

      As adults we complain that it’s harder to make friends, but I think the problem is that adults aren’t putting in the time/effort/hours required to make friends, or perhaps it would be fairer to say they don’t prioritize the task and dedicate time for it.

      Even as I realized this, it did not solve my problem. Because BOTH sides have to be willing to put in the time/effort/hours. One sided friendships work no better than one sided marriages. As I live in a HCOL area, where everyone is obsessed with over achievement, social get togethers have to be scheduled 6 weeks in advance.

      So this is an on-going project for me. But fair warning to single, childless people, who do not have strong family ties (guilty), when you FIRE, prepare to be comfortable spending a lot of your time alone.

      As to the answer to the “What do you do?” question, my current favourite response is “I’m on a self-funded sabbatical”. I’ll let you know how it works out.

      1. Totally agree that friendship has to go both ways and that certain areas of the country make it easier than others. I like Thriftygal’s Friend Making Process: 1. Join groups, 2. Do stuff together to find people you are interest in, 3. Ask them to go do something with you. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it out again after COVID….

    2. “I’m coming up on 5 years of FI and when people ask “What do you do?” my first thought is “My super hot girlfriend”

      BWAHAHAHAHAH. Good answer. I would’ve just said that answer, social-acceptability be damned.

      I hear you on the finding like-minded friends struggle. Definitely need to put in the work. Chautauqua’s format really helps because it’s getting to know a small group of people in close contact for a whole week. Most conferences are only 2-3 days, with hundreds or thousand of people. Not enough time spent and not enough depth to really get to know people. Maybe we need to start some FIRE communes around the world.

      1. I took me about five years to shed the old identity, but my prior job as a diplomat and identity that derived from that were pretty specific and all-encompassing. Mostly it was just the passage of time that allowed the shift.

        I should clarify, however, that I never retired, and I don’t ever want to retire. I bailed on the 9-5 and became a full-time investor. I have more thoughts here: https://mightyinvestor.com/early-retirement-may-be-the-path-to-disaster/.

  9. This was a timely post…

    My family and I are not even nomadic yet and already I feel the need to drop ALL of my social circles. I am finding it hard to correlate to these people nowadays and their so called “status-quo” mentality. It’s like a telling a “hamster” that has been stuck on their wheel for the longest time that they can actually get off it and still be “ok”. Nothing I do or say to these individuals makes any sense to them. Embracing CHANGE is simply NOT in their vocabulary and anything I do outside their “normal” ways or “against-the-grain” is met with resistance!

    I really need to find MY community! Coz ours doesn’t seem to work anymore simply due to the fact that we have NOTHING in common!

    ImmigrantOnFire

    1. Yup. When people in the Matrix will never see what we can see. Some of them are perfectly happy staying there, just like Cypher, and if they’d rather pick blue pill over the red pill, that’s their prerogative. But once you find the people who took the red pill, you’ll be wondering “where have you guys been my whole life!” Best group of friends you will ever have.

      Once you are FI, moving out of your city will help, since the high paying high stress jobs in the big cities are what causes people to be stuck in the Matrix in the first place.

      Oh wow, I’m making Matrix references. I think this lockdown is screwing with my head.

  10. I have a couple thoughts….

    One is that you shouldn’t worry or strive to have a new identity, that’s an ego thing. Learn to live with yourself and be not just do (get comfortable in your own skin). I think that will help anyone be more at peace. I’ve been “done” since 2019 and basically stay at home doing whatever I want (clean house, read, listen to books/podcasts etc.). I get contacted about jobs quite a bit and the thought of going back to the corporate world 49 weeks a year to live in a cube is nauseating. Maybe at some point I’ll want to contribute to society again but with everything going on right now I’ll pass.

    Second… Here is a hard fact. When you leave your job it is like you died (or you’re a leper). Your co-workers keep doing what they have done while you move on. It is rare to keep in contact with people when you leave. You might have a couple for a while but it will fade as time passes and you move on. Any after that are true friends. Think about the old saying “one door closes and another opens”. If you don’t move on you don’t get to meet new people and have new experiences.

    1. “that’s an ego thing. Learn to live with yourself and be not just do (get comfortable in your own skin). I think that will help anyone be more at peace.”

      –> This is true. That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of meditation and practicing mindfulness. Easier said than done, though, to completely get rid of the ego (though ‘shrooms in Rotterdam definitely help :D)

      You mentioned you’ve been done since 2019, so it’s been 2 years max. I find that the identity issue doesn’t kick in until year 3 and even not until year 5 for some people. Maybe some people have to work harder at get rid of their egos and maybe you don’t have that problem. Time will tell 🙂

      1. It is all easier said than done. I think it is a marathon and not sure if you ever finish it but you just try to do the best you can every day and don’t beat yourself up over it.

        I don’t know if I’ll have the identity issue. I don’t right now. My dad passed away 2 months ago and it definitely makes you ponder the meaning of life a little. What you realize is that the old saying “life is short” is so very true.

        One of my favorite bands is Harem Scarem (little known rock band from Canada if you live in the US). Anyway, look up the lyrics to their song “Here Today Gone Tomorrow”

    2. @Scott: My sentiments exactly – you’ve saved me the work of writing it.

      I think our underlying personalities will have some influence on how we deal with the transition. As an INTJ, so far it’s been easy, and until this post I was wondering what all the fuss was about. There’s books about it, and podcasts talking about preparing for it. I just didn’t understand.

      1. @Bob

        I agree that underlying personality has something to do with it. My dad was always talking to people working at a bank but didn’t let the door hit his ass on the way out when he retired and just did his thing (so much more happy). The last time I did a Myers-Briggs I was an I/ENTJ. I can be very outgoing when I want to be but feel more INTJ. Another song of mine is “Peace of Mind” by Boston. That sums it up for me.

  11. Before I committed to FIRE, I dreaded “What do you do?” (thankfully, it’s less common in Australia where I live than in North America) – “data scientist” is a respectable answer but it’s not how I want to present because it’s not at all representative of the person I am, of my interests or values. Nowadays I say “data scientist, but I like to quit and do something creative”, I only get negative reactions about 10% of the time, they don’t bother me, they’re useful because they tell me quickly that the person isn’t worth getting to know! Much more often that answer leads to a really interesting conversation, perhaps because, in the public service (where I and about half the population of my home city work) retirement at 55 is the norm, so many people in their 50s and even 40s have started thinking about the next phase of their lives, and some have already become part time creatives and/or microbusiness people.
    Because of these positive reactions, I’m really optimistic about finding a community after I retire, even though I’ve always been a misfit loner!

    1. We can be misfit loners together! Fitting in is boring anyway 🙂

      That’s great that 90% of the time you get positive responses and retirement at 55 is the norm. Doesn’t seem like you’ll have a lot of trouble finding like-minded friends in retirement. Makes Australia even more attractive (it’s on my list of countries to visit once the pandemic is over!)

  12. I can relate to the “stay in hateful job” or “lose your identity” problem. I am still several years from FI but for a long time I believed that I had to stay at my job to get the money I need for retirement simply because if I didn’t I’d be “wasting” the degree that I worked so hard for.

    Since then both Covid and having FU money has made me realize that sticking to a unfulfilling job based on a decision I made at 18 years old is kind of stupid and there is no shame in taking a job some of the people I work with (and some of my family) would consider to be “beneath me”. I decided to take a job in a different dept. at my current employer that pays the same per hour as my current position, lets me keep my seniority and should be less mentally stressful.

    If this new job doesn’t work out then I can always try again with my new skills and experiences in another dept. or elsewhere entirely. I’m just sorry it took me this long to realize that I am not my job.

    1. Good for you! “I am not my job” Doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as you realize this, you’ll be just fine 🙂

      I also struggled with the “wasting” the degree that I worked so hard for.” bit. Especially if your parents had a much harder life and they sacrificed so you could come to a first world country to earn said degree. It’s a ton of pressure. Over time though, I’ve realized the degree is not wasted. It got me to FI!

  13. I can’t believe your past friends care about getting the next promotion, making more money, etc. to the point where you feel like you can no longer relate to them. My friends like having material things as well but I truly believe (hope?) that if I ever retire, that we’ll still stay close and hang out on the weekends and such.

    Great tips. No one tells you the downside to early retirement. You might lose a certain bit of relatability.

    1. It’s not so much the relatable part, it’s the fact that we simply drift apart because we don’t have much in common anymore (work was the main thing). That’s not to say I’ve lost touch with ALL my past friends. Some of them I’m still in touch with and we meet up every now and then.

      You won’t lose all your friends when you retire. Just some the ones that were only your friends because of work (you won’t know this until after you leave).

  14. Some random Joe: What do you do?

    Me: I manage money for the wealthy (I just don’t say it’s my own money 🤣).

    Some random Joe: Cool. Let me know if they’re hiring. I’d like to do that too.

    Me: Sure. 🙄

    ….

    As for the losing friends piece, let’s be honest. Those people at work are not your friends. They just occupy space at the same place you work. They’re the equivalent of a phone or a photocopier. Trust me, they see you the same way. This applies to those who want to go for a coffee run. Do you ever notice those walks are all about complaining about their job, boss, co-workers, spouse, kids, etc, etc. Otherwise, talking to themselves when they go buy a coffee would be weird.

    It’s also a sign about you when all the people you thought were your friends turn out not to be. Superficial? Flaky? Probably. Instagram much?

    1. “Me: I manage money for the wealthy (I just don’t say it’s my own money 🤣)”

      LOL. I love it.

      Interesting point about work friends. I think you are right that the deeper friendships are those that stick around even after you leave work. FIRE is kind of like a filter for close friends versus acquaintances in that way 😉

  15. I’m thinking about this topic as I plan to return to retirement life this year or in 2022.

    My friend got an office with 4 friends once he retired to shoot the shit and stay connected.

    It has worked!

    Sam

    1. “My friend got an office with 4 friends once he retired to shoot the shit and stay connected.”

      He rented an office space so he could relate to them? Ha ha. That’s cute. Glad it worked for him!

      Congrats on retiring again! Will be interesting to see if it feels different the 2nd time around 🙂

  16. I’ve been out of the work force for six months and haven’t been asked this yet but do strongly agree with exploring other interests and meeting new people at least a few years before quitting. Not only is the transition easier, but the variety helped me more easily endure the last few years on the job I wanted to quit earlier. My biggest mistake was thinking I didn’t do certain things I thought I wanted when working because I didn’t have the time. Turns out I still didn’t do them with more time, and I first had to face other issues that were at least somewhat hidden by my job busyness.

    1. That’s very insightful. I’ve also used “work” as a crutch for not doing certain things of our fear. You’re right that if you didn’t want to do it, once you have more time, you still won’t end up doing it.

      Definitely a good idea to meet people with other interests before retiring.

  17. Any thoughts on inflation?. I’ve saved enough money to retire but now I can’t buy the things I want to buy because they’re so expensive I feel like I’ll never be able to save enough. The cost of everything seems to be going up with my savings period It’s like a losing battle eek!

    1. How tied are you to the city you live in? We’ve found that inflation is only an issue if you have to stay in a big expensive city because your job is there. Once we became nomadic, not only did we not have to worry about inflation, our cost of living deflated 15-20% last year.

      If you absolutely MUST stay in an expensive city and there’s no flexibility to move out to cheaper, smaller places, then you may want to build a bigger portfolio before retirement or plan to work part time after you quit.

      1. Totally agree with FIREcracker on the cost of living advantages by city. I recently moved out of South FL to a city with a 35% lower housing cost alone! Plus a 6% advantage in food, X% in insurance, transportation, and the list goes on and on. It’s been a huge boost to my savings rate and income.

        I also love my new digs. I’m closer to the broader country (FL’s peninsula is 400 miles long and I lived at the bottom of it) and thus to my family. I live in a historic district which is beautiful and the city has everything!

        But best of all I’m closer than ever to FIRE! But as you can see above, cost of living wasn’t, and shouldn’t be, the only factor in my decision to move. – Ryan

        P.S. Inflation should be factored into market returns over the intermediate to long terms. Savings accounts not so much.

    1. That’s an interesting point. Being at work, you have the uncertainty of getting laid off, your boss turning into a jerk, etc. I don’t ever have to worry about getting laid off ever again. That’s certainty.

  18. First of all, very well written. I’m going to include a link in my next newsletter which includes original articles I curate along with my content. I’ve gone through similar experiences after retiring earlier and the honeymoon wore off: identity crisis; vague if any sense of purpose; and loss of work social life. I think you might like a video I did on the six stages of retirement (has over 25k views). Stage 3 is disenchantment. It took a lot of work for me to get to retirement 2.0. Your advice is very wise. Adjusting to retirement, at any age, is a challenge for many. All the best!

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