…half a year older, for sure; thankfully not deeper in debt.
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My last day of work was February 2nd, 2018. This past Friday marks twenty-six weeks since then, fully half a year of retirement. It’s kind of crazy to think about; I remember when I was in my late twenties and thinking, “huh, maybe I can pull this off sometime in my mid-forties if I work really hard at it.” Working in tech let me pull that off seven or eight years before my original plans, and for that I will always be grateful.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been six months, but it doesn’t feel like it’s only been a couple of weeks either. If I had to put a number on how long it feels, I’d say something like three months… but I’m not sure that that perception of time is really any different from when I was working. I was at my last job for just a bit over five years but it felt like three at most.
Let’s answer the most obvious question first, because it’s also the easiest: No, I don’t regret retiring. Do I have any concrete regrets at all? Sure. I miss the social aspects of my workplace, playing board games at lunch and chatting with people in the halls. I miss the food team and the delicious free food (although my waistline is rather happier now). But I honestly hadn’t been all that happy with my day-to-day job for a couple of years when I left, and there’s no question that I enjoy what I’m doing now–even if, to the outside world, it might look like a fat lot of nothing–quite a bit more.
The money situation requires a Magic 8-Ball response: Ask again later. The market volatility this year has completely swamped any attempt I could make at understanding whether my rate of spending is sustainable or not in the long term. That rate of spending has actually been surprisingly constant over the year, which I discovered almost by accident last week when messing around with graphs in Gnucash; it’s quite a bit higher than I would like–looks like it’s likely to be somewhere around $36,000 for the year, when I’m aiming for something more like $30,000–but there is still a ton of superfluous spending in there, if it turns out I have to buckle down and Get Serious about my money habits. And assuming my spending increases at the same rate as the value of my investments (a pretty ridiculous assumption, seeing as the trend is downwards, not upwards) I still have somewhere around twenty years before I have to touch the first penny of my retirement, at which point I’ll be in my late fifties. Yeah. It’ll almost certainly be fine, but still: ask again later.
As for longer-term plans, well, I said I’d give myself a year before I started worrying about that sort of thing, so get back to me in six months.
From one perspective, these twenty-six weeks have been profoundly unproductive. Other than this blog, I haven’t written anything of note; other than a few tiny patches and tinkerings, I haven’t written any code either. But that’s at least partly by design; I don’t want to force myself into those things if I’m not really feeling it, and in both cases I can feel the desire to “do something” percolating more and more inside me. I suspect it won’t be more than a couple of weeks before I sit down and write something, be it code or prose. I’m going to let it happen naturally.
From another perspective, though, it’s actually been quite productive. Changing the way that I type–something I do a lot of, even if it’s not writing prose–has been a huge undertaking; I remember that first weekend, typing at 5wpm and thinking it was the worst idea I had ever had in my life. But now I’m back to something like 75% of my old typing speed, which puts me in the top 1% or so of typists in the world, and that is Plenty Sufficient for my needs. It’s also way less strain on my hands, something I need to be careful with if I want to be able to do this for the next thirty-plus years. It’s the sort of “short term pain, long term gain” thing that I couldn’t really justify back when my livelihood at least partly depended on how fast I could bang on the keyboard, and my life will be better now indefinitely into the future for it.
There’s the other stuff too. I’ve read a bunch of books I hadn’t gotten around to, played a bunch of games I never finished, completed a couple of puzzle books that have been lingering near my chair for years… basically doing things I always pushed off because I didn’t have the time. My backlog of media is effectively infinite, so it’s hard to say that I made progress on those fronts, and it still grows at a rate greater than my ability to consume it, but there’s no question that I did something there. And that’s satisfying.
Another thing that retirement has made easier is taking control of my weight. There’s no question that I’m addicted to food, and being alone at my house allows me to highly regulate the food I come in contact with; the ever-present snacks at my old work place were a serious impediment to my diet, and although I overcame that for a while it is always easier to just eat all the things. I still have quite a way to go, but the combination of calorie restriction and keto is doing its job. (It’s also making me pretty grumpy some days, but you can’t have it all, at least if you want to drop a bunch of pounds in time for the holidays.)
In some ways this was always something of an experiment. You can plan and plan, hypothesize that “it’s going to work out,” but until you actually do the thing it’s almost impossible to know whether or not such a long-term life shift is actually going to work out. And it’s still very much early days yet; I won’t presume to know that my first six months are indicative of the next six, much less the (hopefully) long life ahead of me. But: so far, so good. So very, very good.
Thanks for coming along on this ride with me. If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to address, whether briefly in replies or via longer-form posts, just let me know. Thankfully I get enough comments to know I’m not just screaming into the void, but I’m happy to hear feedback of all types.
See you here again in six months! (Also on Friday or Saturday, for the weekly rundown. But also in six months.)