We deprive ourselves to reach early retirement. Make no mistake, the FIRE life is a “lifestyle choice”. Beyond just knowing that you don’t want to toil under “the Man” forever, what’s driving your choice to retire early? What are you going to do with your time once you meet that goal?
Early Retirement, now?
As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently left a very comfortable gig. Now, I have all kinds of time in my day. This sudden surplus of time is a great test of my beliefs and conviction. It’s almost like being retired, except I can’t do this indefinitely just yet.
Instead of wasting time aimlessly, I’ve consciously designed my day to be as close to an “ideal day” as possible. No, this doesn’t mean I’ll be in Iceland and I’ll witness a winged unicorn galloping on a marshmallow rainbow (with the Northern Lights shimmering in the background). It means that I’ve optimized my “normal” day.
Focus on Your Musts
To structure my ideal schedule, I looked at what matters to me. It’s really very simple. Family, Fitness/Health, Finances, Skills, and Fun. I almost had a gimmicky “Five F’s” thing going there but I’m not going to force it.
Fitness/Health: During my working life, I woke up early in the morning and went to the gym. This has not changed and this will continue to be my routine. The only difference is that I may push my wake-up time to 6AM instead of 5AM. Now that I don’t have to go to work, I’m also adding in at least 20 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio per day. I’m also going to work out six days a week now instead of five.
After working out, I will be meditating. I follow a specific protocol called the Wim Hof Method, which basically is a combination of breathing exercises with cold exposure. It’s extremely powerful and efficient and I can’t recommend it enough. I may do a post specifically just about that later, but let’s move on.
Finances: one of the things that makes me extremely happy about this time off is the ability to put into action some of the ideas that have bubbled around in my head for a long time. My goal is to get at least two side-hustles established and producing free cash flow every month. During my normal 55-60 hour work week, this was far more difficult. Now, there really are no excuses. Once I start work again, I’ll have this extra income going straight to my investment accounts and I’ll be financially independent even sooner than expected.
I work on my side hustles at the library. While there, I also look to see if there are any job openings that interest me. While I have a decent amount of runway, I’m not quite ready to retire yet. To augment the fitness angle, I ride my bike to the library. Given that parking spots are coveted and I live not much more than a mile from the library, biking is almost mandatory. It also saves on fuel.
Skills: throughout my life, I’ve always gotten almost manically obsessed with different topics. Photography, investing, FIRE, weight lifting…it goes on. Nothing has changed there. I began teaching myself data science several months ago and I’m now learning how to program in Python, SQL, and potentially R. I’ve taught myself how to use Tableau (software for visually presenting data). Since I’m a veteran, I still have plenty of G.I. Bill left and I’ve decided to get a Masters in Data Science part-time. It’s free, I have the time, and I have the interest.
Fun/Family: for me, fun is spending time around Mrs Moose and Mini Moose. Consider this a two-fer. They have every second of my day when I’m not focusing on any of the tasks above. Mini Moose will only be a little girl for a short time and I want to make sure I get to experience as much of this stage in her life as possible.
What are Your Musts?
Now that I’ve given you an example using my own life, what are the things that are most important to you in life?
This seems like a simple question…and it really is…but it is vital that you answer it and structure your life accordingly. Now take these musts and create a life around them.
Be a Producer
Given that we as a tribe are aiming to retire early, we must all have a good idea of what it is we want to do with our freedom.
Suddenly having a lot of time and nothing to do is problematic for your mental health. “Idle hands” and all that. To optimize for your happiness, you must hit the ground running by having a good idea of how your typical day will look.
Human beings are social creatures. This is not in dispute. I think that the core of what makes us happy is being productive and creative.
Adding value to our fellow apes is something that we’re predisposed to do. It’s something that gives our lives meaning. Whether that’s contributing time and/or money to your favorite charity, inventing the next best widget, or being a mentor to the next generation, most of us need to feel appreciated. The best way to be appreciated is to be valuable.
What does your ideal day look like? Can you take some things off your bucket list by structuring your retirement correctly? Share your thoughts below!