What Surprised Me About Retirement

This is one of my favorite questions to ask my podcast guests and I’ve received some interesting answers. For example, Jan Cullinane (RJ 018) said some retirees were surprised by having to retire earlier than planned, having to deal with health issues and changes in social patterns (such as eating and drinking too much). Dave Hughes (RJ 020) said that he was surprised by how little free time he has!

So I had to ask myself, what has surprised me?

The first thing that comes to mind is just how fast 6 ½ years has gone by! It reminds me of this quote: when you are 20 life goes by at 20 MPH but when you’re 60 it goes by at 60 MPH! I expected that the progression of time would slow down after I retired but that has not been the case.

The next thing is how difficult it was for me to adjust to retirement. After the first year (aka the honeymoon) I began to feel disillusioned which led me to question whether I had made the correct decisions. Then it took me another year to work things out. I now refer to my retirement as retirement 2.0. It was only later that I learned about the 6 stages of retirement which said that my experience is common. If only I had known that in advance!

I’m also a bit surprised by just how much I enjoy, dare I say prefer, my routine days. I don’t have a bucket list or any lofty goals. I am quite content with things just the way they are.

One of the things I looked forward to after I retired was to spend more time following the markets and my investments. However, I eventually became annoyed with all the volatility, out-sized impact of geo-political headlines, and programmed trading.  So I decided to shift to more passive investments such as ETFs, and to individual bonds. I find this less stressful and ironically more enjoyable which comes as a surprise. Perhaps the stress level was amplified by no longer having a paycheck so huge market swings were felt more intensely.

The last surprise is that I enjoy sharing our retirement experience via my website and podcast. It has provided me a sense of purpose, structure and identity which helped me work through my disillusionment stage. I don’t know how long I’ll continue to blog and podcast about retirement, but I now have useful experience if I move onto new projects.

Feel free to share your biggest retirement surprises in the Leave a Reply section below.

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