I want to revisit something that was recommended to me by the Early Retirement Dude around the time I was planning my corporate exit: Write down your early retirement goals. I originally found the Early Retirement Dude on an early interview with the Fire Drill Podcast and through his history of financial independence story on the now dormant Rockstar Finance. ER Dude successfully exited the corporate life at 36 and has been trail running through the mountains for the last thirteen years while successfully staying retired.
I am publishing what I wrote down in March of 2019 and revisiting how things have turned out nine months after making this list. Some things worked out as planned while others were shifted around or re-prioritized as early retirement progressed. The biggest realization through this process is that life in early retirement is still life. Some parts go as planned, other parts do not go as planned. I’ve jettisoned the five day a week grind, but the stuff that was missing before doesn’t automatically show up – it still requires daily effort to add those things that were missing while working.
Early Retirement Goals – Revisited
Get Moved: Geographic arbitrage sounds great in theory, but its a pain to execute if you aren’t 100% sure on where you want to go. There’s pros and cons to every place we’ve looked and we’re going to be forced to make a decision. It may not be the final decision, we’ve looked at a few places we’d buy an inexpensive and future rental house.
We love the outdoors, but also enjoy the convenience of living in a bigger city (everything is so close!) and like nicer weather. We have lots of “wants” on our list, but we know everything is a trade off. As it stands right now, we are fairly confident we’re moving towards the East Coast, but have no idea if we’re going to move to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere in between.
My job was fairly employable anywhere, I wonder if I should have taken a job somewhere I would have liked to retire to and set roots before taking the early retirement plunge. This is something to think about for others who might want to settle down in a new location.
Moving Results: We successfully moved and chose the beach. We were actually close to failing with this goal. The home sale process was overly stressful and we delisted our house while we made a last ditch negotiation effort with one of the interested parties. Selling our house and the money we lost was also my most popular post in 2019.
I still concur with my thoughts about taking a job and moving to a new area prior to retiring if that is an option to you. The CoastFI route has its appeal, especially for anyone after they’ve saved the first $500,000.
Travel: This is on most early retirees bucket lists and we enjoy traveling. Early retirement is going to allow us to slow down our travel. Spend a month in the winter in Hawaii and enjoy extended weeks at the beach on the East coast in the fall (offseason!). We love the mountains and doing day hikes, I’ve been working on a trip to the Wyoming and we’re going to knock a few national parks off our list in the next eighteen months.
There’s a possibility I pull the ER Dude special and buy an RV and drive it across the country for three to six months. There’s some additional places we want to visit and have been holding off trip planning until we get moved. Longer term travel goals include Australia/New Zealand, the coast of France & Spain, and even making a road trip through Canada all the way to Alaska.
Travel Results: We moved to the beach and have a three week trip to Hawaii scheduled this winter. Since we moved to an area with a lot of tourist and retirees, we spent most of the late summer and fall exploring this area instead of the western national parks. We saw Arches and Canyonlands on our National Park List, but the Wyoming trip did not come through because a few injuries would have prevented me from backpacking daily. We are planning a Yosemite trip for the next national park we need to knock off our list.
Time with Family: This sounds like every fired executive’s retirement letter. “Retiring to spend more time with family”. We’ve been 1000 miles away from family for more than four years and being closer is important as they age. I don’t think we’ll ever move back to our hometown, but a few hours in a car is a lot better than $1,000 for a pair of plane tickets on short notice and a half day flying.
Family Results: We moved around seven hours away from most of our family – The in-laws have visited three times in the last six months, we’ve had friends down once, made a family wedding, Thanksgiving, and are currently visiting around Christmas. The proximity has been a great success compared to 1,000 miles from our previous location.
Long Neglected or New Hobbies:
Fish More: I used to love fishing. I still love fishing, but have made too many excuses about the hassle to go do it. I stopped enjoying the process of getting ready to fish (or getting moving early in the morning on a day off), but love being in the outdoors and fishing. The peace and quiet of being with nature.
Some of my best memories were from catching small mouth bass out of a river. It’s exciting to fight a fish along with the rocks and river current, especially if it is the middle of summer and I’m standing in the river/stream to make this happen. There’s a LOT of Florida fishing I’ve always wanted to explore and a condo in March/April may be calling my name.
Fishing Results: A+. We’ve done a LOT of fishing. It was a tough go in the heat of July and August and learning what the heck we were doing. However, once fall set in, the water cooled off, and we figured out what we were doing, it has been a big success. Fortunately it warms up enough in the depths of winter to go fishing nearly once a week. The love of this quickly came back, especially as we got efficient with our gear and routine of what we need and where to go. We recently had friends announce they are moving to the east coast of Florida, so that February/March Florida fishing may be easier than planned.
Learn to Surf: I’ve kind of avoided learning to surf until after I hit financial independence. It was so fascinating to me I would be tempted to quit my job immediately and do it all day. The same goes for buying a paddle board, I might have left my job to go be on the water.
Learning to Surf: So far this has been a failure. Costco stopped carrying their $99 boards at the end of June and we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay more. The good news is we have a special surf lesson lined up in early 2020.
Run a Marathon: I’ve always made excuses not to do this. I’ve done a couple of half marathons, but would need to ramp up my discipline to go run a full. Stop eating bad food, shed a few pounds, and take care of those aches and pains and just go do it.
Results: My body declined this goal for 2019. I managed to injure myself in two different ways related to the move. I sprained my IT band shortly after writing the goals down through crouching and attempting to couch down and clean part of the house before a showing. Subsequently I messed up the bottom of my foot by driving a Penske rental truck for 22 hours over two days then later in the year I ended up nursing a hip flexor issue due to over training.
I’m learning how to he happy with the small victories of running. This year we have managed to revisit an old five mile trail run in Georgia, ran a couple of times in the hills of New Hampshire, and enjoying 2-3 trail runs a week in mild temperatures this winter. Running on a dirt path is therapy for me and training for a marathon might risky my ability to enjoy casual running.
If I can get back to consistently running three times a week, I’ll return to this goal.
Learn to Play Ice Hockey: I loved playing this sport on roller blades growing up, but never had access to an ice rink. If we move to somewhere with a decent size population, I should have access to a rink and can finally learn how to properly skate and pickup recreational Ice Hockey.
Ice Hockey Results: Moving to the beach put this goal…on ice. There’s one rink forty minutes from me and I haven’t explored it much further. There are rumors of a second rink coming to my side of town, which would change this equation.
Skiing: This winter sport has evaded me since I was 25. I got to ski occasionally growing up and in college and really enjoyed it. Once we moved and I didn’t live close to a mountain and it becomes ridiculously expensive to make a weekend trip involving a flight, gear rental, and seasonal lodging. I’ve never skiied west of the Mississippi River and want to change that.
Skiing Results: I am kicking around one trip to go visit a friend’s place at Mammoth Mountain next spring. Between needing to buy equipment and this being something I enjoy but my spouse doesn’t, I think skiing will be limited.
Video Games: I loved playing video games growing up and multiplayers games were just starting to come out in my teenage years. Online multiplayer games or shooters were fun. The ability to play against another human with skill and strategy was my thing. This hobby slowly passed with more work responsibility and not thinking I had the time to be good at it. There should be more video games in my future.
Gaming Results: I’ve played some, but not to the extent I was expecting. I’d rather be outdoors.
Hobby Entrepreneurship: I love(d) the game of business. I didn’t necessarily like doing it when I was under the control of a large company, but I still love the game. I don’t have the desire or drive to run a large company and no longer need the money, but I want to do something that provides the mental stimulation of business. I always joked about having the kayak rental place at the beach, as long as the internet retirement police don’t tie me up and flog me. Realistically I might do some deal consulting work for former clients of mine to keep the business brain active.
Hobby Entrepreneurship Results: This has been successful, I have a small consulting gig for a former client and I have been able to move this website into a hobby that is at least cost neutral. Thanks to my readers for tolerating a couple advertisements and occasionally buying something through my recommendation page. I don’t have anything else on the horizon, I go back and forth on looking making an effort towards real estate but its tough to be motivated at an 8-10% return that involves some active work when we’re already financially independent. It would take something with significant monetary upside and a sense of fulfillment to get me deeper into entrepreneurship.
Write More: I’ve been the recipient of great financial advice for free through message boards. It started with the Clark Howard message boards when I was finishing college and I eventually migrated over to the Mr. Money Mustache’s forums. I found myself answering the same questions repeatedly and that led to starting the blog. I don’t expect this to earn income, but I enjoy putting the advice out there. We only get one life to live and anything I can do to help people think differently and stop doing dumb stuff with their money is good for the world.
Writing Results? Success. Since settling down in August, I’ve written thirty posts for the site and been more active answering questions on social media. The social media is a two edged sword though as it can be overly addicting and time consuming. There’s a balance there I am going to make a conscious effort to spend less time on Twitter and Facebook.
It’ll be interesting to look back at this list over the next couple years and see how the goals evolve and develop. None of the predictions I made were perfect and the glaring thing I realized were the trade offs with different location choices. I also came to the conclusion that I was more burned out than I thought I was from my professional life and that’s required long stretches of leisure for recovery. A high stress professional job existed at the expense of everything else: Health, relationships, sleep, and leisure. Before I left work, a few people asked me “What are you going to do, sit on the beach all day?” There were a few stretches this summer and fall where my thought was “I am sure trying!”.
Eight plus months into this new lifestyle I can say I’m mostly recovered from the professional burnout. Now it will be about finding the balance between leisure and activities that are personally productive and fulfilling. I’m looking forward to what the new year has in store for us!
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