Author Topic: How much do your post-FIRE activities conflict? (Creating balance after FIRE)  (Read 2790 times)

sui generis

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So an oft-discussed purpose of FIRE is to control one's time and get to do the many things one has always wanted to do but didn't have time for, with a full-time job, etc.  But, how much do you find that the things you wanted to do are mutually incompatible and you still can't really pursue them in the way you imagined?

I'm hoping that I'm kinda over-analyzing this and it won't be as disappointing a result as I worry...and I know life always takes balance, no matter what.  You can't have everything!  But I just wonder if others ran into this in post-FIRE and how they came to terms and approached balance.

EXAMPLE:
I want to volunteer for my local food pantry.  They have a program where you go pick up food that would otherwise be discarded from stores, on weekdays, for donation to the pantry.  I love this because I really want to be a part of reducing food waste in our world, as well as making sure my neighbors have one of the most basic of needs covered.  It's a 6 month commitment.  I haven't looked into it exhaustively, but that certainly would appear to curtail my travel (particularly spontaneous travel) ambitions post-FIRE!  This also applies, of course, to other volunteer activities, like political causes and non-profit boards, and even hobby groups.  How can I build good social connections and meaningful long-term community contributions if I'm frequently off traveling for a couple months at a time?  Both are so important to me!

Also, I plan to do some long-distance hiking, maybe even building up to the PCT and other months-long trails.  But my goals also include establishing a daily, possibly 2-hour, meditation practice and to practice and study Spanish daily so I can finally be fluent.  Those (esp. the latter) would be hard to maintain on the trail (and to some extent, in other travels) although the daily habit of them is one of the most important parts.

Am I imagining these things will conflict more than they probably will?  Have you had to make tough decisions like this post-FIRE?

DreamFIRE

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But my goals also include establishing a daily, possibly 2-hour, meditation practice and to practice and study Spanish daily so I can finally be fluent.
I'll try to save you 2 hours per day.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/adam-grant-mind-your-meditation/

From the article:  "But a recent study concluded that the science is spotty. And an analysis of 47 meditation programs in a major medical journal found zero evidence that meditation was better than exercise or relaxation."

Gone Fishing

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I've absolutely run into this.  The more engaging volunteer opportunities and potential part time employeers seem want you to commit to a schedule that excludes the flexibility that I FIRED for.  When you consider the craziness of my kids' school schedules (random teacher work days, snow days, events, sick days, voting days, etc), any attempt at a firmly scheduled work/volunteer day of the week may result in 1-3 cancellations or reschedulings a month.  Not to mention it still sucks spending that absolutly perfect day for hiking, surfing, kiting, boating, etc tied down with some prior commitment. 

I guess it's just another example of most of the world wanting you to conform to their box and not understanding what it means to be free. 

Over the two years I have been retired, I have managed to "train" my two primary volunteer/pt work "managers" to accept what I am willing to give them, but there was/is certainly a bit of friction. 

I haven't quite adopted this method yet, but one way to approach to the issue would be to commit blocks of 6, 12, 24, etc months at a time to a cause, then when the period is up, move on to the next item of interest. 

When you are talking about several decades of retirement, you could accomplish a rediculous number of things with this method, maybe just not simultaneously.  I do have to admit that when I first retired, I might have been in a rush to catch up on all the things I had on the back burner while working, but have since relaxed a bit, realizing I (should) have better than half a lifetime to do all the things I want.

Anyway you slice it, it's still better than getting up every morning and dragging yourself into the same old office!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 08:10:27 PM by Gone Fishing »

sui generis

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But my goals also include establishing a daily, possibly 2-hour, meditation practice and to practice and study Spanish daily so I can finally be fluent.
I'll try to save you 2 hours per day.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/adam-grant-mind-your-meditation/

From the article:  "But a recent study concluded that the science is spotty. And an analysis of 47 meditation programs in a major medical journal found zero evidence that meditation was better than exercise or relaxation."

Interesting.  I was definitely under the impression that scientific studies were also starting to support the outcomes meditators have lauded for decades.  On the other hand, the article seems a bit overwrought based on the research it cites.  I'm going to have my BF download one of them when he gets to work (for access), but it doesn't even seem to address the outcomes of meditation, just "how" it *should be* studied (from the abstract: "Addressing such concerns, the present article discusses the difficulties of defining mindfulness, delineates the proper scope of research into mindfulness practices, and explicates crucial methodological issues for interpreting results from investigations of mindfulness.") and the other concludes with at least tepid support for meditation: "Despite the limitations of the literature, the evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression, and pain in some clinical populations."  and re: how it is hard to draw conclusions based on info avail to-date: "Future research in meditation would benefit by addressing the remaining methodological and conceptual issues."  Although I wasn't necessarily planning on doing it to address "stress" or other reasons cited there or in the scientific research, anyway, so I'll probably still give it a try.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 09:47:37 PM by sui generis »

sui generis

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I do have to admit that when I first retired, I might have been in a rush to catch up on all the things I had on the back burner while working, but have since relaxed a bit, realizing I (should) have better than half a lifetime to do all the things I want.

Yes!  I feel in such a rush!  You can probably tell even by what I wrote in the first post that apparently I'm planning on doing everything I wanted to do at once and in the first 1-2 years of retirement!  Thanks for the reminder and perspective. 
Anyway you slice it, it's still better than getting up every morning and dragging yourself into the same old office!
  True that.  I mean, it sort of makes me cry because I'm still planning on doing that for the next 10.5 months.  Womp womp.

Thanks for sharing.  I feel like it's super important for me to go into this with my eyes wide open to avoid lots of disappointment after FIRE.  It's not enough for me personally to know there will (of course!) still be challenges and frustrations and disappointments after FIRE, but I want to know where my expectations are specifically unrealistic (or not).  I hope more FIRE-ees stop by to share, too!

Plina

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Maybe you could have a chat with them and tell that you want to contribute, to what extent and ask if it could be solved in some manner. Maybe you could be available on a Short notice when you are home and the original person is not available. It would give them someone to call in and you the flexibility.

Malkynn

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Yeah...thereís no conflict, you just donít do everything at once.

I want to do community theater, but the time commitment conflicts with my executive volunteer position, which is a 5 year term, so Iíll do community theater in 5 years. If the theater was more important to me, I would prioritize it, but it doesnít come close to the level of importance and satisfaction from the exec role, so it gets pushed back, but Iíll do it eventually.

Donít focus too much on trying to cram as much in as possible, try to focus on enjoying your days more.

Missy B

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Also, I plan to do some long-distance hiking, maybe even building up to the PCT and other months-long trails.  But my goals also include establishing a daily, possibly 2-hour, meditation practice and to practice and study Spanish daily so I can finally be fluent.  Those (esp. the latter) would be hard to maintain on the trail (and to some extent, in other travels) although the daily habit of them is one of the most important parts.


Long-term meditator here. I'm guessing you don't have a committed daily sitting practise. 2 hours is a lot, and you are probably going to be unable to use that much time in a fruitful way at the beginning of your training. If I can suggest: start now, 10 minutes every day, no excuses. If you can do longer, great. But the #1 one thing is every day.
Personally, I find it much easier to study/work when I'm on the road than meditate. You can't control your surroundings in the way you can at home, and I find I can study productively with a higher amount of background noise and interruptions than I can meditate. YMMV.

lhamo

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There should be other ways you can contribute to the food bank -- mine has the same 6-month minimum commitment for the grocery salvage roles, but the 4x weekly distribution positions are totally open.  They probably also have annual fundraisers they need help with, and maybe other more strategic roles that they would welcome someone with a specialized background into.

Re:  meditation, many people approach the PCT or other extended through hikes as a form of walking meditation.  I don't see any conflict there unless your goal is to be able to sit still for two hours.  And maybe in the middle of a 10-hour hiking day that would give you a good break.

Learning spanish is also not impossible on a long through hike.  You'd need a good solar battery charger for a device to play them on, but should be possible to download language learning materials that you practice with while walking.  Or better yet, find a spanish speaker to hike with you and do half the day in English, half in Spanish or something like that.

The great thing with being FIREd is that you have all your time and energy to experiment with.  Embrace it.  If it doesn't make you happy you can always go find another job.  But I think you will find there are way fewer conflicts/challenges than you anticipate, and lots of creative work arounds.

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EXAMPLE:
I want to volunteer for my local food pantry.  They have a program where you go pick up food that would otherwise be discarded from stores, on weekdays, for donation to the pantry.  I love this because I really want to be a part of reducing food waste in our world, as well as making sure my neighbors have one of the most basic of needs covered.  It's a 6 month commitment.  I haven't looked into it exhaustively, but that certainly would appear to curtail my travel (particularly spontaneous travel) ambitions post-FIRE!  This also applies, of course, to other volunteer activities, like political causes and non-profit boards, and even hobby groups.  How can I build good social connections and meaningful long-term community contributions if I'm frequently off traveling for a couple months at a time?  Both are so important to me!

My original plan for FIRE was to be a travel bum. Couchsurf, visit friends, explore new cities, and contribute absolutely nothing of value to the world. Now politics is the main goal, and I may go back to work to have a bigger impact.

I have struggled with the trade-off between local organizing and traveling to where the next special election is taking place. But I have found that I can easily mix traveling with politics. It also has created a pretty amazing network across the country. You meet a ton of people when volunteering, and even if you only click with one or two people per place, that builds up. But it has impacted my local organizing, to the point where I'm really not engaged anymore, even in the group I founded. In the next place I settle down for more than a couple weeks, I intend to jump back into it.

secondcor521

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I have a bucket list that I prepared before I retired but honestly I haven't gotten to much if any of it.  I understand this is a frequent occurrence among FIREes.

Life changes and you change in ways you can't predict ahead of time.  My Mom died just after I FIREd, and as a result of that I'm now spending a lot of time playing bridge, which I enjoy.  I thought I would do more traveling, but I haven't really mostly because I don't feel like I have to "get away" and "relax" as much as I thought I would pre-FIRE...I'm pretty darn relaxed at home.

Life and you will continue to change.  In general, I have my priorities of what's important to me now, and I plan my activities and time around those things.  For example, for me my kids are #1 on my list, so I'm helping my daughter with her school schedule for next year, taking her to the dentist tonight, and talking with my middle son about a summer college program.  I like bridge, but if my kids have something going on I won't play that day.

I expect my priorities to change over time and thus my activities will also.  But other than my family and possibly my house and my cat, I don't have any really long term commitments, so I could shift pretty quickly and easily.  For you, if a thing is a long term commitment, just make sure you're willing to make that commitment and the trade-offs that commitment entails (or find creative ways around it, as a PP gave some examples of).  Or just don't do it.

Hikester

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I have experienced some of this conflict myself. Some volunteer activities are so structured and time consuming that they start to feel like a job and I prefer less structure as I travel and do a lot of outdoor activities too. I am currently in my 40s and would rather travel and hike. Maybe when I am older and less active I might welcome more structure back again. But at this tender age (lol); I cannot commit to anything too structured. Now thatís just me, for some people retirement is easier if they can have the more familiar structure and schedules in their lives.

Basenji

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Also, I plan to do some long-distance hiking, maybe even building up to the PCT and other months-long trails.  But my goals also include establishing a daily, possibly 2-hour, meditation practice and to practice and study Spanish daily so I can finally be fluent.  Those (esp. the latter) would be hard to maintain on the trail (and to some extent, in other travels) although the daily habit of them is one of the most important parts.

Long-term meditator here. I'm guessing you don't have a committed daily sitting practise. 2 hours is a lot, and you are probably going to be unable to use that much time in a fruitful way at the beginning of your training. If I can suggest: start now, 10 minutes every day, no excuses. If you can do longer, great. But the #1 one thing is every day.

+1 start with 10-30 minutes every single day (if you haven't already), ditto for Spanish 10-30 min. If you find that you love it and want to do more, then do so and adjust your schedule. Also, on meditation, a good read: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/busting-the-myths-of-meditation-with-dan-harris/

Besides desk time for studying Spanish, there are language podcasts and portable listening that are really great for long walks (as llamo wrote). For example: https://www.spanishpod101.com/

ETA: Apologies if you know this already, don't want to be pedantic (but I love reading about someone motivated to meditate): another option with meditation is to do a decently deep daily practice (30 min morning and night), but then do a retreat or sesshin (intensive week-long) at some cool location. You get the "bootcamp" high of intense group meditation practice and throw in some travel (maybe even hiking if it's the right place). Just to put it in perspective, the full-time residents/monks of the Zen center that I visit from time to time do two 1.5 hour meditation/walking meditation/chanting sessions daily on their "regular" days. 3 hours, the rest of the time is work practice, meals, rest, free time, sleep. Over the year they ramp up the meditation in two separate one-month periods plus 4 other week-long intensives and a handful of day-long special intensives where they might do 10 x 40 minutes per day.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 10:10:42 AM by Basenji »

sui generis

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Also, I plan to do some long-distance hiking, maybe even building up to the PCT and other months-long trails.  But my goals also include establishing a daily, possibly 2-hour, meditation practice and to practice and study Spanish daily so I can finally be fluent.  Those (esp. the latter) would be hard to maintain on the trail (and to some extent, in other travels) although the daily habit of them is one of the most important parts.

Long-term meditator here. I'm guessing you don't have a committed daily sitting practise. 2 hours is a lot, and you are probably going to be unable to use that much time in a fruitful way at the beginning of your training. If I can suggest: start now, 10 minutes every day, no excuses. If you can do longer, great. But the #1 one thing is every day.

+1 start with 10-30 minutes every single day (if you haven't already), ditto for Spanish 10-30 min. If you find that you love it and want to do more, then do so and adjust your schedule. Also, on meditation, a good read: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/busting-the-myths-of-meditation-with-dan-harris/

Besides desk time for studying Spanish, there are language podcasts and portable listening that are really great for long walks (as llamo wrote). For example: https://www.spanishpod101.com/

ETA: Apologies if you know this already, don't want to be pedantic (but I love reading about someone motivated to meditate): another option with meditation is to do a decently deep daily practice (30 min morning and night), but then do a retreat or sesshin (intensive week-long) at some cool location. You get the "bootcamp" high of intense group meditation practice and throw in some travel (maybe even hiking if it's the right place). Just to put it in perspective, the full-time residents/monks of the Zen center that I visit from time to time do two 1.5 hour meditation/walking meditation/chanting sessions daily on their "regular" days. 3 hours, the rest of the time is work practice, meals, rest, free time, sleep. Over the year they ramp up the meditation in two separate one-month periods plus 4 other week-long intensives and a handful of day-long special intensives where they might do 10 x 40 minutes per day.

yes!  I do all of these, but hope to commit more time and mental energy after RE.  My sitting practice is 10-20 minutes, but not *every single day* so more consistent daily without regard to time spent is something I hope to get to before RE.  I listen to hours of Spanish podcasts and audiobooks each week and this is totally off topic, but it's such a bummer how slowly I'm progressing.  So I think in both cases, that consistency needed (even if not a LOT of time each day) is what is intimidating to maintain while I am on the trail or on the road or in the air.  Not impossible (better solar chargers on the trail, free international plans on my phone), but I had this picture of being able to do *everything* on my relatively short list of passions to pursue, and it was a bit of a shock to realize I might have been too optimistic and I may still have to make some tough choices. It's reassuring to hear that others have faced this, and how they have handled it and how they have adapted and accepted it as well.

I have a feeling I'll still wish I could clone myself so I could leave one of me behind volunteering for a couple good causes on a regular basis while the other me is spending a few months traveling through West Africa.

sui generis

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yes!  I do all of these, but hope to commit more time and mental energy after RE.  My sitting practice is 10-20 minutes, but not *every single day* so more consistent daily without regard to time spent is something I hope to get to before RE.  I listen to hours of Spanish podcasts and audiobooks each week and this is totally off topic, but it's such a bummer how slowly I'm progressing.  So I think in both cases, that consistency needed (even if not a LOT of time each day) is what is intimidating to maintain while I am on the trail or on the road or in the air.  Not impossible (better solar chargers on the trail, free international plans on my phone), but I had this picture of being able to do *everything* on my relatively short list of passions to pursue, and it was a bit of a shock to realize I might have been too optimistic and I may still have to make some tough choices. It's reassuring to hear that others have faced this, and how they have handled it and how they have adapted and accepted it as well.

I have a feeling I'll still wish I could clone myself so I could leave one of me behind volunteering for a couple good causes on a regular basis while the other me is spending a few months traveling through West Africa.

Just thinking about this further, and my real concern here is that because volunteering commitments will be too much to take on with the travel and backpacking I want to do, I won't do that...then when I am not traveling/backpacking (which can only be so much of the time given budget constraints and maintaining my relationship with my non-RE partner), when I'm home, I'll be doing meditation, learning Spanish and maybe another skill or hobby, but that I *will* end up bored and/or unfulfilled because I am not able (without sacrificing travel time) to do something meaningful for my community/with neighbors.  It's a little extreme to say I'll be able to do "nothing" with them, and certainly my new job after RE will be to find just those things that I can still do without a big commitment, but I guess that better encapsulates my fear.  Not just that I won't be able to do everything I want because they conflict, but that I'll end up spending significant portions of my "at home" days eating bon bons on the couch because I've finished my hobbies/exercise/skills practice for the day and I'm still bored and unfulfilled.  Not that this thread should be all about my fears.  I should write about this in the journal I'm planning to write here to dig into this more.

Basenji

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This is glib, sorry, but: It will work out.

I have a neighbor who is retired who:
sometimes substitute teaches at a local school (she wasn't a teacher before she retired)
travels a lot
volunteers at various things
takes free classes at our local community college
got her master gardener certificate
sees friends, has social events
works on her house and garden
helps her brother by supervising a long reno (he can't be there because of work)
etc.

You'll find a balance. Serious question for you to ponder: What value is there in worrying about it so much before the fact? It's one thing to plan a trip or make a list of things you'd like to do, but is it valuable to try to work out all the details of your RE life? Others may say yes. I say no.

sui generis

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Serious question for you to ponder: What value is there in worrying about it so much before the fact? It's one thing to plan a trip or make a list of things you'd like to do, but is it valuable to try to work out all the details of your RE life? Others may say yes. I say no.

Fair question and probably good to think on at length, in addition to this quick reaction.  Some of it is just because I'm trying to skip ahead to the time I am RE because I hate going to work and another part of it is that planning/ruminating is a way of dealing with the unknown (although a poor way, as I learned from one of my meditation teachers!). 

BUT, another big part of it is that part of me is still definitely wondering if RE is the right decision.  Am I going to be *even more* unhappy than I am now, except not getting paid a lot of money to be unhappy?  My life progression so far has in fact been to dislike each subsequent job more than the last and so maybe I'm just a dissatisfied person, and if I'm going to be so dissatisfied no matter what, maybe I shouldn't stop getting paid for it.  I'm totally oversharing, and in fact, I'm seeing a "life coach" (actually my former counselor from a tough period in the past - she's fab, such a creative thinker) to help me work through these questions so I can take this time before my RE date (2/15/19) to decide whether I feel confident about making RE successful in a way I've never made my jobs successful (i.e. fulfilling).  But yeah, I don't want to try to put every detail in place in advance, per se, but to understand how it might feel so I can (a) be more realistic about whether it's the right decision and (b) have the right expectations going into it.

Basenji

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OK, I gotta run but what you added is important. I get what you are saying. It is important for you to be able to feel fulfilled in RE. If you have some issues with satisfaction in general, yeah, work on that.

I still maintain, however, (a) that you will never really know how RE will be until you try it, (b) the odds are very good that you will enjoy RE (based on what I know of retired friends and what I have read here over the past 5 years--even from people who were sure that they would hate being retired), and (c) so you find you hate not working, then you get another job. You'll be surprised how much people want you to do paid work for them when you no longer need to.

I'd be very interested in reading a journal about this where you can expand a bit on it.

Malkynn

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Serious question for you to ponder: What value is there in worrying about it so much before the fact? It's one thing to plan a trip or make a list of things you'd like to do, but is it valuable to try to work out all the details of your RE life? Others may say yes. I say no.

Fair question and probably good to think on at length, in addition to this quick reaction.  Some of it is just because I'm trying to skip ahead to the time I am RE because I hate going to work and another part of it is that planning/ruminating is a way of dealing with the unknown (although a poor way, as I learned from one of my meditation teachers!). 

BUT, another big part of it is that part of me is still definitely wondering if RE is the right decision.  Am I going to be *even more* unhappy than I am now, except not getting paid a lot of money to be unhappy?  My life progression so far has in fact been to dislike each subsequent job more than the last and so maybe I'm just a dissatisfied person, and if I'm going to be so dissatisfied no matter what, maybe I shouldn't stop getting paid for it.  I'm totally oversharing, and in fact, I'm seeing a "life coach" (actually my former counselor from a tough period in the past - she's fab, such a creative thinker) to help me work through these questions so I can take this time before my RE date (2/15/19) to decide whether I feel confident about making RE successful in a way I've never made my jobs successful (i.e. fulfilling).  But yeah, I don't want to try to put every detail in place in advance, per se, but to understand how it might feel so I can (a) be more realistic about whether it's the right decision and (b) have the right expectations going into it.

I just posted this in another thread, but happiness and satisfaction are not destinations that you can arrive at, they are habits and disciplines that need to be practiced.

Some people thrive in retirement because leaving work takes away some of the critical barriers that were holding them back from practicing happiness and satisfaction daily. Others suffer immensely in retirement because they still lack the skill of being happy and satisfied with day to day life, and suddenly thatís all they have left and it feels empty.

If you hate your job and you have substantial savings, leaving that job will never be the wrong choice. However, that wonít ďmake youĒ happy and satisfied, but it will give you the space and time to work with your coach towards learning how to be happy and satisfied without a miserable job sucking all of the energy out of your life.

The decision is easy, itís just that it wonít give you what you are seeking, it will just free you to be able to seek it effectively.

Basenji

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+1 well said

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Prior to FIRE we both had all kinds of ideas of what we were going to do with our new found "spare" time. I think we were both focused on filling up every minute of the day to mimic our working life. It took a few months to come down from the craziness but then we found our grove and desired activities found a way to work into the schedule. After another year or so (FIRE'd Jan 2014) we completely changed how we wanted to spend our days and started working toward a nomadic life. The moral of the story: When you are focused on the daily grind of work it is tough to really know what you want to do with your life post FIRE. You need to get out and live it for awhile to discover yourself. Take it one day at a day and eventually everything will fall into place.

sui generis

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Serious question for you to ponder: What value is there in worrying about it so much before the fact? It's one thing to plan a trip or make a list of things you'd like to do, but is it valuable to try to work out all the details of your RE life? Others may say yes. I say no.

Fair question and probably good to think on at length, in addition to this quick reaction.  Some of it is just because I'm trying to skip ahead to the time I am RE because I hate going to work and another part of it is that planning/ruminating is a way of dealing with the unknown (although a poor way, as I learned from one of my meditation teachers!). 

BUT, another big part of it is that part of me is still definitely wondering if RE is the right decision.  Am I going to be *even more* unhappy than I am now, except not getting paid a lot of money to be unhappy?  My life progression so far has in fact been to dislike each subsequent job more than the last and so maybe I'm just a dissatisfied person, and if I'm going to be so dissatisfied no matter what, maybe I shouldn't stop getting paid for it.  I'm totally oversharing, and in fact, I'm seeing a "life coach" (actually my former counselor from a tough period in the past - she's fab, such a creative thinker) to help me work through these questions so I can take this time before my RE date (2/15/19) to decide whether I feel confident about making RE successful in a way I've never made my jobs successful (i.e. fulfilling).  But yeah, I don't want to try to put every detail in place in advance, per se, but to understand how it might feel so I can (a) be more realistic about whether it's the right decision and (b) have the right expectations going into it.

I just posted this in another thread, but happiness and satisfaction are not destinations that you can arrive at, they are habits and disciplines that need to be practiced.

Some people thrive in retirement because leaving work takes away some of the critical barriers that were holding them back from practicing happiness and satisfaction daily. Others suffer immensely in retirement because they still lack the skill of being happy and satisfied with day to day life, and suddenly thatís all they have left and it feels empty.

If you hate your job and you have substantial savings, leaving that job will never be the wrong choice. However, that wonít ďmake youĒ happy and satisfied, but it will give you the space and time to work with your coach towards learning how to be happy and satisfied without a miserable job sucking all of the energy out of your life.

The decision is easy, itís just that it wonít give you what you are seeking, it will just free you to be able to seek it effectively.

I love this and it's a frame of mind I'm trying to build on - the journey.  One reason I want to pursue more meditation in RE is because even in my limited practice I've really connected to the concept of detachment, and I have an inkling that detachment will help with dismantling my attitude of dissatisfaction.  It's a journey I want to engage seriously with and see what happens over time. 

Libertea

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 369
  • Age: 43
  • Location: USA
I'm like you: a type A personality with a zillion things I want to do and places I want to be.  The key, as others have said, is to prioritize and not try to do everything at once.  Just because one thing doesn't work out logistically right now (say, the food bank because you're going to Africa) doesn't mean you can't ever do it.  Go to Africa, then come back and volunteer at the food bank (or vice versa).  Or, look for other (more flexible) volunteering gigs.  Or (volunteer) job share with a friend who can cover for you while you're in Africa.  You get the drift. 

Right now my internship is my main focus, but I am also volunteering at one of my local museums.  They would prefer a regular weekly commitment, but I told them up front that I could not commit to a specific day or time, and that has been fine.  They email out opportunities when they come up, and I look at my schedule and sign up for any that sound interesting and don't conflict with other things that I'm doing.  It helps that I have specific skills/experience that they need and can't get from their cadre of high school/college student volunteers.  So one thing you might consider is to volunteer in some capacity related to your current profession or other skills that you already possess.  Because let's face it: as awesome of a thing as it is to help the food bank and reduce wasted food by getting it to people who need it, you don't need any special skills or experience (beyond a driver's license maybe?) to go pick up discarded food and deliver it.  In contrast, if you are able to provide the food bank with some other necessary service that they can't easily get some other volunteer to do, they will likely be much more open to accommodating your irregular schedule.