What will you do after retirement?

A few months ago I was at a work dinner with my boss and some executives from my company.  Over the course of dinner the discussion turned to the recent news that another executive had just announced his retirement at the tender age of 53 [Whoa.. so young.. bwah ha ha]!  At that moment I felt like the guy who needed to zip his mouth shut, apply a pad lock and throw away the key.

My boss (who is the same age as the guy retiring):  I just don’t know what I would do with all that time on my hands.

Exec #1:  Yeah, I mean how many rounds of golf, fishing and beer drinking can you do before it get’s old.

Exec #2:  I think he will be back in 6 months as a contractor to work on short term assignments.

Me:  [cheeks now visibly increasing in size as the pressure builds against that zipper covering my mouth.  I’m like a volcano.  I am going to BLOW!]

Needless to say, I kept my mouth shut and nodded.   All I could think was how sad it was that these highly intelligent and driven people had somehow managed to kill that part of their brain that allows them to dream.  Dreams of all the stuff I want to do and experience are constantly turning over in that childlike part of my brain.  These guys have managed to allow that part of their brain to shrivel up like the cold hard heart of The Grinch who stole christmas.

Although I do have worries and concerns about my post early retirement future, NONE of them are related  to what I will do with my time.  Mrs.  Zero and I have a mile long list of adventures and learning that we can’t wait to get started.  My biggest concern is that we will wait too long and our bodies will no longer be able to do them.

  • Buy an old sailboat large enough to live aboard with our 3 children, refit the boat as a family and sail where the coconuts grow
  • Travel the US, Canada and Mexico camping, RV’ing and canoeing
  • Spend more time with my children
  • Home school my kids, teaching them math, science and physics using real-world examples during our adventures
  • Thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.  [Mrs. Zero is dead set on this one.  I’m a bit less excited, but willing to give it a shot as long as Mrs. Zero and the kids carry all the gear 🙂 ]
  • Spend time with my parents while they are still around
  • Volunteer my time for charities
  • Spend months surfing, diving, sailing, fishing, etc…
  • Get in better shape
  • Reconnect with old friends and family that I rarely see now-a-days
  • Improve my guitar playing skills – play in a band
  • Improve my wood working skills
  • Make some money doing yacht deliveries
  • Read more
  • Write a book
  • Become a more efficient spender of money
  • Act in a theatrical production
  • Cook, brew beer, make cheese and hard meats at home
  • Complete a solo ocean passage
  • Cross an ocean with my wife
  • Volunteer for an archeological dig (wouldn’t that be cool?)
  • Drive a motorcycle across the US (or maybe Europe if Americans are still welcome there in a few years)
  • Develop an identity that does not revolve around what I do to make money
  • Take a midday nap for 30 days in a row
  • Blog and write about our adventures

Of course I can and I am doing some of these while I am working, but currently they feel like a part time gig.  I want the money making part of my life to be part time and the living of my life to be full time.  There will come a time when my continued working will only be to putting more money in the bank that we will never spend.  That would certainly be a nice insurance policy, but every day that I work beyond the “have to” point is one less full time day I can spend on the list above.

What about you?  Do you have a clear idea of what you want to do and experience once achieving Financial Independence?  Are you worried about what you will do with your time after retiring?  How do you envision your retired self?

8 Comments on “What will you do after retirement?”

  1. I get the same lame excuses when I talk to my co-workers about early retirement. The worst is thinking they would be bored without their 9-5. I can tell you, I have so many interests outside of my day job tha I would never be bored. I think it’s a matter of just accepting debt and working until you’re old as the traditional trajectory. No thanks! I look forward to the day I can walk away from the grind. 🙂

    1. Absolutely. As I am sure you deduced from my list, I have no intention of sitting around for the next 40 years. Mrs. Zero and I are not the sit around types. I think we will always be grinding away at some goal. We just want the freedom to choose which goals we go after!

  2. Beautiful post, as always. My to-do list is pretty similar to yours (sans the “Act in a theatrical production”), though less ambitious on the sailing front. I think diving into entrepreneurship would also be pretty fun.

    I follow these people on Instagram who appear to be having the time of their lives travelling the world.

    As far as through hikes, I’d love to do PCT (at least the John Muir portion), Tahoe Rim.

    Like you, the last problem I could possibly conceive of is getting bored.
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  3. I’m the odd ball that currently plans to keep working when I hit my number. I’ll probably ask to go part time but I actually enjoy work. I know something must be wrong with me. We’re probably at basic level of Financial independence now if not fully to supporting our current life quite yet. Honestly FI for me is more about having the option to choose my own path whenever I so choose. I.E. if I decide I want to take a year off of work without pay, so be it. If I want to move somewhere random and work from home? Well either the job accommodates me or ciao. Its all about choices.
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    1. Yes, yes, yes… it’s about the freedom to chose work on your own terms. Like I mentioned in a couple other responses to comments, my post may have been a little flippant – I am sure I will find myself working in some form or fashion after “retiring.” But once I pull the plug, I don’t think I will ever go back to the kind of work I do now which requires 60 hr work weeks, constant international travel and very little time when it is OK to be unplugged from the 24-7 demands of an international business.

      Although I absolutely enjoy many aspects of my work now and I count myself extremely fortunate to be in this position working for a company I believe in, when my time on this earth comes to an end, I don’t think I will look back and wish I could have had just one more year of it.

    1. Thanks for the comment PFK. After publishing the post, the thought did cross my mind that it might come across as a little smug or oversimplified. The truth is that I am very bad at sitting around and I currently get quite a lot of satisfaction from my work, but what I am chasing is the freedom to work and play on my own terms.

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