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I’m three weeks in to my early retirement and I have some reflections and plans to share! I haven’t had any One More Year Syndrome feelings yet, so I think I may have conquered it. I also haven’t had time to think about jobs at all because we are still DIY’ing so many projects. It’s a very different kind of work for me – sometimes fun and other times frustrating, but very satisfying knowing we are working for ourselves too!
I’m Not That Old
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have a close relationship with 3M and that blue tape right now… I’ve been painting A LOT as we finish prepping our house to put it on the market in the next few weeks. And I paint slow… So it’s given me a lot of time to think.
I’ve thought about the last few weeks at school and how wonderful my colleagues (and the kids) treated me. Most of them know that since I earned my doctorate in 2011, I’ve taught at the college level in addition to working in K-12 schools. Many people asked if I was leaving to teach college classes again and I told them I might teach an online class on occasion. I had an answer for that question.
Other people asked me what I was going to do in my retirement. Wait – what? You think I’m retiring?
I never announced to anyone at school that I was retiring. I was simply leaving and I wouldn’t have any more first days of school (as a full-time employee). And when people commented or asked me questions about my retirement, I stopped them and said I wasn’t really retiring.
And that’s because retiring as an educator in New York usually means that you’ve worn the golden handcuffs long enough to collect your pension. And in my case, the minimum age I can really retire is 55. And since I just turned 50, I told them I wasn’t retiring yet because I’m Not That Old…
Even though according to my own definition – I am retired. I am now choosing if I will work, what work I will do and when I will do it – because I can. I didn’t get into defining retirement with anyone because the school setting provides a meaning for retiring that most understand. But I didn’t like that they thought I could retire (based on their definition) either 😉
So am I retired or not? I guess it depends on who I am talking to…
I’ve also found that I’m struggling to come up with an answer (that I can actually say out loud) when I run into people in town who ask me if I have a new job or what I plan to do next. I usually say that I’ll be teaching online a little and that we have some apartments to take care of. And that I write.
While these are true, I always feel like I have to make it sound like I am still working a lot. The answer “I’m just doing whatever I want to do” just doesn’t seem like the right response most of the time.
Some people struggle finding what to do in retirement, I’m struggling to talk about it! But I think I’ve found a good answer for the “what’s next” question now too.
As much as I am looking forward to collecting that pension when I hit 55, I’m Not That Old and I have no interest in rushing those 5 years. We have plans to fund the gap years. And instead of rushing time, I’d actually like to turn the clock back. And that’s my new plan…
Being Younger Next Year
For the Millennial readers out there, this may not be a pressing issue for you. Heck, some of you are probably happy you are finally old enough to rent a car by yourself! But time goes by fast – so take note (and maybe read this part and share it with your parents or grandparents. It’s really important stuff and could definitely help you now too.)
I’m not only a slow painter, but a dreadfully slow reader. But what I read sticks too. A few weeks ago, I saw a conversation between Fritz at The Retirement Manifesto and Jillian from Montana Money Adventures. They were talking about “Younger Next Year” and it got my attention.
I commented that since I just retired from 35 years of work and hopefully had another 35 years ahead of me, I needed to learn more about this! And Jillian was kind enough to send me the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry (Harry) Dodge, M.D. and Thinner This Year: A Younger Next Year Book by Crowley and Jennifer Sacheck. (PF bloggers are definitely an amazing and supportive group!)
I also went and found Younger Next Year on Jillian’s post about the importance of reading – The Worst Advice I Ever Received (and the bad advice isn’t reading this book!) And of course Fritz had already written a clever post on the topic too – Do You Want To Be Younger Next Year.
And after reading just a few pages of Younger Next Year, I was hooked.
Pages 5, 6, and 7 have charts that look very similar (but better) than this chart I included in my funding the gap years post. They use “healthy and dead” at the top and bottom of the y-axis rather than quality of life. Makes sense.
BUT Crowley and Dodge challenge my chart and share that 95% of people can have a curve that looks more like the RED LINE.
I had wimped out and wrote, “One of the biggest reasons to quit working full-time now is that we’re both in good health. But we’re not going to take our health for granted either. We’re enjoying a very good quality of life, but we’re also realists.”
I had already made excuses for “normal aging” and I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have their RED LINE for my “next third of life” (a term they use often in the book.) And Dr. Sock had commented on my post too that, “I think that it is probable that quality of life will improve after retirement, for at least a few years.” According to Crowley and Dodge, she was right – but it can be for many years with a new focus and some luck in avoiding serious diseases.
Maybe it was the chapter titles and headings in their book too that caught my attention. (They’re pretty funny guys and tell some great stories too!)
- Normal Aging Isn’t Normal (It’s easy to blame everything on normal – isn’t it? Normal aging, normal spending, etc.)
- Swimming against the Tides (I’m a swimmer and I love the beach!)
- Biology of Growth and Decay (Yep, Biology major in college and science teacher)
- Make It Your New Job (they’re talking about exercise and I had the “aha” moment- maybe I can retire to that!)
So when people ask me what I’m going to do next or in my retirement, my answer is going to be work to be a little younger than I am this year!
In the next few weeks, I’ll detail more about my specific plans. The book has clear guidelines about what you need to do to stay healthy as you get older. Harry has 7 Rules that need to be followed and one of them is also “Spend Less Than You Make” (another reason I liked this book!) The other rules are aligned with the habits I have chosen to focus on too.
But a few of my habits will need to be ramped up. A LOT. “Keep Moving” isn’t going to cut it if I want to get a little younger each year. My #YNY (Younger Next Year) experiment (and hopefully way of life) is going to start on August 1st (which is also my Dad’s 87th birthday). And my plan is to track data – which is something I haven’t been good at doing at all. Maybe that will help me get focused on starting a budget and tracking our expenses by the start of next year too. We’ll see…
It’s time to get back to painting and planting some flowers! We’re currently carrying 3 houses and that will certainly make a dent in our savings! We need to get our Snowbird Housing Plan in motion, so back to getting our house ready for the market!
Have you heard of Younger Next Year? You can check out Chris Crowley’s website here too. I’ve already given away two of his books, as Jillian inspired me to do. If you’re interested, comment and I’ll randomly choose a winner to get one of his books! I’ll do the drawing on 7/23.
I hope you are having a great summer! Any fun DIY projects happening? Are you getting out and exercising?