Thought Experiment: What Do You Do When You Retire?

Thought Experiment 5 Post Image Large exp

SavingNinja has published his latest Thought Experiment. Here’s this month’s question:Life is good. You finally did it! You pulled the plug on your day job after reaching financial independence. You never have to work for money ever again. But, you’re bored. You need something to do… You need a project! You grab a piece of paper and a pen and start thinking. Now that you’re financially free, what projects do you want to complete? However ambitious, however small, you now have the time to pursue anything that you like, what will you accomplish?

SavingNinja wanted a stream of consciousness post, and boy is he going to get one from me! I have no idea where this is going to go – your guess is as good as mine. Let’s get started, shall we?

Me and Mr W have been FI for almost four years now. Technically I stopped working five years ago, but I was on maternity leave for a year and didn’t officially quit my job until I was due to go back. I feel like I should be able to fill this post with tales of how we’ve been living out our dreams, each day filled with nothing but unbridled joy and meaningful, wholesome projects. Sorry to disappoint, but the realities of FI look just a bit different – for us at least.

Since we reached FI I’ve been thinking, searching, experimenting, making mistakes, learning from them, and then thinking, searching and experimenting some more. That’s the main gift FI has given me. I have the time, energy and headspace to take a step back and question every aspect of my life and really think about what I want my life to be. I’ve had the time to explore (and fall down) several rabbit holes, like zero waste and minimalism, which have since become big pats of my life. I’ve been able to try out various things and realise they’re not for me (like freelance translating and any kind of paid or unpaid work where I have to commit to being in a certain place at a certain time every day or every week).

I’m still exploring, and I really believe I’ll be exploring for the rest of my life. I love questioning things we all normally take for granted and experimenting with radical alternative ideas. I recently attempted the horribly named no poo method of haircare, which involves only using water to wash your hair because commercial shampoos are full of nasty chemicals and strip your hair’s natural oils, stimulating your hair to produce more oil, making it more greasy. It was really interesting to try, but I gave up after a month because I just couldn’t hack it any more. But I’m still glad I tried it and I’m going to continue exploring less radical methods.

There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of things I want to learn about. I would need about three lives just to scratch the surface. From teaching myself to play the guitar, to learning Romanian, to bike maintenance, survival skills, cooking…you get the idea. Every so often I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of ideas I have. I try to take a step back, pick 2-3 things as a time and not beat myself up about all the stuff I haven’t got round to yet. I’m getting better at being easier on myself but I’m still not quite there yet.

One of the things I still struggle with is the felling that since I’m FI and I have all this time I should be doing something huge to change the world. I have been doing some small things like a bit of volunteering, donating regularly to various causes, and of course regular rubbish collecting with Mr W, but I still feel like it’s not enough.

I’m really grateful to Sebastian from Impactivated for bringing this subject into the spotlight and providing practical steps we can all take to get started on solving the world’s problems. I feel like he made his site specifically for me. I have time, energy, skills and the motivation to help make the world a better place, but I didn’t know where to start until I read Sebastian’s blog. #FIforImpact and Effective Altruism are going to be the next rabbit hole I fall down. Maybe in a few months’ time I’ll have a better idea of how to help. I’ll keep you posted.

Another thing I really enjoy and spend a tonne of time on is helping to build the FI community in Europe. It feels like a hundred years ago since me and Mr W first met up with other FI bloggers at the very first FIWE back in 2016. So much has happened since then! We’ve been to FI meetups in five different countries (and we just registered for Nomads Retire on FIRE in Bulgaria in May!). We’ve met so many fun, intelligent, interesting and diverse people who just get it. I can’t overstate how important it’s been for me to meet other people from the FI community whom I can talk openly to about life, the universe, and everything.

In my experience, the kind of people who find their way to the FI community don’t do smalltalk. You go to a meetup, introduce yourself to a bunch of complete strangers, and ten seconds later you’re all talking animatedly about big life questions as if you’ve known each other for years. At the moment we’re manically preparing the final details for FIWE 2019, which we ended up opening to 50 participants instead of the 25 we originally planned for because so many people wanted to come. It really hurt that we had to turn away several really enthusiastic people who applied after the deadline. We’re so excited about the event and we can’t wait to meet everyone, both the old faces and the new.

I am also deeply humbled by the level of support people have shown for FIREhub, which a group of us started back at FIWE 2017 with a few ideas scribbled on a whiteboard and no expectations whatsoever. It’s been a steep learning curve since then, but it’s been so much fun and I’m still learning so much from it. It’s a privilege to work with my enthusiastic, hard-working co-founders as well as with the amazing bloggers, country ambassadors and curators who’ve supported the project along the way.

When we started collecting European FI blogs we had no idea there would be so many, or that so many new ones would be launching all the time. The blogs are a true inspiration and it really feels like something is happening over here in Europe. Gone are the days of looking wistfully across the Atlantic wondering what the hell a 401(k) was. Thank you to all of you. Really. You’ve made a huge difference to my life and you’re helping each other every day via the blogs, forums, facebook groups, twitter, and of course at real-life meetups.

Wow. That all just came streaming out of me. On the whole it seems like my FI life isn’t so bad after all. Although it may not feel like it on a day-to-day level, it all adds up over time. We spend a fair amount of our day with our kids, when we don’t do anything “productive” in the classic sense of completing projects and achieving goals. But that time is so incredibly important for all of us so it would be wrong to write it off.

That’s not to say we don’t also spend time on totally “useless” things like watching Game of Thrones, going out with friends and arguing about whose turn it is to take the kids to nursery in the rain. We may have the FI superpower, but we’re still human!

Here’s how the other participants answered the question: