Early retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be and why we went back to work
I usually ‘early retire’ in between contracts but when it was around 2020 around the start of the year when I lost my contract (pandemic woes), that’s when I really thought: Okay, I truly need never have to work again if I do not want to, and I will just hang out and chill.
I turned down contracts that sounded crappy, or paid low, left and right, and felt at peace with myself, and I almost thought I’d never take a contract again – what for? With this kind of environment with people asking me to go and commute to the office DURING A PANDEMIC?
I threw myself into my side hobbies – blogged more, social media posting increased, I upcycled something like 60 new pieces, I read a personal record of 217 books and by the end of 2020 I was on the floor, bored out of my skull. I started to lose interest in doing all of my hobbies because they became a bit like a “well, that is all you CAN do” sort of situation.
Sure, the pandemic had a major part to play in all of this. Without the pandemic, I’d be out there stuffing my face with pastries, thrifting, maybe reselling a lot more or creating pieces and then selling them by starting a shop.
…but even so. I thought about it, and it means that my life without work, would be one of hedonism (cake) and shopping (thrifting), with… you guessed it – work! I’d be likely starting a shop to sell upcycled pieces, or re-sell thrifted ones. Or maybe post more style/shopping things.
I didn’t really have anything else, to be honest.
I had homeschooling with Little Bun, and maybe in my new home I’d have a garden to putter around in, but there wasn’t much else.
I missed using my brain
Yes, I use my brain when I blog, do social media and so on, but using my brain for work – technical, hard, interesting work – is another thing altogether. I never hated my job, and very much thrived and loved when I could use my brain for it, not to mention the fact that I was also paid well for my efforts.
I felt antsy
There was only so much I could do. I am not, and have never been someone who can sit still and “chill”. It’s why I do not enjoy vacations where you just lie on the beach and do nothing (I can do that at home on my bed, and I really dislike sand getting into everything).
I didn’t want to earn 1200% less to work
I considered a job that was more low-key as an option, maybe like working at Starbucks or something but then I realized I’d truly hate it. I didn’t like those jobs as a teenager, and I sure as heck will not enjoy it now. Maybe in a bookstore? Library?
But then what’s the point, really, if I am going to squeal that I have retired, only to work again but at something low-key and low-stress just to use up the hours in my day?
Again, I did not hate my job (on the contrary), so I didn’t see the point of working for minimum wage when I could make 1200% more at my real job even though I could not just ask to work 20 hours a week (all contracts are 40 hours).
I would have started another business
The only other alternative would have been starting a small business on the side, but again, that’s just work, and merging my now carefree hobbies into a serious endeavour.
I take everything I start, pretty seriously (it’s both a good and bad characteristic), and I’d have thrown myself into this small side business to make sure I had a new website, social media setups, proper boxes (can’t send this stuff in ratty old reused boxes from Amazon), stickers, wrapping paper, business cards… it would have just gone off the rails in terms of work (in my opinion).
I also would not have loved turning my hobbies into something I now have to manage and think about. The whole point of a hobby is that it has zero stress, otherwise it becomes WORK.
What’s with the ‘we’?
My partner early retired in 2019 to pursue his academic dreams. He is in his second year and he is thinking he doesn’t want to teach any more, not after seeing how the teachers are, and how the students are.
He had grand thoughts about sharing his knowledge and really inspiring people, having great discussions, but none of that has happened from what he has seen. He’s seeing that undergraduate may not be his level and I always remind him that they’re coming out of high school, it isn’t like they have had life experience like he has.
He’s not exactly thrilled.
He has decided to finish his undergrad, study books on his own and discuss topics with his one similarly enthusiastic friend on Skype every month and take contracts (like me) on and off to pay for things like my insistence on going to Japan for a full month and budgeting at least $20,000 for it ($10K each, though I will spend $15K myself, knowing my propensity to enjoy life and YOLO*).
He doesn’t need money to live his barebones retired life, but if he plans on traveling with us and I would also like to spend a few months up to 6 in Europe, starting in France and traveling the countryside, he is going to need more money than he budgeted for.
*YOLO = You only live once
And there you have it. That’s essentially our reasons why he “early retired” and now wants to go back to work occasionally, and I will likely never stop working like this by taking contracts on and off my entire life.