Je Ne Regrette Rien – Yet

I’m a bit late with my blog post this week: pressure of work. I must admit, I now doff my hat in admiration to the regular posters who have held down a job while maintaining their blogs. When I was “retired” blogging was a task I looked forward to, with all the time in the world to write a post. I now find it’s quite a commitment to fit in with the working life, as it’s often very easy to find something easier to do at the end of the working day than sit down and write!

One of the things I “struggle” with, however, is that I’m a morning person. I’m generally up and about by the back of six and my routine is: shave (get that over with), make some breakfast, read The Times on my iPad, check the BBC, Facebook and maybe do any bank transactions that need doing. Following that, I write up my daily journal (or diary, as it seems increasingly unfashionable to call it.) And that’s if I don’t head to the gym: if I do, my routine is shave, head to gym, have post-workout coffee while writing up my diary.

You can see that my daily jotting in my journal is a fixture, and it often gets in the way of blogging. Sometimes I write a few paragraphs, sometimes I write the equivalent of a page of A4, but I very seldom miss it. I’d be surprised if I ever miss two days win any month. I’ve kept this routine going since March 1994 and I almost cannot imagine my life without including this aspect of it.

And what a tonic it is. Recently I’ve been reading back through my experiences of “early retirement” as I lived it day to day last year. From this it’s easy to confirm that my year out broke into four distinct phases:

Quarter One: sheer euphoria, loving every day of freedom and worrying not one whit about finances or anything else. Several headhunters call with prospective leads and possible interviews, but I’m not ready for that because I’m just not sure I’ll be going back to work. Ever.

Quarter Two: I begin to look for constructive ways to fill my day, joining some Voluntary groups, proactively picking up with my old work colleagues and friends and speaking to headhunters about what might be out there. I start to think about maybe doing something for myself, starting my own business and looking at franchising.

Quarter Three – increasingly I’m writing about boredom and a lack of fulfilment in the days and beginning to wonder why, with almost nine months unemployment, I haven’t had even one interview with any company for any work whatsoever. A possible franchise I was looking at falls through due to the required six figure investment and ten year tie-in, but I was seriously considering it by this time.

Quarter Four – I begin to look for work in earnest, calling headhunters, networking, searching Linkedin on a daily basis, making direct approaches to local firms and generally putting my shoulder to the wheel in an effort to return to work. Because, by this time, the endless days were beginning to drive me a bit nuts! As my diary tells me they were.

Then, across those four quarters, there was the financial situation. I’m going to write soon about the reality of financial de-accumulation after a lifetime of saving and investing. I’ve already had half a dozen attempts at this, but so far I haven’t quite captured what it felt like. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy.

I’m not yet regretting my decision to return to full time employment in what is turning out to be quite a demanding role. Perhaps my recent trawl through of last year’s entries reflects the growing pressure of work – did I make the right decision? If I only read the entries from those first three months I’d have to conclude that I was mad to rejoin the fray of employment and management, but when I read the turmoil of the final three months – when I wanted to get back to work and found it much more difficult than I expected – it puts my mind at rest. I wasn’t ready for retirement and, overall, the 365 entires I made last year build a convincing picture for me that I’ve made the right decision.

16 thoughts on “Je Ne Regrette Rien – Yet

  1. Another enjoyable post. Looking forward to your thoughts on decumulation. Not tried it yet, it looks very reasonable in my spreadsheet, but when it comes to it I don’t think it is going to be a comfortable experience paying for things that have always been paid for with earned income.
    Best Regards

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  2. I’d like to hear more about your journaling habit – or did you already write that? Do you have a structure about what you write about or is it stream of consciousness?
    I must admit when I’ve written any notes about my internalife reflections I haven’t found them particularly erudite or illuminating on re-reading!

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  3. For reassurance that your feelings over the last year are completely normal, have a read of the intro chapter to this book, especially the Five Stages of Rerirement (it’s the free sample chapter in the Look Inside feature): https://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Money-Last-Indispensable/dp/1476743762/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474028840&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+bryant+quinn. It also gives tips on how plan ahead, for your next retirement 🙂

    One interesting thing I read recently – may have been in this book, even – is about how many people plan to volunteer more when they’re retired, and reality of why that doesn’t work out. They imagine that their skills in business/ finance/ people management/ planning/ presentations will be EVER so useful to poor little non-profits, and they’re right. But the trouble is that volunteering tends to be a seniority rather than a merit system – the plum roles go to the people who’ve been showing up ceaselessly for years, doing the ho-hum work and proving their commitment. They may not be the best person available, but they’ve ‘earned’ the post, and it’s been tacitly promised to them when the old Chair or whoever steps down.

    So if someone is pinning their retirement hopes on stimulating and meaningful volunteer work, they need to start planning for this 5-10 years out, else they simply won’t have the social capital to pull it off.

    Good luck in the job – please do a post in the future about what’s it’s like being in the workplace while financial independent, to let us know if having the mental escape route cuts down on swallowing much of the modern corporate bull****!

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    • Thanks, yes the Voluntary Sector is a bit different to how I perceived it pre-retirement. It’s very, very, very different from corporate life, that’s for sure! I’ll maybe do a post about it, although my experience of it was rather short lived.

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  4. Hi Jim,

    Long time lurker. However, I think this post has ventured on to my ‘turf’ so I just wanted to add a suggestion that you might find useful. Feel free to shoot me down in flames!

    For some context, I’m the guy who Ermine over at http://simple-living-in-suffolk.co.uk/ thinks is a crazy work-loving hustler who lives a ‘semi-retired’ lifestyle at 33.

    From where I’m sitting, I don’t think you needed to get a job – just an outlet for your productivity/creativity. If you decide not to stick with the job for the long-term, please, please try this: find a co-working space near where you live. I work at this one: http://the-generator.org/

    Perhaps start a small project of your own but don’t worry too much about it. Make yourself part of the furniture at the co-work space. Be there during office hours. Eventually you’ll get sucked into something because the people that inhabit these places tend to be small-time entrepreneurs. Before you know it, you’ll be in a position to put in 40 hour work weeks if you want to or swan off somewhere for a few months if the mood takes you.

    I know people here who live like that (me included to some degree, although I’m not FI yet so I still have to bring in enough income).

    I hope the job works out and gives you what you want. However, if in a few months that’s not the case, perhaps my suggestion has piqued your interest and there are other ways to achieve the balance you’re after.

    Take care.

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  5. As I’ve said before, I enjoy your posts and hope you’ll find the motivation to write regularly again. The 4 phases you describe have been visible in your blog posts as well, at least in the period I’ve been following you.

    I’m very interested to read your future article on what the decumulation phase feels like.

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  6. Glad to hear your decision is turning out so far to be the right one.
    Having a journal to remind you of how you felt is such a good thing – I don’t have one! Although I guess I write a few things on the blog about where I’m at personally.
    I tend to only remember the good parts of the past as I think many do, so having that real time journal giving you the full picture is worth it’s weight in gold.

    I reckon if I went “full FI” right now I would encounter the 4 stages you mention above and definitely be bored after a year, but I Would probably focus far more on doing my own thing rather than becoming an employee.

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    • Hi TFS. I”d totally recommend keeping a diary. I can’t quite explain how satisfying I find reading back through it (sometimes) and how therapeutic it is writing it. Blogging is slightly different, but I can see how it serves a similar purpose. Although I try to write as naturally as I can on my blog, it’s a lot different to my diary, I have to say.

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