Three things I miss about the retired life – firstly, not being ruled by the clock (I’m writing this in a bit of a rush because I know I have to leave for work in half an hour). Secondly, the level of fitness I had last year, which I’ve blogged about before. Since returning to a desk, I’m shockingly less fit than I was last year. And finally – something which was the inspiration for this post – I really miss being able to read all the papers, articles, blogs and books that crowd in on a daily basis and attract my attention.
I feel bad about not reading blogs because it was these that helped inspire me to take early retirement in the first place. Not only did I used to read a lot of blog posts from Mr Money Moustache, Early Retirement Extreme and to discover and enjoy a slew of British FIRE bloggers, I had the time to read the comments too (sometimes even leaving my own, something that has also fallen by the wayside.) Through browsing the pages of Monevator and the always helpful weekend links to further reading, I felt I was becoming a more savvy investor too, even when I found it difficult to practice what others preached.
I like opinionated pieces and, although I’ve no chance these days of even getting through a third of The Times, I seldom miss a day of reading the columnists. I wish I had the time now to browse some of the other newspaper opinion pieces I used to look up, from The Guardian to The Spectator. I never buy men’s glossy magazines like GQ or Esquire, but there’s some great journalism I’m missing out on there too – I know because my gym has them lying around, free to read, if you have the time. Which I used to have in abundance. I really miss settling down with a coffee on a Tuesday morning in the gym’s cafe after an hour’s workout and finding a decent piece of editorial journalism to give my undivided attention to.
I could say the same for reading non-fiction too. One of my favourite reads of last year was “Sapiens”, one of those books you find yourself putting down so that it will last longer. It wasn’t exactly light reading but that was fine – intellectual stimulation was something that I sought out last year. I’m still into finding similar books to get into but last night, after returning from work, walking to the gym, swimming fifty lengths, walking back home, and finally settling down with a glass of wine at the back of nine, it seemed so much easier to just veg out in front of the box than to pick up a book. And then the evening was gone in a flash, the alarm was buzzing in my ear and the working day was about to start again.
I’m fortunate, however, to be able to acknowledge that going back to work was a choice I made. Nobody forced me, and neither did circumstances. Much as I enjoyed many aspects of the retired lifestyle, I missed the benefits of employment more. I tell myself that I still have a choice in my free time and that a natural prioritisation will happen when I mentally decide it is required. With the dark nights drawing in, for example, I’m already picking up the pace on the reading front.
It’s strange for me to think that when I had endless time available to me in retirement I feel actually became more disciplined with it and used it in a more personally effective and satisfying way. I’m not sure if this is now a sort of sentimental hindsight as the clock hollers at me to head out the door and hit the road to work, or just that I had the time to manage my time last year and I’ve lost a bit of that in going back to employment. It’s good to know, all the same, that if I increasingly need to get some of that back, then at least I can consider alternatives in a more knowledgeable way than I did before. If I know that I’m not yet ready for full time retirement, but work is back stealing too much of my life, then part time employment could be the next route to choose.