We walked to town last night for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We like to sit at the bar as we know the bartenders and a good number of the wait staff, plus the owners nearly always swing by and we get to say hi to them, too. But the main reason we like to sit at the bar is for the other people. Nearly every time we meet someone new, interesting, and fun. Last night was no exception as we met Rajib.
We were chatting along pleasantly when we reached the inevitable question: “So what do you do for a living?” As usual, THE WIFE and I both chuckled as she turned to me (as always) and said “Yeah… what DO you do for a living?” When I told Rajib that I was temporarily retired he lit up. “That’s great! I’ve taken a year off three times in my career so far!”
Did I mention that he’s the CEO of a $100M+ company?
We proceeded to have a really great discussion about priorities and the concept of really understanding what is important to you. He recommended the book The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, which he basically distilled down to “no one ever went to their death bed saying ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.”
I’ve been reading about the Adult Gap Year, which is apparently more common than I thought. It’s what I’m experiencing right now, even if I’m not so sure it will go on for a year. Truth be told, I figured I’d be back in the job market by now, but I’m not, and I don’t have any immediate plans to do so. Why, you ask? Good question.
- I DON’T HAVE TO GO BACK: I was concerned that financially I would be required to go back to work sooner rather than later. I was wrong, although I’d certainly be happier if the stock market would play along with my long-term projections a little better in the short term. Still, I figured that we would have to cut back on savings, which we haven’t beyond what I was contributing to my 401(k). While I would certainly like to have those dollars going towards retirement right now (I’m a big fan of dollar cost averaging, so down markets are buying opportunities), I can live with investing a little bit less now than we were before.
- I’M JUST NOW SETTLING IN: I’m in month five of this retirement and I’m just now hitting the rhythm I thought I would have back in September. I’m baking more (and better!) bread, working from my own sourdough culture, and I’m spending significantly more time on my music. I’ve moved from “inept” to “not very good” on piano, which is a huge step forward. I’m also running more regularly and I’m becoming a better cook. These are all things that are both comfortable and comforting.
- I HAVE AN ALBUM TO WRITE!: February is nearly here, so it’s almost time for The RPM Challenge, where I (along with a couple of band-mates) record an album of new, original music and release it at the end of the month. I’ve done this for the past six years and I’m really looking forward to this seventh time around, particularly since I have a new lead guitarist and second vocalist to work with now. The idea of facing RPM without the pressure of squeezing it in via two hour blocks in the evening and all-day marathons on the weekends is really freeing. Plus, THE WIFE is looking forward to seeing me throughout February, including on Valentine’s Day and her birthday.
- I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO: This is the big one. I can get another job, whether it be financial or technical. I’m certain of that. The question is, since I don’t HAVE to do those things, do I WANT to do them? Right now the answer seems to be “I think that doing the things I’m good at are a good way to have someone give me some money.” And that’s all fine and good, but if I don’t HAVE to work, will I want to be someplace for 40+ hours a week? Currently, I don’t. I could do something for a shorter period of time (a consulting engagement of a few months) or something more permanent with a more flexible/shorter schedule (30-ish hours a week, or maybe less?) and be happy, or I could step down into something with a lower level of responsibility than I’ve had previously. I could also just punt the whole thing and do something strange like open a bakery (that’s highly unlikely, by the way). I’m still waiting for some bit of clarity to arrive, but I’m not counting on anything.
When I started this whole “First Retirement” journey I was encouraged to take at least six months, off and I’m starting to understand why. You need at least some of the time to figure out the lay of the land and to figure out how to operate. It truly has been wonderful to unburden myself from years of corporate stressors held deep in the recesses of my mind, but it’s also been great spending time learning what the proper consistency of a good bread dough is when you hold it in your hands.
How long will this go on? I really don’t know. So I’ll keep moving forward as I am until something tells me to change.