One of the great challenges of retirement has to be avoiding be overwhelmed by boredom. We often read and hear about folks who quit the workforce cold turkey then find they are lost in a different world with nothing to do. That is not good for retirement happiness. Today a learned about a surprisingly “extreme” example of this.
A blogger named Jacob has for a number of years built up quite a following at his Early Retirement Extreme blog. I haven’t read a lot of his stuff because he takes a more extreme philosophical approach to frugal living (or at least he did) than I care to emulate. In a nutshell, he swore off consumerism, lived in an RV, used a bike for transportation, and saved like crazy so that he could leave the workforce at age 33. He used an extreme lifestyle to retire early.
Until this past week.
Now Jacob is unretiring. If you read his goodbye post, he uses many words to describe his need to solve a complex problem. He is filling that need by becoming a “quant trader/researcher. ” (I guess he won’t be saving the world with that work but he still has plenty of time for that.)
I could have written that part for him in one brief sentence: “I’m bored.”
Some folks might criticize his decision as hypocrisy. I won’t be so harsh. I think that at age 33, he was not as self-aware as he thought he was. He thought that retirement – as in no work needed – was the goal. Now he understands better that financial independence is the goal, so that money needs do not dictate other lifestyle choices.
Being bored is no fun, whether you are an old or a young retiree. Being able to afford a non-working lifestyle won’t solve a boredom problem.
Maybe Jacob’s extreme frugality did not give him the financial freedom to explore other interests. Or maybe his interests were most readily available to him in an employment situation. So he went back to work to kill the boredom. There is nothing wrong with that.
But those choices are not available to everyone. Jacob is still a young man, not subject to the cruelties of age discrimination. He does not suffer from age-related health problems. Not all baby boomers can decide that they are bored and therefore just go back to work. There may not be any work for them to do.
Where I am headed with this is that if you are afraid that for you, retirement = boredom, you may be right. So start solving that problem before you leave the workforce. Experiment, try new things, learn new things, all in an effort to fill your eventual non-working life with challenges that will keep you mentally and emotionally engaged.
That’s what I have been exploring for the past few years. It’s a work in progress but I am getting there.
How about you? What will keep you from becoming a bored retiree?