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Practice For Retirement

I talk a lot about retiring early and I’ve mentioned some reasons in past posts. When we no longer need our jobs and no longer depend on our jobs for income we tend to start thinking outside of the box. We live in a culture where most of our time is spent in the 9-to-5. How can a person that has worked the same job for 30 years not be identified by that job? Years of cost-cutting, time-saving, bottom-lines, getting rid of the weak, promoting the kiss-asses and neglecting one’s health.

A job doesn’t have to be something evil. I’m sure that raising a child involves a few rough years which doesn’t mean the whole concept is whack. Unlike child-rearing however, we have far more control over the timeline of our jobs.

Even if you decided not to retire from your job I am sure that you can imagine how different it would be if you didn’t need your 9-5 for the income aspect. This could mean no longer having to do the night shifts, no longer being on backup call, no longer having to deal with an ass of a boss and being able to finally go to a per diem schedule.

When we become financially independent we no longer fear money and we no longer hang on to it as if it’s the only thing keeping us alive. Our creativity and our compassion spike dramatically. Most importantly, we no longer see our society as a source of income for our livelihood but we start wanting to be a part of it and give back to it.

With that said, I want to encourage you to start practicing for retirement. Silly, yes. But if you read stories by people who retire they often share that the transition is hard. They spend way too much time away from home at first traveling to the point of getting sick of it. They spend way too much time sleeping and missing the gorgeous mornings. They start drinking wine too early in the day or watch more TV than they should. All rookie mistakes right?

I just had a nice little 3 week vacation. And, like a good soon-to-be-early-retiree I developed and practiced a routine for myself of getting up in the morning and making my coffee and meditating or journaling. By late morning I would walk over to my local cafe to sit down and read and maybe write some posts. Then head home to make lunch, rest a little, then head out to the gym. The evenings I left open, nothing planned. Some days I have met up with friends, other days I have gone for long walk or run errands.

Sure, at first you may not know what to do with your free time. Or you may have so many things on your to-do list that you don’t feel like you’re getting a break. But, practice makes perfect.

But what if I get bored? 

You can get bored doing anything. Millionaires get bored with traveling and living in luxury. People with amazing jobs get bored with performing those tasks and you could get bored with having too much vacation. Boredom is a symptom of wishing too much for the future, regretting too much of the past and just not wanting to be in the moment. Have you ever prepared a meal for yourself that took a delightful 4 hours to make? You get so wrapped up in the moment, the preparing of the food, setting and cleaning your station, smelling the herbs and tasting the meal that time will get away from you.

I still have to get used to taking my time in the gym. Lifting weights at a station, taking a sip of water, maybe reading a book, catching my breath before going on to the next exercise. I could spend 3 hours at the gym with that routine and not feel drained.

But what if I run out of money?

You won’t blink one day and see all your money gone; don’t worry, if you are even a little diversified you won’t have to battle that monster. Instead, you may start noticing that your savings aren’t taking you as far as you wished. Perhaps a bad bear market puts a fear in you or maybe your financial adviser recommends adding a little more to your stash exactly during a bear market. Well, guess what, if you are still able-bodied then you can pick up a few hours of work. And you don’t have to go back to medicine. You can go work at Trader Joe’s or the local coffee shop. You can go work on a fishing boat or in a village somewhere far from where you currently live.

But what if I miss working?

It’s good to no longer have to depend on your job for income. I distinguish between job and work. A job to me has so many strings tied to it that it has almost a negative connotation. Work, on the other hand, is labor. It’s what we do every day with our bodies and our minds. We work around the house, we work out at the gym, we do volunteer work at a food shelter. So if you miss working remember that you can do many things besides going back to a job.

I realize that not everyone wants to retire early. But, I am going to keep pushing this idea. I believe that as a professional group we will become less dependent on whatever bones the medical career throws at us. By becoming financially independent we will be able to work less making money and perhaps donate the rest of our hours either to seeing patients for free or volunteering that time doing something else worthwhile.

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