My Early Retirement - One Month Update

I just made it through my first month of early retirement and so far I have no regrets of leaving my engineering career. Today is exactly one month since my last day at work, and when I drove home knowing that I would likely never return.

My Initial Feelings after Leaving
Leaving my job and career was probably the toughest decision I made in a long time. You can read about why I left my job and career in my earlier blog post: Why I left my engineering job and retired early

I gave my notice to my manager during a casual 1:1 meeting a month before I was planning to leave. Normally, two weeks of notice is considered sufficient, but as a courtesy to my boss and my team, I wanted to give them sufficient time to plan for my replacement and minimize any impact from my leaving. I got along well with my manager and my team, and wanted them to be successful even after I leave. Therefore, there were no ill feelings between us.


On my last day, my manager came over just around noon, when everyone was at lunch, and he said, "Are you ready?"... I said, "Yes, let's do it".  I could tell it was very hard for my manager to see me leave, we knew each other for close to nine years, and he did everything in his power to convince me to stay. We walked downstairs together to the main lobby, returned my work laptop to IT, shook hands and then he patted my shoulder and said, "I will never be able to replace you, don't be a stranger and take care" and I thanked him for everything he had done for me, and walked out.

As I was walking towards my car, I was quite sad. I sat in my car for several minutes, realizing that I just changed my life forever. A career I worked so hard to build, I left it all behind. On the other hand, I was relieved that the most difficult part of leaving was over, and I can now start a new life. It took maybe a week or so to fully sink-in that I was not going back to work.

As the days went by, I developed a new daily routine. It consisted of all the things that I like to do such as watching CNBC, working on my investment spreadsheet and tracking investment income, reading books and articles, going for walks, exercising, and taking naps.

Highlights of the Past 1-Month:

Near Zero Stress - About 90% of on-going stress in my life was due to my job. The other 10% was simply just living my life. Now, that 90% stress is gone, I feel light as a feather. I sleep well without waking-up in the middle of the night or worrying about work.

No Alarm Clock - Interestingly when I was working, I had to use an alarm clock each morning to get up early. Now, I get up early without an alarm clock and feel good getting-up every morning, maybe because my brain is more relaxed and looking forward to the day doing things I enjoy rather than worrying about what problems or irritations waiting for me at work.

Work Life Balance - No need to juggle work and life anymore. I was never good at work-life balance. I used to get stressed if I had to take a day off or even a few hours off to take care of something personal such as going to a doctor or taking care of some house repairs, etc. Working from home was not a good option for me as it was hard to focus on work when other things going-on in life. Now, if get sick, I would just focus on relaxing without having to check my work email or trying to call into meetings. I can just focus on our lives rather than what happens at work.

No Meetings, No Presentations, and No Work Emails - I used to attend early morning and sometimes late night meetings as we had teams in other parts of the world in different time zones. Big part of my working hours was spent on answering ton of emails and attending meetings. These emails would pile-up overnight, and even worse if I were to take a few days off. I do miss my interactions with other engineers. However, I don't miss meetings with the senior management as those meetings required hours and hours of wordsmithing power point presentations and multiple reviews, just to get the message across. Your entire presentation would derail if you didn't start with the right template or your slides had the message management didn't like. I would regularly walk out of those meetings with a stiff neck and a need to de-stress, and I wasn't alone.

I Have Nobody to Answer to - When I worked for a paycheck, I never felt free to do what I like. No matter how senior I got, I still had to answer to someone above me or higher. Now, every day I get up and do what I like and don't have to answer to anyone. I live my life at my own terms. My wife and I have a balance and equal relationship, we don't tell each other what to do nor we try to control each other. When it comes to chores, we both have our favorite chores that we like to do; however, we are always considerate of each other and occasionally switch tasks if needed.

Saving More Money - My monthly expenses have gone down since I left my job. I am saving on gas, as I don't have to commute anymore.  Also, less wear and tear on my old 1999 Toyota. I have also increased the service interval on my car to 6 months from 3 months. My auto insurance has also gone down, partly because of less miles driven each year.

I used to eat lunch in the cafeteria at work and it used to cost me $7-$8 a day. That's about $140-$160 a month. Now, I eat my lunch at home and save money while eating healthy food.

I also don't have to buy any new cloths for work. I don't think I spent too much money on cloths when I was working, but still every now and then I had to buy new cloths for work. Now, I have plenty of cloths to last me many years.

I will also save on razor blades as I don't have to shave every day. Razor blades are expensive, I shave every other day now. Therefore, my Gillette shaving blades should last twice as much. Don't worry, I still shower everyday and I am not saving on toothpaste :)

Health Benefits - My migraines have completely stopped. I haven't had one in over a month now. At work, I was starting to get migraines almost every couple of days, and sometimes even 2-3 days in a row. They were scary and debilitating. Whatever trigger was causing the migraine has gone away with my work stress.

I also have time now to exercise every day. I have been going for long walks almost every day and doing light exercise and stretches on daily basis. My lower back is feeling much better now; I used to have lower back pain quite often due to sitting all day at work.

My eyes are less tired as well. As I don't spend entire day sitting in front of a computer screen. Overall, I am feeling much better health wise and have even lost some weight and sleep better at night.

More Time for Reading - I love to read books and articles. I just finished reading two books (Mindset - The New Psychology of Success and What Should I Do with My Life) this past month. Both are good books and highly recommended for someone questioning their career and purpose in life. I spend at least two to three hours a day reading. I have more time now to read books on new subjects that I did not have time to explore before. I find reading to be very soothing and satisfying.

I am happier - I am at peace with myself and happier. I have shut off the part of my brain that used to think about work and get all worked-up about problems at work that used to keep me up at night. Now, I pay more attention to little pleasures in life such as enjoying my walk in the morning and visiting my friend Louie the Rabbit on the neighborhood trail.





Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing all the nice things we can strive for. Less stress and having no one to answer to seems like a far away dream right now your post gives me hope...

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  2. My own dream of reaching Financial Independence seemed like a far away dream 7-years ago. What's important is to take actions toward making that dream a reality by putting together a plan and executing that plan with discipline, passion, and tenacity. All good things in life take time and effort to achieve. As you move forward in executing your plan one step at a time, you will start to see the progress you are making, and that far away dream would seem much closer and real. The key is to make a plan and execute it diligently and not to be discouraged by short-term setbacks. The dream is real and achievable. Best of luck to you :)

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