Why you should practice retiring

“for those who save it all for the end, only to find life has passed them by.”

I have been a Software Engineer all my life and for the longest time that’s all I’ve ever known to do. It felt like this has defined my adult life and when people ask me what do I do, I instinctively just answer “I’m a Software Engineer”.

This has all changed when I worked with one of the most strained companies I’ve been to. This company, which I will not name, expects people to be working 24/7, literally. Not only did you have to work 9 to 5 in the office, once you go home my phone starts buzzing non-stop. I didn’t have to always answer the phone as the messages consisted of the whole department talking to each other regarding different incidents currently on-going, but the fact of the matter is, hearing the phone buzz all the time had always kept me on my toes and as a consequence made me really anxious. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and find myself checking my phone to see if anyone at work was looking for me. Nonetheless, I soldiered on, I reckoned this was all part of the lifestyle of being a software engineer.

The last straw before I quit my job was when the upper brass had made me feel like I wasn’t committed to what I do even after working during the weekends because of an incident had occured with system. This is when I finally decided to call it quits and just hand in my resignation, leaping to the unknown, and prompting one of my mini-retirements.

Who am I without my work?

The adrenaline of leaving the job abruptly and “sticking it to the man” was still ringing in me after a couple of days of my resignation, but as the time slowly passed I asked myself what do I do now? I was so used to going to work doing my 9 to 5 that it felt like I have so much time now and found myself thinking “It’s not easy being retired!”. I had so much time within the one day that one month felt like a year has passed by and I found myself thinking what if this has been my retirement, would I know what to do?

I know what you are thinking, here are a couple of suggestions I’ve heard a million times:

Just do whatever you want, or chase your passion
Hang out with your friends and enjoy
Travel the world, see more places

It’s so easy to think that you will do all these things on your retirement but as you will find out it’s not always a straight-forward thing. When you get to a certain age, it’s not always easy to get together with your friends, they have their own thing going on now, and will not always be there for you at your own beck and call.

I did my fair share of travelling as well in a quest to find myself. Below are some of the highlights of our travel:

Me and my wife running into the Bucket List Family known for travelling the world (See their youtube channel)
Fiji Locals doing their signature fire dance in Robinsons Crusoe Island
First time riding (fell a couple of times)
No camels were hurt in the making of this photo
All smiles here

Travel, as in everything, has it’s ups and downs and you soon find out that it’s not that easy. The clock has to strike midnight and you realise it’s not something you can do all year round, as not only do you not have an infinite well of finances but it also becomes subject to the hedonic threadmill. You get adapted to feeling of travelling and it doesn’t give you the same thrill before.

What they do not tell you about retirement

After everything had settled down from the wild rollercoaster ride, a sinking feeling of depression has slowly crept in. Slowly I had started staying up too late, watching too much Netflix, eating junk foods, and ultimately became isolated. All the safety net of a job providing a healthy routine has been robbed from me without me knowing and it left a void in my soul. I was frustrated as this was not advertised as part of the retirement dream!

“Progress equals Happiness” — Tony Robbins

Couple of weeks passed and I have decided to allow myself to try out new hobbies to get out of this destructive cycle. Here’s a list of things I’ve tried out:

  • Reading more books (I’ve read 40 books so far since)
  • Public speaking
  • Attending meetups of different interest
  • Playing/Designing board games
  • Body building
  • Studying Digital Marketing
  • Writing
  • Learning new things (Blockchain, Calorie Counting, and more random stuff)

I must say having new interests outside my field of work has sparked a new fire in me and has given me more purpose than ever before. It made me feel that I am more than my work, and when my real retirement does come I am more prepared. No longer am I solely defined by the work that I do.

How Mini-Retirements replenishes you

I had learned the hard way we really need to be able to figure out what we need to do at the end of it all. Retirement in itself is a job, a job to find your peace and nourish your soul. As all things that really are worth doing, preparations are needed hence I urge everyone to take mini-retirements in their day-to-day lives and really find and ask yourself who are you without your work.