Doing Nothing is Okay – No Apology Required

Do you need to be productive in retirement? Or is it okay to screw around all day and live a life of leisure? Or does the secret to retirement success lie somewhere in between the two extremes of productivity and leisure?

There is no right answer to the question of how busy you must be in retirement to be fulfilled and content.  It depends on what drives you and makes you happy. For me, the first six months of retirement were pretty busy as I was used to a decade of full time work and I continued the productivity trend straight out of the office and into retirement. 

Within two weeks of leaving my full time job, I started this blog and felt compelled to maintain a strict publishing schedule of two or three posts per week. That meant I was spending a lot of time researching, writing, proofreading, and figuring out the technical and business side of the blog. All the while, I was the one watching our one year old son all day! Busy, busy times. And not much time for relaxation and fun. 

Eventually I backed off the blog posting schedule and slowly eased into a more leisurely pace of new blog posts. I made leisure a higher priority than productivity and I’m happier now.   

The experts say it takes three to six months to adjust to your new retirement lifestyle after leaving work but I was skeptical until it really happened to me. It took me six months to decompress and unlearn 25 years of programming to be productive (classwork, homework, projects, exams, essays, grades, then full time work with a parallel set of assignments and tasks to complete). 

 

Goofing off while wandering through the woods is a perfectly fine way to spend your day.

 

 

Productivity Vs. Leisure

This blog post is a perfect example of my lazy approach to productivity.  I started the draft for this post two weeks ago and then got busy with other things. We planned and booked travel for our summer Southeast Asia trip. Then we researched our Mexico trip coming up in February. I’ve been reading a lot lately including books like Ship for Brains, a chronicle of one guy’s adventures as a cruise ship art auctioneer and 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. In an odd quirk, the latter book technically falls under “research for our trip to Mexico” since we’ll be seeing many pre-Colombian sites and museums during our trip. 

That’s the long way of saying that I fit in blogging and early retirement lifestyle consulting when I have time. If the weather is nice or I have other things vying for attention, then the productive efforts get put on hold. That’s how I personally prioritize my productive and leisure pursuits. It might take two or three weeks to produce a complete blog post, and that’s okay. 

I don’t really have a fixed weekly schedule of my productive time and my leisure time, but I put together a summary of how I typically spend my time in early retirement. That schedule is a little dated since our youngest son is in school now. So replace some childcare related activities with more leisure/fun stuff! 

A perfect day of doing nothing includes some mix of the following:

  • Wake up and walk our son to school
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee after returning home from the walk
  • Meet a friend for coffee or lunch
  • Read a book for a couple of hours
  • Go out for a bike ride or a hike
  • Cook some lunch or go out to eat (and perhaps walk or bike there)
  • Stroll the aisles of the grocery store in no particular rush looking for good food
  • Work on my extensive Netflix queue
  • Focus on my stack of unplayed video and computer games
  • Get lost in Google Maps while researching our next travel destination
  • Discover a topic I know nothing about and educate myself thoroughly
  • Watch the birds and turtles on the lake

Everyone should have a list like that, though the particulars will vary a lot from person to person.

 

We work hard, save, and invest so we don’t have to work hard any more. 

     ~Root of Good, 2019

 

 

I like video games more than productivity.

 

 

How Other Bloggers Do Early Retirement

It’s inherently hypocritical of me to spend time and effort to produce a blog article about doing nothing. But someone has to say it.  I find it enjoyable and enriching to share my ideas with others and get their feedback and comments.  I also go by the philosophy of “do what you love and maybe it’ll monetize well”. That’s a lot easier to do after you make your first million dollars and no longer need the money.

I see tons of other early retirement bloggers cranking out new content, developing e-courses, writing books, building second, third, or fourth websites, setting up seminars and conventions, and jumping into new side hustles. Like, wait a second – aren’t they supposed to be retired?  They must love what they are doing more than pure leisure activities!

Mr. Money Mustache might be the best example of a very busy, very productive early retiree (if he uses that label). He quit working at his corporate job then developed a hugely successful blog and a carpentry business.  And he’s always cranking away on some new home improvement project or tinkering with something technical. His latest endeavor is a co-working space in Longmont, Colorado. Another busy blogger, Carl aka Mr. 1500, is partnering with Mr. Money Mustache on this joint venture.  

Steve, who blogs at ThinkSaveRetire.com, is another great example of an early retiree that loves to hustle. He runs multiples blogs, just started an e-course on RV’ing, and he has a Youtube channel! He’s had an online presence for twenty years so he must really enjoy it a lot.

A couple that I’ve hung out with a few times – Kristy and Bryce who blog at Millennial Revolution – just put the finishing touches on a soon to be released book from Penguin Publishing. And they maintain a solid twice weekly posting schedule all while traveling the world full time! 

Two other bloggers work hard growing their own food in the garden and try to be generally self sufficient. Mr. Crazy Kicks uses his green thumb extensively in his greenhouse. The Frugalwoods grow tons of stuff in their garden AND cut down all the wood they use to heat their Vermont house all winter, all while raising two kids, penning a book, and working full time (in Mr. Frugalwoods case). 

More power to all of these highly productive folks! 

There are other bloggers that take it easy. Winnie and Jeremy of Go Curry Cracker fame travel the world while doing very little productive work. Yeah, Jeremy runs his blog but he’s only posting a few times per month. Then again, Winnie did write a book. I’m no longer sure how to classify those guys! 

Perhaps Karsten, or Big ERN as he’s called due to his near-seven foot stature, is the better example of an easy going early retiree. He quit work almost a year ago and traveled the world for many months before buying a house and settling down with his wife and kid. His posts at Early Retirement Now have slowed down since his retirement. Big ERN is too busy having fun!

 

I spend a lot of time and effort making these huge international vacations happen. Does that count as “productivity” when the main point of the labor is to enable more leisure?

 

 

The Financial Aspects of Productivity

A lot of people want to stay busy in retirement because they want to make a little extra money to supplement their retirement savings or pension. Others incorporate a stream of income from part time work and side hustles into their early retirement financial plan.

Whether productive efforts that make you money are a want or a need, extra money helps. If you save the money then you build your portfolio to higher levels, thereby adding an additional margin of safety to your planned portfolio withdrawals. The four percent withdrawals gradually shrink to 3.5%, 3%, or even lower as the portfolio size grows. Lower withdrawal rates equate to less risk of running out of money. 

I view the extra money from Root of Good and my early retirement lifestyle consulting as icing on the early retirement cake. I have my investment portfolio to do the heavy lifting and provide for my core spending of around $40,000 per year.  And that’s about what we spend most years. The extra money from my blog and consulting mostly end up reinvested in my portfolio at this point.

I never planned on making anywhere near the $30,000 or so that I pocket from these ventures each year. Perhaps my kids will benefit by having even more of their college education paid for.  We already spend two or three months every year traveling around the world, but perhaps there is room for even more travel, and even more luxurious digs while we’re on the road.

Though we aren’t at the point of needing more money, having more money never hurts. 

 

Campfires don’t cost a thing.

 

 

Working to Fill Up Your Days

For those that are financially set and really don’t need any more money, work might still play a role. My neighbor in her 70’s continues to work as a hair stylist because she wants to be busy and enjoys the socializing (and she has a sweet red Corvette too!). Lots of retired folks struggle with the social aspects of retirement and work helps fill that need. 

Other people miss the purpose and fulfillment of work. You may recall “Eric” who wrote to Root of Good about a year ago stating, in essence, that he has terminal cancer and might only have five years left to live.  He was financially set and didn’t need to work any longer but he struggled with the decision to leave work completely or stick with the thing that keeps him busy and engaged – work. 

After some debate Eric decided to quit work and give early retirement a try. 

Fast forward seven months and Eric figured out early retirement just wasn’t for him. 

Update. It’s seven months later and guess what? I’m going back to work at the beginning of next year. Part time. Ultimately a life of leisure wasn’t for me and I miss the purpose and fulfillment of work. I’ve done a LOT of travelling this year and while it’s been fun – it gets boring after a while. Everyone is different but for me – giving up work and retiring at this age wasn’t for me.  

     ~”Eric”

(emphasis mine)

Eric missed the purpose and fulfillment of work and therefore returned to part time employment. A life of leisure isn’t for everyone I suppose. You have to spend your days somehow and it should be doing something you enjoy. 

 

When I’m screwing around in the middle of the day, I never wish I was working again. But to each their own!

 

 

Closing Thoughts

Finding the sweet balance between productivity and leisure is an individual choice. It makes no sense to compare yourself to others and feel bad for doing nothing. Do what you enjoy and what makes your life fulfilling and don’t use the accomplishments of other people as a measuring stick.

A lot of the productivity versus leisure decision comes down to personality or inner motivations. I’ll give an example to illustrate what I mean. Our family used to vacation at the beach quite a bit. We would rent a house for a week in North Carolina on Topsail Island. We love it. It’s a barrier island that is 20 miles long but only 500 feet wide in parts. Off season, you might look up and down the beach and see no more than a few people in either direction.

Some people love Topsail Island, while others hate it. The thing is, there’s nothing to do on the island. No go cart tracks, no mini-golf or laser tag. No movie theaters. No shopping malls. It’s just a whole lot of beach and not a lot of people.

It’s a perfect litmus test.

If you can enjoy a week at the beach with “nothing to do” then the life of leisure is for you. 

In contrast, if you feel the need to drive 30 minutes into Wilmington (the next big town down the beach) because you get bored easily, then you might not be built for a life of laid back leisure.

I notice the same dichotomy of opinions when I tell people about our one month summer vacation in the Bahamas where we did very little other than lounge on the beach and stare out at the ocean with a little swimming and snorkeling mixed in. “Wow, that sounds wonderful!” or “Gosh, I’d be bored out of my mind by day three – you said you only got a rental car for one day??!!”. 

We are all built differently. You just have to figure out what motivates you and what brings you fulfillment. Productivity or leisure? Or a mix of both?

You can think of me as an expert in the art of doing nothing. I am the anti-Tony Robbins; an unproductivity guru. A role model bearing the message that doing nothing is okay – no apology required

 

 

Where do you fall on the productivity versus leisure scale? What brings you contentment?

 

 


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117 comments

  1. Dear Justin,
    To me, your low ‘output’ is your USP and what I relate to the most.
    But I am an unproductive slouch and feel guilty for my leisure time, even though a lifetime of reading 19th century novels did spark an aspiration to ‘living off a genteel income’ and managing a country house …

  2. Wonderful post Justin. Thank you for taking the time to write it. In particular, it’s great how you mentioned others in the FI community and their different lifestyles so that everyone can see some of the different paths possible and see which one resonates with them.

    Hope you’re doing well.
    Kornel

  3. Thank you for the post. I have worked full time since I was 18. I will reach 55 and be able to retire in November 2019. I have always liked to be busy and had a side hustle DJ business and a podcasts service. I stopped side hustles and took some night classes to increase my pension. I promoted to supervisor and never went back to any side business. Pay increase and regular overtime covered the side hustle income. Two eight hour days was more money than a planned and miti task full Saturday wedding with no bride shows, no meeting with crazy brides, no lugging lighting and gear at one AM in the morning. I would wake up at five thirty AM (love morning walks ), walk to work and then be home by two forty five in the afternoon and enjoy a night with the wife or my family. It was a no brainier. The wife has convinced me not to work my overtime and enjoy life now. It is hard for me as to show my OT leadership at work. Most of my crew and all the other supervisors in my division are working an extra 32 hours a month to make our yearly goal. I don’t feel like I’m part of the team for that goal.. A few are really dedicated to thier work. Most just are there for the money. If they haddled money better and didn’t need the money and were in my situation, how many would work OT? We just spend and spend on toys.. We RV every month and the weekend trips and even a month trip along the California coast are too short. The wife and I would like to be on the road about eights months a year at this time. How long will we enjoy that? Sounds good.
    There is so much to see! That is the question. I would like to to have a blog like yours😀 and record podcasts, play instruments, and do photography. I would love to help others to become civil servants and get government jobs. All these things can be done from the RV! I am just so used to the government career and my civil service duty. There is always a promotion ahead and the dangling carrot of more money. Do I continue? How much more money do I really need? It is different for everyone. If I could leave for three months and then return and complete some work, that would be great. Government jobs don’t work like that. You are serving the public and you are all in or out. I have been proud to be a civil servant. I think thirty seven years is enough.. So if I retire I am done. Another reason….. My pension will never run out. It will keep paying until l leave this Earth.
    I am truly blessed and would like to help others like you do.

    Thank you,
    Dave

    1. Lots to think about! It sounds like you are at the point where you could slow down on the work and skip the OT. Or quit completely. It’s too bad that many jobs, like yours, have little flexibility that would allow you to take some extended time off and possibly return to employment.

  4. Justin,

    I am built similar to you in that all I need is a great view, and some grub to keep me happy. My wife on the other hand needs to go places and stay active looking at things. I am so ready to retire, but she wants to continue to work and maintain that satisfaction of work. As I get older, the more I want to travel and take in god’s beauty around the world. I have seen lots of beautiful places, but I have really only seen a small amount in the grand scheme of things.

    This March is when me and my wife take a 14-night transatlantic cruise from Miami, Fla to Rome, Italy, and I am so looking forward to enjoying 2 weeks of complete relaxation. When you are a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ocean you step away from the world with very limited news and emails, and you learn to entertain yourself on the ship. We take walks around the ship during the day, read a book, or just lay by the pool. I could do that year round with no problem, and she enjoys it too. Only if I could find a year long cruise at a decent price without selling everything I own LOL.

    You have a great schedule, so keep up the good work. You appear to be just active enough to keep you from being bored, and still able to enjoy to slow pace of full retirement. You are living my dream, so I enjoy following you lifestyle thru this blog.

    Kevin J. Struble

    1. Those transatlantic cruises are appealing to me for exactly the reason you mention. 2 weeks of doing very little (with perhaps 3-5 ports of call for a little bit of excitement occasionally). Enjoy! I still haven’t been able to take one yet due to the kids’ school schedule.

  5. One fact I don’t see mentioned here is the chance of early retirees to have the time AND ENERGY to volunteer. Justin, I know you do plenty of this but I am speaking to others who may find “doing nothing” really does get boring. There is so much out there you could do with your time. As a retired senior who follows this blog with awe and respect, that is my love to finally have the time to give back to the community and to society with my time. Being of service to others without asking for payment for it can be very fulfilling! But it is a CHOICE – a volunteer does not HAVE TO – you do it because you can! That can be a great feeling.

  6. I retired only slightly early at 60. But in the three years since I have found that working as a consultant a day a week, on average, to add to my life. I’m naturally pretty lazy and this work compels me to meet deadlines and study complex issues. It also requires me to travel, which I enjoy, and expenses all the electronic nerd toys I love. The rest of the time my wife and I run, hike, play tennis, fish, ski and travel. I do not need the six figure income part time work brings in but it always feels good to have more money. I blog too, but that’s just for fun and I don’t plan to monetize it.

    1. That sounds pretty ideal! 1 day per week and you pull in six figures and get to travel (on a limited basis). I don’t blame you for keeping that up! I’m sure it’ll keep your mind sharp as you get older too!

  7. Hi Justin,

    I belong to the type of “Doing nothing”. It beats nothing than relaxing on the beach and let the thoughts flow randomly through the process. It’s indeed awesome to be in such circumstance.

    WTK

      1. Hi Justin,

        To add on, it has been amazing to do nothing in the retirement. I have heard feedback from my friends that doing nothing has been a waste of time and this will make such individual to have dementia. I disagree with such feedback. However, I refrain from expressing my views on such feedback.

        In the country which I reside currently, Doing nothing and retirement is the definite “No No” and seems to be a taboo to the majority of the people in my country. The Authority has been emphasising to the people that it is better to work till the old age like in the 80s and 90s. Work will enable one to stay relevant and be useful to the society. I believe that this is the way in which the mindset has been set in my country. I disagree with such mindset and ignore the usual “mother-hood” view. I believe that each individual is entitled to his/her decision and preference. I belong to one of the few minorities in my country and will treasure the benefit of early retirement. Doing nothing is one of my favourite period in which I can let my free thought on trying new things of my interest.

        WTK

        1. Even in the USA, there is a strong work ethic to continue working well past age 65-67 when everyone’s Social Security and Medicare start (basically govt retirement pension and govt old age healthcare). I’ve heard it a ton, even from people that are saving to retire. I guess if you really have no other hobbies or interests that are more fun/fulfilling than a job, then it makes perfect sense to keep working forever. Definitely not the case for you or I!

  8. I think my name kind of gives away what kind of personality I have. I haven’t been able to find a good mix of what I really like. We could be retired if we moved to lower cost of living and sent the kids to public school. I’ve felt kind of retired because I left the corporate road nearly 10 years ago. However, I am still self-employed with the blog and some other side gigs. It’s nice to have the extra money around.

    There are times when I do just feel the need to be productive though. It’s usually a burst of 1 day a week. The rest of the time I’d be okay doing mostly nothing. I like teaching the kids new things whether it’s chess or some learning video game. This can last a few hours before they get a little bored and start fighting and then everyone needs a break from each other.

    1. I know what you mean. When I get those productive bursts I tackle some DIY stuff, work on the finance/accounting/investments, clean up, or work on the blog. Then I get back to screwing around in earnest. 🙂

  9. Nice post! I’ve also noticed other popular FIRE bloggers work very hard on creating content and branch into podcasts, YouTube channels, courses, etc. Nothing wrong with that. I just feel I wouldn’t enjoy that type of retirement myself, so it’s nice to see people like you who are taking it easier.

    Being productive has its own value of course, and I wouldn’t want to have zero productivity during retirement. At the end is all about balance. Easier said than done.

    The money part of it is also interesting, because more hustling could bring more income, so that has to be a strong pull for anyone who spent many years having a 50%+ savings rate.

  10. Happiness/fulfillment is the goal and it probably lies at different points for each of us along the spectrum of productivity vs. leisure. I’m looking forward to finding my own sweet spot.

    I’m impressed by the effort you put in to making world travel happen for a family of five on a shoestring budget. I’d say giving your kids those kinds of experiences is a very productive use of time. But we can still call it leisure if you insist. 🙂 (side note – your emojis are kind of small aren’t they?)

  11. Great post Justin! I think everyone definitely has their own definition of freedom and that’s ok. I thoroughly enjoy reading your insights as they’ve been a great guide along my own journey and even into my own blog. Four more years to go on the freedom trail! I’ll probably be one of those in the middle of productivity and leisure people though. A nice balance!

  12. Thanks for writing this! The trope of “Anyone motivated enough to retire early is sure to end up working on a side hustle” gets a little tiring.

  13. TESTIFY! I really enjoy reading your blog in part because you always include the little stuff rather than focusing on the next big goal. To me it seems much more grounding, and consistently satisfying, to cook a good meal or volunteer at your kids’ school or align the variables for a killer deal on a thing you were going to buy anyway. Compared with big business ideas or how to more effectively monetize a blog? I know which I’d rather enjoy.

    Right now I’m rehearsing or performing at least three days — eight hours — a week. That’s enough structured social activity and mental focus, especially if I can keep it local enough in retirement to not need a car. Goodness knows my job isn’t particularly invigorating or fulfilling; I just want to spin the gears as smoothly as possible until I’ve churned up a sufficient nest egg. Then it’s drinks on the porch with neighbors, planning the next vacation, or figuring out the best possible meals based on what the grocery store’s got on sale. Bliss.

  14. I guess I go through periods of laziness and productivity. I’m not one of those people that can’t sit still. Ican definitely be unproductive when I want to be. Maybe I laze around for a few days, doing nothing terribly important, and then suddenly I get the urge to work on a project.

    I’ll work on that project intensely for a few days or weeks depending upon how long it takes, then I’m back to resting for a bit.

    Overall. It feels like a pretty good pattern that allows for plenty of rest and just enough productivity.

    1. Anyone who makes butter chicken and homemade salsa from scratch counts as a little productive 😉 But I know what you mean and I enjoy a little doing something from time to time. Just not too much hard work.

  15. Thank God someone wrote this!
    I’ll be retiring ‘early’ in a couple of year’s time, when I’m in my late 50’s/60.
    The LAST thing I’ll want to do is get busy on a side hustle!
    My view is that retirement is giving yourself control over our own day, so I’m darned if I’m going to get back on the hamster wheel I just jumped off from!

  16. Thanks for the mention, Justin! I was trying to go back weekly publishing but it’s hard! And then we’ll be on another 4-month trip this summer, so what’s the point? I will just keep the one post every 2-3 weeks!
    In any case, you are the perfect example for someone practicing FIRE without running afoul with the “retirement police” but still having enough fun to not upset the “boredom police” either! Keep up the great work, uhm, non-work! 🙂

  17. Thanks, Justin – this post came at just the right time for me. I just recently FIRE’d at the end of 2018 and the adjustment has been harder than I anticipated. I’m finally starting to get a routine in place, but it’s been a struggle. Your point about unlearning all this stuff your mind’s been programmed hits the nail on the head. Hopefully, I’ll be able to learn to actually relax a little more over the next couple of months!

    — Jim

  18. Awesome post, Justin–even if you did interrupt your do nothing time to write it 🙂

    And thanks for the mention! I do often wonder if we’ve “unretired”, but then I remember that everything I’m doing now is because I CHOOSE to do it not because I HAVE to do it. I can stop anytime. I’m just the type who gets bored easily–travelling also tends to give us a lot of inspiration, so we can’t help but write about it. But who knows, give it another 5 years, I might just want to sit in a hammock all day and do dick all. Thanks for reminding us that that is totally okay.

    Now, excuse me while I ignore all my e-mails and go take a nap. After almost 4 years in retirement, it STILL amazes me that I can nap whenever I want. Hopefully I won’t get a sleep-related injury–AGAIN.

  19. Today I attended the memorial service for a friend’s mother. She lived a few days shy of 103! She lived on her own until 100. She’d been a widow since the 70s. She led a VERY full life and her mantra was ‘just keep moving’. She had an active social life that included a card group and working out in a local wellness center until she was 100. She retired in her 60s (she & her husband owned a motel and restaurant in NH). So, she didn’t “retire early” and lived quite a life, but she “kept moving” until the very end.

    For those that retire early with young families, I think you don’t have to worry about “doing nothing”. But I do think that as we age “just keep moving” your body and your brain and your social life is imperative (however the specifics unfold for you).

    1. All good points. And you’re right, those with kids are forced to “keep moving”. It’ll be interesting to see how we transition to kid-free life one day (in another 12-16 years lol).

  20. This post is the epitome of FIRE. Being financially independent allows you to do as much as you want or just relax and do nothing at all. I work so hard now so I can get to where you are, financially independent and enjoying life how you see fit. Thanks for the good read!

  21. Wonderful post! I get inspired by the way you enjoy your early retirement with family and friends. It requires some wisdom to enjoy leisure without getting bored. I think you may be found the sweet spot of enjoying contemplating life in its simplest way. I have no big productive plans for my early retirement. It has been a long journey to achieve FI, so we, as a family, plan to be kind to ourselves and find who we are in this new chapter of our life. By the way, I am curious about the pre-Colombian sites you plan to visit in Mexico.

  22. I needed to read this post today. It doesn’t apply to me regarding FIRE quite yet, but because we just adopted a baby boy and I am extremely conflicted between being “productive” and just focusing on him. I have been producing regular content for the blog and for my own academic research for so long that it is hard to reset my gears. It is hard to get out of the mentality that I am not doing enough. In fact, I was just researching articles regarding whether I was doing enough with my son.

    I think this is my new challenge. Trying to figure out what is enough and be satisfied with my own life. I want to focus on him, continue my path to FIRE, but also maintain the productive scholarly life that has been a hallmark of my life for over a decade. Something has got to give, but I don’t want it too….plus I want to maintain our level of travel, which requires me to work and be a productive scholar because I get a lot of travel covered from my university.

    1. This too!! And I might remind us all that Justin and Jeremy are also parents, and by golly these guys are THERE for their kids. Parenting is work, even if you have time for mid-day naps. I loved that my Dad retired early while I was still in high school. Life got so much more fun and peaceful too when he was actually THERE and rested and not stressed. So I believe early retirement can actually improve your parenting! So keep rockin’ both parenthood and early retirement, y’all!

    2. Whoa buddy, slow down and pace yourself. Doing nothing two days in a row? That’s blasphemy! And I see you’re back to posting 1x/wk now – early retirement police are going to be knocking down your door any day now! 😉

      On a more serious note, I hope we can find ourselves in the same coffee shop to chat one day!

  23. Great post Justin! We are relatively new to the early retirement game as I left my 9-5 for good last summer. I definitely find myself in the transition phase you are describing.

    As our post 9-5 plan was to slow travel the world full time, we felt that our story might be worth telling. So (naturally?) we started the Nomad Numbers’ Blog as a side project. We got some decent amount of interest that was enough feedback for me to keep me to stay engage and produce content once a week which still give me PLENTY of time to explore, relax and take it easy.

    The big difference is that we are doing this by CHOICE (as Kristy said) and I’m not expecting any monetary return from the blog. If the blog take off and we can monetize it significantly then this will be the icy on the retirement cake you mentioned. It has actually been quite a great experiment for me as I was able to developed and practice new skills and feel like I am connecting with people that I could not have connected without the blog.

    As for Mexico, if you are looking for recommendations, you can check out the place we’ve been visiting since we spent 3+ months in this beautiful country: http://www.nomadnumbers.com/tag/mexico/

  24. I live for the day when I can do nothing. I listen to the ChooseFI podcast and read other blogs and they talk about Early Retirement, they say “you never really retire, you just move onto something you are passionate about”
    Your kind of day is what I am passionate about and why we work so hard!

    1. Yeah – go do something else productive if you want but don’t be afraid to embrace leisure if that’s what motivates you.

      After all, we need people to consume all the great art, music, games, movies, tv shows, etc that the world continues to create en masse.

  25. I belong to that category where I would love to go to office and do nothing most of the time…. I work as a software tester and believe me it is pretty much possible…I have been doing it for the past 7 years…..

  26. Justin, you’re the King of leisure. You win! 😉
    I’m more toward the productive side. Some leisure is good, but I need to balance it out with some productivity too. We’re still young. I have plenty of time to wind down the productivity. In 10 years, I’ll be a lot less productive. For now, being somewhat productive keeps me going. I would never go back to work in a corporation, though. Everyone has to find their own path.

    1. Hi Joe,

      I agree with you on the corporation lifestyle as compared as leisurely lifestyle. The feel is totally different so to speak. Productivity comes from the innerself for the retirement lifestyle.

      WTK

  27. Great post. To each their own, I say. Rule number one is to be happy and stay happy, only then can you enrich other people‘s lives. Personally I love keeping busy and I always can come up with something interesting. I find that I’m equally busy with stuff, post FI however not really making any additional income (yet). It‘s been two years since I quit the office routine. Currently I’m building up a service to help other property owners gauge maintenance costs and compare. When I’m free I’m blogging a little. Mostly though I’m diving and or traveling these days. For me I can never have enough of that. Sitting in a bus all day today in Chile so might have time to produce another blog post :-).

  28. Justin, everyone has already said everything I was going to say, hah. I’m also very good at doing nothing; I like video games (computer), and watching movies, and I love walking around outside and watching nature, and exploring the world on trips… I remember once when I was in college I spent a couple hours in a forest watching a spider unweave then re-weave its web. These days, I’d kill to have that leisure time. :/

    Kevin above mentioned, “Only if I could find a year long cruise at a decent price without selling everything I own LOL. ” I’m right there with you, Kevin.. Lounging around by the pool, reading, walking the decks, watching that horizon..pure Heaven.

    I’ve started developing a side project (well, it’s really that I’ve just gotten into a craft that has potential to bring in some [not a lot] money, if I ever get good) and between my FT job, PT job, and normal housework/errands, plus “relaxing” (because I love doing nothing!!), I hardly have time to develop my skill. I think in a month or two, I’m going to stop doing all my “extra curricular” activities, and work my way back to a comfortable level of busy (I’m burned out now). I can see FT job + crafting = enough busy-ness for me. How did I end up here, with all this extra stuff tacked on?

    Thanks for this article – I love your blog, wish you posted more, but also completely understand and agree with why you don’t post as often as you used to. As a fellow member of the “do nothing” club, I wish you all the happiness of leisure! Take care! <3

  29. Sometimes I work on my blog, investments, shopping or cleaning, sometimes I go running, cycling or skiing, and sometimes I’ll simply hang out with friends. All are OK with me, and I count them all as bone fide early retirement activities. My litmus test is that I don’t sit around watching TV – before 9am, at lunchtime and after 5pm is OK for TV, but I feel lazy if it’s outside of that.

    1. That’s pretty much when we watch TV – while eating lunch or in the evenings for an hour or two. The funny thing is I wish I watched MORE TV but can’t seem to find the time 🙂

  30. Thank you for giving me permission to “do nothing” since my “early” retirement at age 55.

    After five years of leisurely retirement, I was starting to feel guilty about not having my own personal finance / retirement blog. I would consider blogging every now and then, but would always think, “that seems like a lot of work!” and drop the subject. But the “not being productive” guilt remained. 🙁

    I’m glad to hear “vacation planning” counts as a type of productivity. I spend a LOT of time researching places to which we are thinking about traveling, and developing travel / sightseeing itineraries that won’t put us in an early grave. Our first trip to Spain just about killed us off, so I tried to scale back the activities for our second trip. Despite my best intentions, we still practically walked our legs off while touring Spain and Portugal. Just goes to show I have to work harder (i.e., be more productive) in building up my stamina!

  31. Anyone enjoy giving financial advice? I’m looking for a little courage and maybe someone can help. My husband and I have $750k in investments (mostly in (ira & roth) Vanguard low cost funds) and our house is worth about $250k. My husband works a full-time job (provides our health insurance!) that brings in $30k a year and my side hustle brings in $15k. I’m 59 and he’s 55. When I’m 62 (in 3 yrs) I’ll be eligible for social security of $1600/month. Our expenses are probably only $35k per year if we don’t take any vacations. Trouble is that we want to take vacations. Great vacations. And he desperately wants to retire. Do you think we can justify spending about $10k per year on some great vacations? We’re not getting any younger….

    1. Hi Laurel! My wife and I of similar age and circumstances to you and your hubby. Am leaving the full-time grind in 45, wait . . . . 44 days, and we’re finding it hard to wrap our heads around finally having the opportunity to travel freely. If you’ve modeled $45k/year ($35k base plus $10k travel) and it works well within your overall financial plan, then do your Tarzan yell and start traveling! Of course, looking for the best deals by traveling off-season, etc., will stretch those travel dollars further (Justin’s a master at it and offers many good tips on this RoG site). Subscribe to newletters like Travelzoo, that announce deals on hotels and packages, in addition to your favorite travel vendors. And sometimes we forget that there’s lots of great (and cheap) travel destinations within a couple hours drive for cool long weekends between those bigger adventures. Finally, we just bought our first free “time share” stay, with Hilton Grand Vacations; 4 nights at the Hilton Elara in Vegas for $299, which will be refunded to credit card after our stay, as long as we attend the 2-hour sales presentation. This was while we were hanging out in the lobby of Millenium Hilton in downtown NYC, where we were staying for 2 free nights on Hilton points. Deals everywhere. Good luck and have fun!

      1. You’ll have to let me know how the timeshare presentation goes. I can’t get Mrs. Root of Good to agree to that kind of torture. 🙂 $75/hr tax free earning rate isn’t bad I guess.

    2. Laurel… No one can really give you good advice without having a lot more information. But based on what you included in your post, it seems a bit too tight for my comfort level. You’re saying you want to spend $45k/year (35 + 10 for travel). $750k at a 4% withdrawal is $30k. I’m not comfortable with a 4% SWR because I want a very high success rate to bolster unexpected expenses, and I highly recommend reading Big ERNs excellent series on safe withdrawal rates. And then in 3 years you go up to $49,200 when you add SS. And then there’s taxes, so if most of your portfolio isn’t in Roth, you have to consider tax optimization (GoCurryCracker and Mad FIentist offer some of the best articles in this area). In addition, have you accounted for health care costs, not only till medicare coverage but after, as well as mitigating risk for cost of long-term care (which virtually no FIRE blogger seems to care about). Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly afford to retire, but I think those stated expenses and some that you may not have accounted for might put you in a portfolio failure rate that i wouldn’t be comfortable with.

    3. From a quick take, here’s what I think. First up, try to track your spending very closely and make sure you aren’t overlooking expenses that you’ll have in retirement like health insurance.

      As for funding $45k/yr ($35k core expenses plus $10k travel), you’ll probably be okay. Your SS will be $19,000/yr starting in a few years and I assume your husband might get a similar amount?? Even with you getting $19,000/yr and your husband getting nothing, that means you only need to pull another $26,000 from your portfolio to make it work. That’s under 4% of the $750k (plus you’ll have to pull a little more than 4% the first 3 years till SS kicks in).

      Just make sure $35k core expenses is the number! It’ll be close but you should be fine. And your travel plans will probably slow down after a decade or two anyway as you get older, so you could shift that $10k expense to other areas (like making accommodations as you enter your 70s and 80s).

  32. Not the point of your post, but 1491 was an awesome read haha. I feel like it’s all about balance. I love leisure and relaxing, but it’s toigh to do so when you are still working as there are always work thoughts that are in the back of your mind.

    I’m sure once I early retire I’ll find some sort of balance between productivity and leisure. Luckily I have a few years to figure that out 🙂

    1. Yes, I think departing work frees up a ton of mental space to focus more on leisure. You aren’t preoccupied with thoughts on how to finish the project, office politics, work to-do lists, etc.

  33. There is some deprograming that takes time! I’m definitely getting to be lazier.. Now, I just do what I want when I want without pushing myself much.

    Blogging has gone down, but I still do a lot of tinkering and working in the garden. Im wierd that way, I even look forward to having some nice firewood to split. I actually enjoy it, and it makes my beer tastier in the evening looking back at the fruits of my labors 😊

    Right now I’m back in Costa Rica. My work here involves surfing a few hours each day. But I’m also getting in some reading by the pool, if that counts as leisure 😉

    1. There is something magical about being exhausted after a hard day’s work in the woods/garden/yard and enjoying that beer 🙂 We cleared our lakefront a couple weekends ago and it was pretty exhausting.

  34. It took me a full 3 years after stopping work as a pharmacist to fully decompress. I can remember the exact moment when it happened too. Now, when we’re traveling, my husband will suddenly look at me and say “5 pharmacy calls!” in a loud voice 🙂 to gauge my reaction. I have also dropped my posts from once a week to 1 or 2 per month. I am loving the simple life, lazy days and my husband, being Italian, his life philosophy is dolce far niente. Love the life balance you have achieved, the sweet spot as l call it. I don’t feel guilty at all :-).

    1. The Italians seem to have doing nothing down to a science 🙂

      Good to hear you finally found your peaceful pace in early retirement! I’ve always been a natural lover of leisure so I guess it didn’t take me quite as long to embrace the do-nothing lifestyle.

  35. Thanks so much for this blog post! Interesting read. I hope to face the same challenges about doing nothing and not feeling guilty as you do!!

    But I agree, you definitely need to have something to live for after retirement. Retirement should be a new start to life, not an end.

    Best of luck and enjoy traveling the world!!

  36. Hi Justin, excellent post. It’s good to know doing nothing is okay.

    I totally agree : “There is no right answer to the question of how busy you must be in retirement to be fulfilled and content. It depends on what drives you and makes you happy.” I’m more toward leisure. Most of the time, I chose the slow pace. To others, it might be boring. But I’m totally happy with it. To me, even a part-time job is still a job. If I don’t need money, I don’t want to work. That may not be the case for those who love working.

  37. Hi Justin,

    for me it sounds good to do nothing.
    Just live in the day, Workout, do something at the House when my motivation is right.

    At the Moment its no option, we are not FI. But we still working on that. 😉

    Grettings from Bayreuth- Germany

    1. I’m surprised more people aren’t fans of doing nothing! But it does seem like a lot of people in the Financial Independence community are hard-wired to work really hard before AND after they quit their full time jobs.

    2. Fireball – I live where you do. I wondered if I made the comment myself! Justin, could you pass my email address to Fireball?

  38. Retirement is an interesting thing. My grandfather retired and then faded away without any purpose. My father, in contrast, is living a full, albeit slower life. I have a lot of hobbies, so I suspect I would be more intense for a while. I also see myself working part time for a while.

    That all being said, seeing someone talk about a real slow retirement is very appealing to me. In spite of what I just said, after 20 years already in the workforce, slowing down is very appealing to me.

    1. It goes without saying that you need to do something that makes you happy and fills your days. If you have a lot of hobbies then you’re probably fine! I always have something going on but not that much of it is productive in nature 🙂

  39. Music to my ears, ROG, music to my ears! Really appreciate your core message here, as always — it’s all about choice. I hear from friends who LOVE their jobs, want to work til 70,worry about being bored, etc., and they truly feel this way. For me, I will retire sometime around 65 (late to the FIRE party!) and that is fine — we’ve saved and aren’t big spenders, and hopefully medicare doesn’t disappear. I am a slug who loves to read and hang around and drink coffee and resent that work limits that time for me. I look forward to actually cooking and cleaning and staying up late to read for a change.

    And, of course, raising kids IS work — no one with kids is really at leisure 🙂 — although it be a labor of love, it’s still labor. So kudos, and thanks for this open minded piece.

  40. Hi Justin,

    relaxing sounds good to me. I don`t want to optimize my self to the maxium.

    When i have enough time, i go in the basement and workout, after that i chill with our little daughter and we hanging out at the garden or playing some board games.

    Greetings from Bayreuth- Germany

    1. Iceman- do you know Fireball? This is weird. How many people in Bayreuth read RoG? Justin, can you pass on my email address to Iceman?

  41. I think I am wired more on the productivity side than the leisure side. If I don’t find myself productive for an extended period of time, I start to look for something productive to do. Although right now, I can sure use some more leisure in my wife. For me, raising 3 young kids while working a full time job, managing my investment portfolio, maintaining my rental properties, and trying to launch a personal finance blog present their challenges. I would like to, over time, decrease the amount of time spent on the latter activities and increase the time on family life and “me time”.

    1. I guess I would say I always like having something to do, but that something is often a leisure activity and no productive. However I do move on from one leisure activity to another after several hours.

  42. Hi Justin,

    I find that leisure activity is cool. There is no pressure at all. If interested, do it. If tired, rest. If not interested, move on. It’s that simple. I find that it is relaxing and this is the best circumstance in which I do it because I want to and not because I have to. This is the reason in which the relaxed mindset envolves right from the onset.

    WTK

  43. I’m gearing up for my early retirement at 55. should happen in the fall of 2020. at age 55 with a full pension and benefits. kids are all out of the house, the wife just retired and i’m just setting myself up at work for retirement. that’s the plan unless life throws a curve ball. i plan on living the leisure life. i’ll have worked 35 years FT plus all the PT work since i was 15. i’ve chatted with a few friends and coworkers about retiring and not working. i just want to relax, unwind and do whatever and whenever. your blog and all these comments give me hope. i just want to live the “jimmy buffett” lifestyle. laid back, relaxed. i’ve sat at a desk for 35 years. i don’t plan on doing anything like that again. i don’t get people who retire then work full time at other jobs. i don’t want to do that but the guilt and pressure people put on you is unbelievable. i guess in the end its what you want to do…

  44. You make an amazing point about being able to do nothing and not have to apologize for it. Too often we hear that we have to be creating side hustles and utilizing every second of our waking time. When in reality when I go back through my days and analyze when I was the happiest, it was when I was doing these “nothing activities” that you have listed. Walks, video games, sitting by the lake.

  45. I lost the shame of doing nothing more than the things required by my immediate family, gf, and self. I worked since I was 13 off and on; and then 12 years in past career, after obtaining my BSME. I am a shy person and find it very hard to socialize with people, in particularly at work. It just drains my energy trying to socialize with people outside of my circle of people, and it’s no coincidence that that is why I decided to quit work to relax my anxieties, and have my money work for me while living frugally. I find that I am very happy with this lifestyle and I don’t regret a thing. I thank you for sharing this article and your thoughts since they support my personal views.

  46. This lifestyle is amazing! I have been doing it for just over a year thanks to this new job I got. It is incredibly flexible allowing me to live my life how I please doing minimal work. I am a freelance writer with Ultius and I can’t explain how free I feel because of it. I can do as much work as I want while relaxing at home on my own schedule. You guys can check it out here: https://www.ultius.com/careers/writers.html

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