Retirement – A Blessing Or A Curse?

Retirement can be a blessing or a curse

Retirement can be a tough transition. People think retirement would be easy, but it can be a blessing or a curse. You could really love it or just loath it. It depends on what you do with your newfound freedom. I’m visiting Thailand for 3 months and it became clear that you can’t stay in vacation mode forever. You really need to make some forward progress in life to stay happy. At least, I do.

3 Months in Thailand

Why am I in Thailand for so long? I’m here to help my mom and dad out. My mom has dementia and it’s getting serious. She can’t do anything by herself anymore. My dad is taking care of her, but he is getting older too. Everything is getting more difficult every day. He is looking for a helper, but my mom will have to go to a nursing home at some point. My main mission for this trip is to find a good nursing home for her. After looking around, I found a local nursing home nearby that’s reasonably priced. Now, we have a plan for the next phase of this terrible disease. (If I leave it up to my dad, he’d put her in the cheapest place he can find. He is super cheap and he thinks it doesn’t matter anymore at that stage.)

Anyway, I have a lot more leisure time than usual while I’m in Thailand. I spend 5-6 hours per day with my parents in the morning and evening. Then, I have the rest of the day to myself. This seems like the next phase of early retirement too. At home, I’m a lot busier because I’m a stay-at-home dad. There are various chores that I need to do. Without my son, I need to fill the time somehow.

Blessing or a curse

The best thing about retirement is that you have a lot of autonomy. You can do what you want, when you want, how you want. Of course, that’s also the biggest problem. After working their whole lives, many retirees don’t know what to do with all the extra time. They thought retirement will be all about leisure. But, you can’t spend all day, every day in leisure. For me, I’d be bored if I watch TV, drink beer, and play games all day long. That’s too much relaxation. I need to feel useful and make some progress in life. Retirement doesn’t mean you have to stop personal growth. That’s the key to happiness. Yes, retirement should be gamified. You need to keep growing and accomplish some goals, especially for early retirees.

I notice the happiest retirees are the ones with a lot of things to do. They volunteer, play sports, work part-time, travel, and/or enroll in courses. The ones having a tough time are the opposite. They spend a lot of time at home without a lot of activities. That’s when depression sets in. Too much leisure time is bad for you. You’ll get bored and life will become bland.

I met up with some of my retired relatives. The happiest ones go out to do volunteer work or take care of their families. The unhappy retirees are the people that stay home and hang out with their pets. They have no goals.

Combat boredom

In Portland, I wasn’t bored at all. There are plenty of things for me to do. Actually, being a stay-at-home dad was a bit too much when RB40Jr was young. He needed constant attention and it was exhausting. Now that he’s older, the workload is just right. These days, I take him to school and to his various activities. I cook and deal with car and home maintenance. I also blog and worked a side gig. There are plenty of things to keep me busy at home.

However, all those activities are on hold while I’m in Thailand. Currently, Mrs. RB40 is taking on the role of a single mom and taking care of RB40Jr. The home and car maintenance are on hold until I get back. In Thailand, I don’t have a lot of obligations. I just help out my parents. There are a lot of free hours left in the days. Fortunately, I can still work on this blog online. Also, I’m making clips for our YouTube channel again. Those two things help fill the extra hours. The rest of the time, I can spend leisurely. I go out to eat, shopping, and see the sights. However, I’m starting to get bored of the sights after 2 months. Chiang Mai is a small city. You need a car to drive out a bit for more activities. Also, it isn’t as fun to travel around by myself. If my wife and kid were here, I’d be more enthusiastic about doing more fun stuff. I visited so many times and have done all the activities already.

The missing piece of the puzzle for me is social life. I’m terrible at making new friends. Fortunately, I have families and cousins here so that helped a bit. However, I really need to meet some new people if I want to stay in Chiang Mai long term. I’m not really sure how to do that, though. Maybe I can look up some ex-pat groups to see if I can join. I could go take some classes. That would be helpful. Anyway, I’d try harder if I was here longer and there are no Covid restrictions. I’ve got less than a month left so I’ll be home shortly. Maybe I’ll come for 6 months next time. 😉

What about you? If you’re retired, what do you do to fill up all those hours? You really need to have some activities and make some progress in life.

*Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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14 thoughts on “Retirement – A Blessing Or A Curse?”

  1. I will retire in 4 more weeks and I laugh every time someone at work hears the news and asks “what will you DOOOOO all day?” I think they are looking for ideas! The reality is you need to plan not just financially but also for what to do with all the time. Luckily I have friends and sisters who have been retired and I got to learn from them. Personal development and travel are top of my list for the first year. I rally enjoy your posts Joe and glad you are not retiring from your blog yet!

    Reply
  2. I’m not bored at all, but I also know that I make a deliberate effort to ensure that’s the case. I definitely wouldn’t swap retired life, but I can understand how some people might find it more difficult, particularly if they don’t realise that you get out of it depends on the thought and effort that you put in to it.

    Reply
  3. Both a blessing and a curse I’d say! Need some purpose for sure.

    As I age, I’m finding that my body isn’t keeping up with my softball and tennis activities. It was barely keeping up with me playing tennis 3X a week, but once I added softball in once a week and sometimes twice… I started getting injuries 🙁

    Need that mind body balance!

    Glad you’re busy away from all the chaos currently.

    Be well.

    Sam

    Reply
    • Wow, sorry to hear that. You’re still active so that’s great. Keep it up.
      We don’t do much in the winter due to the weather. Once it’s warmer, we’ll play more sports.
      I can’t wait.
      Thanks!

      Reply
  4. After a few years of early retirement, I finally feel like I’ve achieved a balance. I struggled with that for a long time because I felt I had too much I wanted to do and couldn’t fit it all in. Like you, a lot of that is attributed to raising our daughter as well.

    But we’re in the same boat that she’s getting older and I see the time she wants to hang out with us starting to dwindle (bittersweet!).

    I love early retirement and can’t wait to keep diving into my list of things I still want to do! 🙂

    Reply
    • That’s great! Glad to hear that you’re enjoying early retirement so much. I think your daughter will want to spend even less time with you guys after getting back to the US. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Absolutely nothing boring about retired life. I retired six years ago and it’s been awesome. My wife and I run three times a week with our running friends. We play pickleball three times a week with our pickleball friends. We play on multiple tennis teams with our tennis friends. We just got back from a week of hiking and mountain climbing and a 2,000 mile road trip to Texas. I’ve fished three of the last six days. I chair a college board and a charitable foundation board and those require a lot of work. I’m heading up a volunteer economic development team, trying to bring new high tech jobs to our area. I mentor college students. I also do a small amount of paid work as an expert witness. We are buying 25 acres on the side of a mountain this week and then will be building a vacation cabin. The last two days we went to the horse races with 16 friends to watch another acquaintance’s horse run. We have a trip to see two of our grown kids 700 miles away in a week. I’m helping my former employer plan a 100 year company anniversary celebration. Life is full and fabulous! It’s what you choose to make it. Don’t let life happen to you, go happen to life!

    Reply
  6. When I first left the workforce in 2008, I had a very hard time adjusting. Most people have a certain amount of structure throughout their life, whether it’s school or work. It’s strange when that goes away. I bet most people don’t know what it’s going to be like until it happens.

    All these years later, I’m still not great without structure. I’m a little better, but I’ve also added more traditional work with dog boarding and a part-time customer service job (in addition to the blog). I’ve always hated home and car maintenance, so that stuff has been a slog.

    Reply
    • I had a hard time in 2012 as well. That’s mainly due to our son, though. He needed to be supervised all the time when he was young. It was tiring.
      A certain amount of structure is good. That’s why I like to schedule my days with blog work, exercise, and various other activities. I’d probably try to pick up a new gig next year. We’ll take it easy in 2022.

      Reply
  7. Honestly, I’ve never been so busy…. and that’s probably because I’m the kind of person that keeps myself busy. There’s always a huge list of projects I’m working, daily, weekly, and monthly chores to get done, kids to take care of, another book to read, and so on.

    Honestly, who has time to play golf? Staying busy is a good thing however.

    Use the time you have well, folks.

    Reply
    • That’s great. I’m usually pretty busy at home as well. I’m just a bit out of my environment.
      Kids are a big part of it. I think life will change quite a lot after our son finishes high school.

      Reply

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