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.
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!
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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