Will Early Retirement Make You Lazy?

Will Early Retirement Make You Lazy?How do you motivate yourself from being lazy in retirement? That’s one of the questions I got last week from a reader who is pondering early retirement. It is a valid question. Laziness is one of the seven deadly sins after all. Nobody wants the lazy label. We were all taught to avoid laziness when we were kids and it still rankles when someone calls me lazy. Some people may think early retirees are lazy because we are no longer a productive member of the workforce. However, early retirees have a lot of things to do too. I wish I could relax on the couch all day and catch up with Dr. Oz, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Will early retirement make you lazy?

Busy Day

I had a pretty busy day so I don’t feel lazy at all. This morning, I went to the duplex to replace 3 light switches, met the water heater installation guy, watered the plants, and cleaned out some junk from the basement. In the afternoon, I took RB40Jr swimming and then prepared dinner. Now, I’m writing a blog post while everyone else is sleeping. It doesn’t look like this is going to be a lazy retirement for me. Oh, I did grab a 20 minute nap while RB40Jr watched cartoons before we went swimming. My sleep pattern is a mess.

Full-time Work

How did I ever find time to work 50-60 hours per week? That’s easy — I paid other people to do all that stuff. We had a property manager for our rental. However, I am sure they would not have noticed the water heater leak until the water came cascading down the stairs. This water heater was for the 2nd floor unit. The property manager only checked the place thoroughly about once per year and nobody cares about your property as much as you do. I knew the water heater was old, so I kept checking it and sure enough, it started leaking while our tenant was on a 3 week vacation to Europe. Whew, we dodged a big repair bill there.

How about our kid? When I was working full time, we paid over $1,200 per month for full-time daycare. We dropped RB40Jr (he was a baby at the time) off at 7 am and picked him up around 6 pm. That’s a lot of time apart especially since he went to bed very early. Now, I spend a lot of time with him and it’s great. I’m teaching him to swim instead of sending him to swimming lessons. This summer, we went to playgrounds, listened to free concerts, played at the beach, explored museums, and tried various new food carts. It’s a lot of fun to spend time with him while he’s young and inquisitive. He’ll be a teenager soon and he will want a lot more independence then. He’s heading off to kindergarten next week so I will have more time soon. It will be interesting if I really can be more productive with the additional time.

Blogging also takes up a lot of time. I usually work on Retire by 40 for 2-4 hours per day. It is a part-time job. I would like it to be more passive at some point, but I’m comfortable with the pace for now. I cut back to 2 posts per week recently and it made a huge difference. It’s easier to write and I can relax a bit more. I was starting to run out of ideas when I was posting 3 times per week.

To-do List

These are the main things I do every day, and I have a ton of other things on my plate, too.

  • Domestic choresCooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and the occasional loads of laundry.
  • Healthcare – This summer has been a bit crazy. I felt like I was always taking myself, Junior, or my mom to see the doctor. We don’t have any big health issues, but there were a lot of little things.
  • Exercise – I’m trying to exercise more, but it’s hard to get to the gym. I need to go every weekday so it becomes a routine. I’ll do that after school starts.
  • Relaxing time – I have a bit more relaxing time now that I’m not working full-time. I’m reading more and I can watch a DVD all the way through once in a while.
  • School – I’m sure once school starts, we’d have more school related things to deal with. I’d probably need to help with homework, go to the PTA meetings, help with fundraising, and various other activities.
  • Manage our finances – I keep an eye on our bank accounts and investments, pay the bills on time, and keep a look out for investment opportunities.
  • Travel planning – We’re heading to San Diego next month and then Thailand later on. I need to book the Thailand trip soon.
  • Car – I fill up the gas tank and deal with car maintenance.
  • Home repairs – We haven’t had much of a problem at home lately so things are okay here. Thank goodness the recent fire in our building missed our place. Our HVAC is still broken, but we seem to be fine without it so it’s on my procrastination list.
  • Etc…

There are just a lot of things to do. When I was working, I could outsource some of these, put some off, and ignore the rest. I was also sleep deprived most of the time back then. It seems sleep is always the first thing to go when there is too much to do. Now that I’m not working full-time, I’m trying to take care of all these things myself. My days go by quickly. There are endless things to do and I don’t feel lazy at all.

Early Retirement Won’t Make You Lazy

Some people may think early retirement will lead to laziness, but I don’t agree. If you’re not lazy before retirement, you’ll find plenty of things to do in retirement. Retirement doesn’t change who you are. It just shuffles the to-do list a little bit. I have plenty of things to deal with and I am busy all the time. I don’t have to motivate myself to get out of bed and I don’t feel lazy at all. The great thing about retirement is that you can take a slower pace, put off some stuff until tomorrow, and still be active. I am procrastinating more, but as long as I’m not sitting on the couch all day watching the TV, I’m okay with that.

Do you think early retirement will lead to laziness?

Image by tookapic

The following two tabs change content below.
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.
Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you

69 thoughts on “Will Early Retirement Make You Lazy?”

  1. I think early retirement CAN make a person lazy if you let it. But speaking just for us, I have a WAAAAAAYYYY longer to do list for ER (which is still a year+ away!) than I do for our working life now. As you said, there are things we currently outsource that we’ll do ourselves once we’re retired, but more importantly, we can finally start attacking that list of passion projects that we’ve been putting off for years (climbing mountains, writing books, etc.). I think, if anything, WORKING makes us lazy, because we feel so exhausted at the end of each week that we just collapse into the couch. 🙂

    • ER is much more stable, that’s for sure. You work a little bit and rest a little bit. There is no time pressure. When you’re working full time, it’s full speed with everything. Even resting is exhausted resting. I like retirement much better. 🙂

  2. Couldn’t agree with you and disagree with your reader more. This is a perfect example of what early retirement is all about and why some of us want it so bad. It isn’t like you are just going to sit around, do nothing, watching the news all day. Early retirement allows you to do the things you want with those 50-60 hours versus being forced to work at a place for someone you have no interest in working for those hours. We are all motivated and driven people anyway, so the odds are low that we would be comfortable sitting around not doing anything. I love this post and hearing about how you spend your time, because it makes me want that future for myself. Some motivating, motivating stuff.

    Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats

  3. I am curious as to what early retiree DINKs do if they don’t have extensive travel plans. While I definitely plan to travel more in retirement, I have no desire to travel for months at a time. I’m an introvert and need time at home to recharge.

    • They probably do more in their communities. There are a lot of things you could do locally. Staying at home is good too. I love reading much more than going out to meet new people.

  4. Been early retired for over a year now, and ahhhhhh oh sorry going back to take another nap. Seriously being early retired is great but you will get bored and question yourself a lot unless you have some serious outside hobbies. Sitting at home gets old real quick

  5. I don’t think early retirement will make someone lazy at all. I see early retirement as a period of time where I don’t have stress, which doesn’t necessarily mean that I will turn lazy. I will always find something to do because I would go crazy if I don’t but the stress will be gone, which I hope will be fantastic.

    I hope your trip to San Diego is great 🙂

  6. Yes, I’m lazy and I like it. After many years of being full 24/7 committed to my job I now feel free to be lazy. I don’t push too much things to do on one day and I enjoy doing one thing at a time. I’m more relaxed. I don’t feel I must be very efficient so I take the time to try new things even that I know that my success rate is low. These days I can fail without being stressed. Last but not least, now I can take the time to make longer vacations. I’m back now from a full month vacation in Europe with my family and it was a great time.

  7. I believe it is important to create a lifestyle plan for yourself before jumping into ER. It’s important to have some structure around your day and you should always set goals (challenges) for yourself. Having said that I know somebody that took ER sleeps in past 12 everyday and when he wakes up most times he doesn’t know what day it is and doesn’t care to know. He also has the ability to tell what time of day it is by what is currently showing on t.v. That lifestyle works for him but I would be brain dead inside of a week. To each his own!

    • Thanks for sharing. luckily, most of our readers seem to be able to avoid that. I don’t think I can sit around long either. Right now, I have a ton of things to do.

  8. Since I retired, I have no free time. Seriously, I am always working on things I like and time goes so fast. I haven’t had time to get bored. It’s amazing! Though, it’s been only about month and a half since I retired, hope I stay excited and busy doing things I like.

  9. Good post RB40, but allow me to give a counter-perspective. I am a working but FI professional and this risk isn’t what I would call Lazy, that’s extreme for someone who had the discipline of reaching early retirement. The realistic risk is not being as efficient (‘losing the edge’) that you had while working. All the chores and activities you listed still need to get done while working, so we figure out a way to do them optimally in a compressed time period while working in a full time job. This calls for combination of time management, efficiency and even tactical outsourcing (as you are earning, you can afford to). All this keeps your skills ‘on the edge’ which in my view, won’t be the same if you had a lot of time to parse your work. This is perhaps what many type A achievers are concerned in early retirement. Regarding FIRE, in my view, achieving FI is mandatory but RE is optional! I have seen achieving FI takes away the work stress which is 90% of the battle anyway, and RE simply becomes one of the way forward after that milestone is reached.

    • Retireby40 is the 1st blog I’ve ever read (which I stumbled upon last week while searching for how Social Security will be affected if I retired early) and this is my very 1st comment. If there is a “like” button I’d click on it. I like everything you said here, I mean every point is right on, this is what prompted me to leave a comment.

    • Before FIRE was a word or a concept it was called “having Walking Papers” one could walk away from the uncomfortable rat race and take whatever path you wanted because you had gained financial independence. In the 80’s in my profession it was to be accomplished by age 45. Having this goal I think is more important psychologically than RE if you enjoy your profession. The conflict sbout laziness, i.e.productivity vs non-productivity bedevils the Type AOr B personality all their lives.

  10. Keep in mind I retired at 52! I find there is no shortage of things to do! What I do find is the options are endless! My children are grown! I do go to the gym 4 to 5 times a week spending up to 2 hours of various activities. My days are spent pursuing hobbies or what ever strikes me as interesting.

  11. Another perspective to consider is the one of a more senior person that has arrived or near retirement age.

    Early to that group might be over 50, 55, or 60. Retirement means a slow down and decompression from 20, 30, or 40 years of work.

    If lazy means decompression then by all means but that is not the case. The change in the thought process and priorities is enormous.

    A change in cadence is not necessarily lazy but it is definitely a change.

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s a big difference depending on your age. We’re still young and have a lot of things to do. I plan to slow way down when we hit 55.

  12. I think the reality is that the kind of person who works hard enough, saves, and invests to hit early retirement is the kind of person who’s never going to just kick back and watch TV all day. As you said, you’ll start taking over some of the tasks you outsourced to other people, plus you’ll have time to do some of the things you want to do (hobbies, working out, etc.).

    This is a problem I’m looking forward to dealing with in just a few years!

  13. It all depends on how we feel but not how others see our early retirement. I asked my dad a few years ago how he feels without work. He mentioned that he had been busy with many things. I just retired 25 days ago and still haven’t had any boring feeling. And we will move to Mexico this year and have to sell our properties. Once we move to Mexico, we will enroll a culinary school for 2 or 3 years. There are many things we can find to make our lives busy without work. I don’t regret my early retirement and would rather feel bored and lazy than being a corporate ant or bee to build a CEO’s castle.

  14. Here goes from a non-blogger: My hubby and I retired several months ago and we are now busy with things we choose to do. Key words- CHOOSE to do! When we worked we did what we were asked to do and not what we really wanted to do! Now we arise about 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. pray, eat breakfast, water our beautiful flowers, and work out at the gym for an hour 4 days a week . We babysit our 2 yr
    old grandson 3 days a week either full day or half a
    day depending on his school schedule and take him and pick him up. We actually get paid for
    babysitting cause our philosophy is if your getting
    paid we’re getting paid- if your not we’re not. We joined a Life group, attend church services, read for hours, surf the web and we chose to continue to pay for my fabulous cleaning and for car repairs. Everything else grass cutting, washing, cooking, shopping, gardening, house repairs, we do
    on our own. We are really blessed but definitely not LAZY!

  15. Early retirement won’t make anyone a complete lazy person, but will make most people lazier and more complacent compared to when they were working full time in my view. I don’t consider this necessary a bad thing, but rather a choice. It’s similar to someone deciding to work at a large company and stay at that one job versus someone who’s super ambitious and constantly seeks out new opportunities to move ahead. The former person can be described lazier than the latter, but both have decided to make a different choice.

    • I’ll have to agree with you. I’m a lot more relaxed and complacent than when I was working full time. Life is so much better, though.

  16. Dr. Oz? Walks like a quack, quacks like a quack… don’t get me started.

    I am sometimes prone to procrastination, and I’m guessing that won’t change much in retirement. Maybe I need to step away from the computer a little more, and get some of things done that I say I want to do. I’m not lazy, I’m just busy!


    • I don’t watch him. I just use the show as an example because my father in law watches it occasionally and pass on some advice. 🙂

  17. I guarantee that I’m more lazy now, due to full-time employment, than I would be if I was retired. After a long week, the last thing I want to do is additional work around the house or on projects that I enjoy more. Instead, I find myself recovering more and spending as much time with the family as I can, which never seems to be enough.

    More time allows you to do more of the things you find important.

  18. Don’t take this the wrong way, Joe, but when I look at your list of things you’re doing to keep busy, those are the same things that employed people do. They just do those things over lunch, before work, or during quick breaks from work. It’s not a matter of being lazy, but from what I’ve seen retired people just do things without much of a sense of urgency.

    This is one of the things that keeps me from retiring early. Financially it would be a piece of cake, but I talk to my mom who is retired and ask her what she did during her day. She talks about how busy it was, and describes making breakfast, doing laundry, picking up groceries, stopping by the church to fold newsletters, go to my sister’s piano performance… Busy? These are things that employed people do with their day as well.

    At the same time, I have watched her cognitive abilities decrease. I’ve seen this in other people post-retirement as well. I won’t try to attribute causation; obviously for most people old age occurs at the same time as retirement so one would expect correlation. But I do believe that a work environment forces one to be more flexible in their thinking which no doubt stimulates cognitive function.

    • My mom’s cognitive abilities have decreased also. I think that’s mainly age, though.
      You’re right that everyone has to do these things. It’s not any fun, though. Everyone is so frazzled all the time. I didn’t have any breathing room when I was working full time.

  19. I have always been a cyclist – for more than 25 years. But when I retired, I started to ride more with others on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and have even done some bike touring. I just completed a Seattle to Glacier National Park ride – more than 850 miles and 40,000 feet of climbing. Trip of a lifetime…so far…but many others to come!

  20. I think the first thing that comes out of every person’s mouth when you tell them that you’re going to retire early is “what are you just going to sit around all day?”

    I actually think I might be even be busier after I quit the 9-5 than I am now. The difference is that I’ll be things I actually want to be doing all day instead of sitting in an office wasting my life away!

    — Jim

    • Most people under estimate how busy life is. There are just so many things to do. Yes, I felt the same way when I was stuck in the office. Life was just draining out of me.

  21. I feel lazy, because I have so much free time and leisure time. But when I review my daily life I am certain I’m doing more physically and mentally than I was before retirement. For starters, there’s the 2 mile daily round trip walks to school to drop off the kids.

    Then there’s all the deferred maintenance and activities I never had time to tackle when I was working full time. Those are mostly leisure activities, but in terms of enjoying life, I count that as “productive”. I can’t recall a single time I’ve been bored enough to tune in to Dr. Oz or any other daytime TV. 🙂

    • Nice! I haven’t watched any daytime TV either. I’m looking forward to more diverse leisure activity with the kid. This summer was really good. We did a lot of fun stuff. We’ll do even more as he gets more adventurous.

  22. Very good article Joe. I am pretty sure that you are keeping busy in retirement and probably have no time to get lazy. ( with the kid, the blog, the rentals, the fam, exercising, hobbies, managing money)

    I do not understand why retirement would make anyone lazy. I just view it as one extended weekend that would be 7 days a week, rather than 2! There is so much to see, explore, learn!

    • I think the kid is the big time sink. If we didn’t have a kid, we’d have the option to be a little lazy. Now, it’s just busy all the time. No wonder parents love – back to school.

  23. Lazy-ness in retirement? I don’t think so. Like you, I have a list of 6 things that need to be done before noon. I love it that I can run errands and get things done between rush hour traffic. Same chores, responsibilities as before, just not so stressed over trying to get it all done.
    Oh, and watch out w/a kid in school. You will be busy w/that, trust me. Help when you can, but learn to “just say no” and let other parents step up to the plate and help. Teachers LOVE to see dad’s help out in class, field trips. Have fun!

    • Wow, that’s a lot of stuff to get done before noon. I’d be happy with 3 things per day. I really hate rush hour traffic so I agree with you point about errands.
      I’m already dreading school. I just put my email on the list and I’ll try to help out a little bit.

  24. I’m a little worried I will become “lazy” when I quit working, but I think my definition of lazy is different than most. I often feel like I’m being lazy now, but all my friends comment on how productive I am.
    My biggest concern in retirement is not accomplishing the entrepreneurial goals I’ve set for myself. I have a feeling the issue will be more distraction than laziness. With a wife and kid at home, there’s a good chance I won’t have a lot of time to focus.
    I plan to establish set times where I can work distraction free and hopefully get into a good flow state. We’ll see how that goes.

    • That’s an interesting view. It’s great to have entrepreneurial goals. It will keep you busy and help you focus for years. You have to put your family first, though. Isn’t that why you want to retire early?

  25. I retired at 44 (two years ago) and am just as busy now as I was when working fulltime! 🙂 Of course it’s a different sort of busy, but still rather active. Besides helping people with personal finance and small business issues (I mentor and coach), we also volunteer at our church and the local homeless shelter. Mornings are filled with a long workout each day, and evenings often involve a long walk when the weather is cool enough.

    You do need to make effort though to keep busy – it isn’t automatic. People who aren’t self-motivated might find themselves sitting in front of the TV all day. Of course non-motivated people aren’t as likely to hit early retirement either.

    • Those are some great ways to give back. Nice job.
      I don’t feel like I need to make extra effort to keep busy. Life is already so busy. I need to make extra effort to relax. 🙂 I guess I’m in that busy phase. Once the kid is grown up, I think we’d slow down a lot.

  26. Hi Joe! I started a mini early retirement in May and I was just as busy as I was working full-time. There are so many projects you put off when you are working (or you hire them out!) I totally agree with this – “nobody cares about your property as much as you do” – and we manage our own rentals too. We have three new tenants starting next week, so there is always work to be done. I just went back to full-time work (temporary) and I have had to set so many things aside! I can’t wait to get back to doing the things I want to do. I’m not worried at all about laziness – just prioritizing all the things I want to do 🙂

  27. Not at all! I even wrote a post about it: http://www.piasmyth.com/2016/07/12/means-want-less/

    I think there’s a societal confusion between working and self-worth. Why is having a job the only socially acceptable way to contribute to society and our families? There are other ways to contribute to the world and be an active citizen.

    Plus, as I point out in my article, if you’re motivated enough to work hard enough to retire early, it’s unlikely that you’ll completely take your foot off the gas at that point and do nothing but watch reruns on TV. And even if you did, good for you – who are we to judge?

  28. “If you’re not lazy before retirement, you’ll find plenty of things to do in retirement.” This makes a lot of sense. It seems like having more time, like having more money, amplifies your personality rather than changing who you are.

    • I’m not sure about the amplifying effect. I’m pretty much the same person as I always was, just a bit more relaxed.

  29. For early retirees, I can never see this being a problem. For more traditional ages of retirement, I can see a tendency to fall into the traps of extreme relaxation that can lead down the road to inactivity, period.

    For those who retire with kids at a young age (pre-teen), it is impossible not to be busy. Particularly through the school’s out weeks.

    We hope to the be able to tackle many of the home projects that we would normally defer to contractors. Between that, organizing the kids activities, new hobbies and our travel plans, I think we will be quite the busy family. On our terms though and our timelines.

    • I see your point about traditional retirement. Yeap, kids are so busy these days. One of my kid’s friend is already joining the soccer league. I think kindergarten is way too young for organize sports.

  30. It’s a great question and I think the answer is that you will be who you are before retirement and after! I was laid off from work at the end of 2014 and ended up being home for three months between jobs. I had an emergency fund and an emergency plan, so I was not stressed out.

    Each morning I still got up at 5:30am had a cup of coffee and went the gym to workout. Then came home, got ready for the day and started getting things done. Researching businesses to buy, talking to brokers, handling our finances, fixing things up around the house. Taking the dog for a walk, help with chores (my wife stays home with the kids). And squeezing in some guitar practice. Then picking the kids up from the bus stop at 2:30pm.

    I was never able to get everything done that I wanted each day because I was so busy – it was fantastic and it made me look forward to early retirement even more than I already was!

    • That’s a great preview for early retirement. There are so many things to do in the modern age. Life is busy and that’s good. I don’t think we could handle a leisurely retirement.

  31. Your early retirement doesn’t sound lazy at all! It’s amazing how the to do list is always there and natural “busy bodies” find things to do.

    I definitely don’t see myself getting lazy in early retirement. I’ll fill it with fun hobbies plus have more time to take care of myself by exercising more and preparing good food. I also look forward to reading more. It’s hard to find the time these days but I’ve always enjoyed various books and magazines.

    And when I hit early retirement, what I expect to really keep me busy is kids, just like you RB40. It’ll be great spending as much time as I can with them.

  32. Yeah, I’ve never been so busy! Early Retirement can be exhausting some days!

    Sure, there are some days when I need to recharge my batteries and I accomplish practically nothing. It feels pretty good — There’s no boss to report to, and no work deadlines. I can take a rest when I need one!

    I keep myself busy with projects. I’m always building something, or fixing something…and the repair jobs around the house never seem to end!

  33. Thankfully I know the answer… NO! 😉

    Similar to you, Joe, my days are completely filled up. The only difference from pre-retirement is now is it’s 100% filled with things I choose to do vs. “have to” do’s.

    I’ve got a similar list to yours including: Daddy duties, cooking, house chores, late night blogging, financial coaching, vacation planning, hanging out with friends and neighbors, etc!

    When I was much younger I probably imagined sitting on the beach all day in early retirement, but that gets really old really fast. Progress is the key to happiness! 🙂

    • Exactly! Well, most of the things I’m doing are choose to do. I still have to fix the broken stuff at the rental. I agree. Staying busy and making progress is the key to happiness.

  34. My father says the exact same thing! He’s been retired for almost a year and he’s pretty busy. My mom is still working, so he’s been taking care of all things related to the house (cooking, maintenance, etc.) He also spends a lot of time on health-related things like exercising, meditating, and yoga. He was getting roped into a lot of pet sitting jobs for various friends, but I think he put a stop to that. Haha.

    • That’s great! Does people ever question if he’s really retired because your mom is still working? 🙂
      I get that all the time. I would love to spend a little more time on meditation and yoga. It’s good for your head. Nice job putting himself ahead of other people!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.