Five Things I’ll Miss About Work When I Retire Early

In the niche world of Early Retirement and Financial Independence writing, the themes seem to be focused endlessly on the things we will enjoy about leaving the full-time work force world of being a wage slave.  I too, have these feelings each morning I am forced to be on a 10 minute conference call, where we discuss our plans for the day (inevitably this 10 minute call lasts 15-30 minutes).

Recently, though, between analyzing our investments and our realization that I can retire today, I have been reflecting on my last six years at my current employer.  I want to detail all of the things that I MAY miss about this job, and more general, about the work world (perhaps I won’t… this is just how I feel right now).

Five Things I MAY miss about a full-time job once I’m early retired

  1. Camaraderie
That’s me on the left, clowning around with a co worker instead of working

In College, those of us NOT in Fraternities or Sororities used to joke that joining a fraternity was like paying to have friends.  In the work world, this paradigm is flipped upside down.  Instead of paying to have friends, you get paid to have friends.  These aren’t your true peeps or soul mates, say as your “bestie” or your old college friend, but they are friendships and kinship none the less.  On any given morning, I can walk into my job, say hello to five different people, discuss our personal lives, gossip about our work, complain about our jobs.  This type of social interaction is embedded in the work world.  Every job I have ever had, working for the man, has included a set menu of somewhat to very interesting people to socialize with.  I imagine not having this will require a new way of thinking.  Thank God I’m introverted by nature, which should make the transition much easier.

2.  Work Vacations

Traveling for work in Durham, NC, a view from the rooftop bar at night

Some people call this traveling for work.  In fact, traveling excessively for work is tiresome, annoying, and generally the furthest thing from a vacation of leisure and sunbathing.  However, my situation is a bit different.  For my job, I am required only to travel on an infrequent basis, such as once per quarter.  Some Cities I have visited at my current job, are Denver, San Diego, Boston, Durham, Miami and even Nashville, which is close to where I live.  The sleeping on work trips is awful, but the food, such as nice steak dinners with wine and drinks, are exceptional.  A friend of mine from college, each time I travel, sends me a text asking about my “work vacations.”  Great food, work funded free alcoholic drinks, and usually staying in a Downtown area with lots to do leave a lot of evidence to an outsider that I may, indeed, be on vacation.

Part of my work duties, in Miami, FL, was to go on a boat cruise.

Great food, work funded free alcoholic drinks, and usually staying in a Downtown area with lots to do leave a lot of evidence to an outsider that I may, indeed, be on vacation.


3.  Routine

Everyday I wake up in the morning and have somewhere to go.  Each morning, after my bike commute, I go up in the elevator and walk to my office on the 6th floor.  Each day I arrive, I log into our investment accounts to see where my early retirement plans stand.  Throughout any given day, I may email, talk to customers (if it can’t be avoided), help colleagues out with work related matters, attend mind numb-ing boring management team meetings, and try to leave promptly by 5pm.  In early retirement, my schedule will be more my own.  I may develop a new routine I love, such as writing this blog or volunteering at the kid’s public school, but for now that routine is unknown.  For the last six years at this job, my routine of comfort has been nearly the same.

4.  Extreme Sense of Joy that out sized saving and investing brings

The celebration after looking at my 401(k) balance

As Financial Samurai wrote about recently on his blog, most early retirees are extreme savers and investors.  It’s a prerequisite of being able to retire at a non conformists age (prior to ages 59.5-65).  As addicts of saving and investing, we feel like we just can’t stop.  It’s not like there is a light switch on us that can just be flipped from “saver” to “spender.”  There also are no 12 step programs, or beach retreats that can cure us of this affliction.  When I early retire, my income will drop.  In fact, it will drop like a rock.  This also means that our net worth gains will slow down.  We will be in withdrawal mode, as opposed to hyper growth mode.  I picture having some income during early retirement, either through stints of part-time or seasonal work, or through unforeseen opportunities.  Either way, my investment additions will take an immediate dip, probably to zero, before I ever add back to the existing stash.  I am hopeful that having time to focus on frugality efforts will help bring new joy to this area of my brain.

5.  My Daily Commute

Arriving at the office on a cold day, happy and awake

For some, this will be the first thing that comes to mind that they won’t miss when they retire.  However, for the last 3-4 years at my current job, I have been bike commuting on a near daily basis.  The fresh air and exercise I receive daily, both to and from work, is something I now take for granted.  Bike commuting, although not for everyone, has made me a fitter, healthier and happier person.  I imagine that once I am no longer doing this daily that I will miss it.  I am hopeful that more frequent hiking will become my new fitness love.

The Final Note

After having read this, you may get the impression that I really shouldn’t or don’t want to retire.  That is not the case at all.  Being more free to do as I want, when I want, and all the downsides of working far outweigh the benefits I listed above.  However, I think being brutally honest about our feelings helps us better assess what we want out of life.  There are definitely things I will miss about the “real world” of a corporate job.  Ergo, I am not a glass half full kind of person.  I really am looking forward to the benefits that retiring early will bring to me and my family.

What types of things do you think you will miss once you retire early?  What keeps you, other than money, from retiring early?  

8 comments

  1. I think I’ll miss routine a lot too. I love my commute, listening to sports radio, having that first cup of coffee when I get here, chit chat for a couple of minutes about what show I watched last night and the first few minutes of peace and quite (usually) when I brainstorm what tasks I need to do for the day.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. It’s strange how I never thought I would miss so many things, until I actually started thinking about pulling the ER trigger soon. I suppose it’s no different than getting a new job, you start to think about all the things you’ll miss about the old one.

  2. The only thing I really miss is the out sized saving. 🙂
    I don’t miss any of the other things. Life is so much better now that I rarely think about that phase in my life.
    Oh, I miss going to the gym at lunch when I was working. It was free and they had a very good yoga instructor. However, I’m getting back into the workout routine again now that our kid is in school. Can’t think of anything else really.

  3. Ahh I’m with you on valuing the camaraderie. I’m also an introvert, but in my last office, I built quite a few great relationships with my coworkers. I just switched jobs and miss that camaraderie more than I had thought I would. Great post!

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