What would you do if you retired early? Let’s check the available options and get you some ideas that make you very excited about your retirement!
Many people don’t know what they want to do once they reach retirement. If you’re seriously working towards financial independence and retire early, you should outline what you want to do in retirement before you reach it.
Why? You will have a lot of time on your hands to do the things you enjoy. Besides that, retirement is quite radical. Your job which has kept you busy for many years, all of a sudden is not there anymore. I think it’s similar to a stock market crash – you don’t know how you will react until you actually experience it.
There are many things that I would love to do once I retire. For the first years of retirement, it’s very clear to me what I want to do. After that, things started to get vague. I decided to dedicate an entire post on it, as kind of a thought experiment.
Thinking about the things that will change in early retirement, the things I would like to do more of, the things I would like to skip (except for work obviously), and how I plan to spend my days.
Think about it: what would you do if you retired early?
I Would Travel More
One thing that has always fulfilled me is travel. I accidentally had 8 months of mini-retirement when I graduated university, where I traveled in South America for four months and tasted what early retirement was like.
Besides that, I negotiated a four-month mini-retirement with my current employer. I will go to Central America this time, explore together with my partner (after that we’re planning to move in together, so radical changes ahead!). I’m very much looking forward to this travel and I’m sure that I will have the time of my life. Just to let you know, there are other ways of taking a mini-retirement than travel, travel is just my personal preference.
I enjoy traveling a lot, it gives me the same sense of freedom that I’m hoping to accomplish by retiring early.
When I have a few months to see a specific set of countries, I am traveling relatively fast. I am spending about a month in any given country. When I’m retired, I would love to travel slow. Spend months in one country, explore, do some housesitting, and really try to get a feeling of the country and the culture before leaving.
Perhaps I will go and live in some of these countries for a few years, who knows!
I am sure that it will keep my expected costs lower compared to when I’m in the Netherlands since the Netherlands is such an expensive country. I plan to go travel through South America, Patagonia, Asia, and more. When I’m traveling through more expensive countries, I will be sure to budget that as well.
I Would Be Outside More
I love the mountains. Mountains make me so happy. They’re so majestic, beautiful, and green. Being out in nature and hiking through the mountains is something that I enjoy like nothing else. When I’m traveling I always go on multi-day hikes and hike all day every day.
In the spring and summer in the Netherlands, I also go outside more. I try to make my 8,000 steps per day, by walking or running when I feel like it. I am lucky to live in the east part of the Netherlands, where there is lots of green and nature.
I can walk for 10 minutes one way and I’m in a beautiful park with lots of dogs. When I walk 5 minutes the other way, I’m in a forest. While I’m always doing a daily lunch walk when I’m in the office, I would love to go outside more. Being in nature really recharges me and gives me the energy to continue the day.
In winter, going outside is a lot harder. It gets dark at 5 pm, so when I come home from work it’s already dark. If it’s dark it’s a lot less attractive to actually go outside. It would be nice if I could enjoy the daylight hours more during that season.
I Would Read More
I have always liked to read. When I was a kid, I would go to the library twice per week. I would take the maximum amount of ten books every time that I went. Sometimes I returned the same day to get new books and to hand in the ones that I read. When I was 9 years old, I had read all the books in the kids’ section and moved on towards adult books. With approval from my librarian of course.
Towards the end of high school, that faded. My confidence was low and it wasn’t ‘cool’ to read a lot of books. When I went to university I stopped reading for fun at all, simply because I had enough to read when I was going to classes and writing papers.
Since I went to university, I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. I still love to read when I can, which is mostly when I go on holiday. I love to write book reviews for the blog, so far I’ve only reviewed Rich Dad Poor Dad and 10X Thinking. I am sure I can do better.
I will put reviewing books on my goal list for next month, that way I’m sure it will get done!
I Would Cook More
When I was studying at university, I had my fit phase. I was intermittent fasting, going to the gym 5-6x per week, and watching what I was putting in my body. I enjoyed cooking and baking, and I did it a lot. I had so much free time since attending lectures wasn’t mandatory, which I used to go to the gym and make happy healthy food.
I would love to get more into the cooking vibe again and make healthy and delicious meals. Now I’m just a very lazy cook, that cooks twice per week and eats those meals the entire week. It keeps my grocery budget under $70 per month, which is fast-tracking me to early retirement – kinda.
I still wouldn’t cook every day, since it’s not a big hobby of mine, but I would spend more time making meals that are delicious and healthy.
I Would Work Out More
I love working out. Okay, let me reframe that. I love how working out makes me feel. Actually going to the gym is one of the hardest things. I will sit on my bed and try to talk myself out of it. I should convince myself that it’s good for me, I will feel better afterward, and more.
The moment I’m in the gym and working out, I feel great. The moment I walk home I feel like my muscles can give out any moment. The moment I get home I’m okay and happy that I went.
That’s my cycle of going to the gym now.
When I was studying and I had sufficient time for everything, I would love to go to the gym first thing in the morning without having to drag myself to go. I would wake up at 8 am, be in the gym by 9 am, and do a fasted workout. I would go home, make some food to take to university, and chill at home for a bit.
Basically what I want is that university life back. Just doing what you want, when you want it, having the time of your life, visiting new places, taking good care of yourself, and having time left for whatever else you want to do in life.
I Would Spend More Time On The Blog
I’m happy that these days, I can find time to write posts three times per week for the blog. It’s something that I’m working hard for, waking up every day at 6 am. Writing on my blog fulfills me in a way that my day job cannot, that’s why I’m very grateful to have started blogging in the first place.
If you’re still on the fence about starting a blog, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Starting a blog just takes 15 minutes of your time. Blogging is an amazing way to keep you accountable for your goals and connect with like-minded people at the same time.
If I’m retired, I would probably spend much more time on the blog. Rewriting old posts, increasing social media presence, making opt-in goodies, and more. I can think of a lot of things I could improve on the blog, but I would need another 40 hours per week to do that. That’s why it would be great to work on that during retirement.
I Would Game More
You know I love Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon. I also love League of Legends and Super Mario Bros. I have played many computer games over the years, which is absolutely great!
It’s a great way to relax and to set your mind to something else. It’s not something that I want to do non-stop for days (probably I will in the first few weeks), but it’s something that I would like to spend a little more time on.
Finding My Jam – What Would You Do If You Retired Early?
What I outlined here is only my expectation of retirement at this moment. As I’m not close to retiring any time soon, things can change a lot. I can find new hobbies, my health can change, I may actually find a job I like (one can dream right?!). Many different things can happen in the time between now and actual retirement.
Most important for me is to find my jam – what I want to do in early retirement is simply follow joy. I will do more of what I love and less of what I don’t love.
That’s basically how I’m handling life right now as well. Getting rid of some of the things that I don’t love, like my job, is a process. In the meanwhile, I’m trying different jobs in different fields and I’ll see what comes up. In general, I’m saying no to things that don’t bring me joy.
Writing this article makes me even more impatient on the road to financial independence. Knowing that I’ll get there, no matter what things will happen, gives me some peace. I just want to do all the things that I enjoy, skipping the work stuff.
I would love to have some more time to do the things that I enjoy. Don’t we all want that? I’m excited to hear from you about the things that you would like to do if you retire early.
What would you like to do if you retired early?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
- Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
- Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
- Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.