Striving to Be (Somewhat) Lazy in Early Retirement

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Striving to Be (Somewhat) Lazy in Early Retirement“Lazy” is a word I sometimes struggle with.  I like to be doing something productive or I feel guilty.

That productivity might have been something most of us are familiar with like mowing the lawn or staining the deck.  It also might be something smaller like organizing and sharing photos with friends and family on Google Photos.*

Regardless of what it is, I have a hard time sitting still and doing nothing.  I can’t seem to just say, “You know what – I’m going to take a break and just watch a movie right now.”

The exception to this guilt is when we have something scheduled in our plans like a night out or a vacation.  When I’m taking time off from “work”, then I try to give myself a free pass to be a little lax.

But if I’m at home, I’ve spent most of my life always pushing forward.  That can be a good quality to have in that it can help you do freaky things in life like retire early (that’s an awesome one!).

However, it can also be a bit of a hindrance for both you and your spouse in that you won’t just chill the #$%^ out!


Finding balance after leaving work

When I left my job at the end of 2018, I was shocked by how shook-up things were for me for quite a bit.  I had big plans to get all sorts of tasks done, but I also wanted to spend a lot more time with my family.

Time was still a finite resource for me just like anyone else.  But it was a mind twist for me and I couldn’t wrap my arms around it.

Not only did I struggle to find a routine, but I couldn’t help feeling like I wasn’t getting enough done.

Granted, we had a little more on our plates as we had to work on selling off everything we owned before we could move to Panama.  That became a huge endeavor that sucked up even more of our limited resource.  Thank you Trello for helping with keeping us organized in this project!

Regardless, I didn’t feel like I could spare any downtime.  Even gaining 48 hours every week after leaving my job and commute time behind, I still couldn’t take the time to really relax.


Learning to be lazy from a professional

Funny enough, while I was grappling with this dilemma, I stumbled across a tweet from Justin from Root of Good.  Justin’s well-known and respected in the FIRE community.  He retired at 33 in 2013 and now spends his time with his family in North Carolina just enjoying life and doing a lot of traveling.

Anyway, here was the tweet that I happened to catch a couple of months ago…

This was a post he had written a few months before and I had even commented on it back then.  But, I needed a little refresher, so I went and checked it out again after seeing the tweet – Doing Nothing Is Okay – No Apology Required.

It resonated a lot more with me with where I was at and I loved everything in it.  “No apology required” is absolutely right.  We have this mindset in this country that if you’re not being productive, you’re a drag on society and you’re doing things wrong.

But here’s a guy who basically said, “Look, I did all the right things with my money and now I want to enjoy life without any guilt!”

And that’s what he does.  Deep admiration for Justin and I let him know on Twitter where I was at mentally.  He responded with an interesting challenge…

Hmm, do something unproductive, eh?  A laziness challenge… I like it!

Striving to Be (Somewhat) Lazy in Early Retirement


The lazy fail

Let’s skip right to – I failed at the mission.  That conversation was over two months ago and I just couldn’t “find the time” to simply sit down and watch a movie while not doing anything else.

Don’t get me wrong, I watched plenty of shows and movies along the way.  But I found myself always doing something at the same time…

In other words, I couldn’t escape the feeling that it would be time wasted if I wasn’t doing something else at the same time.

With that said, when I was with Lisa and Faith, I was able to sometimes just be lazy and watch a movie or show with them.  But that’s different because that wasn’t unproductive – I was spending quality time with the family.


Why I failed

Being lazy is frowned upon by most of us in this country.  But being able to just not do anything worthwhile every now and again is a great way to just let go and unwind.

Here’s why I think I wasn’t successful in my mission:

1) It’s been a little more than six months of retirement and there’s definitely some undoing of the business world that I need to let go of.  We’re all taught to work, work, work, and that’s been something that I’ve always felt was important.  Working hard is essential to being successful (along with knowing the right people!).

2) We’re not just retired and done.  With our July adventure rolling along right now and the upcoming move to Panama in August on its way, a lot of @#$%^’s not yet the norm for us.  Retiring was just one step in our grand plan and we haven’t really had time to just chill yet.

3) Faith. My daughter was the catalyst for me retiring in the first place.  I want to spend as much time with her as she’ll let me before she becomes a teenager in a few years and hates me for a while.  That means I lose a lot of productivity time with the benefit of gaining more family time.  I’ll take that any day, but it also means I have less time to balance getting other things rolling that I want to.


I’m still acting lazy in a way I never have before

Half lazy... half productive!
A bar at Kelleys Island… a little bit of laziness and a little bit of productivity!

I don’t want to be unproductive all the time, but I do want to enjoy my retirement as well.  Balancing “work” and fun has always my toughest hurdle to overcome.

As far as productivity goes, I have plans to build up the blog more, write books, try new things, and maybe start volunteering.  And I will get all these things done – it’s just going to come at a much slower pace than I first envisioned.

But early retirement has also given me the freedom and privilege to spend more time with my family.  When we’re together doing whatever – walking, going to the zoo, swimming, playing board games, watching a movie, etc. – there’s no more guilt like there used to be.  And THAT’s an amazing feeling.

However, when there’s time for myself where I could just be lazy, that’s where the problem comes into play.  I can’t help but feel guilty if I’m not doing something productive when it’s “me” time.

And right now, with so much going on in our July adventure, I’m spending more time doing unproductive activities than I ever have before…

  • Hanging out and swimming at Kelleys Island
  • Enjoying the water slides with my daughter at Great Wolf Lodge
  • Experiencing the thrill of all the Cedar Point coasters as a family

It’s been truly amazing and I can’t wait to give you a wrap-up of that in the next couple of weeks.  And it hasn’t been too lazy either – I made the whole family take the few flights of steps every time we left or came back to the room at Great Wolf Lodge.  And we ended up walking just short of 11 miles at Cedar Point in one day!

I do think that once we get to Panama and get settled, things will fall into place a little better.  I need a routine for the most part and we’ll establish one there.  Maybe I’ll work on some of my productive goals as a habit when Faith is working on her homeschooling class work, for example.

For whatever reason though, I’m just feeling off-balance right now.  I so want to be good at being at least a little bit lazy, but I seem to be failing the mission!  One day soon though… one day!


Do you think it’s Ok to be lazy in early retirement?


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

*I’ve realized that a lot of folks don’t realize that they can back up ALL their photos and videos FOR FREE with Google Photos.  Whether you have an Android phone or my nemesis, the iPhone, they offer an app that will do this for you automatically.

Set the backup option in the app to High Quality and it’ll ensure all your photos and videos are always backed up.  You need an app like this in the event you break or lose your phone and Google Photos is completely free and truly awesome!

You know you wanna share this!!

20 thoughts on “Striving to Be (Somewhat) Lazy in Early Retirement”

  1. Turning down the pace of life and being lazy are not the same thing. I’ve been trying my best to do the former. I’m also practicing napping. Every cell in my body is telling me that these new practices are the way to go 🙂

  2. I am looking forward to being a little lazy! My brain still needs some stimulation, and I recently read that 8 hours a week is all you need for the mental benefits of working, which I’m pretty sure I can cover via blogging and homeschooling and volunteering and etc etc. The over scheduled existence is wearing me down and I’m excited for a day to just wander the aisles at the grocery store again.

  3. Really enjoy hearing about your story. I remember you were on FireDrill podcast a while back and my ears perked up when you talked about international health insurance. And then I heard you on ChooseFI, and your personal story at the end really resonated with me.

    I’ve been playing at the idea of living abroad with my family a year or so before our future newborn goes to kindergarten.

    My wife and I met when I was living/working in Shanghai for 7 years, so international life is not so foreign to me.

    But doing it with a young child is the wildcard!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures.

    1. Thanks, Adrian! You’re not kidding on the child factor being the wildcard in living internationally. It takes a lot more planning to do than you would need to otherwise. It would simplify things dramatically if you’re able to do that before school starts rolling for your child (congrats on that, btw!). But either way, I think it’ll be quite an adventure. Even with the planning of homeschooling, we’re looking forward to just doing something so culturally different.

      Good luck to you!!

  4. Everyone has to find the right balance for themselves. For me, it’s blogging a bit, being a dad, doing DIY projects, reading, watching movies, and other stuff. You just have to find your own sweet spot. I could have worked a lot more to make my blog more successful, but I was too lazy for that. I’m retired, after all. Good luck!
    BTW, I think Justin and GCC are the 2 kings of laziness. I hope to get there someday. 😀

    1. Funny enough, I look at your blog as being hugely successful! I’m sure I’ll find the sweet spot like you have over time. Not sure if we’ll ever get to the royal thrones like Justin and GCC, but we can always keep trying! 😉

  5. Well I think I know why you are off balance. It is an identity thing. We all wear multiple faces/identities. Some are more important than others. When we lose one it takes a while to create a new identity. And I don’t think there is anything with being lazy for the moment. However, I think human beings want and need to have something to strive for, something to tell the world that we were here. For some that is their family, others it is work, but for many of us, including me, we do too much. That is where I am struggling right now. You will figure it out Jim!

    1. That makes a lot of sense, Jason. I actually just wrapped up next week’s post where I dive a little more into exactly what you’re saying. Hang in there and I hope you figure out a better balance on trying not to do too much!

  6. hey man, i’m lazy and i’m still working. no kids and years of saying “no” to stuff has freed up a lot of my time, though. if i want to watch an entire 3 hour baseball game or catch up i’m ray donovan, then i do it. it helps being married to an independent woman who had her own interests and stuff to do.

    i always say that your guests will never know that you had time to have the house cleaner or the dinner fancier and more time consuming if you chose to just not do some of the stuff.

  7. I’m targeting end of 2020 for early retirement. I have the following posted on my monitor at work to remind we what I’m working toward:

    “Freedom -the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”

    As long as you are work, are married, have friends or any other responsibilities in life, you probably can’t fully realize that definition. I think of it like world peace, just because it’s a goal that feels unattainable, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be something we strive for.

    For me, FIRE is all about getting closer to freedom. I think this is what you are talking about when you talk about trying to be more lazy.

    Enjoy and keep your updates coming!

    1. Congrats on getting closer to that FIRE dream! I have to say that those last few months seemed to drag a lot longer for me, but hopefully, you don’t have the same feeling. The freedom is definitely priceless!

  8. Man I so relate to this post! Like right now for example, even when I’m technically relaxing, I’m reading FIRE Blogs in the hopes of learning something and/or getting inspired, and I also have two loads of laundry going.
    Maybe some of us just have naturally more anxious personalities, and being productive is sort of soothing. But I also know that too much productivity is, well, counter-productive, because it leads to getting burned out. Trying to always be productive is like overtraining in sports — it’s good to exercise, but you also need a lot of downtime for your body to recover. Training too much is just as bad for your body as training too little.
    So each day I try to remind myself that some genuine lazy downtime — especially napping — is actually very productive. It’s the time when body, mind and spirit can regenerate and grow stronger. Thus, paradoxically lazy time actually becomes productive time, because it’s helping you grown stronger and more capable for the times you actually need to be productive! Maybe if you think of it that way it will make it easier to be lazy!

    1. Training too much is just as bad for your body as training too little.

      Great way to put it, Adam! On that same front, I haven’t had time to workout for about a week now because we’ve had too much going on – fun stuff, but all-day events. I need to get back on that wagon and maybe it’ll make me tired enough to want to be lazy! 😉

  9. I like this post Jim, because it reminds me a little of me from a few years ago. After leaving work, I used to worry that I wasn’t getting enough done or being productive enough. I used to stay up late trying to get a blog post out the next day.

    You know what? The five readers of my blog survived just fine with that post being a day late. I was stressing myself out over nothing.

    Letting things slide a little was a giant no-no in the workplace, but it took me awhile to figure out it is entirely acceptable for a retired guy!

  10. Well this is somewhat of a disconcerting read as someone who always feels uncomfortable whenever I’m unproductive for a certain amount of time. I think I thought that in retirement, ‘laziness’, would just come to me. Now I know, I’ll have the same struggles 🙂

    I think the feeling has a lot to do with our work culture in America and also with how we were raised. My folks were workaholics so I probably absorbed that. I do the best I can to balance, but I think some people struggle with feeling lazy more than others. One of my closest friends feels beyond comfortable being indulgent and lazy.

    1. Haha, don’t worry, it seems to get a little easier over time. The weird thing is that it takes effort for folks like us to actually make it happen. I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable just sitting on my butt all day, but I can now take a step back and watch a movie or something and not feel too guilty! 🙂

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