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“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…
In a sea of productivity/purpose enthusiasts on social media, I feel like I'm the lone voice that embraces laziness and leisure as a way of life.
— Justin RootofGood (@RootofGoodBlog) April 30, 2019
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…
Don't write that post! Watch a movie or do something unproductive.
Then write a post about it. Liberating? Anxiety inducing? Still feel guilty afterward?
FYI it took me a good 6 months to get to the "embracing laziness" stage.
— Justin RootofGood (@RootofGoodBlog) May 1, 2019
Hmm, do something unproductive, eh? A laziness challenge… I like it!
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…
- Working on the latest Route to Retire post
- Taking photos and posting crap to sell on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor
- Applying for Global Entry
- Paying bills
- Blah, blah, blah…
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
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!!
*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!