The “Bad Habits Be-Gone In Early Retirement” List

A quick post today to give myself some accountability in the future. I spend a lot of time thinking about what life will be like once I no longer have to work. So many of my thoughts begin, “When I’m retired…..”

Time to put my money where my mouth is. These are some of the ways that my life will change for the better once I no longer have the stresses and strains of a full-time job.

Phone Addiction

I use my phone for many things, so I have no intention of eliminating it altogether. Reading the news in bed each morning with the first coffee of the day is one of life’s simple pleasures (and no different to reading a newspaper). Checking bank and investment account balances, managing my rentals, listening to podcasts while I walk the dog or to the radio while I cook – life would be very different without it.

But the incessant checking of email can and will be a thing of the past. Without the constant work email, that should be quite easy. Scrolling through Twitter 5 times an hour and revisiting the news sites several times a day might be a more difficult habit to break!

“When I am retired…” I am determined that the extra precious time I have on my hands won’t be lost to more scrolling through cyberspace.

Lack of Exercise

My dog ensures that I do at least walk for 40 minutes a day, probably more than the average office slave. But I don’t do any form of exercise that raises my heart rate or leaves me out of breath. I couldn’t run to the end of the road without getting a stitch. As I get older, I worry more about everything my lack of fitness and what that could mean for both longevity and quality of life.

I recently took advantage of my employer’s generosity and signed up for a free annual gym membership. “When I am retired….” I will actually use it 😊 I plan to go to a fitness class regularly – at least 3 times a week.

Too Much Fast Food

Generally speaking, I cook from scratch. On Saturday I plan what we will eat for the following week and order the shopping; on Sunday the Tesco’s delivery angel arrives and I cook 2 or 3 meals for the week in advance.

It is a system that works well most of the time. The in-between days will either be leftovers or things that need to be prepared on the day. And that’s most often when I will trip up. I may have had a long and stressful day at work and more often than I care to admit – the takeaway is the easier option.

“When I am retired…..” there will be no excuse for not planning enough time to cook each day. Takeaways or meals out will be for special occasions.

Too Much Sugar

Closely related to the fast food is my sugar habit. I blame it on being at work / being stressed – but this is just an excuse. Nobody needs to eat the entire packet of biscuits, I am just a glutton who doesn’t know when to stop. I will be at home far more with access to plenty of healthier options. “When I am retired…..” I will find a way to curb my chocaholism 😊

Using Alcohol to Relax

Sometimes (more often than not) when I get in from work, I pour myself a drink before I even take off my shoes. It has become a habit; a signal to myself that the work day is over and my free time has begun. After dinner I’ll have another 2 or 3 or even 4. I don’t drink to get drunk, just to numb that anxiety that lives with me every weekday.

Often, when I go to the fridge to top up my drink, I help myself to a few squares of chocolate. I don’t even think about it. I probably consume as many calories each evening as I do during the day. “When I am retired……” I will lose the anxiety and I will be mindful of my alcohol consumption.

Putting Off Friends and Family

I’m not a naturally sociable person, I am an introvert and I relax and recover by being alone. I am never happier than when I’m locked away at home with me, myself and I.

But it’s a fine line between using introversion as an excuse and being selfish. Sometimes on a Saturday morning the doorbell will ring and I know it is a friend at the door. Sometimes, I don’t answer it and I keep perfectly still until they’ve gone away. (I know, I’m a terrible person 🙁). Yes I feel guilty, but I do it anyway and I blame it on work. I tell myself my free time is precious and I need to protect it.

My extended family live 200 miles away – a perfectly reasonable drive for a weekend visit. Ask me how many times a year I make the effort. The answer is maybe once or twice. My parents aren’t getting any younger; my nieces and nephews are growing up. I miss being a more active part of my family.

“When I am retired…..” I will make time for my family and friends.

Procrastination

I am a busy person with a career, a family, a household to run, a dog to walk, rentals to take care of, writing in my free time and a million other things always on the to do list. But aren’t we all busy? I am not unique – the pace of our lives is so frenetic at times it seems relentless.

I use busyness as an excuse for not getting things done. When we get back from a holiday, the suitcases remain unpacked on the spare bed for weeks. I notice that the cutlery drawer needs a clean but I don’t do anything about it. I have a cupboard full of things I plan to sell on eBay.

Putting things off ultimately just leads to more stress as the backlog of things to do gets bigger and bigger. “When I am retired…..” I can get some s**t done!

 

Jump In!

What are the things you want to eliminate when you reach early retirement or what things do you want to introduce? If you are already retired – what changed?

 

21 thoughts on “The “Bad Habits Be-Gone In Early Retirement” List”

  1. I’ve substantially curbed my chocolate and biscuit habit already as that would be so easy to increase once retired. I do succumb sometimes, usually after looking after all 3 grandbabies for the day but it’s one small chocolate bar and there’s nothing else in the house. Like you I am keen to increase family and friends activity and contact. It’s so easy to let the weeks slip away without contact – I’ll call tomorrow – when you’re tired and just want to slouch.
    I’d also like to get out more and explore my local area. I’ve lived here for a long time but don’t know all that it has to offer as we’re more likely to go someplace else on the occasions we do get off the sofa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was off work recently I found a whole new walking route I didn’t know existed, right out of my front door! I’ve lived here 18 years and walk every day with the dog but just having a few days of freedom I noticed a path I’d never tried and it led to a whole new route.

      It’s a good call to explore your local area more. I’ve heard TripAdvisor is a great way to find new things to do in local areas – I’m going to start there.

      Like

  2. Oh wow you’ve given me a lot to think about and inspired me to write a similar list to keep myself accountable. Also I personally don’t think you’re terrible for not answering the door. That was literally how I was raised. If someone knocked we all froze so they’d think no one was home. When I visit my parents we still do that to this day. I also feel you on the alcohol. I’ve been monitoring my consumption for about 2 years (I love data!) and it is heavily related to work stress. I’m working to reduce it and find other outlets on the way to retirement and am confident I’ll be about to reduce it when I get there and work stress is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, ok it’s not just me!

      I recently discovered schnapps for sale in Aldi. Just 15% alcohol – it’s a big improvement on my usual 40% vodka and I still feel like I’m not being deprived of something I like. Plus it’s cheap 🙂

      Like

  3. That’s a lot of ‘bad habits’ to get out of – perhaps better to tackle them gradually by making them ‘better habits’ then to good habits, rather than go cold turkey with all of them! Good for you joining the gym and classes are a good way to meet new people.

    For many years, I’ve been practising not drinking alcohol ‘on a school night’, except when I’m on holiday. Originally, it was a new year’s resolution, to save money and to improve health but it’s just something I do now – even if I meet up with friends mid-week to catch up/ celebrate, I’ll be on soft drinks. Of course, after a bad day at work, it is very tempting, but I find that I can shrug this off and just look forward to the Friday, when I can have one (I can almost hear the beer crying out to me on my way home, haha!). What will happen however when I’m retired and every day is a holiday!? I think I’ll have to maintain some sort of system, something like one drink on a school night or something like that!

    My worst habit is probably procrastination. During my near 5 months off work, I could have gotten my kitchen sorted out but of course, I didn’t get round to it until I had just started a new job and not being home meant it all dragged on for ages! My sister recently made the observation that I’m quite disorganised at home and to a certain extent, she’s right. Yet, at work, I am very organised (and don’t procrastinate) so perhaps I need to bring some work habits home!

    I’m better when there are quite tight deadlines – knowing there’s a lot of time to do something often results in me not doing it until the last minute, or when it’s too late so I need to work on that!

    Still quite a few years before I retire so unfortunately still time for me to develop more bad habits haha!

    (Sorry if this gets posted twice, got an error message first time round)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very controlled of you to keep alcohol for the weekends. Especially with your home brew hobby!
      When you are retired I think you may see yourself being more organised at home. You always knew you’d be going back to work at some point when you were between jobs so in a way, you would have wanted to make it more of a recovery time than an action time – even subconsciously. When you no longer need to be organised at work you’ll find yourself sorting more things at home. (That’s what I’m telling myself anyway)!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Boy we have a lot in common. I live scanning twitter, Instagram or a trading forum (traders-talk.com) several times per day myself. I have a drink every evening, maybe two (especially if it’s a freshly opened bottle of red wine).
    I don’t blame you on not answering the door! I believe in always, always calling someone before visiting them. “Just Stopping By” is out of the question! My wife says I’m unfriendly as she’s from Louisiana where folks do that all the time. Not me, I was raised to always call first, never be an intrusion of imposition. For me, phone calls or texts are an imposition. Maybe I’m a butt-hole, more than likely just a cantankerous old man.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. this sums up exactly how I feel – although I don’t have the dog and sure could use 40 minutes of brisk walking everyday!

    I think that there are compromises that you make along the way – it’s either just to cope in the rat race or if you are striving towards FI. Of course, some of these things push us further from FI – like the high cost of alcohol – but we need it to survive in the hear and now.
    Convenience/laziness is a big part of it all and you pay for convenience – be it food, travel, shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What I find interesting about this article and reviewing my own “bad habits” is how many I could get started on now, instead of waiting the 21 months I have left.

    Kinda motivating and depressing at the same time. Need to get “on the stick” to get some of these done.

    Mr. 39 Months

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! I really admire your self-awareness, calling yourself on those bad habits is a great place to start.

    Thing is, there is nothing on the list you couldn’t start now if you wanted to.

    It took me until I semi-retired to realise this, my “one day, some day” list heavily overlapped with yours.

    Some things (junk food, physical activity) were relatively easy to conquer. Others (socialising and alcohol… especially alcohol) were much harder, and very much remain a work in progress.

    It will be interesting to see how you go kicking the mindless social media scrolling and news surfing. “When you’re retired” you have less things competing for your attention rather than more, and possibly more idle time.

    Enjoy the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s a really good point that I hadn’t considered – less things competing for attention might make the social media and news habit even harder to kick. I will be very aware of this and do my best!

      Like

  8. Hm. While I admire your goals, I’m going to provide a touch of reality here: Retirement is not going to fix things for you. If you think it will, you’re in for some disappointment. I say this from experience — both my own and the experience of dozens of others who have told me the same thing. FI/RE will not fix your problems.

    What I (and others) have learned is that we could have worked on our issues long, long ago with just as much success (if not more) as we have achieved in retirement. We’ve learned that we used work and “busy-ness” as an excuse.

    If you don’t exercise now, you won’t suddenly start exercising in retirement. If you drink to relax now, you will still drink to relax in retirement. If you put off friends and family now, you will continue to put off friends and family in retirement. The only difference will be that you no longer have your job as an excuse, so you’ll have to face the stark reality that these issues weren’t work induced but actually problems that you should have been trying to solve all along.

    And that’s what I’d encourage you to do: If these are priorities for you, then work on them TODAY — not some arbitrary time in the future. Because the reality is that if you’re not working on them now, they’re not actually important to you. (I say this from personal experience…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear what you are saying. But they are important enough to me now that they play on my mind as things I want to fix. I know I use the job as an excuse not to do much about them now. Once retirement arrives – I no longer have that excuse and that’s where the accountability kicks in.
      I don’t think it’s as straightforward as saying if you don’t do things now, you won’t do them in retirement. I agree, you are not going to fundamentally change as a person, so taking exercise as an example, if it has never been important – it won’t suddenly become important once you hit FIRE. But sometimes circumstances of a tough job and life conditions mean there simply is not the bandwidth for working out several times a week, the way you may have done in the past (and enjoy doing). It may be a temporary suspension because of the situation you find yourself in, which can be reversed back to the norm once at FIRE.
      Thank you for the comment – not ashamed to say I nearly fell off my chair when I saw your name 🙂

      Like

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