A Retirement Anti-list

grimacing man

It’s fun to contemplate the possibilities in early retirement. Some have organized bucket-like lists of retirement goals: Physician on Fire, My Sons Father, J. Money, and Joe Hearn are a few lists I have come across recently.

Mine is a little different. Rather than list retirement dreams and wishes, I explain what I hope NOT to do in the days after employment. Don’t worry too much about negative vibes; I think you will find the list overflows with optimism.

So without further ado, I present:

30 Things I Will NOT Do in Retirement

A Retirement Anti-list

  1. Rush. This represents a recurring theme among many items on the list. I hope my retirement is like that lyric from “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys: “Get there fast and then we’ll take it slow.”
    Beach in Tulum, Mexico
    The world runs on my schedule now, baby!

    If I can’t make it now, I’ll be there later. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or never. Mind you, I will still have the common decency to meet someone at an agreed upon time; I’m not an animal. But the go, go, go attitude will have to go.

  2. Avoid activities with a big time commitment. Another recurring theme is my commitment to not fear a time commitment. Whether it’s a daunting home improvement project or an interesting volunteer experience, I’ve got the time and I will be there with bells on.
  3. End the conversation. “Me? Busy? Pshaw. I’ve got all the time in the world. Now what were saying about your rhododendrons?” I have a few retired, elderly neighbors with whom I love engaging in conversation. They are never busy, but I am often walking the dog or have one eye on a child, my attention elsewhere and our conversations brief. I will take it as a good sign when they start telling me “I’ve got to go now.”
  4. Pay someone to clean my house. I will have the time and the toilet brush. No excuses.
  5. Stress over a late night. I went down a black hole of suggested YouTube videos, only to look up and notice it’s 1:45am! But I’m not worried: I don’t have to get up tomorrow. If only I could convince the dog and boy to sleep in too.
  6. Resist the urge to nap. Even if I am awakened at 5:45 a.m. by hot canine breath and stomping little feet, I can look forward to the most glorious luxury of the middle-aged: an afternoon nap.
  7. Be a lunch teetotaler. It won’t be an everyday habit, but I won’t sweat the occasional noon libation.
    Frosty beer at lunch
    Don’t mind if I do.

    But day drinking is a slippery slope. Before I know it, I may be popping that beer before noon, and my psychiatrist friends will start asking me questions from the CAGE questionnaire.

  8. Skip play time. My son constantly vies for my attention, and I can’t give it to him as much as I would like after a long work day. I look forward to days that we can hit the playground or the museum in the hours after school and before dinner.
  9. Drive someplace within walking/biking distance. In a move that would make Mr. Money Mustache proud, I plan to dust the cobwebs off my bike, or just plain walk, to anyplace within a reasonable distance from my house.
  10. Finish all the dishes each night. Perhaps more a result of my mild OCD, I resist leaving a single unclean dish before bedtime. I hope that a less rushed morning will help to exorcise my dirty dish demons.
  11. Throw dinner together. We are foodies in the Curious household. In truth, the boy eats mostly carbs, and the dog eats some items that are not technically food, so more accurately the adults are foodies. Taking the time to slow roast a pork butt, make home-made pasta, or assemble a zucchini ricotta galette is right up our alley. We will still have grilled cheese for dinner sometimes, but only because we want to.
  12. Take a 1-week vacation. Car –> airport–> 2 days of jet lag –> 4 days of sightseeing –> airport–> car–> home? We’ve done it, but it’s not ideal. Slow travel will be the rule.
  13. Travel on a peak day or during bad weather. If I’m visiting relatives over Thanksgiving, you’d better believe I’m not driving back home on the PA Turnpike the following Sunday. I’ll gladly wait until Tuesday morning and share the road with a few long-haul truckers. Same goes for opting out of a drive through a blinding blizzard.
  14. Take a “quick walk” with my dog. Especially once the weather turns nice, I love a long stroll around the neighborhood almost as much as my dog.
    Rio the dog looking cute
    How can I resist this face?

    Unfortunately, she often gets the short end of the stick in the form an Olympic speed walk around the block by one parent as the other prepares dinner. I will stop to smell the flowers (and she the dog pee) on our retirement walks.

  15. Carry too many grocery bags. Many men (and perhaps some women) take pride in the “single-carry technique” when transporting groceries from car to kitchen. I have been known to overload with bags as I kick open doors and nearly rupture my rotator cuff. Enough! I will max out at 3 (maybe 4) bags per hand.
  16. Buy bread. Oh man, I love bread. I’ve dabbled in bread baking, but the time and effort to do it well was a labor of love, and eventually we automated with a bread machine. I look forward to revisiting the world of gluten development during retirement.
  17. Wait too long for a haircut. My current MO is waiting until I can no longer stand the hair tickling my ears and the unruly gray outliers sticking out—and then schedule a cut the next week. I’m not sure what my optimum haircut interval will be, but it’s not 6 weeks.
  18. Get a coffee to go. Ahh, cafe life. Latte sipping. People watching. Book reading. Why not sit on down and savor it with a coffee for here?
  19. Wear a headlamp while running. No more 5 a.m. runs in the dark. I’ll wait until the animals start to wake up, thank you very much. More generally, I’ll take my good old time with longer exercise routines.
  20. Squeeze in meditation. It’s pretty frickin’ hard to find inner peace when I am “speed meditating” during the 15 minutes of quiet time I can find each morning. At least 30 minutes would be ideal.
  21. Waste a beautiful evening. A few times each month, nature tends put her best foot forward—a cobalt blue sky, a perfect warm breeze, a brilliant pink sunset. When these moments arise, I want to be able to stop and take it all in. Other stuff can wait.

    Sunrise from Haleakala in Maui.
    Sunrise from Haleakala in Maui. I wish this were the view from my porch!
  22. Wait in line at the grocery store. If you live in a sports town, you will know the dread of a grocery run in the hours before game time. Grocery shopping on most any weekend can drive one to “cart rage.” I want to spend 10 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon choosing the perfect cantaloupe.
  23. Sacrifice quality for convenience. I’m a cheese snob (fromagelitist?). The best cheesemonger in our area is a 20-minute drive away. There’s a great butcher 15 minutes in the other direction. Farmers markets are scattered everywhere outside the city. Why can’t I pick and choose the best? I’ve got nothing but time.
  24. Suffer bureaucracy. About 6 months after we purchased our home, the tax basis was automatically reassessed and we were facing a HUGE increase in our property taxes. Unless, that is, we were willing to argue. Of course, our meeting with the county board of property assessment was in the middle of a weekday, but my wife was able to go, and I’m incredibly proud to say she argued us back down to the prior assessment! (It is surreal to argue that your own house is sh*tty.) Obviously I don’t look forward to these types of headaches, but at least I will have the time to deal with them.
  25. Miss a school field trip. I will totally be that dad that all my child’s friends know as the “field trip dad.” Sorry, son.
  26. Let my DSLR collect dust. My iPhone’s camera does much of the photographing in our house, but I will break out the DSLR for special occasions and vacations. I would love to experiment more with different lenses and techniques for my “real” camera.
  27. Hire out home improvement projects. I’m no Tim the tool man Taylor. But I have hands, tools and time, so who knows what could happen? I can fix that leaking toilet. Time to install a new front door. (I expect much swearing with this one.)
  28. Neglect my “garden.” If I taught a gardening class right now, it would be entitled “Mulch: It Doesn’t Need Water and Looks Reasonable.” My wife’s gardening skills out-green mine by a mile, but neither of us have much time to regularly tend our yard. You’d better believe I’ll be hitting the gardening books and spreading some compost during retirement.

    flower in vieques puerto rico
    A man can dream, can’t he?
  29. Leave all the laundry for the weekend. We try—we really try—to do some laundry during the week, but clean and dirty clothes inevitably pile up and threaten to take on a life of their own, like the trash heap in Fraggle Rock. Nothing will be more satisfying to my decluttering sensibilities than an empty hamper and put-away clothes on a more regular basis.
  30. Live on a schedule. In the end, this is what it’s all about for me. Most of my life—school, residency training, job—has operated on someone else’s schedule. It’s time I followed my own or, even better, none at all.

What’s on your retirement anti-list? Let me know below!

28 Replies to “A Retirement Anti-list”

  1. Great list!
    31. Check my e-mail more frequently than once a day.

    1. Oh, I could have kept on going, but had to stop somewhere!

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Dr. C

        1. 33. Stop loving irony 🙂

  2. No Schedule . . . or at least my own schedule. One of my favorites . . . and one that I enjoy the most about my job as a professor (since going back to the classroom from administration) . . . such freedom to explore.

    1. That’s great to hear! It’s all about having options, isn’t it? I don’t dislike going to work, just not all the time and when I don’t want to!

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Dr. C

  3. Sacrificing playtime with the kids is big for me too. I hate doing that but work/chores/life drags me away too often.
    I love that view from Haleakala. I want to get back there pretty often in retirment as well.
    Nice list. I need to sit down and make one myself.
    Tom @ HIP

    1. Yes, and I imagine playtime in your house is a lively event!

      I’ve actually started writing letters to my son (one of which I might share here) so he can read them as an adult; I hope he can understand how I felt and what our life was like when he was young, given his 3-year-old mind won’t remember much about these years.

      Maui is beautiful, but we are partial to Kauai. I’ll take either, though!

      Have a good one,
      Dr. C

      1. RadOnculous says: Reply

        We’ll be in Kauai in February! It’s great although haven’t been anywhere else. Got a new partner and am cutting back so can take a longer time. Last trip there was like you said, car-airport-etc.. and I almost cried when we left. This time is 8 days 7 nights and layover 2 night in San Francisco to avoid the obligatory red eye from Hawaii if you don’t live west coast. Saving that money early our careers let us cut back hours and open up for a test run on early retirement. But I still love my job and would cause serious trouble if I retired now.
        Great Post!

        1. Mahalo!
          We went with our son, who was just under 2 at the, time, and the trip there and back (from the east cost) was kid of brutal. Folks on the west coast have it so much easier.
          They have a peds CME conference there every year at the Grand Hyatt, which we stayed near during out last visit to Poipu. We haven’t done a CME trip there yet, but plan to someday.
          I can see how it would difficult to cut back if you like your practice and it would cause a significant disruption. It’s much simpler to just hate your job!
          Have fun on your winter escape!
          Dr. C

  4. Awesome List! You had me at Bread! My wife’s family is exclusively gluten free and my family has become vegetarians, so I’m a bit of a pariah at all family gatherings. But I’ve always wanted to learn how to bake great bread…even if I’m the only one who will enjoy it.

    1. Gluten free would be very, very difficult for me. What about pizza?!

      It’s a challenge to eat out in general. We had a friend with celiac disease, and she would on occasion get sick from mild gluten contamination because she was so sensitive.

      We try to do vegetarian 1-2 times a week and we are always looking for recipes. If you have any favorite cookbooks, I’m all ears!
      Dr. C

  5. Great list! I am a sucker for field trips. Unfortunately, I can only make about 25% of them these days. And, of course, the less than one week to Asia trips seem like such a waste of 14 hr flights!

    1. I imagine you have an epic travel bucket list. My child/children—our second is due any day now!—are too young for field trips, but I can’t wait. A bunch of 5-year-olds at the zoo would be a riot. When the kids are over, they have “Night at the Museum” too.

      Look forward to your next sightsee!
      Dr. C

  6. What an awesome list! I’m really looking forward to #12 – Slowing the travel! I’d add…I’ll no longer dread Sunday nights/Monday mornings.

    1. My schedule is erratic and I work some weekends, so my dread is more scattered 🙂 Slow travel is near the top our priorities as well.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Dr. C

  7. I can relate for sure with the grocery bags. I consider it a rite of passage to be able to unload the entire trunk of the car in one trip. My wife thinks I’m crazy, staggering around with 10-12 bags on each arm, but it gives my boys something to aspire to . . . who am I kidding? They probably think I’m crazy.
    Great list – I enjoyed reading it.

    1. I used to function near your level of BPA (bags per arm), but some ruptured handles many years back changed my maximum to 6. It builds character, as well as forearm muscles 🙂

      Appreciate you stopping by!
      Dr. C

  8. Being already 6 years into retirement, slow travel, is the bit I really appreciate. Also time for hobbies, in my case silver working. I used to get so frustrated trying to fit some time for it into working life. This year has brought 4 weeks in New Zealand in January and is about to bring 4 weeks in Madrid in September…. I can do my silver work whenever I want. The garden is still a bit untidy though. Some things never bubble up to the top of the pile, no matter how much time you have…..

    1. You are living my retirement travel dreams! Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion? From what I have heard, it’s a common experience in retirement. With all the time in the world, something can always wait until later! Not a bad “problem” to have, in my opinion 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading!

  9. I really like this list – it’s fun and honest! Hope you don’t mind if I copy the general idea 🙂

    Also, since you are full of sage advice, let me know when you figure out how to avoid suffering bureaucracy!

    1. If I figure out how to completely avoid suffering bureaucracy, I’m monetizing it and making my billions:)

      I’d love to see what other ideas you might come up with! I certainly had fun doing it.

      Thanks for taking the time to read,
      Dr. C

  10. I don’t think you are crazy about the grocery bags at all. You might think that I am crazy because I carry them into the house one at a time to increase my step count on my iPhone health app.

    1. Nice! Perhaps I’ll one-up your efforts by walking my bags up to my attic and back down to the kitchen before putting them away 🙂

  11. […] Dr. Curious is getting mightily clever in that My Curiosity Lab of his. Rather than listing all the things he looks forward to doing in retirement (as I have done), he compiled 30 things he will not be doing as a retiree. A Retirement Anti-List. […]

  12. DadsDollarsDebts says: Reply

    Craziness! To imagine a life not having to do all of these things. I will not spend any time on my computer when my kid is up (when I retire). I try to avoid it as is now but occasionally do a blog check in.

    1. Hey DDD! The time commitment is one of my biggest struggles with blogging now, particularly with a new baby in the house. I have to learn to say “enough” to myself more often. Having time to blog during the day when kids are napping or at school will be a welcome, guilt-free relief.

      Dr. C

  13. […] hope that we have a good deal of it left. The only way to absolutely guarantee an experience is to do it now, not later. Later may never […]

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