Thoughts On Early Retirement

World…come into my arms!

I am taking voluntary early retirement from a job I love, but so far have no regrets on my decision. I am now working my “notice” and will finish work by the end of October. A scary thought? Not at all, since I have considered this decision very carefully.

I went back to University to study Dietetics later on in life (after working in a soulless job in a Bank)  and from the very start of my course, I knew I had finally found something that I was passionate about. For the past 11 years, I have loved the interactions with patients, the camaraderie of working with other health professionals learning from each other, the feeling of being valued, and the rewards of doing something meaningful that can help improve people’s quality of life.

But it is now with thoughts about my own quality of life, longevity, new passions and how to better spend the great commodity of “TIME” that I have started feeling the urge to make changes, shake things up a bit, move on to the next stage of my life. As much as I have enjoyed my work, I feel I lack control of my own time, I am time deprived, I hear a clock that is ticking so fast and there is nothing I can do to stop it. And energy; work can be so draining and leave so little energy for anything else. Work takes so many hours of our everyday lives, at times I feel cheated and robbed of my very existence. As I get older time becomes even more precious, forces me to confront my longevity, realising that I am not here for all eternity.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” Harvey MacKay 

The funny thing is that when I tell people about my early retirement plans I get strange looks, people say “but you are too young to retire” or they ask me with in a slightly nervous tone “so what are you going to do now?” , a question loaded with anxiety, suspecting that my free time will be wasted, that I will NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO, that I will be bored. Is that a possibility? Being bored with too much time on my hands? In reality, I don’t really understand this concept since there are so many things that interest me, but at the moment I lack the time to pursue. This very blog, for instance;  being able to write more, being able to read more….. there are so many books I want to read, places I want to visit, travelling, hiking, taking advantage of other learning opportunities such as learning more about photography, yoga, meditation, exercise more, meet up with friends and family, have time to think…to just be. The list is endless and time is short. I will most definitely not have the time to be bored, I am sure of it.

I feel extremely lucky to be in good health, to be financially independent, no longer needing to work for a living. I have worked since I was 18 years old, so now I feel I have paid my dues. I do not feel any sense of guilt about taking early retirement. In fact, I feel very entitled to it, excited about it. I have worked hard (paid and unpaid jobs), at times having many jobs at once, I have so far lived a very productive life and have contributed to society, paid taxes. I know that I will continue to contribute to the world around me in many other ways, such as voluntary work opportunities or spend some of my free time helping others….and paying more taxes no doubt.

There is NOT a lot to rant about my job, but some of the things I will not miss at all:

Early Mornings: my day usually starts very early, I get up at 5:45 am, leave my house about 7 am and drive for about 30 minutes to the main dietetic office at the hospital. Some days I will drive for over one hour to another hospital or medical clinic. In the winter I leave home in the dark, and many days I drive back home in the dark, in the rain, wipers on, oncoming headlights dazzling me along twisty country roads. I hate driving in the dark, often cold, foggy winter mornings. I long to switch the alarm clock off, to take my time getting up and not rush around like a mad woman on a mission.

Paper work:  Policies, pathways, letters, record cards, medical notes, forms for every eventuality,  diet sheets, spreadsheets….bored already? Me too.

Appraisals: If I never have to fill out an appraisal form again…well, that will be too soon.

Managers: Who constantly think we need a restructure….out goes the baby with the bath water again, with very little thought for how it’s all going to work in practice? Hello!!! It’s a hospital…do we really need more managers? What about more doctors? More nurses? More clinicians…More money invested in the people who really do all the front line work?

IT Systems: At the moment I have to use many different IT systems to be able to do my work, I currently use PAS, System One, EMIS WEB, ICE etc. …it really is mind boggling. Don’t even get me started on all the different passwords I have to try remembering. But guess what? There is yet another system being implemented soon called DPR (Digital Patient Record)..supposed to be the best system of all and make it all a lot simpler. I’ve heard that one before.

And the funny thing is, the closer retirement gets, the less patience you have for all of this nonsense. Less, and less, and less, and then  – when you can almost taste the freedom –  none!

There are some things that I will dearly miss:

The people: I work with some awesome people…you know who you are. I can not praise them enough, for being so great at their job; helpful, caring, selfless…keeping the NHS machine well oiled, I am grateful for all their help, for keeping me sane during some of the most insane moments working for the NHS. There have been some sad, devastating moments, that only work colleagues can relate to and understand.

I will also miss many of the patients that I have had the pleasure to look after and who have taught me to never take my health for granted. People who have inspired me with their resilience and sheer determination to live a good life in spite of all their difficulties and health issues.

CPD – I have been very lucky to get funded to attend some amazing Conferences (it can be expensive to pay privately to attend). These events have left me in awe of people who do some fantastic research work, who discover some very clever stuff indeed, which in time will go a long way to improve the health of the nation and the world.  Learning opportunities are never a waste of time, I have valued them all.

Working in a health setting as a clinician: It is difficult to describe how rewarding it is. I love it, I can’t think of any other job I would rather do (although if I had my time again I would have studied Medicine, doctors really do an amazing job).

The lovely welcome I get: Everywhere people are so welcoming…at the Primary Care Hospital, the  GP practices, patients homes, I usually get the warmest of welcomes, big smiles,  hugs, offers of a lovely cup of tea. At my main office, I am usually the first to arrive, but I am not alone for long and soon there are hugs galore as my colleagues start arriving and there are warm greetings to have. There is always a degree of “office politics”, it is only natural that there will be some people that you like more than others, but I am glad to work in a predominantly lovely and friendly environment.

Being in “The Club“: I will be sad to hand over my badge, my office keys, my scales…and all the bits and pieces that make me part of the NHS machine, part of “The Club”. I will be “persona non grata” no longer allowed access all areas. But I guess you just can’t have it all.

Somehow I don’t think I will miss work, but only time will tell. I can tell you that it’s a risk I’m ready to take. I am so excited about the future, and the endless possibilities of doing more of the things I really want to do, not the things that I have to do. I just hope I will continue to be healthy and to have my friends and family supporting me…there really are no limitations to what can be achieved in this next stage of my life.

I’m ready. I’m more than ready. Bring it on.







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51 Comments on “Thoughts On Early Retirement

  1. It’s like you wrote this just for me. I, too, am planning to retire at the end of October and feel the same way about things – what I’ll miss… what I won’t.

    Good luck to you in your next phase. I look forward to reading more posts.

    • Donna, I am so pleased this post has resonated with you. There are many mixed emotions, but time has come for us to kick start a new stage in our lives, let’s be brave and jump right in. Good luck to you also 🙂

  2. Loved reading this! Well done Gilda…so glad you get to enjoy your time. You worked so hard and helped so many…including me. I can never repay you for the support you gave me at a time of need. If you ever want to come and learn photography…I’ll have your back! You go girl!

    Faye Neal Photography xx

    • Fay, how lovely of you to read my blog and make the time to comment..I really appreciate it. My photography skills are so bad, I have enrolled in a beginners class to learn some basics. Perhaps we can get together sometime and go photographing the countryside? You take some awesome photos 🙂

  3. Congratulations! I know it’s something that has been on your mind for a while. The quote about time is so spot on, it is precious. I too miss the people l worked with but not the politics that went along with it. I look forward to reading your stories as you move on to the next phase of your life.

    • Thank you so much Kemkem. Being on the wrong side of 50 the time is ticking scarily fast. I am relieved to have made a decision… I am so ready for this next stage. I hope we can meet up sometime in the near future 🙂

  4. Minha sister! Estou te esperando aqui no Brasil p colocarmos em prática nossos planos e poder ter vc por mais tempo aqui ou juntas em algum outro lugar deste mundo será uma bênção. .. Não há dúvidas de que vc saberá muito bem gata e seu precioso tempo. Bora nos aventurar por aí! Tamu junto! 😆

    • Lita, deixe estar que em breve estou chegando para curtirmos juntas no Brasil 🙂 Vamos com certeza por em pratica muitos dos nossos sonhos de viajar juntas e explorar esse mundo maravilhoso.

  5. Parabéns querida!! A vida vai se fechando em ciclos! É um novo ciclo que se inicia…e tu certamente vai fazer deste O MELHOR, como fez de todos os outros!! Estou feliz por ti, com a esperança de te ter por perto com mais frequência!! Aproveita muito…este é o momento de tomar as rédeas da própria vida, e isso não tem preço!! Bjão amiga!!

    • Sinara querida, que legal receber teu carinho aqui no meu blog. Amiga com certeza a gente sente quando chega a hora de passar para o proximo estagio da vida. Sempre curti muito o meu trabalho, contudo meus sonhos de viajar precisam se realisar logo, antes que eu fique muito velhinha hahahaha. Com certeza vamos ter mais oportunidades de encontrar e curtir juntas…quem sabe viajar juntas de novo? Como nos velhos tempos 🙂

  6. Que legal, Gilda! Você merece curtir a aposentadoria e ter mais tempo para ti mesma. Tudo de bom nessa nova fase! Beijo

    • Obrigada sobrinha querida, o tempo passa muito rapido e preciso aproveitar a vida um pouquinho. Creio que chegou o momento certo de realisar o meu sonho de viajar mais…minha lista de lugares que quero conhecer esta ficando cada vez maior…nao posso mais perder tempo. Obrigada por visitar o meu blog 🙂

  7. Gilda, it sounds like you have weighed the decision thoughtfully and have a plan for your next phase of life. Freedom to live without the obligation of work is a wonderful thing.

    • Suzanne, yes I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, planning, looking into how it could work financially. To have time for my self will be fantastic, I am very excited about the new adventures ahead 🙂

  8. Good for you Gilda! Ugg, I remember early mornings in Montreal but unlike you woke up at 7am, not 5:45 which is just horrible. Waking up to NO alarm has to be one of the best things about no longer working. One of the unfortunate things is that we sometimes tend to focus on the things we give up and forget about the worse parts of the job…good that you wrote it all down so you’ll remember if you ever start to rethink it in the future 🙂

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Frank, early mornings are awful, I have had enough of it… switching that torturing alarm clock will be such a relief:) I don’t think I will miss my job, but I guess only time will tell? I could do freelance or Locum work in the future if I wanted to, but that would be a compromise on my dream of being totally free of work obligations. I hope to travel a lot..maybe our paths will cross some time? Would love to meet you and Lissette 🙂

  9. That question,” What are you going to do now?” made me laugh as I got the same question along with, “But why would you want to leave everything you worked for?” My feeling is that those who have to ask, will never understand your answers! 🙂 And what a gift to choose how you’ll spend that most valuable of all commodities, “time.” I have no doubt that you won’t regret your decision to move on and make the most of every moment, Gilda. And let me add my own congratulations to the many I’m sure you’ve received already! Anita

    • Anita, Thank you so much 🙂 I feel so sure of my decision now and I am very relieved to have finally taken the plunge. Deciding how to spend my own time will be such a luxury, I really can’t wait to have more time for myself. All that we have achieved professionally does not go to waste since it is all part of our history, of who we are, but plenty more to accomplish in the years ahead. Thank you for your support and friendship 🙂

  10. I totally endorse all of this, Gilda. I worked for DSS for over 30 years and it is impossible to miss the job, the red tape and the constant changes that don’t make anything better. When I left, over 10 years ago, it was one of the happiest days of my life. Yes, I miss the people, but I’m still in regular contact with some of them. I’m a long way from being financially independent, and for a few years I did care work, but I found that very draining. We live a fairly frugal life. My husband is self employed but with very moderate income, but it’s quality of life that matters every time. Just today we played hooky for the day and went to a beautiful lavender farm. Celebrate every moment of the life you have. It can all be gone tomorrow. Sending hugs and thank you for your support on the blog. 🙂 🙂

    • Jo, the red tape is a nightmare isn’t’ it? I am well fed-up of it. Life is just too short:) I will for sure miss the people, but like you said I will stay in contact with them as friends do. Sounds like you have found what makes you happy Jo, I hope you will come to visit me here in the South sometime and we can do a nice long walk together, as you know I have a spare room. As always I love your lovely warm comments…thank you:)

  11. Oh boy, do I remember going through so many similar emotions. When we retired (the first time) we left our careers, moved to another state and opened a B&B which gave us the time to position ourselves to permanently retire, which we did 3 1/2 years later. So, leaving a career you love is a gift you’re giving yourself. Embrace it and don’t look back. Those who love you will give you the space to do so, those who don’t “get it” never will. Love them anyway, or move on.

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this redefining retirement process is that nothing – absolutely nothing – is forever. I’m still walking that path, constantly reminding myself that what I want/need today, may not be what I want/need a year from now, and that’s perfectly fine. One day at a time, one road at a time. The good-byes may be bittersweet, but I’m betting you’ll never look back.

    And, be careful about that no alarm clock thing. It can really suck you in! 🙂

    • Patti, it is a roller-coaster of emotions, leaving a job I love, but knowing that it will open up many other roads to travel through…. it’s so exciting. It is great to hear how much your are enjoying it, how it has changed you and how open you are to embrace new opportunities….just going with the flow. I hope to never look back, live life with no regrets. I believe and hope that the best years of my life are yet to come 🙂
      I can’t wait to kill that alarm clock before it kills me 🙂

  12. This post is heart warming, it has really touched my heart. I love your honesty here. it made me excited for you. I am so certain you will have many adventures,. They say that when we give something up – like all the good things about your work and the people and the patients – the Gods will recompense you with new gifts, so be open to everything. Enjoy waking up when your body feels ready, walking around your home that you currently never see or enjoy properly, drinking an unhurried cup of tea with nothing to do and then simply choosing to do what talks to your heart!

    Loved the quote about time

    • Val, it is the final count down now…I am crossing out every day with glee, so excited thinking about all the possibilities of having more time to myself:) It is time for someone else to take on my post and love it just as much as I did. In many ways it feels good to go on a high note, leave the party at the right moment…when I am still enjoying it, rather then at the bitter end 🙂 Thanks for your lovely comment my friend 🙂

  13. Congratulations Gilda.

    I know that you’re going to have a great time. I know a lot of people who have retired, and they all tell me how busy they are. No one should worry on that account at all!

    I look forward to all the exciting things that you’re yet to do, or are planning to do, in the next few months and years.

    • Thank you Victoria, I also hear lots of good news from the people who have retired before me…often saying they are busier than ever, all appear to be having a great time:) I hope to fill my days with things I enjoy doing, rather than feel obliged to do it. Thank you for following along and your support as always 🙂

    • Thank you Agness, big changes ahead, but I feel very optimistic that it will all work out very well indeed 🙂

  14. Congratulations! Those last couple of months just fly by, so October will be here before you know it. Freedom taste so sweet. I am looking forward to following your journey

    • Paula, it is scary how time flies by so fast. At the moment I live for the weekend and for time off work…it makes me sad to wish my life away in this manner. Freedom will taste sweet, I can see that you are enjoying yours to the maximum 🙂 Thanks for your support 🙂

  15. Congrats on your upcoming early retirement Gilda! You’re right, there’s far too much to see and do in the world to ever get bored and I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures you have in store. I love that quote about time too, so true!

    • Thank you Amy, at my age I can’t afford to waste anymore time hahaha…there is just so much to see and my wish list is huge, I will possibly not get to see it all that I wish to see and do. I admire how you and Andrew are following your dreams and living life on your terms. That quote about time becomes even more relevant as I get older…I hope to use the time I have left a bit wiser, savour it with more “gusto”. Likewise Amy I look forward to continue following your great adventure…it is inspiring 🙂

  16. Gilda it sounds like you have reflected on this next chapter very carefully and are ready to move on. Just this week I gave up my registered nurse status. I had been working very part time for the past few years and knew it was no time to move on. I have a very part time clerical role that I can do from home day or night so that kind of flexibility is super. Besides that the blog, volunteer work, family and friends make my life very full. I wish you every happiness as you begin this new journey.

    • Sue, I feel very ready for this next stage of my life. I know that I can’t have these years back, I no longer want to sell my time to work, but rather spend it on myself, doing the things that I enjoy doing. Having freedom and time to myself have become very important to me as I get older. My husband and I have worked hard to achieve financial independence, it is time to take the foot off the acelerator. I will be keeping my registration until next year, mostly because I have already paid the yearly fees. But I don’t think I will be working as a Dietitian again. Good for you working very part time, having the flexibility to enjoy other things that make your heart sing. Thank you so much for your good wishes 🙂

  17. Welcome to retirement! After 3 years I’ve never looked back. The great thing about your decision is that you can make tweaks along the way as it suits you… nothing is set in stone. You are smart – and lucky (although that’s not quite the word since you worked hard for it) – to go for it now when you are young and healthy.

    • Thank you 🙂 and congratulations to you for choosing the right decision for you and having had already 3 years of freedom. I do feel lucky to be healthy and still be young enough to enjoy this next chapter. We are planning lots of travelling, but like you said nothing is set in stone and I am sure we will be doing many “tweaks” along the way. I am enjoying reading your blog, it does help to know that others are making a great success of retirement 🙂

  18. Congratulations and a timely post! My husband has recently resigned from his high stress job in financial services and will leave by Christmas (well that’s the plan)! He could easily have stayed on another few years and may well do projects from time to time, but the relentless pressure with very long hours was leaving him time poor for other pursuits especially quality family time. I resigned from my education job a few years ago too when our daughter had her first baby and I’m certainly not short of things to do. He’s worked hard to put us in the position where he can take a step back. It’s been a well thought out strategy not a sudden rush of blood! Very best wishes with your future plans! 🙂

    • I am pleased for your husband to have decided that quality of life and time with the family has become a priority for him. Resigning from a well paid job takes courage, but sounds like it has been well planned? We don’t know what is ahead, life is too precious to spend on a stressful job, we can never have this time again….once is gone, it’s gone for ever. I am sure he must feel so relived to have finally made the decision? I will keep on eye on your blog and see how things progress for you. Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂

      • Thanks Gilda yes it’s certainly been very well planned and something he has been working towards for quite a long time. As you say it does need courage to walk away from a well paid job and certainly a few people have questioned his decision and it’s probably ruffled a few feathers (I guess because it taps into people’s own fears about lack of money etc). I have had a few doubts myself but can see it’s for the best and really we lead a relatively simple life anyway apart from our travels when we do like to splurge! Yes my husband is very relieved though he has so much work on at present he’s not too sure when he will actually be able to start taking a back seat – the plan is by Christmas. I still don’t see him retiring completely but doing other projects though not working at the same intensity as he has done up to now. Really life is too short to be constantly running around like a hamster on a wheel and the stress is just not worth making any more sacrifices for. Obviously we have been fortunate that with careful planning and a very good level of income for the past few years we have been able to make this choice. It will be a different lifestyle not least because I’m not used to having him round all the time!! Very best wishes too with your own plans 🙂

        • Rosemary, I can totally relate…when we are used to a certain standard of living can be hard cutting back a little, but there are so many things we can enjoy for free. Our travels are our biggest indulgences, but again I am certain that finding ways of getting good value for money and still having a great time will be a nice challenge. My husband will continue to work until next year, since we have few ducks to line up first. It will be interesting to see how our relationships with our husbands will change…or not… with spending a lot more time together? Shall we compare notes in the future? 🙂

          • Yes you’re absolutely right Gilda – we love walks by the sea with our dog, relaxing in front of the wood fire in winter, being out in the garden in the spring and summer, seeing family, reading – simple pleasures that are mainly free. It will take a bit of getting used to though! Yes would be good to compare notes and see how we’re both going with the changes! 🙂

  19. Retirement is a new page for one’s life. My wife and I, we are retired. We enjoy our life, like travelling and learning new common things to both. One example is learning languages. In addition, we continue with our old hobbies; I shooting photos and blogging. My wife loves yet today quilting, beading and maintaining her German language skills. I was retired in 2004 from airline business. There is more information in my About-page. All the best!

    • I hope this new stage of life will be full of new and exciting experiences. I want more time to myself, time with family and friends. I am keen to learn more about photography and I have enrolled on a course due to start in October. It is important to have hobbies and interests, sounds like you are enjoying this stage of your life? I also like languages, would be nice to learn to speak Italian, the language of my paternal grandparents. Thanks for your comment 🙂

      • Nice answer.

        Photographing is wonderful hobby. Nowadays cameras do nearly totally everything for You, but to understand the basics is important. Combining photography with blogging is the top.

        I started to shoot my photos already in the 50ties and I have a photo from my first camera here:

        About me.

        One wonderful thing is to make photo books with themes. For example, Your life, hobbies, friends, family, travels etc.

        Yes, learn Italian! It is nice language. Internet offers most probably courses. When on road trips we listen to internet radios from some country. My wife loves German radio stations and I Spanish.

        Have a nice day. Buona giornata.

  20. Gilda, I can’t tell you how much your words resonate with and inspire me. Thank you so much. I’ve had the same thoughts (just the same!) so many times… I too yearn for freedom, to travel and spend time with family and friends, to exert myself more physically, to read and learn more and… yes, like you, to write. I long to dust off and carry on with projects I’ve already begun, and tackle others too. So many stories to tell, opinions to explore (in writing, you find out what you think) and rewards awaiting me, I know… that is, when I have the courage to take the leap and actually retire.

    So why don’t I do it now — now that I’m 67? What am I waiting for? I could explain, and to me the reasons seem compelling, and are interwoven in a way that convinces me, most of the time, that I should keep going until I’m well into my 70s (maybe 75…). It’s complicated; but I’d like to tell you if the opportunity arises, and to hear the wise and thought-provoking words of advice I’m sure you’ll have for me.

    Meanwhile, I applaud you, dear Gilda — your writing and all you express, your great enthusiasm and love of life — and I know I’ll enjoy following this blog, experiencing your travels and joys vicariously as your life unfolds. I for one don’t suspect for a moment that time will hang heavy for you; I know it won’t! I share your dreams more than I can say, and when I retire it will be with great joy and a huge sense of liberation. But (at the risk of leaving it too late) I probably shouldn’t, or can’t, or won’t, retire and follow those dreams just yet. It might be sooner, though, because of you… we’ll see. Thank you and keep writing (I know you will)!

    Affectionately yours, from your fellow student and happy new blog visitor,

    PS See you very soon!

  21. Dearest Clare, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. As you know I have now been retired for over a week…every morning I have to pinch myself…I feel so lucky to be able to take early retirement and although it is only early days I can already feel I am going to love this new life of freedom. But for you it sounds like the time is not quite right yet? I am sure when the time comes you will be ready for it.
    I am enjoying meeting up on Tuesday evenings at the University …being a student again… sharing the highs of learning new things, as well as the lows and the frustrations for the bits we are finding hard to understand…all part of the fun. I am glad to have met you and look forward to our continuing friendship well beyond our student days 🙂

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