Given today’s common practice of changing jobs every few years, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’m coming up on 20 years at my current employer. Generally speaking it’s been a good place to work, although I’ve probably grown a bit too ‘comfortable’ there. I’ll save that discussion for another post. In the past, when we hit a milestone year, we got to choose overpriced cheesy gifts from a catalog after every 5 years of service – where are those bongo drums from year 15? Luckily my employer has changed their service awards and now offers me 1 day off for every 5 years of service. So with 20 years of service, I get 4 extra days off this year.
Given that there are four seasons and I get an extra four days off, I decided to take one random Wednesday off every season. My plan is to treat these like practice retirement days. In our earlier Filling Your Time in Early Retirement post, I mentioned some of the things I’m looking forward to once I’m retired. These service award days are going to be a great way to practice being retired, at least for a day. Read along to see what I did this past Wednesday for my Winter practice retirement day.
Okay, I doubt I’ll wake up this early in retirement, but I like to keep a consistent schedule. My morning was pretty much like my typical work day – enjoy too many cups of coffee, make breakfast, and see everyone else off to their day of work or school. Being the total nerd I am, I did read some of my ‘How Linux Works’ book followed by 15 minutes of meditation. If you every want to give meditation a try, I’ve been pretty happy with Calm.
Time to get serious. I head over to a nearby trail to go for a run. It’s actually on my normal route to work, but it sure feels good to pull off to a small parking area near the trail-head. Trail running is more challenging than road running, and the six miles are a good workout. Outside of the couple with the off-the-leash German Shepard on the trail (you never know how a dog is going to react when it sees you running up towards it), I only see one other person on the trail.
I was in no rush to get back home. Usually my runs are scheduled so that I can still accomplish my other tasks for the day. Not today though, as my day is wide open and I can do whatever I want.
After getting back from my run, I take a shower and mill around the house for a bit. Read some blogs, check some news sites, etc. As I’m making myself lunch, son #2 comes home for lunch – a benefit of being a senior in high school with a car. It’s nice to see him in the middle of the day. Time to get ready for my afternoon hike.
Still haven’t checked work email!
I haven’t been hiking for a while, so I decide to head over to Sugarloaf Mountain for an afternoon hike. It’s a decent drive to get there and I’m able to catch up on my backlog of podcasts. When I arrive there are only two other cars in the parking lot. During weekends in the summer this place is packed and you’re lucky to find a spot.
There are a few marked trails on Sugarloaf and I start to head up (the key word being up!) the orange trail. It’s a reasonably technical trail with lots of rocks and my legs are feeling it by the time I reach the top.
Once you get to the top, there are great views in every direction. It was a bit cloudy, so the pictures don’t do the view justice. I spent about two hours on the mountain just gazing off into the distance. It was certainly much quieter than being there in the summer. I think I came across six other people where I was there. I’m grateful for the peace and tranquility on the mountain.
Luckily I didn’t kill myself heading down the orange trail and it’s time to run a few errands. On the drive over to the bank and post office I’m able to get through another podcast. After leaving the bank with a few bucks in my pocket I happen to drive by a Dairy Queen. Mrs. Need2Save will attest to my weakness for ice cream, even when it’s Dairy Queen which isn’t technically ice cream. I haven’t had a Blizzard in a while and I am trying to stay healthy… but why not get some ice cream in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday in February?
All those calories I burned on my run and hike just got put back on after that Blizzard. Seems like it’s time to head home. On the way I drove by the library. Why not stop in for a bit? My afternoon hike inspired me to hunt down books on hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). Sounds like I need to add another item to the bucket list.
On my way out of the library I noticed a sign for free sign language classes. I like free. So now I’m signed up for 5 two-hour sign language classes.
Still haven’t checked work email.
I make it home around 4:30, which is about two hours earlier than normal. After getting in extra Frisbee throws for our dog, it seems like a good time to make dinner. Mrs. Need2Save also gets home early too, as she couldn’t let me have all the fun.
The rest of the day is filled with our typical evening activities. Reading some great personal finance blogs online, going down the rabbit hole of information on hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, and spending some time reading whatever book is current on my Kindle.
Never did check work email!
As I mentioned in our Filling Your Time in Early Retirement post, there are lots of things that I’m interested in doing once I no longer need to work. My practice retirement day gave me a glimpse of what is in store. Another highlight was that I didn’t feel rushed to cram in every activity I wanted to do, like I tend to do on the weekends. I could just enjoy the moment at a leisurely pace. It’s also easy to see how quickly a day goes by without any obligations.
I admit that I did have an urge to check my work email, but I resisted. The next day when I returned to work I had around 140 emails in my inbox. A solid 50% were useless and another 30% were just me getting copied on email chains to ‘be in the loop’. The remaining 20% were of some interest and I probably only needed to act on about 5% of the total emails I had received.
Looking forward to my Spring practice retirement day in May!
Have you ever taken a random day off work with nothing planned?
How would you spend your day of freedom?