This blog was started this blog to document my early retirement journey after stepping away from a 25-year career in operations/project management/consulting which was preceded by a 9-year military career as a combat forward observer paratrooper.
I used My Lobster Life as the title because of the growing period the lobster goes through when making a major life change.
This post will summarize my first year of not having a J.O.B. and the self-improvement efforts resulting from the extra time I had at my disposal.
Rather than resolutions, I set quarterly goals, in part due to the belief that it takes 66 days, on average, to establish a new habit. My ‘goals’ are to establish habits to become the type of person who can achieve the goals I set, not just to achieve the goals themselves. I focus on the ‘5 Fs’ each quarter and then report on progress at the end of each month. I then use my success and failures each quarter to reset and establish my next quarter goals. Following is my end of year report:
· Faith: Got back to church/bought groceries for 3 families with a member struggling with cancer/did disaster relief trip and 2 Habitat builds, along with assisting with a home repairs project for an elderly church member. Also helped coordinate a coat drive for the homeless.
· Fidelity (Self-Improvement): Read 65 books and completed 166 Bible App lessons/did several home projects and made major updates to historical fiction novel.
· Family: Took 4 vacations/Started spending weekly dedicated quality time with granddaughter (library/park/movies) to build a relationship and to give daughter a break while working from home/workout competitions with son. Planted a garden for my daughter. Contributed to grandchildren’s 529 college plans.
· Finances: Despite retiring in the middle of a bear market, I actually increased our overall net worth this year. I did so by initially moving the bulk of my retirement portfolio to treasury bills, and then, once I received my rollover IRA, moving to short-term CDs, treasury bills, a bond fund and (mostly) dividend-paying stocks. Our non-retirement cash position took a hit this year due to living off of those assets once I retired, but, subtracting out a bathroom remodel and a new car purchase, we spent about the same as we did in 2021. I also did a Roth conversion with my wife’s entire IRA which will save us considerable taxes in the future.
· Fitness: Recovered from shoulder surgery in late December and gained muscle and lost fat (per DEXA scan) year over year. Ended the year stronger than I started in all of my core lifts. Tracked macros all year and learned what protein/carb/fat percentages work best for me. Most important, I stayed healthy, staying active while also keeping bulging discs, a-fib and other issues in check by dealing with them proactively.
2022 Overall Summary: While accomplishments added up when using the lens of 'checklists' to evaluate overall performance using my guiding principles, I did a poor job, overall, of time management. I spent too much time sitting at a computer getting distracted by internet articles and YouTube videos and not enough time reading, hustling, networking, studying and doing HARD WORK. The 2 principles I excelled most in (Finances and Fitness) were due to the fact that I had better systems in place, in addition to both being primarily numbers-driven principles. I need to borrow from these going forward to improve my approach to personal development and family.
Fidelity: I will learn how to play basic guitar cords and conversational Spanish utilizing the same skills which allow me to be successful in fitness and finances. I will publish my historical fiction novel.
Faith: Although the overall accomplishment 'count' for this principle was solid, these tasks were frequently thrown together without much planning or intentionality ahead of time. I will seek to take a more structured approach in this area in 2023. I will perform one at of community service each quarter, along with contributing weekly to my home Church.
Family: The 'checklist' was solid for this principle, but this area highlights the need to 'be' the kind of person I'm trying to become more than one who accomplishes things. I will work to build credibility in 2023 to ensure the life lessons I share actually get implemented in a helpful manner that continues to improve my family tree for the long-term.
Finances: We will start doing 72(t) withdrawals from my IRA in 2023 and use the excess to start shoring back up our cash reserves and brokerage accounts. My goal, while enjoying the fruits of our labor, is to move more money to non-retirement accounts and to do more Roth conversions to protect potential legacy money down the road while also minimizing taxes in the long-term. I will also seek to recover from the hit to our brokerage accounts and wife's 403b as a result of the bear market, as I did not seek safe haven with these like I did the bulk of our resources (rollover IRA).
Fitness: Continue to track macros and track strength gains on core lifts and make adjustments based on progress. I will also look to add more recovery type work (sauna/ice baths/yoga/stretching) to regimen. I will have a HARD challenge each quarter that has to be something I'm not sure if I can accomplish in order to push myself to constantly get better.