LEARNING TO BELIEVE I'M WORTHY OF THE LIFE I HAVE NOW

It's time to recognize the hard work that's gone into preparing for the life we have now. We've earnt the rewards we're reaping.

WHY DID I STRUGGLE WITH EARLY RETIREMENT? 

After I left work and started to recover my resilience, I noticed that I had an underlying sense of.....I guess it was guilt(?) about being home all day and not being part of the 9-5 daily grind of going off each day to a job. I puzzled over why I had this internal unsettledness with the idea of not earning my way anymore. Was it because it was what I had always done and had thought I would be doing for several more years to come? Part of me felt like I didn't deserve this lovely life I was living - that it was too pleasant and too easy - and there had to be a "catch"....

What was it that made me feel like I didn't deserve to be sitting in my own home enjoying my own company? Why did I feel like I needed to continue to prove myself and my value by working for the rest of my life? I've come to see that it's based around a sense of worthiness - being able to feel like I'm worthy of this life I've been working towards all these previous years. 

WORTHINESS BEGINS WITH ME

It isn't that I don't have a sense of self-worth, because I do, I know who I am and what I bring to the table. But I do think there's a difference between having self-worth and believing you're worthy. I saw this little quote the other day and I realized that it summed up what was at the core of my unsettledness - it was that I needed to believe that I was worthy of this beautiful life I'm now living.
 
I hope beautiful things happen to you,  and when they do,  I hope you can believe  that you are worthy of every single one of them. FE Marie quote

Worthiness comes from within - I needed to give myself permission to be home enjoying my new life, to feel that this was my new normal and that I had earnt the right to be here. I didn't reach this point in life by a fluke of fortune, or by a handout from someone else, or by riding on the coat tails of my husband. I'd worked long and hard and saved diligently to be debt free - that's what had contributed to being able to decide whether I needed to return to work or not. I am reaping the rewards of all the preparation I'd put in previously.

PREPARING AND THEN ENJOYING

As time has gone along, I'm gradually coming to see that the last four decades of life have been a time of preparation for the life I'm living now. I couldn't sit at home in my 30's and spend all week dabbling in leisure activities, there was too much to do, too many people depending on me, and a mortgage that needed to be paid. I put my head down and my tail up and worked diligently for many, many years with the full intention that one day we'd be debt free and things would get easier.

What I hadn't noticed was that I'd arrived at that wonderful "future time" and all that preparation was in place for me to start enjoying it. Maybe it was because I still feel like I'm 35 and it surprises me to remember that I'm actually 60 now and being a retiree is much more normal than I think. I remember envying my friends who'd jumped into early retirement - and assumed it was because they were rich. What I hadn't realized was that I could do it too - and it wasn't about being "rich" it was about putting in the hard yards and building towards this stage of life where things begin to get simpler and slower.

I'm a preparer and I feel like I have enough things in place that I can do what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.  I'm not going to stop because of retirement, I'm just going to do more of what I enjoy.

LEARNING TO BE KINDER TO MYSELF

I've always been really happy for those of my friends who'd finished work. I wanted to be just like them, and now I am. It's time to extend that happiness to myself and to even congratulate myself a little on all the work and perseverance that have brought me here. There are a lot of people who will never reach this point because they made different life choices. 

Someone I was talking to the other day said they'd rather buy a lot of stuff and enjoy it right now, rather than save for the future. Their hobbies and purchases were more important to them than paying off their house or their credit cards. They're happy with those choices, in contrast I never felt that way. I've always been a saver and denied myself some of life's luxuries with the intent that eventually I'd reap the rewards of being frugal. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

I feel like my choices have now paid off....so why feel guilty that I've reached the point where I don't need to work to sustain the life I live now? We'll never be rolling in clover, we won't be jetting business class around the world, or driving a Porche, but we're happy and we're content with what we have - there's no need to keep accumulating more. So, I'm going to stop second guessing myself, I'm going to be happy for us, I'm going to relax into this new life and stop thinking I don't deserve what we've worked so hard to achieve.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you cruising along into retirement (or already there)? Are you finding it to be an easy transition or have you had struggles with adjusting to the changes? It's interesting how we all approach life differently and what's important to one person can be completely different to another - Vive la difference!

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It's time to recognize the hard work that's gone into preparing for the life we have now. We've earnt the rewards we're reaping.

It's time to recognize the hard work that's gone into preparing for the life we have now. We've earnt the rewards we're reaping.
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It's time to recognize the hard work that's gone into preparing for the life we have now. We've earnt the rewards we're reaping.

24 comments

  1. I think you've hit the nail on the head. People look at a lifestyle and think 'They're so lucky' without seeing the work that's gone in over the years and the sacrifices that have been made and gratification delayed in order to create the "lucky" life. Yep, you're worthy of it.

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    1. Thanks Jo - it's strange how I felt so guilty about something that I had absolutely no need to feel guilty about. Recognizing that it was an earnt reward and definitely the result of delayed gratification makes it a lot easier to be at peace with it now x

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  2. I agree with your word 'worthiness' as a way of accepting where we're at at the moment Leanne. I've also found it's been about purpose for me too. We are fortunate in some ways to be able to be in this position but it's also because we've worked hard to be where we are. It's a good life!

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    1. It's SUCH a good life Deb! And maybe that's why I worried that I didn't deserve it, but I've come to see that the life I've settled into isn't big and grand, or OTT - it's just a pleasant and comfortable life - and (like you) I'm enjoying every moment of it.

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  3. Hi, Leanne - When my husband first retired he had a bad case of 'retirement guilt.' It felt wrong for him to sleep in, goof off or pack our bags for a weekend away...on a Tuesday afternoon. You are so right - we congratulate others for achieving retirement. It's time to also congratulate ourselves!

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    1. I SO get it Donna! I think when you have a really strong work ethic it's hard to put that phase of life behind you, and I think it was compounded for me by it being so unexpected. Perhaps I needed to over-think it more! Regardless, I'm glad I'm finally clicking as to what the underlying issue was and can move forward now with an even bigger smile!

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  4. Hi Leanne, It's very true that our values influence how we spend our money. I, like you, prefer to be frugal and enjoy the benefits of that when I retire. My in-laws value travel and go all out on huge holidays every year to the expense of paying off their mortgage or putting money into superannuation. I don't envy them at all and it'll be interesting to see what happens down the track when they retire! Regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - it's definitely different strokes for different folks - I don't think I could cope with the stress of carrying debt into retirement - or needing to work for another decade or more to offset all that spending. Being frugal has paid off for us and I have no regrets in that area at all - especially now I get to enjoy the result!

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  5. I thinnk I need to think about this more before I make a useful comment. I don't think until just now I've thought there was a difference between self worth and worthy. But then I leqarnt (fromm Art Spiegelman's Dad in Maus) to think 'Why not me?' so maybe back then, before that, I didn't see them as one and the same. You have got me thinking, so good post. I may return with a more complete comment.
    #Lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Lydia - it the worthy/worth thing occured to me as I was trying to figure all this out. I've worked hard on getting my self-worth up to a level that I'm okay with - to not carry that lack of self-confidence anymore is a relief. To then discover that I still had a hangup in the area of feeling that I didn't deserve something I'd worked so hard towards was quite an eye-opener. (And your typos were still readable so you did well).

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  6. Hi Leanne. I was not the primary bread-winner, and I sort of just fell into teaching preschool. I did like my job, but when Tim retired, I didn't give my job a second thought. Tim and I did both worry about what our families would think, when Tim retired early, and we up and left the country. We both have the approval-seeking personalities. I think that goes along with lack of self-esteem. I do feel like I deserve this life, but it's taken me a long time to get to this place. I talk a little about this in the post I'm writing for you. Thank you for sharing another thought-provoking post. Christina Daggett xx

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    1. Hi Christina - retiring early is such a privilege isn't it? It can take a while for it to sink in that it's okay to not be working, and when you layer moving countries on top of that it certainly rattles a few cages! I'm loving seeing you settling into your new place and how beautiful you're making it and I'm looking forward to reading your guest post soon.

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  7. Great post. Why do we make ourselves feel guilty about things that make us happy? I feel guilty when I'm in the studio too.

    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. Good point Janet! And I don't have an answer because it must be part of human nature for some of us. Maybe we'll get better at shedding that guilt as time goes along and it becomes part of our daily "norm".

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  8. I've been known to point out that I was raised on guilt, so it comes naturally to me. Yes, I've felt guilty because I was able to retire early, debt free. Yes, I've felt guilty because we are financially secure, due to a lot of lifestyle choices through the years. I'm learning to accept it and appreciate it. Hard to do sometimes when I realize I'm in the minority (being financially secure in retirement).

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    1. Hi Pat - we spoke to a finance guy a while ago and he said that very few people in their 50's and 60's are debt free or in a position to stop working. In fact he often tells them they need to work more to get on top of their debt load before they can't work anymore - I thought that was really sad. It is a nice reward to know that all those years of putting in the hard yards has finally come to fruition though (for both of us!)

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  9. A very interesting and relevant post for me to read this week. Thank you for getting me to have an extra think. I struggle with being relevant these days. I am well into the retirement years post education (and physically well after cancer) and yet, I "still" want a place of relevance in my life. I am slowly seeing, I HAVE been worthy and relevant and now this is changing so I can encompass my vast years of experience to by a supporter of others rather than continue to be in the working world. Thank you so much for linking up your blog post for Life This Week. I hope to see you next week, for the last of my Taking Stock posts. Do join in, with a post on or off prompt. Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - I think you hit the nail on the head with wanting a continued sense of relevance and feeling like we're worthwhile now we're not part of the working world. I struggled with the sense of being in my very small world and enjoying the peace it brought, but realizing that I still needed to interact or I'd become a hermit. I think I'm slowly getting the balance right, but I'm also looking forward to a lot of things I attend taking a break over Christmas/New Year - time for a breather and then to kick things off again in the new year.

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  10. Hi Leanne, You've earned your early retirement so it's time to congratulate yourself and enjoy life. Don't let the 'guilt' voice creep in. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare

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    1. You're so right Natalie - and I'm getting there. I think it was identifying the underlying feeling that has helped me take the next step forward - and to stop overthinking everything to death!

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  11. I think the concept of retirement has changed over the years and some people keep working when there is no need too. Others like yourself chose to enjoy those extra leisure hours though for many I know they are not wasted or idle hours spent doing nothing. Whatever we chose to do, it's still a learning process, a work of some kind such as learning a new skill, volunteering, being a grandparent. I hope to keep learning until the day I leave this mortal life.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - you're so right. I thought I'd be working for several more years, and to find that I'm not and that I enjoy this very pleasant life (like being on holidays all year round!) is quite a surprise and a little unsettling. Not having to 'earn' the right to be free of work is such a new concept for me, but I'm getting there slowly - and I'm certainly not idle - I hope to keep learning for many decades to come too.

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  12. Oh, Leanne, this was such a great post. I love that quote too. I enjoy my job (which is good), but I do long for the day when I can stay home. I feel like my days off are a rush of catching up. On my one day off I babysit my grands, which is fun, but doesn't leave time to get anything else (or nothing) accomplished. Thank you for always being transparent and encouraging. I'm not quite at typical retirement age (I'll be 53 in december), but I do look forward to that day.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - I was working 4 days a week when I was 52 and squeezing everything into my one day off. Then I cut back to 3 days and then to 2 days as my job got more difficult to deal with. It kind of prepared me for filling my days when work stopped completely, but there was that underlying sense that I should still be out there working like everyone else. Finally giving myself permission to just enjoy this new stage of life has been such a relief.... Now I just have to keep reminding myself that I've worked hard to get here and now it's my time in the sun. x

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