Outgoing people have a psychological need to interact with other people most of the time. This can pose a big problem for extraverted early retirees as most people at the same age or even 10 or 20 years older will away at their jobs for over 10 hours a day (work+lunch+commute) for 5 or 6 days of the week, effectively most of their waking time. This leaves very little time or very few opportunities to soak up the required amount of interaction for those who no longer work for a living.
This is a big problem as extraverts are very uncomfortable just being with themselves for that length of time on a daily basis for an extended period of time. At least a regular job provided social interaction as a benefit; after retirement, social interaction may be restricted to trying to strike up a conversation with the a cashier, gas tank attendant, or other unsuspecting victims.
(If you are desperate, I recommend getting a friendly dog (that likes other dogs or people): at least you get to talk to other dog owners every time you run into one.)
Now I realize that I am not exactly an authority on extravert attractions. I like hobbies, reading, learning, playing music, practicing instruments (during odd decades), spending hours on wikipedia,… Hanging out with people other than DW for a couple of hours a day, 4 days a week is enough for me.
Now, many working people spend their time on the job, watching TV (5 hours a day) and maybe one activity, which for introverts would be a hobby and for extraverts would be going out. This apparent lack of imagination is probably a good thing, lest going to work every day turn into a frustrating feeling of opportunity loss. However, a common mistake is to extrapolate these extracurricular activities to the entire week: “I can’t watch TV 16 hours a day” or “I can’t afford hanging around in bars all day”. Indeed, no!
However, just as there are inexpensive and fulfilling activities for introverts I say claim that the same holds for extraverts. You just have to be creative.
I already mentioned getting a dog (It has to be a dog. A goldfish won’t work!), yet, I would also encourage people to join committee work, fund-raising, and maybe non-profit volunteering. There are many many things you can do. Building trails, teaching people how to sail, rescuing pets, politics, being the treasurer of the HOA, etc. Depending on your interests, this can be very rewarding if you can find the right kind people to work with/for. There are also hobbies where age is not so much of an issue. I used to live next to the municipal golf course and every Monday morning there were people playing golf.
This would all happen when other people are working and in the function of these activities you would probably be interacting with some of them (in general, not everybody is locked up in their office all day—there are still things going on during the day) or the few other retirees you could find if you are flexible.
In the evenings, there are also inexpensive ways of hanging out. Instead of going to a bar and paying $10 for a beer, bring a sixpack and your other friends to a friend’s house or your house and hang out there. For the older crowd, invite other families or friends to dinner. Play games. Take turns.
In conclusion, I think even if you can not get along without other people to get your , it is still possible to find something rewarding to do if retiring extremely early, while everybody else stay at their jobs. You just have to think a little outside the box, as usual.
Read the comments below for an explanation of this post and the previous post (and the “normal people” post). Especially if they rubbed you the wrong way.
Originally posted 2010-01-18 00:35:08.