Sunday, December 19, 2010

Planning a Mini-Retirement: Part 2

I'm blown away by how good 2010 was.  2011 has a lot to live up to!

A week ago I wrote this post about taking a mini-retirement. I wanted to share a little more about the idea, because it’s so different from a vacation.

In the U.S., many of us only have two weeks’ vacation a year. We’re often separated from our families, so our vacations are spent traveling to visit them-- over the busy, expensive, travel times of the year. And in many families, both parents are working full time. And this is not necessarily a bad life, particularly if we’re doing work we love. On weekends, and even at work, amazing things happen. Life happens. But for many of us, our careers are not totally in sync with who we are and who we’re hoping to become. As I see it, a mini-retirement is not meant as an escape, but as a means to recommit to living consciously, to recommit to the reality that our present is our lives.

For example, I drive to work, and I wish I didn’t. I'd love to be able to sew and knit, but I can't. A mini-retirement is a time where that can change. We have family all over the world, and dear friends who we haven’t seen for many years. With time on our side, the expense of visiting friends and family is greatly reduced (I can talk more about why in another post).

Even at it’s planning stages, a mini-retirement is an assertion that our lives are about more than our careers or our location.

Thoughts on how to make a mini-retirement conceivable (from A-27-year-Old-Who-Has-Never-Taken-a-Mini-Retirement-but-who-has-conceived-of-one):

(1) Get rid of non-mortgage debt (or develop passive streams of income, but this is harder)

(2) Think about what kinds of things you could do that would broaden or deepen your experiences, rather than compromise your career expertise. Make connections with people who are older and wiser, and in your field-- not strategic connections, but relationships that are valuable and enriching.

(3) Save. A little bit.  For example, if you would like to go on a mini-retirement one year out of every seven, and you've calculated the approximate cost (beyond what you think you could still earn) at $25,000.  Without factoring any interest, you'd need to save $25,000/6/12=$350/month.

(4) Plan what you’d like to learn during your mini-retirement, and how you could do it!

(5) Let people know that you're thinking about doing something different for a few months or longer, and listen to their advice or the friends they'd like to put you in touch with (this may depend on what you're thinking of doing)

(6) Don't make new commitments that would make a mini-retirement really difficult. For example, don't take on new debt.

Thoughts on how to make a mini-retirement a reality:
(1) Go on your mini-retirement when you moving between rental apartments.

(2) Consider staying closer to home, if this is more affordable or you have a mortgage.

(3) Consider staying in just one place, abroad.

(4) Get rid of stuff that’s not very useful to you.

(5) Don’t buy extra stuff.

(6) If you’re a two-income family, assess whether one of you could go without a formal employer.

As I write this, I recognize that there’s a danger in gearing your entire life towards this one event that may never happen. A mini-retirement does not mean more distant relationships, or less investment in the present. I have to be really careful to stay focused on experiencing my commute while I have it, enjoying my work and my time with my son, with family and friends, and not being obsessed with a time when I’ll get sleep. So I think it’s important not to do any of the above purely motivated by a mini-retirement. It only makes sense if most, or all, of the thoughts above fit with what you’re already doing and hoping for.

For example, for the most part I don’t want extra stuff, and Eug had the dream of working for himself with or without a mini-retirement. For us, the choice comes into play when I don’t buy books, or appliances, or extra lotion because I already have enough to last me into 2020.

How about you?
What aspects of a mini-retirement are appealing you you?
What's less appealing?
What hopes do you have for your work-life?

No comments: