In his book the 4 hour work week, author Tim Ferriss speaks about the concept of a mini retirement.
When I first read the book I admit I was skeptical about this idea. I liked the book overall and recommended it to a few friends, but the idea of taking a mini-retirement seemed a little too wacky to me.
After all, I was a hard-working guy who had been employed since I was 16, I made great money, I had a wife and a son to think about and I wasn’t about to throw my hard-earned progress away on some concept of lying on a beach for a couple of months faffing around.
The idea never really left my mind and I thought about it often. Why should we save up all of our lives and hope that we live long enough to enjoy the harvest? Why should we work through the best years of our lives and retire to enjoy life at the end when our bodies are mostly spent?
I kept asking myself these questions, but I always found a way to rationalize and decide that while other people might be able to do such things it wasn’t the life for me.
And then the oil price crashed. I found myself with no other option. I was given 6 months of leave and told to wait for a phone call. I was forced to take a mini-retirement.
The Adjustment Period in Being Retired (Mini Retirement Can Play Games With Your Head)
Learning to take it easy in life is just as difficult as learning to work hard to begin with. The truth is I’d been going full hammer and tong for so many years that I couldn’t remember what it felt like to not work. When I suddenly found myself with endless time and nobody to answer to and no set tasks to do I found myself in a strange place. I experienced an emotional roller-coaster:
I was happy – I was free and had plenty of cash. Nothing to worry about for years at least and could do what I wanted.
I was free – A strange feeling for a man who has been used to working almost every day since high school.
I was bored – I had a strange amount of time on my hands and my schedule was thrown all out of whack. Usually I worked one month on, one month off and I had built my entire life around this cycle. Suddenly it was gone.
I was anxious – I began to think thoughts like “What if the oil price never comes back? I’ve just had a son and moved to The Philippines where there isn’t exactly a lot of work going on. What will I do in X years?”
I was also at peace – I fluctuated between some days having the brooding thoughts that come from having too much time on one’s hands to being happy, playing with my son, spending time with my wife, writing more, working on my business ventures which I had been neglecting for years and catching up on great books I had wanted to read.
Finding myself temporarily unemployed was a weird feeling. Slowly, however, I began to find my feet and get into a new rhythm. That is where I am today.
How to Use Your Mini Retirement Effectively
Tim Ferriss talks about many of these states of mind which you will experience if you suddenly find yourself in the slow lane when you have been travelling at 900 mph along the fast lane for years.
Yet the negative mindsets all stem from one thing – massive disruption to your brain’s set patterns. You, therefore, need to begin forming new patterns, develop a new routine and new habits to suit your new lifestyle. You also need to find a new purpose for your days.
Personally I am massively into self-development so I immediately decided to focus on several areas of my life. I began learning my third language, I set myself the challenge of reading a book per week, I started running again as well as doing my usual body-weight exercises, and I decided to fully focus on two other websites I run besides this. I have seen both those sites grow massively in the 8 weeks or so I have been working on them.
I also had to ask myself the fundamental question: What else can I do? This is a question I think many people would rather avoid because it forces us to look at ourselves and realize our own flaws and inadequacies. However, I seriously suggest you ask yourself this question before you HAVE TO, and get it straight in your head – if your primary livelihood was taken away from you by some turn in the economy or some event beyond your control how would you survive and thrive? What else could you do?
The Importance of Using your Time to Develop a Second Skill-Set
Luckily for me I had always understood how the commodities industry works and had prepared myself accordingly. I had saved up enough money and invested enough to see me through a very extended period of time. Still, a driven person does not want to sit on their ass and eat through everything they have worked hard to accumulate.
Besides going insane, that doesn’t make good financial sense. That’s the type of behaviour that keeps broke people broke while they blame everything else in life for their failures (it’s never that they watch TV 12 hours a day and only move to go to the fridge or adjust the AC).
I had used my time off the oil rigs wisely by sharpening a couple of other skill sets. First, I had written thousands of words every single day across multiple platforms. Second, I had stayed tuned into the English teaching game (one of the biggest industries in the world) by helping out friends and acquaintances who needed to learn in Indonesia. Thus, when my primary means of earning was removed I still had two skills I had worked on developing which allowed me to make basically as much money as I want.
Sitting from home, on my laptop, using only those two skills alone I could easily rake in $3000 a month. It’s a global market and both those skills are seriously needed. For guys who are web designers, programmers and app developers figures 5x that are achievable if you are willing to put your back into it and do a 50 hour week.
Personally I am not doing that much right now. I still have my job when commodities prices bounce back and I may or may not exercise that option. I still have a couple of other small businesses I am developing which are starting to come good. I still am not under any pressure, so I’m just sharpening my sword, refining those skills and getting ready to use them if the time comes where I need to.
This is all part of being prepared.
What I Have Learned From My Mini Retirement
I have enjoyed this period of time off immensely. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and been challenged for the first time to face some fundamental questions about areas I need to grow in.
I have also done heaps of things I have enjoyed which when I was working away from home I couldn’t – getting to know Jr. Freedom, climbing up mountains and taking in the stunning nature of The Philippines, doing something I genuinely enjoy (writing), taking my cardio to a whole new level which has led me to feel better as a result, and working on ventures which probably would have sat forever on the shelf otherwise.
I have learned that for those who can afford to do it and won’t suffer any seriously bad consequences, as a result, the mini-retirement is about the best thing you can do for yourself. I understand now what Tim Ferriss was talking about and I salute him for introducing the idea to so many people.
I have learned that you don’t have to wait until the end to enjoy life and that when you do pull yourself off the corporate titty or are forcibly removed from it…life goes on.
I fact, life gets better.
If taking some time out to explore your options, spend time with your children, travel, learn or change your path in life is something you have been thinking about doing for a long time but haven’t because you fear the consequences I advise you to just let go and do it.
The world won’t stop. The bills will still end up paid. Your true loved ones will encourage and have your back. You will survive and if you have what it takes to make it on your own…you may even thrive! It is so easy to get caught up in making money that you forget why you were evening trying to make it in the first place. For me, it was freedom, and so that I could do more of this:
Until next time,
Desire. Decide. Persist.
Have you taken a mini retirement? What did you do? How did it work out for you? Let us know in the comments below.