F50 Issue #7: October 10, 2023
Why Wait Until You’re Retired? Enjoy Life with Mini-retirements.
Have you ever said things like this to yourself?
“I’ll take a break after I’m retired.”
“I’ll travel more after I’m retired.”
“I’ll pursue those dreams after I’m retired.”
Entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss believes you don’t need to wait until after you’re retired to enjoy life. On Page 22 of his classic book The 4-Hour Workweek, he talks about some lectures he developed where he asked intriguing questions:
“Test the most basic assumptions of the work-life equation. How do your decisions change if retirement isn’t an option? What if you could use a mini-retirement to sample your deferred-life plan reward before working 40 years for it?”
These questions arose from his own experience. After planning to take a three-month trip that turned into a 15-month trip, he began to ask himself, “Why not take the usual 20–30-year retirement and redistribute it throughout life instead of saving it all for the end (p. 300)?”
He wanted to show that you don’t have to resign yourself to long days of work with little time to relax. You can organize your projects and your time so you can work for part of the year and then take longer recurring breaks.
That’s the kind of flexibility and freedom we see many of our students enjoying as they pursue freelancing careers. When you become a freelancer, you can decide what types of projects you’ll do and how often you want to work.
It’s up to you to choose when you’ll be emailing an “out of office” reply. Instead of looking forward to “someday,” you can make “someday” happen today, next week, next year, or whenever you want it to.
And when you’re freelancing, you can pursue financial opportunities that will help fund your mini-retirements.
What is a Mini-retirement?
Ferriss defines a mini-retirement as an “anti-vacation” where you move to a location for a few months and then either go home or move to another location.
You can do this over and over again throughout the year — essentially, taking frequent mini-retirements is a lifestyle that gives you a chance to relax and reexamine your life. It’s different from “binge travel,” where you rush to cram as much into a vacation as possible.
But if that sounds like too much traveling to you, don’t worry. You can tailor these mini-retirements to your needs and preferences.
Five Ways to Prepare for Your Mini-retirements
#1. Explore your options.
At the beginning of the book, Ferriss acknowledges that not everyone will want to travel. Some people just want more time. He explains that although traveling is one option, the main objective is for you to “create freedom of time and place and use both however you want (p. 18).”
But if you do want to travel, it’s up to you how you do it. You can explore the world overseas and find a second home, or pinpoint an area you’d like to spend time in. You can also enjoy mini-retirements closer to home.
Ferriss also recommends taking a “learning mini-retirement” where you learn new skills and volunteer in the area you’re staying in. Whatever you do, make sure you take a break from your regular routine and workload.
#2. Organize your finances.
According to Ferriss, it’s possible that your expenses abroad can be lower than your expenses at home. So, before you decide on where you’ll go for a mini-retirement, do some research and put together a budget. See what you can eliminate to lower your expenses and prevent stress.
If you decide to become a freelancer, take a look at your income and see how you can use it to help fund your mini-retirement. If you’d like to earn more income, think about marketing your services ahead of time to secure more projects before you take a break.
#3. Maximize your productivity.
If you’re going to be working for part of the year and taking extended breaks, productivity is key. You want to work hard without burning yourself out.
One way to do this is by observing Parkinson’s Law, which basically says that the longer you have to complete a task, the longer you’ll take. By giving yourself shorter deadlines, you’ll force yourself to focus clearly and work efficiently.
But keep in mind that deadlines should be shortened within reason. You’ll be too exhausted to enjoy your mini-retirement if you give yourself unrealistically tight deadlines that cause stress.
The key is to avoid lingering over a task or project too long, and if you find yourself overthinking, try to wrap it up quicker.
#4. Communicate well.
If you decide to work as a freelancer, it’s important to keep your clients informed. Let them know ahead of time when you’ll be starting your mini-retirement, and plan project milestones and deadlines in advance.
As Ferriss explains, once you’re traveling, you can set up a voicemail greeting that directs people to send you an email about important matters. And then use email autoresponders to indicate how long it’ll take you to respond.
#5. Get ready to slow down.
If you’re used to staying busy, it might be hard to slow yourself down. And if you originally planned to delay relaxing until retirement, you’ll need to shift your thinking.
Mini-retirements create a nice balance between life and work, so get ready to make the most of them. You don’t need to feel guilty about slowing down, because at a certain point in time, you can return to your work.
The key is to enjoy the present, whether working, or relaxing!
Pomofocus is an online pomodoro timer that helps you enhance your productivity. It’s inspired by the “Pomodoro Technique” created by Francesco Cirillo, which breaks tasks into 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks.
The Pomofocus app is available on desktop or mobile browsers. Simply add your tasks, select the one you’re going to work on, start the timer for 25 minutes, and take a break for five minutes when the alarm goes off.
This routine can be repeated until you finish your tasks. When you’re taking a break, it’s a good idea to get up from your desk, even just long enough for a short stretch.
If you’d like to use different time intervals, you can customize how long you’d like the focus and break periods to be.
Try out the app, and let us know if it helps you complete tasks more efficiently!
As we mentioned above, slowing down is an important way to prepare for your mini-retirements. If you work from home or in any remote location, you might not realize how often you forget to set work aside when you’re done for the day.
One quick tip is to establish an end-of-day routine that slows you down and shifts your mindset from work to home. FlexJobs has published an article that provides some great ideas, including how to find a “third space” that functions as a bridge between work and relaxation.
Here are some examples:
Making an effort to slow down at the end of the day will help you prepare for the longer breaks you’ll be taking if you choose to do mini-retirements.
Here’s to enjoying life NOW in all its fullness!
Until next time,