In Praise of Mini-Retirements & How YOU can go on one too

I first read about this idea of mini-retirements in Tim Ferris’ book called the 4-hour work week. The idea stuck and I’ve been taking breaks between work contracts to travel and volunteer ever since. I for one do not want to wait until I’m 65 to enjoy discovering different activities and parts of the world that I wouldn’t normally have the chance to do and see!

The result has been amusing and educational. And, incidentally, I also get to spend a lot of time with older people (because they are actually retired). Positive because:
1. I can question them on their life decisions and what they feel they did well, or not so well – aka, garner new wisdom
and
2. they are chill older people, much like me, so no pressure to drink/party etc. I like my dancing but I’m not much of a night-clubber.

There are numerous ways to plan a mini-retirement for yourself. You can plan it around one of your hobbies/passions (aka. you’ve just discovered salsa dancing and you’re heading to Colombia to immerse yourself in this for the next 3 months) or around a great, new place you’ve been meaning to discover.

How?
Check out websites such as WWOOFing networks (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where in exchange for room and board you help out farmers with their various organic farming activities (this has led to rather random and funny situations in my own life, such as my temporary hiring of Bolivian soldiers who weeded the garden story) and Work Away (workaway.info) as well which works much like WWOOFing but involves a whole myriad of work and volunteer activities that go far beyond farming. I really enjoyed my first workaway trip where I got to teach yoga in Morocco back in 2018.

Side note: for anyone reading this who has children – YES many WWOOF and WorkAway hosts will welcome in families to stay and volunteer with them too.

Then we always have couchsurfing, AirBnB and WarmShowers network (for you cyclists out there)…

and you ALSO have friends who can take you along on a fun cruise or trip (or you can invite yourself to them).. then by all means bike along the Danube or check out an Ashram in India and go on an Ayurvedic cleanse. Thank you friends !!

Of course there are all of the allures of being a global nomad and finding freelance work, such as using the platform upwork.com – you can also take some time off between major work contracts and have a bit of a side hustle on the side – either to keep yourself and your mind busy and engaged, or to make some extra cash, or both.

Either way, for the sake of leading interesting, diverse and balanced lives, why on Earth (if we can allow ourselves this luxury) would we immediately jump from work contract to work contract? I advocate for taking some downtime, but ultimately what I see in myself and in others is that down-time does not necessarily mean doing nothing and lying belly-up on the beach (sometimes needed, but not always), but rather it means changing drastically what you’re doing and where you are.  Mentally, it feels like more of a holiday. Taking some distance from your normal life and activities can give you a breather, change your perspective and rest the parts of your mind which are preoccupied with those activities. I don’t think we necessarily need to stop being active BUT we do sometimes need a change of scene and change what we are doing.

FYI – there are other benefits to this also.
Being cross-disciplinary and poking your nose into other worlds that you previously knew nothing about (ex. organic farming, goat-cheese making, natural horsemanship, woodworking, etc.) can be very beneficial to your core work and to your brain:

  • builds creativity and fires up your imagination
  • is literally healthy for your brain (Thank you medium.com, and I quote “your brain needs novelty to grow”)
  • can bring in great new inspiration and ideas (in fact, according to Harvard Business Review, some of the best ideas come from outside of our own industries)
  • not to mention travelling to a part of the world where you can brush up on the foreign language you’re learning

Three cheers for the diverse life and the life-long learners!!!

(and after you’re done cheering, please feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback below) <– especially if you’re a practitioner of mini-retirements too!

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