Shh. I slept in. And then I did it again. It almost felt like the first time I retired. This year I’ve finished three books. I’ve also given presentations, helped people with their ideas and businesses, and basically been an active entrepreneur. Whew. What would I do with the extra time now that those projects were done? #NotRhetorical. Finding answers is not optional.
Are you getting ready to retire (or at least quit or take a sabbatical)? If you don’t have a plan for what to do next, give yourself the friendly task of talking to friends who have already done that. It is more complicated than ‘work hard then play hard’. That’s an momentary option, but not a sustainable lifestyle.
I retired at 38 in 1998. Want the details? Friends encouraged me to write a book about it, and I did. Dream Invest Live (the basis of this blog). The short version was that I (and my now ex-wife) lived a simple life: “Spend less than you make. Invest the rest.” It worked. My path to being un-retired is possibly the subject of a sequel, and we’ll see if I remember to describe that later in this post.
There’s a saying, “Chop wood. Carry water. Reach enlightenment. Chop wood. Carry water.” Even something as phenomenal as enlightenment does not negate the need to do the basic chores.
Swap out enlightenment and replace it with retirement, modernize it and get my updated version, “Pay bills. Do laundry. Retire. Pay bills. Do laundry.” Some things never change.
For those who think that they’ll get someone else to pay the bills and do the laundry, keep in mind that you’ll then be managing the people doing your work, and having to step in to fix mistakes because it is still your life and you are ultimately responsible for it.
But retirement (or quitting or taking a sabbatical) can mean sleeping in a bit more often.
A guideline I heard when I retired was that it takes about a year to get past those long-neglected chores that you’ve just run out of excuses to ignore. Tend the garden. Clear out the pantry. Fix the fence. Finally learn your neighbors’ names.
Today’s world is hectic enough that you may find that you’re out of practice when it comes to fun. ‘Waste’ time watching a movie? ‘Impose’ yourself by calling friends you haven’t called in too long? Enjoy the view if you’ve got one, or take yourself to a good one and watch the world go by for a while.
This is advice that I am giving myself.
Within the last ten years I’ve gone through periods when I usually worked 10 hours a day. For a while I only took off four days per year. I was exhausted, but desperate times happen.
Within the last few years my net worth has finally improved. That wasn’t because I worked so hard. The American Dream of work hard and find success is not a guarantee. I usually only made the equivalent of $15/hr annualized. Last year my work efforts resulted in less than $10,000.
My net worth improved because my house’s value went up. Even if its market value falls, I now have an asset that is worth much more than my debt.
That net worth growth was enabled by friends who helped me keep my house. Thanks. Social Security and my pension eventually helped; but I no longer can spend less than I make.
Personal finances are important, but being poor and working too hard have their costs. During the last two years (and possibly earlier) my exhaustion became undeniable. I don’t just need rest. I need, not just want but need, recuperation. I’ll spare you the details, but they have been significant enough that even I can take the hint.
So, I slept in; and slept in, again. And I’m not done.
The effect of decades of hard work are not dispelled with sleeping in on a weekend. I know that now. I lived it.
Except for dancing, of which there is too little of lately, I’ve gotten out of practice having fun. You, too, perhaps?
So, while taking a short break now that those books are done, what came to mind? More work. Silly boy.
Except for a few smaller items I’ve at least decided to relax my schedule and slide work into 2023.
Twelve Months at Fort Ebey – This will be the tenth book in the ten book series of photo essays of Whidbey Island’s nature. (I finished book nine earlier this year, Twelve Months at Dugualla Bay.) It will be the last of the books, and the reason to produce an exhibit of all ten sets of photos.
Dead Leaves Hot Water – If Kettle Pot Cup (the second book I finished this year) sells well enough then I may begin writing the sequel, Dead Leaves Hot Water, another series of casual essays about enjoying tea without stressing out over rituals.
Firewatcher‘s sequel – Firewatcher was the largest single project. My #apocaloptimic #SciFi novel about a bunch of Luddites escaping one set of problems on Earth to find a different set of problems. Those who’ve read it know that there can be much more. I’ve already identified two obvious sequels, which can lead to other sequels. I wrote it specifically so other authors can write sequels, too; which leads to one of this year’s tasks of writing the backstory and the beginning of that universe’s canon.
Sailing screenplay – Friends continue to encourage my writing. Those who’ve written screenplays got comically agitated with enthusiasm when I described a bit of my family’s history. I told them the story about an epic and true sailing adventure. They got agitated when I described it and said I’d work on the screenplay in a few years. If they had Nerf bats they probably would’ve used them to bop me on my head as they chanted, “Now! Now! Now! Not later!”
Whidbey Game – During the beginning of the pandemic I developed a game for the island’s tourists. A possible collaboration with a non-profit organization didn’t develop, so that’s something else for me to develop – and possibly extend to other tourist islands.
And more, of course.
Steve Smolinsky introduced me to the term “Clarity Break“. (My apologies for losing that link to his blog.) It is a good idea to take an break every day to consider yesterdays, today, and tomorrows. I have a backlog of postponed clarity breaks.
The holiday season is here. I can’t completely take a break from everything because I must continue to fuel the feed that reminds people of my books and photos. But, I for a few weeks at least I am not writing books (except for that backstory book). And there is that request for the ebook version of Firewatcher. I must continue taking photos because Twelve Month studies require work every month. And of course, there is social media to feed, bookstores to stock, and plans to make for 2023.
Does that sound busy? Sure. And yet to me, that looks almost relaxing in comparison. Maybe between Christmas and New Years I’ll actually take a week off. Sorry. I just laughed at myself. Let’s hope you can do better.