Busselton: The Mini-Retirement Experiment
I’m sitting in our hotel room in Farmington, New Mexico, after 32 hours of travel yesterday. The long journey has its bonuses – we fell asleep around 22:30 last night. Although I woke up at 04:00 it’s already looking promising on the jet-lag front. Before I launch wholeheartedly into work again, this seems like a good time to reflect on the last three months: our mini-retirement experiment.
For the uninitiated, a mini-retirement is recently coined phrase that forms part of the ‘lifestyle design’ vocabulary. It’s an extended period of time off from work (anything from one to several months) as an alternative to the traditional one-off retirement that usually occurs at the end of one’s working career. Mini-retirements recur multiple times throughout your working life, allowing you to enjoy extended breaks of rest and recuperation (and learning, adventure and fun if that’s what you’re after) at various stages of life.
For our three month mini-retirement experiment, we wanted to make the most of the Australian summer by moving temporarily to Busselton in the south-west. It’s a small town (around 14,000 people) on the beach and the doorstep of the area’s wine region, Margaret River. Summer is prime time – hot days, cool nights – and even when overrun with families enjoying school holidays, you can still be one of just a handful of people on the most popular beaches. The local food is divine and can be bought direct from the growers at the weekend markets. Of course, the local wine is pretty special too.
So, what does one actually DO during a mini-retirement? In our case, the typical day looked something like this:
- Morning: wake up, have cooked breakfast, move (e.g. yoga, bike ride)
- Mid-day: make lunch, do something (e.g. fiddle with motorbike, read a book)
- Afternoon: do something else (e.g. read, watch a movie, go for ride on motorbike)
- Evening: move (bike ride, swim), cook dinner, watch a movie or series or a bit of TV, go to bed
I did have a number of days that looked more like: wake up, eat breakfast, read, eat lunch, read, eat dinner, read, sleep. Those were great days 🙂
In case you’re thinking either: ‘That sounds incredibly boring’, or ‘You guys are so lazy’, we did achieve some things:
- Put an offer on a house in Perth, which (fingers crossed) will settle while we’re in the USA
- Got all our filing in order
- Wrote some more text for the Money School books (yes, they’re still going)
- Got Adam’s grandma’s house looking lived-in again
- Spent ‘quality’ time with a bunch of people – Jenni and Jules, Candice and Rich (and little Ben), Donna and Carl, Jayne and Andy, our mums, Craig and Nicole, Mark, Helen and Shaun, and Adam’s cousins
- Did some motorbike trips with Adam’s bro, Simon
- Explored the south-west a bit more (I usually don’t get past the wineries)
- Lost some weight, got fitter and well rested
- Read the Harry Potter series from start to finish (OK, that one’s just mine)
We also fitted in a week of work each, and I’ve been doing bits and pieces to prepare for the job in Farmington, and Adam’s leg was operated on to remove a melanoma (all good now). Most importantly:
We learned to live together again
after 6 months of effectively living on the opposite coasts of Australia.
That part is harder than it sounds, people.
So, what’s the outcome of this particular experiment? Personally, I feel fantastic, even after the jet lag. I’m actually excited about going to work. I feel better equipped to manage stress and think I can maintain that during this contract. We’re eating better. We’ve had time to really think about what we want out of life and get a plan in place to get there… and yes, it includes more mini-retirements 🙂