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Time for a change, time for a mini-retirement

Last Thursday I relocated to Huaraz a mountain town in Peru. For the past 6 months I’ve been working a demanding corporate contract. It’s significantly moved my professional skills forward but I felt something was missing. My bank balance was healthy but my soul felt depleted. It was time for a self imposed review. The outcome, a three and a half month mini-retirement.

What’s a mini-retirement?

The idea, popularised by Tim Ferriss of the Four-Hour Workweek, suggests we scatter short retirements throughout our life rather than waiting till a full retirement a.k.a the deferred life plan.

Tim believes that taking a break from your normal routine can actually lead to greater effectiveness, not to mention fun, over the long term, with the possibility of saving some money whilst you are at it.

There are a few assumptions I operate on. The first is that long life is not guaranteed. If we define risk as the potential for an irreversible negative outcome, there’s more risk in postponing the things that you would most like to do for 30 or 40 years versus taking a perhaps sub-optimal, less-compounded return on investment because you allocate some of that to these mini-retirements.

Assumption two is that your ability to generate revenue and to accomplish business objectives is directly dependent on optimal physical and mental recovery. I would argue that when people add hours and only have “too weak” vacations, they’ll benefit from taking a mini-retirement and actually return to work with more perspective, greater endurance, and the ability ultimately to produce more money, so that offsets the amount of money spent on that mini-retirement.

There are some very interesting instances and quite simple approaches for actually making money — and let’s just look at making and saving as essentially the same thing, improving the balance. You can actually improve your financial balance by taking mini-retirements.

It sounded perfect. Less travelling, more relocating. Slowing the treadmill rather than abandoning it.

The location was somewhat irrelevant, it simply had to fit my criteria of climate, cheapness, internet, and mountains. The Cordillera Blanca is a majestic mountain range that I longed to return. I exercised the FREE in freelancer and jumped on the first flight.

Clearly defined objectives

Unlike my carefree and aimless backpacking days I have clearly defined objectives.

  1. To startup – Dramatically reduced living costs means I have time available for new business ideas.
  2. To climb – It’s a passion of mine and unfortunately not one that’s possible to pursue in my own backyard. I’m looking forward to that feeling of being super fit at the end of this high altitude trip.
  3. To write – I’ve finally returned to my shamefully neglected blog. I’m also deliberating about picking up a novel I put on hold last year. I also see writing regular letters as improving this skill set.
  4. To reflect – determining the importance and value of a key relationship in my life.
  5. To save – It feels like a challenge. Can I live abroad, take time off, yet return with more money than I started with? Earning in Stirling and spending in Soles it feels very possible.
  6. To learn – I’ve dabbled with Spanish for a while. Although I’m not going the full emersion route, spending time here can only lead to improvements.
  7. To reconnect – I’m finishing the trip with a journey down to Buenos Aires to visit an old friend I haven’t seen in 5 years.

A few days in, a world of difference

It’s astonishing how much increased my motivation levels already are. I’m doing things purely for me, chasing what brings me satisfaction now and in the future. I’m writing, I’m developing, I’m thinking, evaluation, and learning. I feel creative and enthusiastic. Time out, but with a purpose. It’s early days but I think the mini-retirement is an concept that may well stick.

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