Why Wait? Five Hot Tips on the Art of Micro-retirements

“Micro-retirement: noun 1. the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work for extended periods of time on multiple occasions throughout one’s working career.” – from the Danni Dictionary of Good Times.

I was sitting at school one day in the staff room and one of the women there asks me whether I am back next year, to which I respond ‘no’. When she asks why, I inform her that next year I am going on what I term as ‘micro-retirement’ again. I am off to go and travel until the money runs out or I get antsy and need to stop and do some work for a little stability for a while.

She sat across from me and said to me ‘I think this is amazing, and I am so glad that you choose to do this. You never know what will happen tomorrow’. She continued to tell me about how her and her husband had lead active lives and he used to run marathons, was healthy and fit as fiddle. They had spent their entire lives saving for a house, saving for kids, and then saving for their retirement to go and travel, see the world and enjoy their lives. After her husband retired, he went into hospital for a hip replacement from wearing it down through running triathlons. He had a complication in the week following and died of a blood clot post surgery. All of their savings and plans had gone to waste, because he was never going to see or do any of it. And now she doesn’t know how she is supposed to do it on her own.

This to me was heartbreaking. I was almost in tears listening to her talk. Her loss was both abrupt and horrifying. And yet she sat across from me and said ‘You don’t know whether you will die tomorrow. So live like there is no tomorrow. Do what you want to do today if you can. You will never know what will happen, even if you are the fittest and healthiest you can be. You just never know’.

Moments like these inspire me. I hear stories like these from so many people. In the blink of an eye, the plans are gone because their loved ones are gone. These moments remind me of why it is I choose this option of micro-retirements over the conventional decisions that others make. But in many cases micro-retirements can be quite a daunting thing to many. And so here are my tips to living adventurously and like there is no tomorrow by taking a micro-retirements as opposed to saving your whole life for one big retirement.

1. Learn to embrace instability 

Stability-schmility.  There is plenty of money to be had if you are willing to work for it in this crazy world. Who would you be if you weren’t defined by what job you worked, what house you lived in, what stuff you owned and how many kids you had…. an interesting thought in this world that promotes capitalism and excessive need for stability.

2. Become well versed in multiple different jobs

Some people shun me for being “a jack of all trades and master of none”. What I do know is that this particular skill has had me working in every field from science to education to promotions and marketing to forklift driving. As I say to my students all the time “don’t close doors on yourself. Do as much as you can and keep as many doors open as you can”.

3. Be prepared to do literally ANYTHING for work

I am not super proud. To keep me on the road and fund my travels I have done everything from working as a cleaner, a manual labourer and one job I had was sticking promotions stickers on men’s toilet urinals. I have even sneakily collected recycling for bottle collection return.

4. OR choose a career that is supremely flexible. 

My current career as a teacher is greatly flexible. I can teach anywhere in the world and am flexible enough to teach a lot of different subjects. Other friends I have met that travel with their careers are nurses, accountants, scientists, trades people, people who work in hospitality and tourism.

5. Make your money go further

When you are on the road look for deals and do it the cheap way. If you have the time, take the local bus. Eat the cheap food off the street instead of from in the restaurant. Stay in smaller and cheaper guest houses.  Think of the money you spend in terms of “how many nights accommodation” it is worth.

And most of all ENJOY!! If you aren’t enjoying your life to the fullest, then what is it that you are doing? Time to take stock and try something different if what you are currently doing isn’t working!! Good luck!! And happy micro-retirements people!!!

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