Following from last week's post Intuitive Fire #1, I continue to reflect on the #FI-Wins I’ve made over the decades. There was no strategy, no real intent, just something that made sense at the time. I realise now that I'm an Intuitive FI.
So at 27 I was totally burned out by my not-very-nice media employers. I was totally exhausted and was not well looked after. I resigned from my job, sold my car, left the house to my brother to sort out (see previous post) and purchased a one-way ticket to Hong Kong.
My parents were aghast and accused me of ‘copping out’ of 'real life'. Whilst many of my friends and colleagues were in awe at my courage to up sticks, leave behind a bourgeoning (but miserable) career, and head to Asia on my own with nothing but a small back pack and $10,000 in my bank account. Remember was back in the days before iPhone and Google maps. I communicated back home through letters and postcards (yes, that’s right), a weekly Sunday night phone call that often cost a fortune, and sporadic emails from my first email account – Hotmail – when I could find a decent internet café that was capable of sending and receiving a few emails within half an hour (this was not an easy nor cheap task in the China, Nepal or Laos in 1998).
I spent the next 18 months on my own backpacking around India, Nepal and South East Asia on a strict budget of $10 per day. I focussed on the least backpacker-trodden paths – heading to rural China, staying with local farmers above their pig sties, eating basic peasant food and doing a lot of miming to get by. On one occasion I didn’t come across another English speaker for a week. I travelled all around China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, India and Nepal having the most incredible time of my life.
I was discovering new and exciting places every day, eating amazing food and meeting incredible people – some of whom I still keep in touch with some 20 years later. I totally relished the freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted for the first time in my life.
But perhaps the most beneficial thing from that time was the mental space it gave me. It gave me the time to ponder the emotional turmoil that was brewing inside and the mental torture I endured from self-criticism. Through lots of self-reflection and a few meditation courses – including a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat - I learnt to rely on myself, and perhaps best of all, to become friends with myself.
This time away in my late twenties was later than a gap year, but well before retirement age. It wasn’t all that common back then, but now the FI movement have a fabulous name for it – 'mini-retirement'. I love it!
A decade later my husband and I took our own mini-retirements. Once more we were exhausted by the rat-race, the keeping up with the Joneses (that we didn’t buy into that much, but was always there in the background). We resigned from our jobs, sold our house (at a loss – oops) and purchased a very rough little farmhouse several hours from the nearest city on 78 tranquil acres. It was completed off-grid. We had no connected utilities and got our power from the sun; water from the rain; disposed of sewage in a septic tank; and the trees from our forest provided the fuel for our heating and cooking.
We thrived in, and relished the idea of what we called our ‘Green change’ – but again, could now be called another 'mini-retirement'.
We lived a semi-subsistent lifestyle for six years (how very FI!), until we were ready for our next adventure. We took about year away from working which gave us time to think about what we really wanted to do. We launched a successful regional magazine and set up a small marketing and design agency. We loved working for ourselves. We didn’t earn much, but with no utility bills, and growing much of our food, we didn’t want for much.
We remember our time on ‘Greenfables’ with great affection. It was a wonderful 'mini-retirement'!
Are you thinking of taking a mini-retirement? Let me know in the comments below.