Semi-retirement is a bit like purgatory – whether you climb to heaven or slide into hell can be a very close call. It all depends on preparation, intention, and action, not on the flip of a coin.
At the beginning of September, I told you that I semi-retired by reducing my job to 50%. It has been two full months, and it is time to tell you how semi-retirement is treating me – spots, blemishes and all.
Apart from that, I have not written a personal post for The Money Principle in a long while. I used to tell you everything – where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and how do I feel.
Until a reader told me that he went on The Money Principle, and the first thing he saw was that I’d traveled somewhere.
‘Who cares?’ –he said next.
I thought about it and, you know, this reader had a point.
After all, you come on The Money Principle for information, inspiration, and fun. These must be in balance.
After stressing information and inspiration for a while, it is time to get to the fun and let you into my private world again.
In case you are wondering: I took all pictures in this post – during my travels.
And it is Sunday after all.
So, let me tell you how semi-retirement has worked for me.
First things, first:
Semi-retirement, so far, has been one of my best decisions.
Why you may ask?
Less stress, better health
All jobs are stressful; I give you that. Being a university professor has become more stressful than most. (This has to do with, loss of autonomy, increase in evaluation, unrealistic expectation, excessive un-necessary competition, worsening working conditions, etc.)
Many colleagues my age have suffered stress-related illnesses, e.g. strokes and heart attacks, and mental illness is rife.
Reducing my time to 50% means that I have much less stress. Some meaning has been returning to my life, and I have started to look after myself well again.
(I’ve lost close to 10kg, started exercising and running again.)
Being semi-retired is good for the family
Because I’m less stressed, a long-term aim of mine has come true – I’m a much better mother to my son. (Yes, I know he is eighteen, but if anything, older offspring demand more patience and tact.)
My relationship with John is better, as well. Having time to read much wider than my immediate research and academic areas means that we talk more and have fun discussions.
(Our latest discussion was about Edward III who defaulted on his loans and, in 1344, bankrupted Compagnia dei Bardi, one of the three major banking companies in Florence. Nerdy, I know but much more interesting than dirty socks and boiled cabbage.)
I’m more productive in semi-retirement
I used to close my eyes and watch my thoughts disco-dance. Naturally, it was impossible to focus on any specific problem – framing problems and solving them is a controlled, tight dance with no waste of energy, more like dancing the Paso Doble than Saturday Night Fever.
Two months later, my mind is calm, and slipping in and out of ‘the flow’ is child’s game. Of course, I’m a more productive writer.
My teaching is a performance my students love
I know this sounds a tad pretentious. Still, it is true.
When I teach, I can focus on learning again. People learn when they have fun.
Oh, okay. I no longer teach. Every Wednesday, I perform for 170 students and enable them to learn. There.
How about the loss of income in semi-retirement?
Reducing my employment to 50% means loss of income.
Still, I didn’t lose half my after-tax income; I lost approximately 40% of my income.
It is okay. Our saving rate has gone down a bit, but this temporary. (At least this is what I think.)
What do I do with my time?
How to occupy one’s time is a big issue in semi-retirement.
One option is to sit at home in doggy cardigans, watching day-time TV, and waiting for your time to come.
You’ve already gathered that this doesn’t sound like me.
So far, I have been
- writing academic papers and books (aiming to complete the book by Spring);
- dipping my toes in freelance writing for the internet. (Becoming an SEO witch.);
- working on growing my online business.
Doing all that without pressure feels good. Let’s hope it will yield returns soon.
Finally, I need your help:
Friends, I will continue working and producing for a long time – in semi-retirement or full early retirement.
Here is the thing, though: I’m at a crossroads.
- Do I direct my main contributions to the academe?
- Or, focus on building a prosperous online business by helping people in matters of money, work, and business?
It is tempting to go with the first option – this is what I know and where I feel safe. It is also boring and, I believe, not very helpful to anyone.
The second option for me is like venturing into the unknown and facing trials and feats of bravery. Yes, I’ve been blogging for a long time, but this has never been a ‘proper’ business – till now, I’ve dabbled.
Building an online business is very tempting because of novelty, learning, reach, and usefulness.