How a Mini-Retirement Brought Meaning to My Life

Ten years ago, I walked into my boss’s office at the large corporate company where I worked and announced that I was quitting my job. “What are your plans?” my boss asked casually after he had time to absorb the unexpected news. I took a deep breath and began to explain that I had been reading a book by William Bridges called Managing Transitions, and I wanted to take some time away from the rat race. He looked amazed. “Is this a midlife crisis thing?” he asked bluffly.

Actually, I had decided to take a mini-retirement. The term originates from Timothy Ferris’ The 4-Hour Workweek, in which he argues the case for taking a series of meaningful respites from our structured 9-to-5 careers rather than an end-of-the-line grand exit. I had always planned to retire early and follow a FIRE — financially independent and retired early — lifestyle. I had read about it, joined forums, and I started to save and invest my money in real estate to reach this goal. I did well, and by the time I stood in front of my boss, I was 40, financially independent and 50 percent on my way to joining the FIRE set.

There was one problem; I didn’t want to retire. What I really wanted was not so much freedom from wage slavery (as Noam Chomsky and others call it), but a meaningful life. I wanted to climb Abraham Maslow´s pyramid to the self-actualization apex. The work that I had been doing on developing leaders still interested me, I just wanted to have a deeper understanding and to work more independently rather than being bounded to a single organization. So I opted for mini-retirement.


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