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How to be Semi-Retired: Step One

Posted by kdadmin on July 18th, 2015.

How to be Semi-Retired: Step One

Who doesn’t want to be Semi-Retired?

Work as much as you want, when you want, have the time to travel, enjoy your hobbies, play with friends, connect with family, but still make a meaningful contribution to the career, or cause, that you love. It’s a sweet life. No question.

In this series, we’ll cover the “how” of this process, one step at a time.

Step One. Find something you love to do more than anything else on the planet.

This is hard. Very hard. It took me years to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. But once I found kiteboarding, my entire perspective changed. Speaking of which, have a look at the shot above. It’s from my first, truly successful Deadman trick. I’m completely upside down. If you look hard enough, you can see my kite up in the sky in the lower left. The ocean is in the upper frame.

For you non-kiters out there, The Deadman is a trick in which you jump to at least twenty feet into the air, go inverted, lift your feet over your head, extend your torso, and float through the air, completely upside down, for several seconds. Five seconds was my goal. Take off is not the problem. It’s the landing. Or, more aptly, NOT landing headfirst.

Honestly, at about second three, I thought I was going to barf. I had started to rotate, and if I couldn’t counteract those effects, I was going to land in a wadded up ball of lines and kite. Somehow, my ab training kicked in and I stuck the landing. Further, unlike the first time I did a kite loop, I didn’t vomit. So, that was an improvement.

I tell you this because unless you have something in your life that pulls you away from work, you will never stop working long enough to semi-retire. There will be no reason to.

In order to save you some time in this process, I’ve made a list of HOW to find this something. Consider this a prequel to my “How to Live the Life You Love” video.

  1. This someTHING can’t be someONE else. That puts too much pressure on the relationship and will make you codependent in no time. You have to have something all to yourself.
  2. Access. It must be something to which you have regular access. It doesn’t have to be daily access, maybe it’s even seasonal, but there has to be a way you can do a lot of it in a year, and/or travel to do it off season.
  3. Coolness Factor. While the thing doesn’t have to be empirically cool, YOU have to think it’s cool. Doing the something has to resonate with your soul.
  4. Geekery Potential. The something needs a long term trajectory. For example, “liking beer” isn’t enough, but brewing beer could be. It needs a complexity that can continue to peak your interest over time. You have to be able to “get to the next level” as the process develops.
  5. Risk of Failure. There must be a chance that you can fail, totally, without being crippled (financially or otherwise), but still have the opportunity to re-evaluate, and try again. Risk of loss keeps things interesting, and forces you to keep your head in the game.
  6. Financially Sustainable. The something must be easily within your financial grasp. Maybe there’s an initial cost for gear, and a small, long term cost for access, but it can’t stress you financially. You actually have to catch yourself thinking, “I can’t believe I’m having this much fun for this little money.”
  7. Obsessable. You have to be able to see yourself doing the something twenty hours per week. In fact, when you consider this, ideally, you should have a sense of anxiety about how that’s too little time. Only an activity in which you can obsess, can provide the level of distraction you’ll need to lose yourself, to truly escape from life’s annoyances, and to give you the space to grow as a human.

The trick here is to pay attention to your heart. Your something could range from kiteboarding to global travel to growing orchids to playing in a band to being an angel investor for small startups. The heart wants what it wants. Follow its desires and, through trial and error, you’ll arrive at your “something” in no time.

Most people, regrettably, skip this step and focus, instead, on the money. They say things like, “If I only had X dollars, I would be happy.” This is total baloney. MONEY DOESN’T MAKE YOU HAPPY. How many times do I have to say this? I thought religion was helping me out on this point. After all, happiness doesn’t come from without, it comes from within. Look at the photo above. If you could see my face, you’d see that I’m happy. Actually, you’d see a camera body, on a bite mount, in my mouth, but you get the idea. I didn’t earn any more money for accomplishing this long term dream. But I enjoyed a sense of fulfillment that money can’t buy. AND it opened the door for many more tricks. I was able to get to the next level.

Spend a few minutes, now, and come up with a few possible somethings that meet the criteria above. Write them down somewhere handy, so we can build on them in our next “How to Semi-Retire” segment. Stay tuned.


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