Betty White: My Mini-Retirement Muse

I’ve been thinking about Betty White a lot lately. You know, how most people do. Partly, because I think she is delightful. But mostly because, in a roundabout way, she is what inspired me to take a mini-retirement path versus an early retirement (never work again) path.

Betty White, mini-retirement vs early retirement

I want to be more like Betty White. Have you read her Wikipedia page? It’s nuts. Her career spans over 8 decades. 8 decades! 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s. I can’t even screenshot all her TV appearances and roles. Plus movies. Plus published books. Plus humanitarian work and awards. Plus writing and producing. Her life’s work, legacy, and impact on an industry read like the movie credits of a Disney animated film. (Have you noticed it takes about 1000 people to make those movies now?)

So why mini-retirements?

I still want to make a significant impact, spanning decades. I want to leave a body of work in areas that I am passionate about.

But there are other things I want to add into that mix.

I want to take road trips with my kids to every US state, while they are young. While they are teenagers, I want to travel abroad with them. When they become adults, I see even bigger adventures ahead! Then I want to take trips along with grandkids! (No pressure kids, but yes, I’m already making plans for future grandkids!)

Mini-retirements give me both.

I can lean into the things that I am passionate about and really try to move the needle, for a period of time. And I can step back for 4 weeks, 8 week or 6 months to create space for the other things in my life that are equally important.

Instead of “We can’t have it all.”

We can’t have it all, all the time. But maybe we can create a mix. A little of this now. Then a little of that. Add a bit of this for a while.

Because variety is the spice of life, right? I’m not willing to give up either. I want to create a massive trajectory shifting change for 1000 people. Where they look back in 10 years and say, “Because Jillian did XYZ, I was able to dramatically change my course. My life is way more in line with my values, goals, and dreams now. I’m living the life I always wanted, but wasn’t sure if it was possible.”

And I want space for all the things that matter to me, and the people closest to me.

Some things have a short shelf life. How many years do you think I have that my kids will want to road trip with us in a pop-up camper? I can feel that window closing already. I did an epic month-long road trip with my best friend when I was in my early 20’s. That season is long past. She works a demanding job and I have 5 little kids. Now just a weekend trip is a logistical nightmare.  I’m so glad we did it while we had the chance.

In each season of life, there are things that will only last for that season before they expire. Trying to save all those amazing experiences until we are 65 means letting go of most of them.

Maybe this was a crazy idea 50 years ago. But it’s not crazy anymore.

We can take a Mini-Retirement that’s a month long or a year long. We can do that over and over again. We can even create a lifestyle business, where we do the work we are passionate about, serving the people we want to serve, AND it fits around the rest of our life. Or we can find “Dream Jobs”. The jobs that make space for all our biggest dreams.

It doesn’t happen overnight.

But it’s not terribly complicated either. Low expenses. Some investments. Some passive income. Maybe a bit of side income to bridge the gap. Mostly you need a vision for the life you want and a workable plan. That’s why the mentoring questions are so important. You need to know where you want to go before we craft a plan to get there.

I was eating lunch at Costco the other day, (like all the fancy people do!) and I saw one of my favorite authors in the food court: Eugene Peterson. He’s written over 30 books. He translated the entire Old and New Testament into the Message Bible (which sold over a million copies). We chatted for a while. (Because he is truly a kind soul!) But you know what he was doing? Writing. He’s said he won’t write any more books or give any more speeches. But when I ran into him, he was writing. At 84, there are more thoughts to think, and more ideas to get onto paper.

So I hope I can be like Betty White and Eugene Peterson. I hope to really move the needle in an area I care about. For decades! And I want to travel to every state with my kids. See another 27 countries (or the same ones again!). And grow a magical garden that is the stuff of fond childhood memories: picking ripe raspberries on a hot summer day. I don’t have to choose between the two. Mini-Retirements give me both.

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8 thoughts on “Betty White: My Mini-Retirement Muse

  1. I love the variety in your life – and how it changes year to year. It’s such a great example of the kaleidoscope that symbolizes our goals. There’s flexibility and it shifts, but is comprised of so many beautiful components.

    I don’t doubt that your legacy will be a great one <3

    • I hope everyone can figure out what elements of life add the most meaning AND are able to create some space for those. I think most people want a larger variety of things. And your right, life changes, and it’s great having the flexibility to change with it. Our life us such a weird mix right now. It’s hard to even label.
      June:2 weeks garden + 2 weeks vacation
      July:renovation
      August: 2 weeks fun adventures + two weeks travel
      September: 2 weeks legit online work, and now the rest will be some down time, outdoor adventure, time with friends and planning.
      I’ll probably do 1-2 weeks of work in October then we have family coming, birthday parties, Halloween and a trip to FinCon. 😉
      For us, in this season, it’s kind of the best of everything. 🙂

  2. This: “Mostly you need a vision for the life you want and a workable plan”

    The most powerful force in improving our life has been developing a vision for the life we want. Once we’ve had that, there’s not been much that could stop us.

    We had decided we wanted to hit all 50 states with our kids before they graduated high school. At the time we decided this, they were 3, 2, and 2. They’re now 7, 5, and 5 and we’ve hit 46 states already!

    Once we decided we wanted to sell our house and do a mini-retirement, we knocked down every hurdle in our way to get there and it’s been an awesome journey. I’m loving this mini-retirement and desperately searching for ways to extend it 🙂

    Great advice Jillian! And I know you’re going to impact at least 1000 people – you can count me in as one of them 🙂

      • Haha – maybe 🙂

        We’ve definitely talked about international travel once we’re through the states. We finally got our first non-US country with the kids on our last trip, driving through a slice of Canada on our way to Niagara Falls.

        We’ll have to decide which direction to go. We’ve talked about another option – giving the kids more ownership in our trips as they get older and picking out places in the US they want to either visit again or visit for the first time (if we didn’t stop when we were in that state on our first trip).

        Either option is going to be fun, so we’ll have to see. In the meantime, we’ve gotta get saving and figure out travel hacking – our last 4 states are all going to have flights attached 🙂

  3. I’ll never forget the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the character played by Betty White–Sue Ann Nivens. Great freaking TV. And if I remember correctly, the Saturday night lineup on CBS was…

    8:00 pm – All In the Family
    8:30 pm – MASH
    9:00 pm – The Mary Tyler Moore Show
    9:30 pm – The Bob Newhart Show
    10:00 pm – The Carol Burnett Show

    I doubt we’ll ever see five Emmy award-winning shows following each other on one night ever again.

    Thanks for the memories, Ms M. And I wholeheartedly agree with your choice of a role model. Embrace life like Betty and you’re bound to do great things. Awesome post as always Ms M. Cheers.

  4. Oh Ms. Montana, you never fail to get me pumped to go do what I feel we’re supposed to do! I love how you do your own thing and enjoy the now. We’re all so focused on where we’re going. But I want to enjoy the journey, the now. Our babies aren’t small forever, and I don’t want us to ever feel we missed out. Thank you for the encouraging words here!