4 Reasons People Fail to Take a Mini-Retirement

And how we can overcome them!

I remember the first time my husband and I talked about taking a mini-retirement. We were newly married, $55,000 is debt and earning about a $1000 a month. It might seem that we had no business even talking about such things! But I’m a firm believer that if you really know what you want out of this life, and doggedly pursue it…well, worst case, you’ll be much closer than if you never tried!

how to take a mini-retirement

We didn’t have a lot of great options the first year, but we took every one that came our way. Slowly, bit by bit, we started to take some ground. Fifteen years later, we have taken 5 mini-retirements and we are financially independent. Which, truth be told, I never would have even guessed. Not in my wildest dreams! We started with the goal of taking every seventh year off. Just that seems crazy!

Maybe for you, mini-retirements conjure up ideas of hammocks on faraway beaches or 18 holes of golf on a Wednesday morning.

I suppose it could be those things. But most people I know who are taking these have very different goals. They step away from the 9-5 to pursue things that they are passionate about. Things that matter to them.

Here are the 3 kinds of people I see taking mini-retirements and what they do.

1. Families: Often times people decide to take a mini-retirement while their kids are young. There is something about raising little kids that seems to speed up time! I look at pictures from a year or two ago, and my heart almost drops. My babies are SO big now! Wait, when did that happen?

Families don’t want to miss out on these fleeting opportunities. So they RV with their kids now and check out all the national parks. They spend a few months in Mexico learning Spanish. Or they savor the small moments: walking their kids to school, school plays, and coaching soccer.

2. Adventurers: In one of her poems Mary Oliver said: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I have that quote written inside of my cupboards where I keep little notes. Because life is fleeting, and we only have one chance to test and try and see what it is we might be able to do.

So adventurers, adventure. In all sorts of ways. They travel across Europe, or Latin America or India. They bike across the US. They go on mission trips. They build schools in 3rd world countries. They hike the Grand Canyon. They learn new languages, study abroad or volunteer in the inner city.

3. Entrepreneurs and Artists: This might seem like an odd pairing, but I see them as two sides of the same coin. They create. They see the way the world could be, or should be, or what might be and, out of thin air, they create it! To create takes grit, gumption, creativity, and focus.

It might be writing a book, starting a non-profit, releasing a CD, building a website, creating a service, or building a product. But all of those things require two things. Time. And Energy.

Sometimes we can squeeze these things into a few vacation days. Often, we simply can’t. So we have to choose. Put off all the things that really matter until we can quit our jobs for good, and maybe never do them. Or try to sprinkle in a bit of the most important stuff now. While we have breath in our lungs.

If only it were that easy! This is the first roadblock. Even figuring out what in the world we want to do with our “one wild and precious life” isn’t an easy task! Unfortunately, there are three more roadblocks I see that trip people up.mary oliver quote, one wild and precious life


Three Additional Road Blocks to taking a Mini-Retirement

1. The Logistics

The logistics either seem impossible, or if they are kinda sorta in the realm of possibility, they simply scare the bejeebers out of us!

How do we save enough to do this?

What if we can’t find another job?

What about healthcare!!!!?! What if I get terminal cancer, and my healthcare option drops me, or disappears, or every doctor refuses to see me?

What if we run out of money?

Or the burnt earth fears: What if the economy crashes, the job market crashes, stocks crash, banks lose all your money, you get cancer and there is nuclear fallout?

I get it. Life on this earth is risky. There’s no getting around that. BUT. It’s not all or nothing. We have more options than 1. Throw caution to the wind and live our passion. Or 2. Die so full of regrets because we never stepped out and tried anything.

Thankfully there is a middle ground. In the Mini-Retirements course, we cover all the logistics. We create plans. Then we create backup plan after backup plan. We employ a dozen strategies to reduce and minimize the risk. There is no way to make life risk free, but there are LOTS of ways to live big adventurous lives and reduce the risk!

2. No Detailed Plan

I see a lot of people who have a fuzzy idea about what they would love to do with their life. And they know a whole bunch about personal finance. But they don’t actually have a plan. As in, “In the next 12 months here are the 30 steps I need to take to get from where I’m at to where I need to be so I can take this mini-retirement.”

One of my favorite parts of the beta run of Mini-Retirements Mastered was hearing the detailed, focused plans that people were able to put together when they finished!

Ok, but let’s get really honest for a second.

Let’s say you have this big, compelling dream. Let’s say you have figured out all the logistics. Let’s say you even have a detailed, workable plan to get you there.

There is still another roadblock.


We are STILL afraid. Despite all of that!

In Mini-Retirements Masted, each of those topics is in a module (finding your compelling dream, figuring out the logistics, and creating a detailed, workable plan.)

Truth be told, it’s not enough. Because we still have fear that holds us back.

3. Lack of Community

The solution to this fear, that hangs around despite our compelling dream, having the logistics figured out and a solid detailed plan, is community.

There is something about when a whole group of people does something together, go through something together that creates momentum. It’s the same reason the Army does Basic Training in groups. One lone soldier couldn’t do that training alone, off by themselves in a field. Not at first! But after learning, growing and stretching in a group setting, then they can!

We need other people who are in the thick of it with us. People to share the experience with; to share ideas, tips, and encouragement with. And it helps if there are a few people who have already done this.


Once you can figure those three things out, a whole world of possibility opens up!


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8 thoughts on “4 Reasons People Fail to Take a Mini-Retirement

    • That’s awesome! I hope you love the training this week. =) I just found this image of the quote and it’s so much more attractive than my chicken scratch that I might print it off. =)

    • Health insurance is a big concern. In the full course, there are 6 options we cover. I encourage people to look into a few options and have a few backup plans to be ready for any changes in health care policy.

  1. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

    One of the best damn quotes I’ve ever come across. And what a great idea to keep it taped to a cupboard door. Awesome, Ms. M. And I get people’s concern over healthcare. But as I get older, I think this fear is misguided. First, people are more in control of their health than they realize. Don’t smoke, severely limit booze consumption, avoid sugar like the plague, and walk at least a mile every day–do these four things and you’ll likely have very few health problems. Second, the Health Industrial Complex wants you to believe that it’s the only game in town. Hogwash. Excellent healthcare is a short plane trip away in Mexico or Costa Rica. So if our opaque and convoluted system can’t provide good care at a reasonable cost, there’s always medical tourism. Bottom line: Don’t let the Health Industrial Complex scare you away from really enjoying your “one wild and precious life.” Great freakin’ post, Ms. M.

    • There are a number of options for healthcare. I get that it’s scary. But in the course, we cover 6 options and after people start looking into them, there is generally a good option plus a few backup options. Sometimes we are just scared and need a place to put that fear. If it wasn’t healthcare, it would be the next scary thing. I’d rather be scared of a life opted-out of. A wasted life. A dull life filled with untapped potential and possibilities. If I’m going to be cut short by a terminal illness, I’m going to go out a-blasing. Doing what I love, full of meaning, passion, and risk. =)

  2. Just came across your site and this article. Yay twitter!

    Love the quote! Never heard it before but it sums things up perfectly. I took an 8 month mini-retirement accidentally (job restructure). But I’ve been hooked since then. I learned so much and still had more plans than time. Then again, I rolled all three of the mini-retirement reasons you named into it. So maybe that’s why….

    You talk about community. Where do you find yours, aside from online?

    • Twitter for the win! =) And I feel you on the more plans than time. I’m two years in and still struggle with that. I do find a lot of community online, but an intentional about making it deeper. I travel to spend time in person, Skype with people and meet up. It really helps round out those relationships and makes them deeper despite the physical distance.