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.
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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