That elusive, “maybe-one-day,” stage of life. The time when you can go to the movies in the middle of the day, call up friends to grab lunch, or take a nap when you please.
While many of us aren’t in a financial position where we can afford to not work, we’re also not ready to keep sloughing it out for the next 30 years. We want to stop sacrificing time with our children and relying on a turbulent global economy for survival.
Because we know that no matter how big our 401k gets, it won’t be enough to buy back the time we’ve lost.
The Problem With Retirement
The problem with retirement is that we think of it as binary. Either you are working, or you are retired. Either a company owns your time, or you are retired. Either you are hustling every day, or you are retired.
These are the two options, and most of us are trapped in one for much longer than we’d like.
This duality sets us up to despise work. Work becomes a prison sentence we must complete before we can truly enjoy life to the fullest. It becomes an obstacle to get around.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. The digital age of work has opened up brand-new opportunities that allow for a completely different mindset.
The Semi-Retired Lifestyle
I’m actually fine with work. I enjoy it — most of us do. After all, a lifestyle without any work sounds pretty dull.
But I also want to be able to take the car to get repaired in the middle of a Tuesday instead of losing my whole Saturday. I want to be able to say yes when my eight-year-old wants to play a board game in the middle of the day. I want to have the margin to create a podcast that helps people from different races build genuine relationships.
The flexibility you want in life may look a little different, but it all comes down to having what I think of as the semi-retired lifestyle.
So how can we keep working and have a steady income, but also take advantage of the life we have right now?
The Three Ingredients for a Semi-Retired Lifestyle
There are three essential elements that will help you create this semi-retired lifestyle:
1. Create Autonomy Over Place. You need to be able to choose where you work. That may be from an office, a co-working space, home, or somewhere else, but you shouldn’t be obligated to show up at the same place every day.
2. Create Autonomy Over Time. You also need to be able to choose when you work. You should be able to structure your day, week, and year in a way that best suits your personal life and energy.
3. Compensation Based On Outcomes, Not Time. It’s hard to be semi-retired if you are being paid hourly, or if an employer feels like you are obligated to work for them for a certain amount of time. Being paid based on the outcomes of your work provides more flexibility.
The Goal is More Autonomy
As you look at those three ingredients, you might object. Your job probably doesn’t allow for complete autonomy over place or time, and you may not get paid based on outcomes. Are you stuck?
Not at all. In fact, no one gets to have 100% control over all three of these things. Meeting in person with people at a specified space and time is often necessary to accomplish work goals, and having overlapping hours of responsiveness with coworkers is important.
The goal is not to get to 100% autonomy. The goal is to increase whatever autonomy you have now.
To create or negotiate more autonomy, consider aspects of your work, such as whether you can reduce the number of days you are required to be at the office, or the number of hours you are required to be “on-call.” Perhaps you can shift towards a more outcome-based evaluation and compensation model.
A Semi-Retired Lifestyle Has Never Been More Possible
The good news is that there’s never been a better time to take more control over your work life. In the digital age, we have the opportunity to rebuild work. Collaboration tools, video calls, automation, and other technologies open the door to more flexibility. You can enjoy work and life at the same time — it doesn’t have to be a duality.
Give yourself the freedom to enjoy life while you’re living it, not when you finally have enough stashed away. I know it might be hard to drop the industrial age mindset we inherited, but you can do it and you can start today.You just need to take control of your own destiny and push for the freedoms that will give you more autonomy. Now is the time.