Category Archives: Musings

These posts are a variety of categories, ruminations, or just plain don’t fall into other categories.

Do You HAVE to Choose Just One Thing?

Sometimes it’s difficult to get our hands and heads around what it is we really want.   Maybe we want to do many things and they conflict.  Often, we just can’t see a path to any of them.

I once consulted with a gal who wanted to own a retail knitting shop and also travel the world.  She couldn’t imagine trying to leave a retail location for three to four months a year to travel.

So, she wasn’t following EITHER dream.  She was selling cellular phones.

Rather than creating a decision tree to try to choose which one she wanted MORE, I suggested we look at what these two things represented to her.  Was there any commonality in these two vastly different dreams?

The store represented a haven in many ways.  She had a vision to create a place where women would come and knit and socialize and decompress.    It was an artistic yearning – the act of creating using color, and textile, and her hands.  It also allowed her to teach, which she loved.

Travel is one of those common goals that many people share.  And it generally represents learning, freedom, and breaking out of a rut.  Changing place tends to change the mind.  For this client, it represented learning, and finding new communities of both space and spirit.

And there was the shared dream:  Learning, Teaching, and Community.

Could these two desires be blended to fill her needs?

We brainstormed for an hour and came up with a basic model for a traveling knitting store.   She would utilize art festivals, and women’s expos to have a booth where women could not only shop for fabulous yarn, but also sit and knit and share fellowship.  Her revenue would come from selling yarn, but also providing knitting instruction, and an hourly “sitting” fee for hanging out in the booth and knitting.   Eventually there would be a community of knitters all over the country, maybe even having online knits and an annual knit-in.

Meanwhile, she’d spent a week to ten days in each place exploring, writing, and offering classes.  Her income would come from selling products, writing, and teaching.


Do you have more than one thing you would like to do and can’t figure out how to combine them?  Is there a way to do this on a part-year basis so that you can semi-retire?

Oh, and what happened to the gal above?   I’ll tell the rest of the story in next week’s Saturday Morning Post.



Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Considering Self-Employment in Semi-Retirement

Without a doubt, if you are considering a semi-retired life with income above a pension, social security, or IRAs, you have probably wondered about starting your own business versus working for someone else.

The challenge is creating a business that you can walk away from for two to four months at a time.

Take opening a retail establishment for example. Many businesses are just going through the motions by staying open in January and February. It’s not at all uncommon for restaurants in tourist areas to simply close down in the off season. This would be hard to pull-off, however, if your customers are quilters or scrapbookers who want product year round. You have to consider your fixed costs, maintenance, and lost market “presence” in deciding if this will work for you.

Another option would be something like a lawn service or snow blowing.   Work long hard hours during the appropriate months, and close it down during the off months.   The trick here is to maintain a relationship with your clients during the off-season so you can sign them up again the next year. Some ways to do this would be to provide helpful suggestions via a monthly newsletter, or offering them early-bird or returning customer sign up specials.

Another option many people consider is some type of Direct Selling, such as nutritional products, or retail-oriented such as clothing or jewelry.   This option is a bit different because most companies require you to produce a minimum level of sales every month in order to qualify for commissions, bonuses, and team overrides.   And if you simply disappear for several months, so will your team and your income.     Thoroughly understanding your compensation plan is critical.

So, if self-employment is an avenue that you would like to consider in semi-retirement, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of business? Retail, Direct Sales, Coaching, Other Services?  Then:
  •                 Where and who are your customers?
  •                 How do they get your product or service?
  •                 When or how often do they purchase/use/need it?
  •                 How are you going to acquire them?
  •                 How are you going to retain them?
  •                 What happens to them while you are off gallivanting?
  • Do you want two to four months completely AWAY from it? Or are you just looking for something portable that you can do from anywhere. (The latter is a completely different discussion and would not be considered semi-retired!)
  • Are you the product, or providing a service as a result of your individual skills?  If so, is your physical presence required to do the work?

After you have played with these questions for a bit, what jumps out at you as a possibility that might work for you?


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

How to Start Planning for Semi-Retirement

In a previous article, I outlined the three types of semi-retirement:  Something-to-Do, Supplemental Income, and Supporting Yourself.   Regardless of which model fits, you will need a plan to make part-year employment work for you.

Step One

Decide which model you are, or you want to be.  If you would rather Supplement, but right now you would be a Support Yourself, take a hard look at your lifestyle and finances and identify what would you need to change in order to make that happen?

Step Two

Make a list of everything you know how to do well.   Include hobbies and interests.   Play violin?  Write it down.  Gardening? Scrapbooking?  Type 90 wpm?  Write it down.  Write down skills you have developed at traditional jobs such as organizing, particular software knowledge, or drawing blood.

Also, write down skills that were not a job requirement but you have acquired nonetheless.   Have you worked in an environment where you were stuck between co-workers who disliked each other?  Write down mediation as a skill.   Have you ever hired a babysitter or nanny?  That’s a skill.  Clean driving record?  That’s a skill.

The trick here is not to write down things you truly hate doing, unless you are willing to do them to make this lifestyle change happen for you.

Also, when you start your list, aim for twenty items.  Then walk away, but leave the list open.  Over the next few hours and days you will inevitably think of things to add.

Step Three

Now, start doing a job search.  Use the skills or knowledge you have identified for keyword searches at online sites.   Don’t restrict yourself at all in terms of geography, or whether or not the position is presently full-time.

You aren’t looking for a position at this time, you are looking for information.

What kinds of jobs out there are seeking skills you possess?  Try to make a list of ten to twenty jobs that you would never have considered before.   Like to drive with a good record?  You might be a perfect long-haul truck driver.  Don’t laugh…it’s great income and can be done part-year.    Good at math or adept with computers?  Consider part-year work doing tax preparation for a private accountant or national company.      How about substitute teaching?

Step Four

Make another list.  This time start marrying positions that have any interest for you whatsoever, with skills that you possess.    Aim for ten specific jobs, or ten types of jobs, that you could or would do for eight to ten months a year.

Now you have a place to start planning using skills or knowledge you already have.


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Nine Questions to Help Build a Bridge to a Semi-Retired Career

Invariably, when I speak with people of a “certain” age, generally 50+, about the concept of semi-retirement, they LOVE the idea.

And, it has never occurred to them before.

The culture of the sixties and seventies, when Boomers came of age, oriented toward a very traditional work/life agreement.

Pick a job. Do it your whole life. Retire.

While this worked well for the older portion of that generation, as well as previous ones,  it has faltered a great deal for the more junior Boomers.  As a result, more and more people expect to have to work in some capacity well into their sixties and even seventies.

Why not create a NEW model that combines working with greater blocks of time off to enjoy life?

For many, the challenge is how to get from where they are now to where they want to be.   The first step is to identify the obstacles and the stepping stones for each individual.  These nine questions should help you get started and begin to shine a light on your path to a better work/life agreement.

Grab a blank sheet of notebook paper and jot down your initial answers.   Try not to over think – this is about what you WANT your life to look like.   We will work on the HOW next.

  • Do you want to work the same job for nine or ten months?
  • Or, do you want to do project type jobs, perhaps a quarter at a time?
  • Do you want to do the same job/jobs every year?
  • Do you want to work where you live now? Or, is there a specific place you want to be?
  • Do you want to combine work and travel?
  • Do you want/need steady reliable income?  Or could you work in bursts, stowing away a large payout and then living off that?
  • Do you have any physical limitations?
  • Do you have obligations of time or money you have to work around?  What are they?
  • What changes do you need to make to work toward this goal? Pay off debts?  Give away or sell belongings?  Get children grown and launched?  Take a class or obtain a certification?

At first, these questions seem very simple.   To an extent, they are.   The single biggest factor in deciding to live a semi-retired life is deciding to DO it.   After that, it’s a matter of setting your own boundaries, and the options are really limitless once you let yourself examine them.  And questions tend to beget questions.

Answering them should help create a framework for avenues to pursue.     The first step is the scariest – take it anyway!


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Facing My Fear

On the path to The Semi-Retired Life, one of the biggest obstacles I am facing is the fear of the unknown and the presence of risk.

Does fear ever stop you from going after what you REALLY want?

I am pretty sure I’m not alone in this.    In the interest of transparency, and because if I ‘fess up maybe it will help someone else, I’m going to share.   Specifically related to my plans to retire from my job in two to three years are the following FEARS:

  1. The economy goes to hell (worse hell) and whatever job I’ve found goes away.   Meanwhile, I walked away from a job where my seniority would have protected me at least for a while.
  2. Health Insurance.   This is a huge problem.  Obamacare is not the friend of people who have good workplace coverage.  The cost is much higher and the coverage much worse.  The prospect of stepping out of the cocoon of good health insurance into that morass is terrifying.
  3. My promised retirement travel privileges collapse – for whatever reason.
  4. I miss it (VERY hard for me to imagine right now) and regret leaving.
  5. I find being home all the time much harder than I expected.  (I’ve been traveling for work for ten years.  Being home all the time, even with a job, will be an adjustment for all of us.)
  6. I can’t find another job and can’t retire after all.  (I have a pretty good record of finding employment.  But, I will be 55.  Is this going to be a problem?)

So there they are in all their glory and brutal honesty.  Voicing them publicly is my way of firing a warning shot.  Game ON, fears…I’m coming after you.

What FEARS are keeping you from what you really want?

(*A note about the photo…I am notoriously prone to vertigo.  My husband couldn’t believe I would even walk out onto that little suspension bridge, but I did.  He held the camera over my head to get the shot to prove it!)



Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.