Being both retired and self-employed makes for a very interesting lifestyle.
The keyword is “flexibility”, which is both good news and bad.
Retired self-employment isn’t for everyone.
It requires a certain amount of discipline. It’s one thing for a boss to tell you that you need to show up at a certain time or get something done by a certain date, but it’s completely different when no one is telling you that.
No one except yourself, that is.
The discipline is to not rationalize yourself into a “I’ll do that later” mentality. Later never comes. It’s very, very easy to have an assortment of distractions take you away from all your good intentions. It takes discipline to say no.
It also takes discipline to … well, to say no to good intentions themselves. There are only so many hours in the day, and days in the week, to be able to actually do the work. Sometimes it’s not the unrelated distractions you need to say no to, it’s the very much on-topic, related ideas and projects that need to be examined and rejected.
I can absolutely attest to the number of on-topic ideas and projects that come up with your a retired, self-employed, solo-preneur working with technology you love. There are so many exciting things to do, it’s hard to know what to pick, and what to say no to.
Expanding on an outline I shared with a friend the other day:
- I have 21 web sites that I actively maintain and keep up-to-date
- 9 of those represent active projects of some sort (like Ask Leo!, HeroicStories, Not All News Is Bad, exmsft, and more)
- 3 represent proposed new sites for friends and clients
- I publish a weekly newsletter for Ask Leo!
- I write (or perform major updates on) two to three new articles each week
- I read every comment posted to Ask Leo!, and respond to many
- I read every question that makes it past my spam filters, and respond to many
- I volunteer with Snohomish County ACS (Auxiliary Communications Service – ham radio)
- I volunteer with WASART (Washington State Animal Response Team)
- I manage a small private foundation
- I play World of Warcraft
- My wife and I watch TV and movies together. Lots. (It takes a spreadsheet to track our interests.)
All that, and probably more I’m forgetting, while also trying to be a good husband, homeowner, friend and neighbor.
It probably sounds overwhelming, and at times I’ll admit it can be.
But I’ll take it all over the alternative any day.
I firmly believe that inactivity and lack of purpose lead more people to an early grave that whatever eventual physical cause might be written on a death certificate. It’s the leading cause of aging.
I fully expect to be doing what I’m doing in some form or another until the day I die, and I hope that’s a long, long time from now. And I also hope to continue to be as young as possible, even if some calendar might disagree.
And here’s the kicker, and the real source of gratitude that inspired this post: with all that I do, with the length of that list and the variety of things on there, I can still drop it all without guilt and without serious repercussions, to tend to truly urgent matters.
I had plans to work on Monday. Those plans changed dramatically as I spent the majority of the day out on a WASART call out.
Not. A. Problem.(*)
Sure, not something I can do over and over and over again in short order, and indeed I’ve since politely declined another opportunity presented. (See “discipline”, above. 🙂 ). But with a clear sense of priorities, and a lifestyle that is exceptionally flexible, I can jump in as needed to many different situations.
From a sudden and unexpected “let’s go out to dinner”, to a “let’s go rescue this dog up a trail”, to “let’s spend two days doing radio support for this charity”, I’m extremely grateful for the lifestyle that allows me to say yes more often than not.
(*) In all fairness I tried really hard not to go, as I’ve been trying to get ahead for the next month and a half of higher-than-average craziness. But at one point it was clear that I was the correct solution to a specific problem, so I shuffled a couple of things around and off I went.