I’m a 30-Something Living a Semi-Retired Life: It’s Awesome
Without a set weekly schedule, and a penchant for leisure activities, I’ve organized a balanced lifestyle. You can, too.
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Being a human in America comes with all sorts of questions. It starts out innocently enough: What’s your favorite color? What grade are you in? What do you want to be when you grow up? Then, the machine ticks on and things get a little more intense as we age. Oh, do you have a boy/girl/human friend? Have you lost your virginity? Where are you going to school? What’s your major? How are you spending the summer? What will you do when you graduate?
By the time this slurry of life questions calms down, we’re generally in our 20s or 30s and can expect the solid standards for the next third of our lives: What do you do? You got kids? How’s the weather down there? Somehow, I escaped the pressure of needing to have a good answer to these questions. I generally don’t care to answer them consistently, as I have found my way out of the matrix with a few key hacks.
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How I’ve Managed to Build a Life, Not a Profession
1. I don’t build my identity around my career. Or, more specifically, I do things that align with my values instead of the other way around. When people ask me what I do, I often lead with my beliefs instead of my actions—I share my values, not my job title. Sometimes, this informs a path to mutual connection where our values may intersect; other times, it allows me to identify a broad category that relates to my values on the planet instead of my productive output, and I can frame my lifestyle in those values.
2. By choosing to lead with values, I’ve realized that I can build a lifestyle first and a professional identity second or even third, after my relationships. My values are especially tied to my health, as I was diagnosed with a terminal disease a few years ago. This also means prioritizing health is a core value and that includes finding daily activities that keep me healthy, joyful and aligned with my values.
3. I’ve realized what I’m good at and practice those skills in professional ways. I know I’m a pretty good artist, good at interviewing, good at writing, good at designing things and businesses. In many cases, the actual project can vary from day to day, but the joy I get from doing things I’m both good at and that keep me healthy allows for my life to feel both abundant and extremely chill.
This is why I feel like a semi-retired person. I get paid as a consultant and business owner on many projects simultaneously and live without a set weekly schedule. I have a great, affordable studio office where I can bike, take walks, grab coffee, host friends and do all my projects in a creative space. When the sun begins setting, I hop back on my bike and ride home down the hill to have dinner with my partner, read and maybe do some writing or watch a show. I don’t have to go into the studio if I don’t want to. My schedule can ebb and flow.
I Hope Others Can Semi-Retire Like Me
Over the last few months, I’ve been approached getting back into full-time life and starting a company (I used to be a CEO and co-founder). I’m also about to get married and feel some external pressure, largely from the culture I was raised in, to get back into a daily grind and make the big bucks. Even the wedding gives me anxiety, as I know I’ll be meeting and catching up with folks who will ask me those same questions: How’s work? What are you doing these days? What’s your big plan for the future?
Living with terminal disease is a huge factor in how I consider work and where I spend my time. Now that I’m getting married, I am choosing to prioritize my family and seeking an answer to what that looks like, all while I stay healthy and keep a high quality of life. Do I dare return to entrepreneurship, building a business and chasing money, or keep finding jobs that cover my lifestyle without selling my soul to one daily grind? What does prioritizing family mean in this consideration? I am still figuring all this out.
Ultimately, we’re all facing a terminal diagnosis—death will come for us eventually. We also need to balance the responsibilities we have to ourselves while finding love and connection with others as parents, partners, family members, friends and colleagues. What if now is the perfect time for us all to step into semi-retirement?
There are almost always things we can do to make our lives feel more chill. It may be taking walks outside with regularity; maybe it’s riding a bike to work; maybe it’s just reading more or meditating with the birds in the trees. Whatever you find, I hope you can discover a bit of retirement in your current state—regardless of how hectic it is—to relax and feel the bliss of life in slow motion.