Sunday, December 10, 2023
HomeJob RetirementIs semi-retirement stressful? You bet—here’s what to do about it

Is semi-retirement stressful? You bet—here’s what to do about it

These days, my main gig, apart from my MoneySense Retired Money column, is keeping my website running. While “the Hub,” as many call it, is a commercial proposition, for me, it is also fun and creative and, I like to think, it provides a public service. Sometimes I write for fun rather than for money. In fact, that’s how this column began. In the course of chatting with an understanding editor, I learned that to some extent we both shared the philosophy of “Minimize stress, don’t maximize revenue.” 

Off the top of my head, I wrote a draft—just for fun—to see if the topic was meaty enough for a column. It easily met the allotted word count, even without the usual process of sprinkling in commentary from various experts, which told me there was indeed “a column there.” 

Those familiar with the Hub may know I aim to publish something every business day, 52 weeks a year. I blog under my own name once or twice a week, and the rest of the content is generated by guest authors or sponsors. And this summer I’ve started to experiment with running just four blog posts per week. 

“Whoa,” you say? That doesn’t sound like retirement—semi- or otherwise, you say? 

I suppose that’s true, but as Mike Drak and I wrote in our co-authored book, Victory Lap Retirement (Milner, 2019), we’re at the stage where work is meant to provide us with meaning and purpose, not so much meant to generate revenue. It provides us a bare-bones structure on which we can hang all the other activities of semi-retirement. 

The aspiring artist who “buys time” to paint

Whether workload applies to blogs or writing assignments, it’s all about managing your workflow, time and energy. In our book, Drak and I described an artist who used the phrase “buying time.” This person, formerly a neighbour of mine, had a day job that involved commercial painting, but he also aspired to be a creative painter, which he ultimately became in full retirement. But even in his working years, he’d take on well-paid multiple-week commercial projects in order to build up savings sufficient to temporarily “quit” so he could spend months at a time on his true love of creative painting.  

In my case, I seldom take a full week off unless travelling abroad. But, I will try to “buy time” by building up a blog/column bank, so it’s seldom necessary to work nights or weekends. And this way, I seldom feel the weight of a deadline when writing, either. It’s a question of rationing time and energy. In the summer, I aim to clock out by midday Friday, so in effect my weekends are two and a half days. 

If you manage your clients with deadlines (yours or theirs) sufficiently in advance, you should be able to even out your workflow and revenue, so you can work such a four-day (or four-and-a-half-day) week. 


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