OK, I’m rapidly approaching the age when I can completely retire if I like, and many of my friends and family are urging me to take retirement and simply travel. My twin brother retired last year, and my younger sister just retired a month ago. And my dad retired some 30 years ago and still seems perfectly happy to live in the woods sawing down trees with his variety of chain saws.
After all, I’ve been working consistently since I was 15 years old (as I’m sure many of you also did), and work can be a real rat race. I’ve certainly had my share of races (and rats) over the years, starting with pumping gas and rebuilding truck diesel engines as a teenager for summer jobs, progressing to designing and building robotic packing machinery in my 20s, building and calibrating nuclear missile guidance systems in my 30s, and installing all sorts of computer systems both large and small in my 40s.
I’ve played music throughout all of it, and my last “real” job in my 50s was running large concert sound systems. You would think I would be tired of working by now, and certainly I don’t like the idea of a 9-to-5 grind or hoisting large speakers up 50 feet or more for a rock concert. But I really don’t want to officially retire. Nope, I’ve decided to go into what I call “soft retirement.”
Soft retirement is more of a lifestyle than an official proclamation on paper. What I’m doing is getting rid of all the jobs I don’t like to do, and finding new ones that I love to do. Any of my readers have seen that my output of RV electricity articles have spiked in the last year or so, with an article every week in Chuck’s RVtravel.com newsletter, technology tips in the RV Daily Tips newsletter every week, and my own monthly RVelectricity.com newsletter which is now in its 15th edition. Plus I’ve taken on the Stray Voltage Patrol, began consulting to RV accessory manufacturers on product design, and began presenting my RV Electricity seminars around the country.
Yes, it’s a full plate so far, and I’m willing to take on more projects, as long as they’re something I like to do and they keep me in the learning cycle. You see, I really don’t like to vegetate – I like discovering new things to teach and write about, which for the readers of RVtravel.com and RVelectricity is a good thing. That’s because I’m going to devote even more time to researching important technical topics for the RV industry and owners, writing more articles, producing more videos, and presenting more seminars in 2019. I’ve even decided to get some sort of RV this year just to take to trade shows and rallies as a test bed for all the things I want to write and teach about. I can outfit it with all the cool gadgets and technology I’ve been gathering and writing about for the last 10 years. And that’s a LOT of stuff.
Finally, I’ve agreed to begin direct consulting with RV Travel readers on your RV electrical issues. Chuck Woodbury will set up a consulting page where you can hire me on an hourly basis (for the price of an RV technician) to help troubleshoot the electrical problems your RV shop can’t repair. I’ve been doing electrical troubleshooting for well over 50 years, so I’m sure I can help you when others can’t. More on this soon. Stay tuned …
So do you think that “soft retirement” is a good fit for me? My wife thinks it’s great since I have something to do constructive other than just hang around the house. Plus she knows that I’m not happy if I’m not constantly learning something technical and teaching.
And to reverse the worn adage, I think that a “Happy Life equals a Happy Wife.” So she’s also retired from being a manager at a catering business and focusing on her paintings of animal portraits and vacation scenes from around the world. To the left you’ll see a dog portrait she was commissioned to paint last year, which I think is really great. Yup, I’ve already started an Etsy site for her, and she now spends several hours a day doing what she loves the most – painting and listening to music.
I know that this may not be the right way to retire for most people, but it seems to be working for us so far. And now that we’ve tried a soft start to soft retirement, I think we’ll stick with it. At least until the wind changes and something else interesting comes along.
So what do you think? Have any of you done something similar rather than a conventional retirement? Or is conventional retirement working for you? Please tell me your stories below, because I think that retired life can be the best life of all.
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.