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.
Had a satisfying career in research at a major corp. but got a silver bullet at age 53 when they downsized . Took a job with a friend running customer service at his Internet company. It was a great job as I didn’t really need the income so there was no pressure. After it was sold to a larger company it started to become work again so I retired a second time. Then I went to work for another friend doing fund raising. This was really great as all the work was consentrated into the late fall and early winter freeing up summer to enjoy all the golf I could handle. Once the DW retired we decided to travel. Bought a 5th wheel and now we’re snowbirds spending the winters where it’s warm. At 72 looking back there are no regrets. I did a soft retirement but I didn’t know that till now. Your on the right track Mike.
After being a teacher and then fifteen years as a field rep for a Christian textbook company in the Midwest, I retired at 68. My wife retired from the medical field several years earlier. So we purchased a ‘99 motorhome (31’) with only 36,000 miles and have enjoyed traveling around the country. Last summer we travel 6,000 miles out West.
But we aren’t snowbirds yet so when we are at home I enjoy getting back into the classroom as a substitute teacher. It provides a very flexible schedule and some added income.
Much to my surprise, since I wanted to keep some kind of journal of our camping travels, I have become a scrapbooker as a hobby. This gives me a creative outlet in my retirement and will help us remember our camping experiences.
I turn 65 next week, had a 1st career as a restaurant manager and owner, went into health care for the next 27 years, and will retire completely as soon as we sell our home here in Lake Stevens. We bought a 31 ft 5er in 2017 and went on several 1 and 2 week vacation trips but had to keep coming back to work.
I have always loved gardening and building etc, but discovered all my hobbies involved work!
People are often envious when they ask where are we moving to and I tell them I get to retire when I sell my home and we will travel in our RV for a few years being free to go see every national park and every state. I am very excited!
I have done the same at 60. I work five to ten months of the year at a job i love. The time off I have is spent with my many hobbies, woodworking, gardening, music, ham radio and golf. It’s the best of both worlds!
My DH and I retired cold turkey – early at age 59 and 62 – from a demanding healthcare career. For what we do (anesthesia) and after watching older colleagues stay on the job for too long, it was important to go out at the top. Never looked back, never considered part-time, thankful we had the means to exit early. We loved what we did, but we have seen what a change in health can do to short circuit retirement plans, and we wanted to take advantage of our good health and relative youth to continue traveling. Mike, I think it is wonderful if you have a passion and a skill that you wish to continue (and we all benefit by your knowledge and talents). Just do it on your own terms and make sure you don’t short-change the “me” time. You don’t want to have regrets down-the-line.
I agree that this second life can be the best life!
I retired in 2011 and, would NOT go back to work if they offered to double my salary ( I was making six figures). I do NOT miss work at all. After driving almost 100,000 miles, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see, do and explore across America. I’m in my mid-60s and, as long as I’m safely able to drive an RV, I’m GOING FOR IT! I choose to be “old” later; MUCH later 😉
Spot on, John.
Retired after 28 years with the fire department due to a torn right bicep and rotator cuff on my right arm. Causes pain if I’m turning a screwdriver or lifting too much. My wife and I have enjoyed almost 20 years of retirement. Did part time work for five years driving school bus. Can’t travel as much as we’d like but do a pretty good job of staying warm most winters. With initial part-time work after full time retirement it’s similar to what you’re doing. Good way to do it. sounds like the best of both worlds for you and your wife. Keep up with your sharing your knowledge with others. It keeps us all a little safer.
I am writing this from our condo in Mexico. Some days I review work for the engineer I sold our consultancy to and some days I write quotes for his future work. Only do either if I am in the mood that day and he does not seem to care that some things take a bit longer than they might. At 75 there are still a lot of hills that have something unknown on the other side and an old bus conversion keeps me more than busy when in Canada. “Work” is not required for financial reasons, but it helps keep the mind functioning and the enjoyment is still there. Might shut it down in a few years, but hard to say.
You two are fabulous. You have the best of two worlds! I love the fact you both are sharing your many talents with us. Congratulations on your soft retirement!
I too did a soft retirement. When I retired from my full time job I was lucky enough to be in demand as a consultant. I worked quite a lot the first year, less the second year, and even less the third year. Now starting my fourth year of “retirement,” I fired the clients who were making me slightly crazy and told my favorites that I would still be available for them. We travel more in our RV, spend more time with friends and try to give back a little to the our wonderful community. For some of us, soft retirement is the only way to go..
I have my own company with my kids as employees. I will slow down a bit but really like what I do so I dont know if I will ever fully retire. I would like to hook up more and travel so that is my short term goal for now. BTW, I’m 62.
Sounds great to me. My idea is to get rid of the stuff I don’t want to do, and add more things that I really like to do. Like you, I’ll probably slow down a bit but never really quit.