Sabbaticals and Mini-Retirements

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2020 is the year of the Rat. This was our nengajo, or Japanese New Year’s card we sent to everyone.

Happy New Year!

This is my first post of 2020 and it seems fitting after a long absence.

I’d like to say that I really did take a sabbatical/mini-retirement during this time, but it’s not and I’d be lying.

Instead, from the last two weeks of December and the first week of January, my school was closed and we had no lessons. This is our scheduled winter break–one I was looking forward to for a long time. Ostensibly, this is supposed to be “paid” vacation for the teachers–but it’s not really. I don’t want to get into the details right now because that’s not the point of this post, but I’ll explain how I’m paid in a later blog.

To explain my post title: Basically, I had winter break, which made me think about mini-retirements.

Originally, I had a lot of plans for my winter break. Because I had time off from work, I had planned to catch up on my books and podcasts. There were also things I needed to do financially, like update accounts and organize files.

Whelp, those plans had to change when the flu virus that had been incubating in my body finally surfaced and knocked me out. It happened right at the start of my break.

I did my best to recover from the flu. For some reason, the drugs I got from the doctor did nothing to help me recover quickly. Instead, I had to take it easy for two weeks. I did things that I loved like reading novels and watching some movies. In fact, I re-read the entire Harry Potter series. Yep, that’s The Philosopher’s Stone to The Deathly Hallows.

Because I wanted to unplug from any type of stress–and that included blogging and writing (anything where I had to be productive, really), I decided to just drop everything. I didn’t listen to podcasts or read anything related to business/personal finance. I didn’t do any planning or goal setting for the year (which is what I normally would be doing at this time of the year).

I wasn’t productive, efficient, or motivated at all.

And you know what, that’s okay.

I think it’s good once in a while to do stuff like this. My husband and I didn’t go anywhere, even though I really wanted to. Because I was sick with the flu and didn’t want to spread it to other people, we stayed home and spent our time quietly reading and talking. For some reason, too, my eyes started hurting when I stared too long at any screen–laptop, TV, iPhone–which meant I was able to unplug and detox from the internet or social media. I appreciated this more than anything else.

In all that time, I realized that I really do want more freedom in my life. I enjoyed the three weeks of not being able to work–to just do the things that I wanted to do. This was mostly relaxing and not thinking too hard about how to make money or increase productivity and cut non-essentials in my life. (Granted, though, I spent most of my break trying to recover the strength I lost by battling the flu and a never-ending cold.)

This led me to think about the possibility of  maybe taking a longer break. Maybe half a year? Maybe even a full year of not working–essentially, a mini-retirement. I would love to do that, but at this point I don’t think I can because I don’t have the money or the freedom to do so. I still need the income from my job to pay for rent, food, and utilities. I also still need to keep saving for old-age retirement.

But someday, I really want to take time off work for a long period.

And that has kick-started my motivation again to work even harder to achieve financial independence.

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I dream of the time I can really have a full year to travel and visit family all over the world. If not that, then maybe indulge in a hobby for a month–like driving throughout Japan and just photographing aspects of the culture.

Sometimes you don’t need a fancy vacation to re-charge.

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Published by Rochelle

I'm trying to prove to myself that I can still become financially independent, even though I got started late and while I'm living in Japan. My life is a big experiment right now.

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