Lessons From My First Mini-Retirement

I’ve been back from my Brazil adventure for a while now, and every time I catch up with friends who I haven’t seen or spoken to over the past few months, there are a few recurring thoughts and themes that come out of those conversations.

I learned a few essential lessons during my time in Brazil and I thought it would be useful to share them, so you can be prepare for what you will experience after your first retirement.

The Difference Between Wishing and Doing

Taking action is something often said and seldom done but it’s what makes all the differencebetween winners and losers.

I, like most people, dream of traveling the world to new and exotic locations. When I first began planning my trip to Brazil, I intended to go for two weeks and they became two months.

Though I had an estimate of how much it would cost me to be there that long, there was no way to know for sure. The last thing I wanted was for my dream vacation to become a nightmare of being stranded thousands of miles away from home with no money.

My fears were misplaced and I don’t have the slightest regret. I wound up having the best 68 days of my life (so far).

Having had such an enjoyable trip, I’m sure this will be just one of many more.

You Discover Who and What Really Matters

I also discovered that being selfish isn’t a bad thing.

It has always been difficult for me to not care—you can be the judge of whether that makes me a saint or weakling.

For the first time I truly detached myself from who “needed” me or missed me. I forgot who wanted a favor or wanted me to be a part of their next project.

I focused solely on myself.

The truth is that you’re more replaceable than you might think, and the thing they need you for may not be so important.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking some time out for myself to do what I wanted and to fulfill my heart’s desires.

It’s Totally Refreshing

I came back fully recharged and approached things with a new ferocity that wasn’t there before.

People have noticed the changes—both the physical and the mental. They could think it’s for better or worse but, for me, it doesn’t really matter. Those who do look upon those changes positively yearn to emulate the transformation in their own lives.

By the same token, don’t fall into the same traps you have been in before just so you can appear "normal." Your transformation will catch many by surprise. It may mean you lose a few friends but sometimes that’s necessary. They will either deal with or move on.

You Discover What Happiness Really Means to You

I have regained all the control I gave to external factors to determine my behavior and my happiness.

I learned that people’s opinions are just opinions and how to avoid luring myself into thinking that someone else knows me better than I know myself. I do still take others’ views into consideration but I let my heart guide me to my final decision.

Life Will Never Be the Same Again

Having taken my first mini-retirement I find myself trapped in limbo between the known normal that I shared with the people around me and what I now actually know can be my own new normal that no one else will quite understand.

My expectations for what the rest of my life should look like have shifted well beyond my mind’s elastic limit. I think it’s a necessary and healthy process in deconstructing and rebuilding dreamlines (Chapter 4) and I’m thrilled to see what comes next.