Instead of dreading each weekday and spending your working years dreaming about retirement, and how much more enjoyable life will be at some future point in time, it is possible to embrace a retired lifestyle, and break free of the daily grind, long before retiring.
Here are five ways to get it done.
Maximize Vacation Time
Despite modest improvement over the last two years, Project: Time Off notes there are still 54 percent of Americans who did not use all their vacation time last year. These workers left a collective 662 million vacation days on the table. Use your available vacation days to get away from work. A long vacation (7+ days) is a must at least once a year and you should sprinkle in some mini-vacations throughout your year.
Long weekends, leveraging time off in conjunction with Federal holidays, are the perfect mini-vacations. Over the last few years the wife and I have extended numerous three-day weekends such as Labor Day – the first Monday in September – to four days by taking the previous Friday off and traveling to locations such as San Antonio, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Start planning early enough and you’re bound to find decent rates on lodging and airfare. To help you start planning for next year, here are the observed holiday dates for 2018 …
Telework (Telecommute) if Possible
One way to lessen painful commutes and the 9-to-5 office grind – if your employer supports such a program – is to telework one or more days a week. Fortunately, the office environment is rapidly changing, and working from home is no longer the rare and prized entitlement for the lucky few.
Lots of employers are embracing the advancements in technology which have made remote working progressively easier; they are becoming much more flexible when it comes to where and when employees work. A recent Gallup survey found that the average worker telecommutes two days per month, 46% of telecommuters do so during the workday, and most employers say telecommuters are just as productive as other employees.
As someone who enjoys the benefit of teleworking one day per week, I can attest to the joy of not having to drive to the office on that day – although my commute is relatively mild compared to most – and my experience has been that in many ways I am more productive when working from home. I find I don’t get caught up in the distractions which are inevitably part of a typical day in the office.
Enjoy Local Experiences
A great way to enjoy the quality of life that you desire, without waiting until you’re retired, and without blowing your budget, is to take advantage of discounted and less-expensive experiences near home. A great website, and app, is Eventbrite. You can search for activities by category, event type, date, or price. Over the years Eventbrite has led me and the wife to local film festivals, jazz concerts, blues concerts, and local productions.
Engage in Extracurricular Activities
Don’t be the person, or couple, who says, “Once I retire I’m going to start … .” However you would conclude that sentence, start doing it now. If you need to get in better shape, start now. Make the time to walk/run in the morning before work or get to the gym at least three days a week after work. Thinking of learning to play an instrument? I’m willing to bet you can find an instructor near you. As with getting to the gym, find a way to make time.
Don’s wait until you’re 60 or 65 to start living the life you desire. While there is no doubt you will have more time to do all the things you want to do in retirement – provided you have done the things you need to do to reach financial independence – there is no reason you can’t adopt a retiree mindset and shape your daily life, and your overall lifestyle, in such a way to mimic retirement during your working years.