The majority of Americans spend the bulk of their adulthood working towards not working. By that I mean they are just waiting for the day they can retire, and then leave the job(s) they had been at many years, just to sit around and get older, or move on to something they’ve been looking forward to doing.
For some of us, our retirement years will be spent volunteering. Whether it be at the local church, youth organization, senior citizen center, or any other place where funds are short and help is needed, we will spend several hours a week giving of ourselves in order to make life better for others.
Some of us will take up gardening, crafting, woodworking, or some other hobby that will fill our days with a pleasure we were not capable of attaining when our days were taken up with trying to make a living and surviving in today’s economy.
A small percentage of us will increase our activity in a sport that has held our interest for many years. Whether it be through participation or increased spectatorship, we will spend hours, and days, enjoying an activity that captivates us.
There are those that will spend their leisure time traveling. The sights, sounds, and adventures that await throughout the world have pulled them into an activity that will fill their remaining years with pleasures that, at one time, they could only dream about.
Increasingly, the retired are filling their empty days with work that produces an income: some out of necessity, others out of boredom, many out of pleasure.
Then, there are those, like myself, who have combined several of the aforementioned activities to produce a lifestyle that many only dream of. Not all that do what I do are of the contemporary retirement age. Some are much younger than I am, many are much older than I am. But, we can all agree that our lives have been greatly enriched through our non-traditional lifestyles. We take what comes our way and make the best of it.
I retired from full-time work at an age earlier than most. Increasingly, there are more and more throughout America doing the same; many at even a younger age than ever thought possible in year’s past. We seek to fill our days with sights, sounds, and memories that most spend a lifetime acquiring. Stress filled days are behind us. As one friend of mine recently asked, “Are you on a permanent vacation?” In her eyes I guess I am. In my eyes I’m only living my life as I think it best to do.
I suppose you can call us mainstream dropouts. We no longer desire to live the traditional life, struggling to secure our niche in a society that forces a person to live and act a certain way. Not everyone is cut out to be a traditionalist. Some of us like to blaze our own trail through the jungle of life. Folks, blazing that trail is much easier than you think. More than anything it’s a change in your attitude and outlook on life, and accepting the idea that material wealth is not what living is all about. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.”
Your first question is, “How do I survive?” We all know it takes money to live. First, and foremost, you’ve got to put food on the table. Then comes shelter and clothing. Those are the basics. Most of us have cellphones, or some other way to keep in contact with others. Transportation fits in there somewhere, as does entertainment. I could go on and on about the everyday expenses that come with life in America, but I think you get the idea. How do you pay for all this without a steady income?
Something you must consider is, how important to you is keeping up with the expectations of society? Do you really need a 3,000 square foot home? Can that filet mignon be traded for something less expensive, but just as, if not more, nutritional? Do you need the top of the line TV, cellphone, computer? A new car? Do you really need a new car every three to five years? Do you need a car at all? Questions like these only you can answer for yourself. If you can reduce your expenses, without compromising your personal standards, you’ve taken the first major step towards shedding the pressures you’ve placed upon yourself through the acceptance of what others expect.
I reside in an area that is smaller than many master bedrooms in houses I see sprinkled across the landscape of this nation. It’s called a motorhome. Others I know live in pull trailers or 5th wheels. These units provide the comforts of home (they are our homes), while reducing one of the major costs of everyday life. I travel, mainly across the Southwest United States, seeking peace, solitude, and adventure wherever I can find it. This is not the only way to step outside the box and enjoy a less stressful way of live, but it is the one I have chosen.
I do not travel continuously. About half the year I stop, find a job, and earn enough to keep me traveling the other half of the year. Most of the work I find is in National Parks, or just outside those parks. These are areas that many people spend a year, five years, a lifetime, saving their hard earned money, so they can visit for a week or two. They visit a life I live.
I know some people that live vicariously through me. They follow my trek across this great land, and wish they could do what I do. But, my lifestyle is not for everyone. I’m comfortable with how I live and know that this is not for the majority.
Have you read about the growing numbers of young to middle aged people who have “dropped out” of society? They “retire” from the everyday, mundane life they once lived, and now spend their days relaxing on a beach, hiking through a forest or desert, or just lounging around the pool. How do they pay for all this leisure time? The most important thing you have to consider is that their days are not filled with only leisure time. They have found a way to work a shorter number of hours each week in order to supply the needed income to fund their lifestyle. In short, they have grasped the idea that it is okay to live contrary to what the rest of society has mandated as normal in this country.
If you search the internet you can find many websites dedicated to ways you can make a fortune overnight–ways to fund the change of lifestyle you so desire. The majority of these websites are bogus. Take for instance the ones that tell you that you can make $100,000 a year just by writing a blog. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a laugh. Fewer than 5% of the bloggers make that kind of money, and fewer than 10% make a sustainable living writing a blog. Blogging should be for enjoyment. If you want to make a living at it you have an uphill battle to fight.
Let’s say you have a hobby you want to turn into an income stream. You search the internet and find many ways that indicate you can get rich just by selling, online, the items you’ve created. Something they do not tell you is that you will have to work hard at it just to show a small amount of money coming your way. That hobby you once had will soon turn into a full-time job. Oh, sure, you’re going to read all about someone who has made a fortune doing the very thing you set out to do. What you don’t read about is the number of hours that person put into the task—and continues to put in day in and day out.
What I’m trying to say is that if you reevaluate your expectations of life, and what you want out of life, you can do what you want, when you want, and how you want, and live a comfortable, less stress-filled life. If you don’t like where you’re at in life, or doing what you’re doing, then step outside the box, and break down those barriers that have held you captive for way too long. Live that optional lifestyle.
One day may we cross paths on the road of life, and share stories of our adventures along the way.