Wow, I am 53 and I don’t wake up 5 days a week to an alarm clock, commute 45 minutes, work a long day, commute another 45 minutes, and arrive home late for dinner. This was my life for more than 25 years. In fact, I had not taken 2 consecutive weeks vacation during this entire period. The last time I had been without a job for an extended period was when I was 27 and took 10 months off to sail throughout the eastern Caribbean. Helen and I ended that trip “broke and pregnant” and quickly settled ashore in Yarmouth, Maine to jump start our careers and raise a family.
I don’t usually like to dwell on the fact that I am not working. Too many of my peers find themselves involuntarily out of work. I have been blessed to have worked for a wonderful, successful company for the last 13+ years developing and launching an innovative medical device. I agonized over the decision to leave this position for a long time. We reached the point in our family life when our youngest child had successfully transitioned to college in Colorado. A primary motivation for my career was to support a stable home life to raise our family. With this objective fulfilled, I sensed that we had an opportunity to make a change. I also spent way to much time thinking about big adventures and worrying that I would get too old to pursue these dreams if I did not get started (mid life crisis perhaps).
So I met with my boss, gave an extended notice (10+ months), and started the slow process of changing lanes. I left full time, white collar employment 7 months ago at the end of March. Between April and August, I kept busy renovating an old home that we bought as income property. I had been worried about being bored when I left my full time job and thought I needed a project to help transition. It was a busy summer but ultimately successful. When we left at the end of August on a shake down cruise, the house was basically complete and occupied by wonderful tenants for the winter.
Since August, the process of shifting gears has begun to accelerate. For starters, I am completely “off the clock”. We wake up each morning with the sunrise. No alarms, just following the cadence of the sun and life outside the portholes. We go to bed early except when we go ashore for a cold beer and entertainment. I only shave when I feel like it and when its warm I wear only board shorts and a tee shirt.
Some habits are hard to break. While working, I watched email around the clock. The last thing I did before bed and the first thing I did in the morning was look at my phone and scan email. My phone was always in my pocket. For many years this was an obligation. I had job responsibilities that spanned multiple shifts and time zones so there was always fresh news. Now my correspondence (email, text, satellite message, and Facebook) is mostly family and social. I still check for messages way too frequently but at least I have stopped carrying my phone. Baby steps…
During my working years, a part of my brain was always engaged in thoughts about work. It definitely was a major part of my life. Now my mind meanders through a range of thoughts and topics. Weather (past, present, and future) is one dominant topic followed closely by boat maintenance. Given that our objective for the next 7 months is to have a rich journey sailing and exploring the Bahamas and western Caribbean, weather and a ship shape boat are a major influence on success.
As I settle deeper into my new lifestyle, I hope to continue the process of “changing lanes”. I am looking forward to leveraging new skills and creativity in a range of possible activities. For now, my energies will be directed toward our current cruise. Who knows what other adventures are in the future. I am enjoying living more in the present instead of always planning for the future. There is a plaque in the galley of our boat that states “Dum vivimus vivamus”. I believe that the translation is something like “while we live, let us live”. Sounds like good advice for now.