In pursuit of financial independence and personal fulfillment

I’m ending my mini-retirement; what’s next?

I stepped away from my job last April hungry for a change. I was burned out at work, felt less than present at home, and wanted to build a stronger connection in my community.

I said I would be taking a mini-retirement of up to one year. I wasn’t sure how much of that time I would need to work through the things I wanted to dissect and experience the things I wanted to take on.

Today, I can happily say that after nine months, I have clarity of purpose and direction.

This was always a temporary situation

I’ve written before about the things I have been doing during my mini-retirement. There have been many, many rewarding experiences.

But there was always the certainty that this wasn’t meant to last forever. I gave myself this space — and it would be criminal not to give heaps of credit to my wife for her amazing ongoing support and encouragement throughout this break — to explore what I would find enjoyment in if I had the freedom to use my time any way I wanted.

This experience was meant to help me figure out what my next career might look like.

As Jim from Route To Retire is finding shortly after his early retirement, it’s not as easy as waking up the day after you quit working and live a life of unscheduled bliss. You don’t get to be someone who can retire early or take an extended period away from work by being lazy or unmotivated or unproductive. I still needed to find structure and a way to measure meaning in my days.

I wanted to be useful.

One way I could be useful was to start working with people who needed help getting a handle on their finances. That was something I could do immediately, that came naturally, and that could really have a positive effect. So I started helping people I met through The Dad Edge Alliance.

Those calls were exhilarating. I got to use all this knowledge I’ve gained along my own financial journey and being part of the FIRE movement, and I got to help others make big strides in their own lives. I love talking about this stuff.

What would you do for free?

There’s a piece of advice about finding a career that goes something like, “Think about the things you like so much you would do them for free, and find a way to do that for money.”

I put a lot of time into working with the people who came to me to improve their financial situation. I spent hours looking over their budgets, their debts, their fixed expenses. I went deep down rabbit holes I didn’t know existed to give them the best information I could find so they could make more educated decisions. And I listened to where they were coming from, where they wanted to be, and what was important to them.

I got such a thrill out of it. It wasn’t easy, but it didn’t feel like work.

Then, through conversations I had with people at FinCon and attending a session by Garrett Philbin and Leisa Peterson, I really became aware of the growing space that is financial coaching.

Financial coaching really gets deep into the mindset, emotional, and behavioral components of managing money and layers the practical how-to on top. It melds personal growth and personal finance — two areas I have had an immense interest in for years. But it’s not managing assets or devising tax strategies, like financial advising or planning.

At the end of November, all the pieces finally came together in my head. Financial coaching is the thing I have been seeking. It is my ikigai — the intersection of my passion, my talent, a need in the world, and something for which people will pay.

Live Your Way Financial Coaching is born

My mini-retirement officially ended Jan. 2, 2019, with the launch of Live Your Way Financial Coaching.

Live Your Way allows me to continue to have those amazing talks with people about how they can live the life they desire without the constant stress of money. It lets me empower people to have better relationships with their spouses and a clearer picture of the future they want to live into. And, I get to teach them the practical know-how to manage their finances in the way that’s natural and effective for them. (If that sounds like something you want to know more about, schedule a free 20-minute call with me!)

It gets me excited and allows me to make a difference in the world.

What’s more, it allows me to do all of the things I started doing when I quit my job and which have become such an important part of my life. I can still walk my daughter to and from school every day and help with her homework. I can still volunteer in my community whenever I want. I can work from anywhere. I can determine my own schedule. I can decide that tomorrow is better spent outside than at a desk. I can attend events during normal business hours without taking a vacation day.

Entrepreneurship was always a possibility, but it was never my expectation. The truth is, that’s going to be my steepest learning curve. But that’s what life’s about, finding something you want to do and figuring out how to make it happen. I’m scared and excited.

Thankfully, I still have several months of financial padding to cushion me while I get this going.

Would you call your mini-retirement a success?

Several months ago I created a list to help me gauge whether this adventure was a success. Here’s what was on it:

  • I have some direction I’m excited about pursuing
  • I feel accomplished
  • I put myself outside my comfort zone
  • I feel like I’ve grown as a person
  • I redesigned and invigorated I Dream of FIRE

I can say those first four things are checked off (although I still feel like I could have gone further outside my comfort zone, but that’s a challenge I can continue to work on). That last one … well, that’s a mixed bag. I didn’t redesign anything. That’s a big fat fail. But the posts I’ve written have been longer and more thought out. And somehow I managed to get on the first page of Google results for Carnival cruise prices, so that’s been fun and helps the visitor metrics.

Beyond those things, I’ve got a much deeper relationship with my daughter. My wife and I now split the daily running of the household more fairly. I’m much healthier than I have been in years.

All in all, yes, the past nine months have been absolutely worth it. I don’t think I could have come to where I am now through a different path. The mini-retirement was exactly what I needed and got me exactly where I wanted to be.

I’ll write more about all of this in a future post.

But right now, I’ve got work to do.


  1. Amy @ LifeZemplified

    Love it, Scott! Congrats on a successful mini-retirement and a wonderful new business!

    • I Dream of FIRE

      Thanks, Amy! I’m excited to build it up and continue helping people figure out where they’re going and how to get there.

  2. Mr. SSC

    Congrats on finding your ikigai! Sounds exciting moving forward and like the mini retirement worked wonders with the family life. Good luck moving forward. Can’t wait to read more about it.

    • I Dream of FIRE

      The better family connection was definitely a huge factor in setting some must-haves around my next gig. I didn’t want to do something that would have me backslide on all that good change.

  3. Remy

    I admire you for having the courage to step away from a good job, take time to figure out what you really want in life, and then to have the courage to go for it. I wish you much success and I know that you’ll be great at it. You’ve helped me a lot just in the few conversations we’ve had, and I was already doing pretty well.

    Sometimes it feels like knowing all these FI principals is like a super power. I watch the people around me making all the classic mistakes and feel like I could really help them out by being their coach or mentor, but it’s not an easy thing to bring up. For one thing, to really be able to mentor them I would need go deep into their financial situation and that’s not an easy thing to do with someone you are family or friends with. If you’ve had any success helping family or friends I’d love to hear how that got started.

    • I Dream of FIRE

      Thanks, Remy. It’s been a great meandering journey getting to this point. I’m very glad to have taken the opportunity I had and actually gotten out of it what I was going for at the start.

      The thing I’ve found helpful talking about this stuff with friends and family is that it’s less about selling them on the how and more talking about the why. There’s little things I’ll throw in there about how I saved some money on this or that, things they could easily do, too. But the why is different for everyone, and most people don’t ever really stop to have that conversation with themselves or their spouse about their goals. Once you’ve got some clarity on your goals, then the financial part is there to support those goals and make them happen. That’s when people are more open to the nuts and bolts of the financial stuff.

  4. Jim @ Route To Retire

    This is awesome – congratulations!!

    I’ve never heard the term “ikigai”, but I’m excited you found yours. Good luck on the new path, Scott!

    — Jim

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