We keep planning vacations. The problem? We are retired, so vacations are not much different than life. If we had more money and could travel, maybe that would be different, but prices have gone up, we’ve had a year plus of COVID, and we are not getting younger. Things I always wanted to do seem impractical. I can’t do the walking and climbing that successful foreign vacations require. I look down the road and know we won’t be getting younger. I suspect we are done with traveling. I don’t think I’m going to see Paris in this lifetime.
Being retired reminds me more than it should of working for myself. You might think (unless you’re already working for yourself, in which case you know better) that when you are your own boss, work will be less strenuous than working for someone else. It probably is less stressful (your boss really understands you), but not less effort.
There are two big differences which make it worth the effort. The first is if you have to go to the doctor or handle other personal business, you don’t need someone else’s permission. You do what you need to do and make up lost work time as needed. The other is no commuting, except visiting clients or taking care of other business related activities. Depending on what you are doing, your “other” activities can keep you pretty busy most of the time. Because your work day has no official beginning or end, it’s also not unusual to find yourself working at three in the morning. You were awake anyway, so you might as get some work done.
I was running a online shop. If I wasn’t writing entertaining descriptions for items I was selling, I was pondering what I could buy that would (a) sell, (b) make a profit, and (c) what work did I have to do to make items saleable?
I wanted to be the internet version of the Peterman catalogue using unique writing to help people think believe each item was unique, special, and hopefully irresistible. Weekends were spent visiting estate and yard sales. Poking through eBay. Corresponding with clients. Packing, unpacking, going back and forth to the post office, trying to make sure that I was actually making a profit. Buying things that weren’t yet popular, hoping you could make them “hot” items.
I was pretty good at the predictive thing. Probably around 75% of the time (a very high rate, by the way because no one gets it right every time), I was able to see what would become popular, but was still inexpensive. I think I was the first marketer to see cast iron doorstops, bookends, and other turn of the century items as a future “hot” item. I bought them for pennies and they sold like hotcakes. By the time I ran out of them, their price had skyrocketed. It was time to move on.
That ability to predict what people will want three to six months down the road is a gift. If you can’t do that, you won’t be in business very long.
On the negative side of self-employment, your boss is utterly unsympathetic to your calling in sick. You know exactly how sick you are or aren’t. The office is across the hall from the bedroom. You don’t even have to get dressed.
Overall, I did pretty well. I think the writing sold more goods than a desire for the items themselves. I spent a lot of time writing about each piece as if it were the most amazing, unique thing ever. Oh, did I forget having to set up the lights and take pictures of every item? That took time, too.
Good, sharp photographs are mandatory. No one will buy anything unless they get a good look at it. That, plus descriptions that make everything sound cool equaled a reasonable degree of success. I got one call from J. Crew who wanted to buy THOUSANDS of a piece I had. The problem is, everything I had really was unique. I wasn’t just saying that. I rarely owned more than one of anything. In this case, there was only one, zebra carved in Africa from a special, lightweight yet very dense wood. I couldn’t get another one. If I could have, I’d be a lot richer than I am not.
I don’t miss the work. By the time the 2008 big recession hit, I was getting tired. I had been working nonstop for five years and had never taken a break.
So now, here I am. I don’t get paid and I still feel like I never get a vacation. Maybe the problem is me. I’ve forgotten how to vacate.