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Worker quits job for 'mini-retirement' before he's 'old and grey' in growing Aussie trend

Andrew John is one of a growing cohort of people in his generation to take part in the trend, but don't think it's a holiday.

A 42-year-old marketer has quit his job to take a "mini-retirement" as more Australian workers decide to take a break before they are "old and grey". The trend was coined by American entrepreneur Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Workweek and involves taking a periodic break and living off saved or passive income.

Andrew John is two months into his four-month break, in which he plans to figure out what's next in life. He and his wife Jessica rent their Erskineville home and plan on starting a family.

She is in full support of the break, which John told Yahoo Finance is not a holiday.

“As you get older you kind of think about where your life's headed, what's important. I don't really want to wait until I'm 70 to do what I want to do," he said.

Andrew John and his wife Jessica (left) and on his own (right).
John's wife Jessica completely supports his mini-retirement. (Source: Supplied)

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He is currently studying creative writing at the University of Sydney while also completing his writing fellowship with Penguin Random House.

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“You shouldn't come at it with the mindset that it's going to be time off, that's technically not what it is.”

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Rather, it’s an opportunity to “experiment”, whether it involves moving to a new city, studying or spending time with family, he said. He suggested pulling together some savings to fund the length of the break, plus a buffer in case you choose to extend the break or come up against unexpected issues.

“I do a lot of investing in stock markets, so I would normally have a pool of money that I put into stocks. Instead of doing that, I decided to use it to fund my retirement," he said.

With just two months left, he is thinking about what’s next, but isn’t worried about re-entering the workforce. He plans to work for himself.

“I'm probably going to die in my seat as they say, or at my desk. If I'm going to do that, I want it to be in something that is meaningful to me," John said.

“Nowadays, being a Millennial — and I think even Gen Z — we have that mindset where it's OK to change careers and have three careers in your life. You don't have to stay on one track,” he said.

Andrew John eating breakfast on holiday (left) and with his wife Jessica (right).
John said he mini-retirement isn't a holiday, it's been a time to consider his next options in life. (Source: Supplied)

Lacey Filipich, financial educator and founder and director of Money School is no stranger to mini-retirements. She and her husband Adam have taken many during the course of their careers, both before and after having children.

“People have been taking sabbaticals since day dot, that's what it used to get called, and now mini-retirements are more popular,” she told Yahoo Finance.

People can take mini-retirements as a result of a traumatic event or redundancy, triggering them to reevaluate life. It’s a trend Filipich is seeing becoming more common with workers in their late-20s and early 30s, especially those who went straight from high school to tertiary education.

Lacey Filipich and her family (left) and on her own (right).
Lacey Filipich and her husband have taken several mini-retirements. (Source: Supplied)

“I have seen an uptick, especially given that Covid allowed a lot of people to work from home and therefore work in different locations. There are a lot of people looking to sort of move to a different area and achieve that sort of mini-retirement feeling while still doing some paid work," she said.

The best part for Filipich, coming back re-energised.

"You've had a proper break," she said. "A break without alarm clocks, you've had a break doing what you want to do. Your brain's had space and time.”

Re-entering the workforce after a mini-retirement is not as difficult as one might expect, with Filipich saying in most industries employees won’t be deterred by seeing a hole in someone’s resume.

“If you've got the kind of job that relies on you being up to date with current trends and keeping a network alive, if you abandon that completely while you're on that mini-retirement, it can be harder to restart that kind of a career," she said.

"But there are fewer of those kinds of careers.”

Filipich and her family on the beach.
Filipich says most bosses would not be bothered if a worker had been on a mini-retirement in the past. (Source: Supplied)

However, the Australian HR Institute has found returning from mini-retirements can be more difficult for older workers, most notably those aged 65 and over.

Sarah McCann-Bartlett, CEO of the Australian HR Institute, said ageism was still rife, with one in six organisations saying they would not consider hiring people aged 65 and above, according to last year’s Employing and Retaining Older Workers Survey.

“These attitudes are disappointing especially as the report findings showed that the reluctance by some HR professionals to hire older workers contradicted the lived experience of employing them,” McCann-Bartlett said.

“One of the big advantages of hiring people wishing to return from ‘mini-retirement’ is that the time it will take them to reach proficiency in their role is likely to be far quicker than that of inexperienced candidates.”

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