Quarter Life Mini-Retirement

A mini retirement? What are you on about?

So what it really is if you are wondering. Well it is like a retirement, but shorter *chuckles*

At some point in your life, you will get an opportunity to do things you have always been putting off for “someday” as an unspecified time in the future, a time when you are better off in health or wealth. A time when you can greatly excel your personal development by getting out to the places you have always wanted to go to and learn the skills that you never had time to learn before. Living in the now, without taking rash decisions and executing on your goals and dreams is the embodiment of the mini-retirement. As the life progresses with more responsibilities and tasks you will have less time to get out there and learn to sail around the Caribbean and Central America or Hike the Inca Trail in Peru for example.

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Preparation

Before you rush off quitting your job and packing your luggage there is a certain amount of preparation that has to be done. Starting off with the financials first you need to make sure you are out of debt and have proportional savings to the amount of time you are planning your mini-retirement for. Getting out of debt should be pretty obvious as I hope you would agree with me that taking on debt to take a mini-retirement just sounds ridiculous and counterproductive. Saving, on the other hand, is no different than saving for a car or a down-payment on your mortgage. Although I believe that in the end, you will be much better off with the experiences of your journey rather than a car.

Secondly, planning and budgeting for your trip mean a number of things. Make you trip meaningful. Plan on learning new skills, volunteering, studying, etc. Otherwise seeing new cities, watching the sunset and visiting the best tourist attraction in yet another country might become a routine. Create goals and specific places you definitely want to visit. Create a rough estimate of your monthly and weekly budget allowing for emergencies with a degree of flexibility. Again this really depends on the countries you are planning to visit so you will have to research well how much would your daily expenses in each one be. You will get a chance to test your ability to manage your spending and expenses over a particular amount of time where a lot of unexpected events and variables will be present.

Finally, you might wonder what would you need for such an extended travel period. You might be surprised how little you actually do need. Decluttering and getting rid of many of your possession is crucial before you set off. Whatever you plan on taking with you take less, you don’t need two of this or two of that, remember that you can always buy things you need on the road and rent any equipment you might not have with you. Try to fit everything in a carry-on luggage even if you are going for a period of more than 6 months of planned travelling. Make sure you have all the visas, passport, travel documentation, insurance, and medical checks.

Considerations

There are a few very important considerations that need to be taken into account before you set off.

  1. Have a Quest and a specific place + goal to get to. A rough outlined of where you want to go, what you want to do and see, but be flexible and eager to get off the beaten path as this is the place where the real moments happen. Try to go as long as possible and look upon this mini-retirement not as a vacation to entertain yourself and party but as a personal development journey. Be modest and humble don’t splurge on luxurious accommodation and fine dining, try to find and appreciate the little things and moments along the way.
  2. Remember that not everything is going to go “according to plan” and be open to changes and new opportunities that may appear. Things go wrong and issues do come up along the way. Act with resolve and calmly figure things out. Remember that there are always people everywhere around the world that are willing to help you out if you are in trouble.
  3. You are alone out there and you have the whole responsibility for your safety and security. There is a reason why safety and security is a major issue among developing countries around the world. Be sensible. Embrace solitude and take this time to figure things out. Re-evaluate and learn from your past problems and ponder on planning for a brighter future.
  4. Don’t sacrifice your health in order to achieve the final goal. Leave your ego behind, if you are on top of Everest and you have 200m to go, but everyone is telling you to go back – Go Back, there always going to be another opportunity.

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Takeaways

  • Don’t judge and you won’t be judged. You will meet a lot of different cultures and people that might have completely different views on life compared to yours. Learn to respect that!
  • When on a mini-retirement you don’t have to rush through the places you are going through as the time constraints are not really the same as when you are on a vacation.
  • By taking one you can really reset and recharge to go back to working life society. You can rethink and re-evaluate the career path you are on. This consequently may lead to changing and embarking on a completely new adventure.
  • If you wait to retire when you are actually much older there you might physically able to do some of the things you set out to do. For example, extreme sports like snowboarding/surfing, bungee jumping and even taking 20-30-hour bus journeys through remote areas.
  • Don’t wait but act now. There will never be a perfect time to take some time off and most likely your “excuses” are not real, but just a representation of the fear of the unknown.

Finally, taking time off from work and the busy life tight with responsibilities is not just about switching off, but about pondering on the discovery of what really gets your fire started and rediscovering your passions and trying new things. So whether you call it a gap-year, a mini-retirement or a sabbatical, according to your age, get out and take that coveted mini-retirement, recharge and follow your passions.

 

Regards,

Steven

Reviews: Your Travel Work Station

Life on the go requires a reliable and stylish hardware in your bag.

You know, it’s hard to keep up with new technology when every month, even every day, there is some new gadgets or apps coming out on the market. It might feel overwhelming for many but for me, especially. I try to keep my media consumption to a minimum so I don’t clutter my mind with advertisements and news, but when it comes down to finding the best deals on the web, I like to delve into research. It took me 8 years to replace my laptop with a new one, some people may say I am frugal, but I really like to get the most out of any device’s lifespan without aimlessly consuming the ”next” new version available on the market. An upgrade long overdue to the fact of my savviness, watching after my possessions and a bit of sentimental value to it. Sentimental value to a laptop? In my case, I bought it with my first wage from my first job as my first PC ever, which went through all the storms and turbulence of late high school and university life, so it was definitely a time for an upgrade.

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I finally got rid of my Acer Aspire 5730Z for the light, beautiful and compact Asus Zenbook UX305CA. First of all the computer came with amazing minimalistic packing which ‘slightly’ resembled Apple computers. After the great packaging, you see the beauty of a beast in a metallic black shiny armour weighing only 1.2kg which in comparison to my old brick of a device is like a feather. The form, edges and design of the outside shell were also made with the attention to the smallest detail. Put in comparison to the Apple MacBook Air it weighs less and it is almost as twice as cheap as the Apple counterpart. The Intel Core M-6Y30 processor might not be your Ultrabook powerhouse but it still makes your operating system and applications run smoothly while the 8GB of RAM gives you the speed and agility you need for photo and video editing your travel captions.

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In terms of the Operating System, I would always choose Windows over the iOS as its flexibility and a wide range of software availability gives you the freedom to use the tools that work for your business. The new Windows 10(64 bit) that comes with the laptop is a spectacular match for the new Apple iOS and Microsoft’s best work so far. The fast and silent 128 SSD hard drive makes it perfect for storing your most important files while the easy access to cloud data storage sources such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive gives you security. With the 13.3 inches screen, you will get the perfect size for watching your favourite shows on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. While you are on the plane travelling to an exotic destination and the long battery life won’t let you down either. The graphics Intel HD 515 card might not be good enough for gaming, it will do you just right.

In conclusion, the affordable pricing for a light and compact laptop that is perfect for travelling and can provide the hardware for an office on the go makes the Asus Zenbook your perfect travel companion.

Regards,

Steven

Disclaimer: This is an unpaid advertisement of Asus. I love their product and have been using it for more than 1 year now.

Why I went Vegetarian?

A change in your lifestyle that will benefit you and everything around you.

I was walking down Princess Street on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh, Scotland. At one point I got confronted by a group of people with masks. They had motionless white masks on their faces and they were holding laptops with videos on and handing out leaflets. It appears that it was the International Earthlings Day where activists would protest around the streets against animal cruelty, pollution, consumerist lifestyle, and unhealthy diet. The videos playing on the laptops demonstrated the inhumane ways that the animals that end up on our table would spend their lives, caged and tortured, shortly before they meet their demise. The amount of pollution in the environment, pesticides on the plants, hormones, and antibiotics that are given to the animals we eat is astoundingly disgusting.

I was interviewed right on the spot and some very interesting questions were put forward. Why have I not tried going vegetarian and if I am aware of all the benefits?

During the interview, I realized that my ignorance and lack of attempts in this dieting are opposing my personal values. I would always be open to new ideas and oppose ignorance by learning and research. My attempts to defend my standpoint which regarded a vegetarian diet inconsistent with fitness and bodybuilding was quickly overturned. The argument was met with examples from around the world. Celebrities and Athletes around the world of sport that have taken upon a meat-free lifestyle such as the 300lb vegan American football player David Carter, the rock star from Cro-Mags and Ironman champion at 53 years of age John Joseph, the tennis sisters Serena and Vanessa Williams, the UFC brothers Nick and Nate Diaz, the pro surfer Tia Blanco, Mike Tyson and my favourite the German-Armenian strongman Patrik Baboumian. Personally, Patrik was the definitive example that led me to try vegetarianism as he embodies the movement with his motto ”strength without victims”.

So what are the actual benefits of being vegetarian and changing your diet and lifestyle:

  1. Reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, food poisoning and obesity.
  2. You will live longer by slowing the aging process and changing your metabolism. British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by 8 years.
  3. Avoid processed and fast foods as well as many toxic contaminants in flesh foods such as hormones, herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics. In addition, you can stop eating meats high in cholesterol and saturated fat that lack fibre. Eating vegetables rich in antioxidants and a variety of phytochemicals will help your immune system and make you stronger.
  4. You will help save the wilderness as meat production requires vast amounts of water, energy, and results in habitat loss, soil erosion, water depletion, and pollution from pesticides and animal waste.
  5. Economically you are able to save more money on groceries and restaurant bills as vegetarian food is generally cheaper. You can spend the excess doing your favorite activities or on an additional holiday.
  6. Psychological benefits of being in peace with yourself and showing compassion to animals. Animal cruelty is a major problem with mass food production in the meat industry where animals are raised in cramped, overcrowded spaces and artificially bred, while denied sunlight and fresh air. Most caged livestock and poultry would live in captivity for the duration of their whole life.
  7. Religious aspects of vegetarianism taking a major standpoint in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism nurturing a non-violent and peaceful life.
  8. Fish and seafood species in our oceans are being made extinct by the minute as large overfishing operations, sewage pollution and radioactive contamination are spread around the different waterways and currents.

 

It has been almost 2 years since I went vegetarian and I feel stronger and agiler than ever without losing muscle mass or feeling low on energy. I chose to learn more about a subject and give it a shot. I chose to be more compassionate and less ignorant about what I eat and how I impact my surroundings. The questions is: Are you going to give it a shot or close your eyes and look away?

Regards,

Steven

The Ideal Morning Routine

Make your day successful from the moment you open your eyes.

The way you start your day would usually be the main determinant of the mood and way you are going to go along your daily tasks at work and home. So here are the steps of the ideal morning routine that I strive to accomplish at the beginning of my day:

  1. Early rising with the sun at 6 am. Our biological clocks are meant to work to their optimum during the daytime. In addition, people tend to be more creative and have stronger reserves of willpower to go about hard tasks. This reserve gradually diminishes with the passage of your day.
  2. Make your bed as the first small accomplishment for the day would boost your motivation and get the ball rolling.
  3. Immediately get outside for a 15-20 minute Aerobic exercise/Cardio of either running, swimming or cycling followed by a quick stretch. During your exercise listen to your favourite podcast/audiobook so that you can get that grey matter between your ears working as well as trying to learn and think on the particular subject.
  4. Once back home enjoy a 10-15 minutes practice of meditation/yoga of your choice. Calming the mind and focusing on what matters in the morning can increase your productivity throughout the day.
  5. Take a cold shower or Scottish shower as this will help you build your determination and willpower.
  6. A couple of affirmations in the mirror while you brush your teeth.
  7. Write in your journal on any thoughts, let the worries out and express gratitude for what you have.
  8. Have a hearty breakfast while listening to your favourite music. With your breakfast drink a lot of water with lemon, load up on protein with a protein shake or smoothie and vitamins such as Fish Oil and Vitamin D. Don’t forget a spoon of coconut oil.
  9. Have your attire for the day prepared the night before, dress up and get out there to CRUSH your day.

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This is an ideal routine so making all these steps would mean that you completely blazed the morning, but even doing 3, 4 or 5 of them would mean that you are going to get a head start of your day and get more work done with less effort.

Regards,

Steven

How did you make your physical breakthrough?

A journey into discovering your sport, diet and reaching your fitness goals.

Finding your Sport

Getting into shape and finding a physical activity you are passionate about takes a lot of time and hard work. Before I stumbled upon a sport that really sparks my passion, makes me happy and keeps me healthy there was a lot of wandering about between one and the other. As we all know, some people find their thing sooner than others, but the important bit is to keep looking until you really know that this is the sport for you.

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Practicing Aikido

It took me 8 years to find mine. I was a geeky fat boy playing World of Warcraft and eating junk food all day. I got about doing sports late when I was 14. I started off with aikido, which is a great peaceful martial art that teaches you great values, but never managed to challenge me enough physically and lacked the competitiveness I was looking for. I tried judo and wrestling very briefly but I lacked strength and technique. Tae Kwon Do got me for a while but ultimately it wasn’t really my thing. Shin Kyokushin karate really sparked my interest and by this time I managed to lose weight and get in shape. Around competitions and the hard training, my physical performance improved and a slight interest in fitness started to emerge. Although this interest was usually foreshadowed by the desire to do fighting sports which felt like a compensation for my personal insecurities and social anxieties still left from being a geeky fat boy combined with the harsh environment in Eastern Europe.

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Fighting at a Karate Competition

Time flew by and I found myself studying in Scotland and still doing fighting sports though I had grown up and fitness started to occupy a more important spot in my head. A couple of more years flew by, about the time I was 22 and I was living in Spain my boxing gym closed down due to the recession. I kind of grew out of this social pressure, anxiety and a need to do fighting sports. I decided to focus on fitness in the gym. I started running, some friends did a marathon… I was like – hey I can do that as well – so I did. Even though I was smoking and partying all over the course of the preparation. Despite this fact, I ran the DAMN thing within the given time I aimed for. Running, inconsistent fitness workouts, travelling and partying doesn’t really make great results. Once I moved back to Scotland to finish my studies, I dedicated myself only to fitness. no more violence, no more bruises and blue eyes, no more jumping around from one sport to another.

Health and Fitness

It took a few years to really get in a shape that was satisfying to a particular extent. Looking at the numbers:

  • From 72 kg personal weight – 79 kg
  • From 1 pack – 6 pack
  • From 50 kg bench – 110 kg bench
  • From 40 kg squat – 140 kg squat
  • From 50 kg deadlift – 185 kg deadlift
  • From 3 pull-ups – 12 pull ups + 15kg additional weight

I started, not knowing what I am getting myself into, but slowly I was learning more and more. The more I practised the more I enjoyed it and the more I was discovering about the sport. It wasn’t just lifting weights and getting buffed. It was diet plans, learning to cook and knowing what you are putting in your mouth, learning about the outcomes of your lifestyle on your fitness, experimenting with different workout plans, seeing what works and what doesn’t. The fact that you are completely accountable for what you eat, how you train and the only competitor in front of the mirror is YOU. I found it to be a sport of self-discovery where the only person you are competing against is YOU. Finding your weaknesses and working on improving them. The mirror is your competition and you are 100% accountable for your progress.

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Training

Proper training and learning about your body was an integral part of the process. Anatomy, muscle groups and how to train them what exercises affect what and how. The different subgroups of fitness, as I never knew before, there was the bodybuilding, aesthetic bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, callisthenics, cross fit, etc. Choosing what interests you the most and getting into it. After experimenting with this and that for a couple of years, I realized that in the end of the day it all comes down to doing your basics squats, bench and military presses, and deadlifting as heavy as you can. Don’t skip cardio after your workout, do your warm-ups and don’t avoid stretching. Injuries do become a reality sooner or later.

ACTIVE WARM UP -> WEIGHT LIFTING -> CARDIO -> STRETCHING & COOL DOWN

Experiment with workouts and try out new things. Although you need to get the basics in, every week, NO MATTER WHAT.

Diet

An indispensable part of the sport, the diet is considered even more important than your training. You will have to learn about nutrition and supplementation what to eat and what not to eat as well as different plans and ways to cook things. You are going to need supplementation and learn about it. YOU WILL HAVE TO ELIMINATE SUGAR, SODAS, ALCOHOL, CIGARETTES, DRUGS, PROCESSED AND JUNK FOOD if you want to get where you want to get in the given time frame and achieve results.

WARNING: Steroids will help you and will make you bigger, BUT this shortcut would cost you your health in the long run and possibly your life. When it comes down to supplementation I suggest you stick to Protein, Creatine, Amino Acids, Vitamins and Fish Oil. In my opinion, fat burners and pre-workouts are not particularly good for your health and may put an unnecessary strain on your health. If you want to burn more fat – do more cardio. If you want a pre-workout to have a double espresso before training.

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Lifestyle

Getting far in this sport and getting the body you want will require a lot of sacrifices, discipline and hard work. Drinking, drugs, smoking and junk food/sweets are going to affect you and it will slow your progress, believe me 🙂 You are going to have to adjust your lifestyle in order to match your sport so that you can really achieve your goals. It might not be an overnight success, but if you put in the effort and gradually adjust, you will get there… EVENTUALLY.

Final Thoughts

THERE IS NO SECRET DIET OR TRAINING PLAN. It’s all about consistency, hard work, dedication and knowledge. Find your sport, eat right and put in the work day in and day out. Grind away your way to the top, eat your vegetables and do your basics.

And remember always skip that last shot at the bar and yes taking the stairs helps.