I Need a Mental Break

I Need a Mental Break

I’m exhausted and I need a mental break.

There’s this weird dynamic in the blogging (and social media) world where the more you’re out doing “stuff”, the more it looks like you’re out living the dream.

I’ve never really cared much about all that but I do put my life out there for everyone (both good and bad). And this year, we’ve been insanely busy doing more stuff than I could have ever imagined.

Most of you know that we’ve spent the past few years living in a little piece of paradise called Boquete in the country of Panama. It truly was wonderful. But we made the hard decision to move back recently to be closer to family.

We left Panama in April and on the way back, we spent 8 nights in Ajijic, Mexico. From there, we partied it up for 3 nights at an all-inclusive resort in Cancún. Then, only a month after we got back to Ohio, we turned around and set out on a road trip around the U.S. that lasted for 31 days.

We’ve just spent this past weekend at Kelleys Island with my cousins for our annual get-together. And finally, as this post is coming out, Lisa and I are on a flight to North Carolina. We’ll be spending a few days there and then bringing back a U-Haul of furniture to our new apartment.

So, from the outside, you might be thinking, “Wow, Jim’s living the life! He and his family are always traveling and up to something good!”

Here’s the thing – we really do have a lot of fun… a ton of fun. Early retirement has given us the gift of more time as well as the opportunity to travel less expensively based on flexibility. Without a doubt, I’m extremely thankful to be in the position we’re in.

However, lately, it’s been too much of a good thing. There really hasn’t been any downtime and I need some time of nothingness… I need a mental break.

Blogs and social media can be misleading

The inherent nature of social media leads folks to want to put their best foot forward. It’s not that you won’t hear about the bad things in life – it’s just that the good things tend to rise to the surface quite a bit more.

Maybe that’s because many people want others to think their life is always a bowl of cherries. Or perhaps it’s less innocuous and folks are just excited to share the good nature of the places they’ve gone and the sites they’ve seen.

I would guess it’s a blend of these. I also think that most people tend to consider the negative things in life to be a bit more personal and something they don’t want to put out there for others. Putting your “I need a mental break” thoughts on Instagram isn’t something most folks want to share.

The same goes for personal blogs to a certain degree. Although personal bloggers tend to share the good in their lives, they’re not always as forthright about the negative. That isn’t to say that they’re lying about it, but many bloggers focus on the fun and leave out the bad in their lives.

Again, this might not be malicious – most folks just get more excited to share the positives in life.

Personally, I try to be conscious of this in both my blog post and on social media.

There’s no doubt that financial independence and early retirement have changed my life completely… and for the better. It’s so hard to put into words just how significant this new freedom is for me and us as a family.

That said, I want my readers to know that life isn’t perfect. As pristine as someone tries to come off on the internet, he/she will always have their own set of problems going on.

Hopefully, you’ve noticed that I try to be honest whenever I write a blog post or something on social media.

Sometimes, I’ll post about the cool stuff I’m super excited about…

I Need a Mental Break - Instagram - Badlands

But, I also try to be upfront and honest about anything that’s not so good as well…

I Need a Mental Break - Instagram - Bryce Canyon National Park
I Need a Mental Break - Instagram - Albuquerque KOA

The same goes for my blog posts. You’ll always see posts about the stuff I’m excited about:

But I also try to tell you whenever I have some concerns on my mind:

Although I try to be as authentic as I can be with you as my readers, there’s only so much time for writing so you’re obviously never going to know the whole story.

But the same goes for every single blogger and social media influencer out there. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that what you see or read out there tells the whole story of someone. The internet makes the world a lot smaller but it also gives folks the ability to mold their life into what they want you to believe. It has the potential to make you think your own life isn’t that great – even though your life might be far better than the half story you’re seeing out there.

I need a mental break

That was a long rant but I thought it was worth saying. The reason is that I don’t want to pull any punches and ever try to make you think that my life is perfect.

Life is much less stressful without having a 9-5 and the freedom we have truly is awesome. However, it’ll never be peaches and cream 100% of the time.

And right now, I’m tired.

It was amazing to explore Ajijic, Mexico – such a cool place with some awesome culture and people…

Then, spending 31 days on a road trip throughout the U.S. gave us a chance to see a ton of sites we had never visited before…

Even more breath-taking, boondocking surprised us and made our jaws drop at the spectacular scenery that nature provided around us…

There’s no doubt that we had a fantastic time and made some amazing memories.

But we’ve essentially been going non-stop since mid-April… and we’re not done yet. We just spent the weekend at Kelleys Island and Lisa and I are on our way right now to North Carolina to get furniture for our new apartment.

We’ve also spent a heckuva lot of money along the way… more money than I’m used to spending.

Throw in a beatdown from COVID at the end of our road trip with a lingering cough and the lethargy it generously provided and I’m spent.

Traveling takes a lot of mental energy. Traveling a lot takes even more. Between the planning, constantly adapting to change, and the actual doing, it’s a lot of work. It’s fun, but it takes its toll.

I need a mental break. I need some time to chill and not do anything for a little while. I need to regroup and focus on myself for a little bit. I need to ramp up the working out, get back to eating better, and just be still for a little bit. Maybe I’ll spend some time reading and catching up on some movies, too. Of course, we’ll have family time as well with some games and getting settled into the new apartment.

This is not a depression thing or anything like that so nothing to worry about there. Life is good – tremendously good! I simply want to take a little time to bring things down a notch for a little bit.

I need a mental break to get back on top of things and then I can get back to the fun. After all, we do have a Caribbean cruise scheduled in October… and then we’ll be done traveling probably for the rest of the year.

With that said, I’ll probably take a break from Route to Retire for a week or two. But then I’ll be back with the latest scoop, new and fun ways to save more money, and thoughts on helping you to live your best life!

Get on the mailing list and you’ll always be on top of things. I’ll send you a variety of cool spreadsheets I created, too, including:

Fun stuff, right? You know what to do…

Until next time, my friends!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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30 thoughts on “I Need a Mental Break”

  1. I think you do a good job of being pretty transparent. I agree we almost all blog more about fun, new or exciting things going on in our world than we do about fears and doubts or boredom. I think that stuff is more entertaining and blogging is at the heart of it a form of entertainment. There are a couple of blogs out there where the writer is persistently negative and I have to say I can barely stand to read their stuff, it’s just too depressing. Yours is upbeat but I think it reflects an adventurous happy young family. But yes, having raised three kids and having been married for over four decades now, I realize every day isn’t happy and life is a mix of good times and hard ones. All in all you do a good job of presenting a balanced look into your family’s life I think. I know I enjoy following your story.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I agree with your note about reading from people who are always negative… it’s just so draining and depressing to read. I’ll stick with being upbeat but honest and see where that continues to take me! ?

  2. I think that whenever someone is in the public eye, whether it’s in front of millions or simply a few dozen, there’s a tendency to put forth a “public persona” vs. their “real self.” Social media exacerbates this because now everyone who wants a large audience will be tempted to act a certain way to grow to that audience. But there is no good without some bad and people naturally understand this, but this isn’t what’s shown publicly because it’s not sexy. Generally, people don’t like to see suffering (which is a good thing!).

    Glad to hear you’re doing well and recognize that you need a mental break – I hope folks read this and it can help recognize that in themselves! Just don’t take a break from the gym buddy! 🙂

  3. Everybody needs a vacation – even if it’s a vacation from vacationing! Enjoy your rest and recuperation and see you on the other side m

  4. I hear ya, Jim!

    I retired from medicine nearly three years ago, but with the blog, I haven’t taken a week off in six and a half years!

    It’s very different work, and it’s hard to even call this blogging business “work” compared to what I did as an anesthesiologist, but there are times when I wouldn’t mind having a true break from it all.

    Here’s to you coming back feeling refreshed and invigorated after a week or three of downtime.


    1. Yeah, you somehow just keep on trucking, PoF… very impressive! The blogging really isn’t work to me (I mean it is work but it’s something I enjoy). I think all the travel though has just caught up with me so I just want to chill and regroup for a week or so.

      Cheers, my friend!

  5. Thanks for the transparency, Jim. The good thing about retirement is that YOU can control your pace. You don’t HAVE to write each week (I’m a living example). You don’t HAVE to do non-stop travel (we’re doing much less than we thought we’d be doing, but we enjoy our mountain lives and have made a choice). Amazingly, you don’t even HAVE to explain your actions to anyone. You’re Retired. You’ve earned the right to relax. Take advantage of it (after you get home from NC with all of that furniture that needs to be arranged in your new home, of course).

    1. You’re right, Fritz (you seem to always be right!)… and you’ve told me that before. Once we get settled for a little bit, I’m sure I’ll be chomping at the bit to get back out there to explore the world some more! ?

  6. Interesting, but I can’t imagine you need a break from blogging. What you need a break from is the constant touring/ vacationing that provides the content for your blog… Perhaps a distinction without a difference for you, but conflating the two is a still wrong. The blog probably sucks you content producers into a go go go lifestyle that you feel you need to satisfy your audience. See? You’re now no different than Hollywood! Lol. Enjoy the break!

    1. It’s true, Phil – the constant travel has just taken its toll. The blogging isn’t the issue… but it does take a lot of time and effort to do (even though I love doing it). But since I can, I’m just going to take a week or two off of that as well to just relax for a little bit and try to get my head on straight again.

  7. Totally get it Jim, being on the go all the time is not my cup of tea, I’m a homebody, so I feel for ya. Enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation. If you ever talk about Kelly’s Island, I’d love to hear about it. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Safe travels to NC!

  8. Great deal Jim on sharing the ups and downs of this blogging gig….and, of living the dream. With freedom comes facing fear and intense discomfort. I tell the rest of the story to show that blogging from paradise is fun, freeing and quite challenging, sometimes. Excellent post.


    PS…we spent 5 months in Panama in early 2021. Loved our time in Panama City, Pedasi and El Valle de Anton but it was challenging too, in moments. Fascinating place.

    1. That’s cool you got to spend some time in Panama, Ryan! Panama City’s too hot and hustle-bustle for me, but it’s pretty chic and gets compared to Miami and NYC quite a bit so a lot of folks love it there. I only got to spend a few hours in Anton as we were passing through on our first visit to Panama in 2017 – we did have a great lunch there though! But yeah, I can see the challenges creeping up in any unfamiliar location… it comes with the upside of getting to explore fantastic new places! 🙂

  9. You guys are definitely on the move a lot! We just moved from Washington state to Arizona, and it’s taken a lot out of me to get that done — both mentally and physically. And you guys are *constantly* on the move. It must be pretty tiring!

    I can totally understand why you need a break. Sometimes you just have to process everything that’s happened, and let your body rest and heal. Have a great break Jim!

  10. Hello Jim,
    Have treasured your posts regarding your adventures these past years.
    Downtime is a good balance to achieve. No need to gloss on all the positives as if negatives do not exists.
    Its always lurking even in the best of vacation modes. With a whirwind moves from Panama back to the States, its
    stressful. Encourage you towards mental replenishment when the times allow.

  11. Ur a bad ass I did 4 nights in Puerta Vallarta Mexico and it has been 7 days back in FL and I’m still recovering. PS – my wife has many travel plans as we are soon to be empty nesters. Not sure how all that’s gonna go

  12. Great post and reality check! This is the first time I’ve been to your blog, just heard your interview on ChooseFI from 2019. Keep up the great content!

    1. Thanks, Matt – very much appreciated! Sorry for the delayed response – I’ve actually been out in the bush for the past week on a big fishing trip. It’s been a great way to wrap up the break I needed! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  13. Will From Buffalo

    Good post…I generally am mostly fond of the heavily financial and actionable ones…..this was a nice deviation from all that.

    Be sure to let us know what got you to unwind the most in your break….for “doing nothing” is rarely if ever, truly, doing nothing.

    1. Thanks, Will – I plan to work on a post for next week to talk about what I’ve been up to since this was the longest I’ve gone without writing on the site since I started in 2015. Funny enough, I just passed through Buffalo late last night on my way back from a new adventure that I’ll be talking about. Hope you enjoy the new post coming out and have a great Sunday! 🙂

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