I read somewhere that the average number of careers people have these days is three. That has been spot-on for me. I was an in-house graphic designer, cartographer, illustrator and occasional visual merchandiser first, then a freelance illustrator, cartographer and occasional designer second, and writer third.
The first paid a good wage but felt limiting and was not always fun. The second was fun but didn’t pay well. The third was enjoyable and paid well and has, much to my surprise, lasted the longest.
However, the third is causing physical difficulties that I’m barely managing to keep in check and will eventually force me to stop. I don’t want to stop writing, but unless some miraculous cure for diagnosing and treating severe neck pain is developed, I will have to. Probably in the next few years.
The difference between semi and full retirement is significant, not just in income. Scarier to me is the prospect of not having a big task or creatively fulfilling project to occupy my mind. Oh, there’s heaps I’d like to do, from a degree to pursuing art to smaller writing projects, but they, too, would be limited or prevented by the same chronic back problem.
The five month break I took last year proved to me that my back gets better when not doing the things that cause pain. By the end could re-introduce some activities I could do at the beginning. So the key may simply be time.