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Jun 18, 2024 | Podcast

Mini-Retirements, Healing from Burnout, and Pivoting with Jillian Johnsrud

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About the episode:

If you had a month off of work, what would you do? Maybe you’d take the opportunity to work on your side business to increase your income to possibly leave your 9-5. Maybe you’d focus solely on healing your nervous system from endless burnout. The opportunities are endless – enter mini-retirements. Over the past 20 years, Jillian Johnsrud and her husband have taken a dozen mini-retirements while also paying off their debt, buying a home with cash, adopting four kids (and having two biological kids), buying rentals, traveling to 27 countries, and living abroad. In our conversation today on The Prosperous Empath® Podcast, she shares what exactly a mini-retirement is, how they can serve as a catalyst for major change, and how she helps her clients prepare for them. When you listen all the way through, you’ll feel like your biggest desires and dreams are that much more accessible (with action steps to make them happen).  


Topics discussed:

  • How Jillian defines a “mini-retirement” and how this can look whether you work in a 9-5 job, or if you’re a business owner
  • The different ways a mini-retirement can give you a runway to imagine new possibilities, heal from burnout, and buy back time
  • How Jillian supports her clients in preparing for a mini-retirement, especially around the feeling of time and energy scarcity
  • Being comfortable with sitting in the space or void to reconnect with what you want to design on purpose
  • The four steps of considering a mini-retirement: set an intention, negotiate employment, create a budget, navigate burnout


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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood 00:02

Hi, Jillian, welcome to the podcast.


Jillian Johnsrud  00:04

Thank you so much for having me on.


Catherine A. Wood  00:06

I was delighted to have you on when we had our first connection call, I really didn’t have a lot of context for our conversation because we were introduced to view via a mutual friend who, who I always trust kind of those connections, and they’re like, I think you two are really gonna get along. And I came away from our last conversation. I mean, first of all, feeling more grounded, which is always a great sign for me. And inspired. So thrilled to have you on today. And I know we’re going to talk about mini retirements and I’m assigning this term as something that’s your key term, because I have never heard of it before. So I’m excited to dig into this topic. And before we do as a way of introducing yourself, I’d love for you to share your pronouns. And I’d love for you to share a little bit about your story, because I think that we all learn and connect through stories.


Jillian Johnsrud  01:04

Yeah. So my pronouns are she her. And my story kind of begin, especially around mini retirements. You know, shortly after we got married, we, we had a lot of debt, we had like $55,000 of debt, and we didn’t go into high earning kind of career paths. And so I didn’t, I never thought we’d be able to retire early. Like I never, I was like, I would have been really excited if we would have hit financial independence by like 60. So many retirements were kind of the path forward, you know, there were a lot of other things in our lives that were important to us. And I knew I wanted to carve out time for and I wanted to really be able to lean into those things. So yeah, over the last 22 years, we’ve done a dozen of them. And along the way, you know we were able to travel there like 27 different countries and bring have six kids and do a bunch of fun stuff. So it’s it’s been a good a good journey.


Catherine A. Wood  02:08

You are the perfect person for me to be talking about as I navigate this two and a half week baby moon where I’m



still like, where am I going to go.


Catherine A. Wood  02:18

So perfectly timed. Thank you very much universe. Well, so let’s start from the top because I would really love for you to define what a mini retirement even means. You’ve never heard of this term before. And I’m curious if it’s a term in the fire, the financial independence retire early movement for those who don’t know the acronym, or if it’s your own.


Jillian Johnsrud  02:42

I don’t believe it’s my own. I think it’s been around for for a long time. And, and it can go by lots of different names. And I’m actually not really partial to any, you know, any particular one. Some people refer to them as career breaks or sabbaticals or gap years or hiatus. But whatever you call it, I define it as a month or longer stepping away from your nine to five, to focus on something that matters to you.


Catherine A. Wood  03:16

I really appreciate the, the qualifiers, so a month away. And is it fully it’s fully stepping away from your nine to five.


Jillian Johnsrud  03:25

I, I prefer that. But if you have a nine to five, but for business owners, I actually think it’s a little bit more logistically challenging and almost a little bit more stressful to entirely step away. So especially for our business owner, their first or second, or even third, mini retirement, it can make a lot more sense to shrink your work down to like 10% versus trying to go all the way to zero trying to get that last 10 person is it a lot of logistical work, and it feels risky. And that feeling of risk, you know, isn’t isn’t kind of outweighed by the benefit of having zero work hours. So for self employed, I think shrinking it down, you know, to maybe 10%, your average hours, you can still get 90% of the benefits of the mini retirement with a lot less effort.


Catherine A. Wood  04:23

So I’m curious what the inspiration for your first mini retirement was and how did you go about creating it?


Jillian Johnsrud  04:30

Yeah, so like I said, we’ve done a dozen and honestly all of them have been really different. And I always encourage people to kind of pick a focus or a theme like what’s one or two objectives for their mini retirement and kind of lean into that versus like I’m gonna do 20 entirely different things that maybe don’t have a lot of no synergy between them. My first one was born out of hard situation. I, I was pregnant for the first time, and I miscarried. And for a lot of people on miscarry is like a blip and they move on with their lives. And you know, it’s fine. I was not fine. I was I was not fine at all i, like imploded. I was it was basically a lifetime of trauma that I had been repressing, and this kind of broke the dam open. And so I asked for a month off and my employer, seeing that, like I was a mess was like, yes, please leave, go fix yourself, and then come back here, when you’re better because we can’t handle this either. And so my best friend and I, we took a month and we traveled from DC to Seattle, and back and we car camped. And we stayed in a tent, and we stayed with friends and family, and we did national parks, and it it helped heal my heart. It was like exactly what I needed in that moment.


Catherine A. Wood  06:04

And so that was really born out of a personal moment of of Grief and Healing. And curious, how, if any more of those mini retirements were taken from that similar place, or were or were bred and at what point did they start becoming right moments of adventure and joy and, and more empowering objectives for to stepping away?


Jillian Johnsrud  06:36

I know the first one started on kind of a dark note for you.


Catherine A. Wood  06:41

And for many of us, though, right? Like just to normalize that experience. I think that’s how many of us start moments of big pivots in our careers and life.


Jillian Johnsrud  06:50

Yeah. So we’ve done we’ve done a lot of different ones, a lot of travel focused, a lot of kind of one’s focused on quality time with our kids and adventure, we have a camper, and we travel around the country for three months, six months, eight months at a time, exploring different areas, and homeschooling our kids. But we’ve, we’ve used them for lots of different things. I went somewhere, I took the summer off, and I planted a food forest in my backyard 20 fruit trees and wood 100 berry bushes and kind of went all in on that. This last one, I really focused on my health, and figuring out, you know, now I’m 41. And I’m at the age where I’m like, oh, I need to like figure out actually how to take care of myself like I, it’s time to be a grown up, and like figure this thing out. Because what worked at 20 is not working as well for all areas of my house. And in being able to step away, I always encourage people when we think about that focus of a mini retirement, what are things that you need more mental or emotional bandwidth to really focus on? Or what are things that just don’t fit? In the weekends? They don’t fit in a two weeks vacation? Or a week long vacation? You know, are there things in your life that if you’re like, Man, if I had a month, I could really make a lot of progress on that whether it’s rest, recovering from burnout, your health, adventure, any of it?


Catherine A. Wood  08:27

Do you notice that many of the folks that you work with who are wanting to take a mini retirement from one job, want to take it so that they can focus on another job? Yeah, and and what’s your recommendation for that?


Jillian Johnsrud  08:45

Yeah, many retirement can be a great way to give yourself some runway, in in a business. You know, if you have, if you have something that’s kind of been on the backburner, or you’ve been trying to build in nights and weekends, and you think, ah, if I just had a month or three months or six months go by myself six months of time, then I could scale this up to or maybe it could be my full time income. But you know, if you just keep doing your nights and weekends, that might take two or three years. And so, you know, with a business, you can go either way, sometimes it’s a good time to explore options, especially if you’ve been working at a job where it’s taken all of your mental and emotional bandwidth and you’re so burned out. You can’t even imagine what else you might like to do. You can use that burnout, or sorry, you can use that mini retirement to recover from burnout and really start to imagine new possibilities. But it’s extra useful. I think if you have something started on the side if you have a tiny bit of traction and you want to scale something up to kind of by yourself, that runway


Catherine A. Wood  09:58

so something I really Appreciate in my business as a coach is that many of us who are wanting more time, time is often the thing that we perceive as ourselves not having. So I think something I’m hearing you say is that many people are excited about mini retirements to gain more time, in order to bring something to life. And time may be the same thing that gets in the way of their having the perhaps capacity, or spaciousness to plan for that many retirements. So when when you support a someone in planning for a mini retirement, and specifically, let’s use time as an example, because I think that this is a particularly sticky subject, how do you? Yeah, how do you approach that conversation with your clients and really preparing themselves to take the time when they seemingly may not have it? Or may or may lack the resources? Or? Or the energy or, or or?


Jillian Johnsrud  11:06

Yeah, I see this. It’s funny, I just ran, we just wrapped up a group coaching of just people who are doing mini retirements, and I did intro calls before they started. And all of them were concerned about how much time is this gonna take? What what what am I signing myself up for? Like, what’s the commitment, because they’re all overworked, they’re all busy professionals, they all feel stretched so thin, which is why they want a mini retirement. So I think it’s important. If you’re in that spot, yes, you need to carve out a little bit of space to plan and to kind of get this organized and get ready for it. But also being realistic that, you know, when I create programs or workbooks, I know they don’t have 30 hours to do this, like, I know, it has to be really succinct and just picking the things that are very high leverage and will get them what they need, without too much additional overwhelm. Because they’re typically want a break because they already feel overwhelmed. So focusing on a few things, I always encourage people, if you can to try to get out of your house, even one night in a hotel can give you enough breathing space, to start to think through this and just start to plan it. And that small investment upfront, can make that time off so much more meaningful and impactful and productive.


Catherine A. Wood  12:41

I mean, I certainly appreciate that. That’s something that I often recommend clients and do myself as well, like these quarterly retreats to really get away, reflect on the learnings, the insights from the past quarter, and even just to have that physical and environmental space from some of those common day stressors to connect with my visions and dreams for what’s coming up or what’s next. I wanted to talk a little bit more about the timeline, because I’m wondering if there’s a best practice that you’ve seen or on how much time someone should give themselves to prepare for taking a mini retreat?


Jillian Johnsrud  13:26

Oh, you mean for before the mini retirement? Yeah, yes.


Catherine A. Wood  13:29

Or the mini retirement, which sounds like an extended retreat? Yeah,


Jillian Johnsrud  13:34

I usually start working with people three to six months before, especially depending on how how busy they are and how much kind of bandwidth they have. I know that that time and that focus is their most scarce resource. And so giving yourself a longer runway. And honestly, for a lot of people just starting to ask themselves the question, even if they don’t have a lot of time to finish the question, it helps kind of open that loop. And, and I see like a lot of kind of work get done between the work just in presenting the questions and the ideas. It slowly filters in over the next week or two. And people come back with more insight than then maybe we even accomplished during the call. So ideally three to six months, but honestly sometimes things pop up. And there are unexpected you know good things, bad things people get laid off or you know someone gets sick and you’re going to have this extended time off as soon as you can would be my encouragement. If you’re like oh, unexpectedly laid off. Yeah, get get started and dedicate, you know, the first week to coming up with that, that plan, but I do always encourage people, I have this idea of like a mini retirement go bag. If you like the idea of a mini retirement to kind of plan out a few scenarios, what would be the goal? What would you do? What would be the budget? And to kind of have those ready because when unexpected things happen, it’s it’s oftentimes the hardest moment to pivot. And to be like, Okay, what, what good can come of this? And how can I, you know, leverage, leverage this for something positive in my life, where if you have, you’re like, wait, I think I have some notes somewhere, and you pull out a folder that you did two years before, and you have, you know, six or seven different scenarios of what you can do. It’s much easier to, to kind of get going on one of those ideas.


Catherine A. Wood  15:51

I really appreciate this conversation, through the lens of catalyzing change. A quote that I use in my work a lot is by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, who says, the fear pushes until vision pulls. And I think when we’re approaching big change in our lives, we can often be pushed by moments of fear, whether it’s the passing of a loved one, or burnout, which is when I hear mentioned on the podcast so often, or moments of grief or layoffs, or career pivots. And then, being pulled by a vision, right, just this, like this dream that has been propelling us forward, or just something we’ve craved. And I guess I’m curious, from your perspective, and from the clients that you’ve supported over the years, like, how many of those folks approaching or seeking a mini retirement are overcoming a fear or a pain point, versus being compelled by a vision?


Jillian Johnsrud  17:08

Usually, both. And I have this kind of idea or philosophy, I call stuck at six. I think six is the stickiest spot to be in where like, you don’t have the pain or the suffering of like a two or three. But life isn’t an eight or a nine. But you’re it’s like good enough. It’s, it’s good enough to where there’s not a ton of upside if you were to make a change. But there is a lot of downside potential. And so a lot of the people I work with have felt stuck at six, they have this vision of like what a nine or a 10 could look like. But their risk reward, little bit of reward, if they could make that switch a lot of risk. If it doesn’t go well. But then something happens, either their health starts to suffer, the burnout gets severe, they lose, they lose passion, and maybe their nine to five, the demands of their family become more, you know, something shifts to where the six doesn’t feel like a six anymore, it starts to feel like a five and a four, and maybe even a three. And so the downside is a lot smaller, like it couldn’t get too much worse. And now the upside is a lot bigger, and a lot more compelling. And it’s, it’s tough six is a really sticky spot to be in. And I am always amazed and inspired by people who like their life is pretty good. And they’re willing to jump out of the norm, and take on all of the effort and the risk just to try to make it exceptional. But for most people, it’s it, it kind of helps if things get a little bit worse, to encourage you to make them better.


Catherine A. Wood  19:10

I mean, I totally agree. I think that through the lens of transformation, we often have to reach this breaking point where we’re no longer satisfied with things continuing the way they have. And to really allow us to grab on to some dream or some vision. And I’m curious about your stuck at Sixers because I imagine a lot of our listeners can relate with that and I certainly can can remote remember times in my own life where I was stuck at six. Yeah, and I’m curious about some of the maybe like just some of the experiences are some of your favorite stories from you’re stuck at Sixers and what their own mini retirements have unlocked or help them to step into


Jillian Johnsrud  20:00

Yeah, it’s those things you can’t, they don’t fit well, in the nights and weekends. A lot of them have started, I’ve done a career pivot. You know, I think, especially for my clients, there’s, they’re kind of in the middle of their career, you know, they, they’ve gained a lot of momentum, they’re doing really well. But then you get to an age it 30 or 40, or 45, where you’re like, am I am I gonna do this for another 20 years like, is this the only thing I ever do professionally. And you have to kind of wrestle with that there’s that curiosity of is there something better aligned out there? Is there something where I feel like I’m using my skill and my talent and my personality, versus I’m really competent in my job. And so mini retirement oftentimes gives people that space to explore things, or to scale things or just reimagine their lives. It’s so tough if you have any burnout, I kind of describe burnout or stress, like you’re hiking through the forest. I’m in Montana, so we have a lot of forest, a lot of hiking, and we have a lot of bears. So if you start to feel like a bear on, you know, kind of creeping in on you, your vision narrows, so you just can focus on the path ahead, like stress, this function is to move you through the stress, and out into safety. And everything else that’s happening in the forest is the distraction, different career paths, cool projects, to fun hobbies you could do like, all of that is a distraction that would keep you in this stressful situation. And so when people say like, well, I can’t even imagine what else I would do. Of course, you can’t like your body is trying to give you this narrow vision to get you out of this situation. It does not want you to stay in. And sometimes people will be like, but I’m I’m surviving, like I’m, you know what I’m doing it, I’m okay. I’m keeping my head above water. But your body’s helping you survive, to survive this situation to get you out of the situation, you are never going to thrive there. That’s never where you were meant to live. And, you know, sometimes you have to get out of that stress, in order for that vision to kind of widen in order for that all to grow back and to see everything that’s around you and all the possibilities.


Catherine A. Wood  22:36

Yeah, I mean, I’m reminded of so many things as you’re sharing this. There’s a book I read recently called dopamine nation, which talks about the the addictive impact of social media and many addictions, but specifically, the means of social media and how so often, we have to withdraw everything, right, like take a hard stop, or hard you pause, in order to be able to intentionally reinsert what we want, or what we’re inspired by or what we’re committed to. And in my own journey, a lot of my own journey has been in healing from workaholism, which, I mean, I think we’re all addicted to something. And some of our own addictions are just socially acceptable ones like workaholism. And I remember, probably one of the most compelling things my coach ever said to me, but she was like cat, we’re scared of creating space because of what we’ll find in this space in the middle, in the void. And I’m just sitting with what you’re sharing through that lens, because I’m imagining that for many the menu retirement creates that, that artificial space or pause to really reconnect with what you want to insert or redesign on purpose.


Jillian Johnsrud  24:11

Yeah, in in a in a positive way, and also in a challenging way. In my program, there’s there’s four steps, and the fourth one is navigating this journey. Assuming the a lot of people haven’t done the journey many times they don’t know a ton of people who’ve done the journey, kind of like, here’s some things that might happen. There are some things to kind of look out for. And one of those is unpacking baggage. Sometimes we’ve been running so fast from something that when we pause, we worry the avalanche might catch up to us and bury us, which was great motivation to keep running. But a lot of things can get unpacked and I think it’s simple hoping to have kind of a positive mindset around that, like, you’re giving yourself the time and the space to heal things, to deal with things to improve these, these areas that have been tricky. And and that’s going to benefit you long term like this is a benefit you’re going to carry with you for the rest of your life. But if you weren’t expecting to unpack some baggage during the time off, it can be a little disconcerting, like, what is happening here?


Catherine A. Wood  25:32

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s such a beautiful reminder, just have the human condition to avoid change to, to desire to stay within the confines of our comfort zone. And the just the upside of that, that when our nervous systems are relaxed, when we’re at rest, we are so much more resourced internally, to handle change to lean into change to welcome change. Yeah. So you mentioned, you mentioned your the four steps of your program, and I, I’m sure my audience would love to hear that as as would I. So for those of us who are considering a mini retirement, taking a month away, unplugged away from our nine to five, or at least 90% away from our business. What are the steps that we need to consider?


Jillian Johnsrud  26:30

The first one, like I’ve kind of touched on is figuring out the intention, figuring out the purpose, pick one or two or three things for this next mini retirement. And you know, my website, my podcast is called retire often, because I don’t think people should just do one, I think this should be part of the rhythm of our lives. And so I always encourage people, especially if they’ve had a really busy decade, you know, they’ve been pushing hard for a long time. And they’re like, there’s 100 things I want to do. You can just slot those out over the next five or 10 Mini retirements, but pick one or two or three intentions. And that’s, that’s step one, is really clarifying and figuring out what are the things that are going to be the most meaningful? What are the things that are going to add the most value. And actually, on my site, I have a couple free worksheets that kind of help people sort through that first step, because that’s the biggest mistake I see people make in mini retirements is they just wing it, they think, well, as long as I’m not working, it’ll be amazing. And, and happiness is one part reducing suffering, which leaving your job might. But it’s the other part is adding joy. And this isn’t something that we always know how to do, or we have as much practice with. So that’s step one. Step two is employment. And I kind of walk people through how to negotiate a month off how to explain this mini retirement, how to prepare your business, how to explain it, if you’re going to do it in between jobs to your next employer, how to kind of network, so they you can get a really amazing next job. And then the third step is finances. Like figuring out your personal budget, figuring out how much this thing’s going to cost, how to save for that and how to set yourself up to to be able to retire off and to be able to make this part of your ongoing lifestyle.


Catherine A. Wood  28:30

Is that the 1,003rd?


Jillian Johnsrud  28:32

That’s the third. So then the fourth is navigating the journey, baggage or like how to actually recover from burnout. You know, how to deal with friends and family and like maybe some of their confusion or their concern? Yeah, kind of all of those things that having walked so many people through it, there’s a lot of advantages and a few kind of spots, people can get a little stuck in and wanting them to even if it’s like a hard tricky spot to really get the most out of that. Like if people are workaholics and all of their identity is wrapped up in that competency. It can it can be a tough transition to step away from that. And, and so giving some tools of like how do we build out other aspects of our identity that can be meaningful for us.


Catherine A. Wood  29:29

I really appreciate that fourth one, because the first three they they seem like almost like what would what you would expect. They seem more predictable. But the fourth element, I feel like that’s the real kicker and I imagine a place where many of us self sabotage by not anticipating the potential pitfalls. Yes, something in my work that I say lot is anticipate and welcome breakdowns. And for those of us who are perfectionist and high achievers, and we’re so committed to our plans and goals, going the way we intend, we can really get attacked, like attacked, right, like just taken out by those pitfalls which happened to all of us, right, like we can’t control everything. So I really appreciate just that, that planning in advance of the of the, the baggage that could come up that could and will.


Jillian Johnsrud  30:42

Yeah, and I find, and I’ve seen this, if this has been worked out in my one on one coaching is that the story people tell themselves when they experienced this is not the most helpful and not even a true story. So recovering from burnout is a really common part of Step Four in that it can be more intense than people anticipate. Physically way more intense, and it can catch people off guard to where they’re napping, they don’t feel productive. They don’t feel motivated, like their body kind of powers down into this deep rest mode. But the story they tell themselves is, maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m just not productive. Maybe I can’t be successful outside of my nine to five, maybe I need that structure. Maybe I’m not going to be able to survive on my own. I guess I should just go back to work like this. Clearly I, I am a disaster of a human outside of a job. And I should just stay employed until I die. When the truth, and the more helpful story is, wow, I’m more tired than I realized. Like, my body was doing a great job getting me out of the forest. It needs a little bit more rest, I guess. I guess I should kind of switch up my plans a little bit to give my body what it needs. But that’s never the story people start with. Oh, totally.


Catherine A. Wood  32:17

I mean, I so something that is just coming to me as you’re talking is how I mean, you’re just your your whole face lights up as you talk about this. So I’m just connecting with how much joy this clearly brings to you to teach about and talk about. And I’m imagining that the work you do is really rewarding. I’m curious, what may be some of the aspects that you didn’t anticipate being so rewarding our?


Jillian Johnsrud  32:49

Um, I mean, I think so maybe this, this is the obvious one. But it’s hit me really hard, is that I knew how transformative and how life changing mini retirements were for me. But for most people, when you look back on a decade of your life, those mini retirements are the things that pop out that adventure you did that self healing that business you felt that dream that you’ve accomplished, like a becomes the highlight of people’s decades and maybe their life. And it it feels intense and sacred that like I get to be a part of the thing people love the most in their life. Like when they look back on it at ad I had a little tiny little tiny piece of help in making that happen are making it go really well. And that data it it kind of it’s exciting and overwhelming and and wonderful.


Catherine A. Wood  34:08

So are you are you able to share a couple of those highlights? I’m just curious, like what’s some of your own personal favorite success stories or highlights that clients in their 80s are coming back and sharing with you? Or you imagine they will decades from now? Yeah,


Jillian Johnsrud  34:27

I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people do career pivots and and move across the country and start businesses and like just everything about where they are now is is different. And it all took place like they all point back to that time off. And it I don’t know it kind of it kind of overwhelms me and sometimes it’s really big things and, and sometimes it’s just those little things. But you know, for that person it is significant. I have one client right now who’s recovering from burnout and has started. Like I talked about unpacking baggage. You know, sometimes, she she bought a course a number of years ago on like how to have healthier romantic relationships and never had the time or energy to do it. And she was like, and now I’m working through it. And like, she sent me a picture of like her journal, and she’s, and it’s just, you know, those are the things that in five or 10 years, it’s like, that’s when I was able to make that change. That are really, yeah, I told one of my clients. years ago, years ago, like I, we have a huge lake in Montana, right? Like Flathead Lake. It’s like one of the biggest ones west of the Mississippi. And it has all these curves, it’s like 60 miles long. And then like, my vision is never just throw the biggest rock to where the waves from my rock will reach all sides of this, like, my vision is I want to help 1000 people each throw their rock in their corner of the lake. And all of those things together will reach every corner of the lake. Yeah, and I feel like this is, this is a very tangible way for me to do that.



What do you think?


Catherine A. Wood  36:35

What do you think it is about pursuing a mini retirement that allows reinvention to be so accessible for folks?


Jillian Johnsrud  36:49

think the biggest part kind of like, have you talked about doing quarterly retreats? I, I love doing weekends away at a hotel and doing personal ones, I have kind of a thing I do for my own kind of personal life called CEO of your life. And I’ve done that for years. And I find in those personal retreats, the questions that I asked and the answers I get on day two, or day three, are not the answer, I would have gotten 30 minutes into thinking of the question. And this is exponentially true in a mini retirement, that that vision just widens. And oftentimes people are putting themselves in new situations. In you know, if they’re traveling, they’re going to new places, and they’re meeting new people, and they’re having new conversations, and they’re getting all of this new input versus their daily life. And they have the energy and the mental bandwidth to think about it and to imagine it and to dream it and and it just gives us that that opportunity to to reset. And I think it gives people the confidence to pivot in whatever that looks like whether it’s in their health or their habits or professionally, you know, it’s just so easy to keep doing the same thing. But once you do a hard stop, and you remove yourself from that same thing, then you can say, How do I want to go back? How do I want to go back into my life into my habits? You know, maybe I can’t have habits 100% Like I did during my mini retirement, but it’s easier to kind of take some of that good, that good stuff that we’ve acquired during that time and incorporate it back into our life.


Catherine A. Wood  38:50

Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. And I think when we take the hard pause and we can really embody those new ways of being and new habits and really connect with the felt sense of how it feels, it can be so much easier to integrate that new habit upon upon the return. And you know, something I’m just really appreciating as we’re talking. I often feel like the way my podcast interviews get scheduled are divinely timed. And I was sharing with you that right before we clicked record that I’m taking a two and a half week trip this week in three days. And I only have four days of the two and a half week European trip planned just a little challenging for my nervous system. And I felt I’d have felt called to take this trip. I don’t really know why I certainly don’t know where I’m going, but I’m about to turn 40 And I’m And I’ve been wanting a baby Moon as we navigate and prepare for our first child. And I’m just really appreciating from our conversation. The the invitation that this is going to be for me to take a hard pause and plan for this next chapter in my own life, right, as an entrepreneur of more than a decade, taking my first maternity leave is a very scary thing. Yeah. So getting clear on on the objectives and the planning. just appreciating how useful that will be to anticipate the breakdowns and prepare, get out ahead of them. Yeah,


Jillian Johnsrud  40:46

because in all of the, I call them challenges, because people initially perceive them as challenges. But in reality is just opportunities for growth. And it’s such an important growth. And I always tell people like, yeah, stepping away from your career, there might be some challenges. But the reality is, you have to figure these challenges out eventually. Because the only alternative is dying at your desk. So you can die at your desk, or you can figure out these



challenges. How do you say that with a smile across your face, these are the only two options.


Jillian Johnsrud  41:27

And so like we might as well get get on it, like we might as well start to sort some of this stuff out and tackle it once, you know, one thing at a time, versus repressing it ignoring and trying to like tunnel vision or waste through this avalanche, and then having ketchup with us anyway. And Canada crush us at the worst possible timing.


Catherine A. Wood  41:53

Oh, totally. And navigate those challenges, when we’re internally resourced, and we’re more likely to be in a beautiful place where we’re inspired, where our nervous systems are at rest, where perhaps we’re connected with ourselves or spirit or nature or all the above. And just how much more more. Yeah, I mean, internally resource we are to be able to navigate those those questions. You know. I’m curious if there’s anything I haven’t asked you that you have been wanting to share? That feels important to say?


Jillian Johnsrud  42:35

Um, you know, I, I always encourage people like to start just mentally open that loop to be open to this possibility, because life might throw it at you planned or not planned. But if you can plan it, plan early, go early, start early. Start small. Oh, my gosh, this is not sometimes because mini retirements are can be expensive, or they feel big. People want it to be perfect the first time. And I’m like, no, no, no retire often, like start, start with four weeks, you know, or in your case, start with two and a half weeks start small. Because then we can scale it up, then we can expand on that confidence and that clarity, like you’ll have a better sense of what you’re doing. And you’ll have felt the rewards. Whenever I hear people be like, I want to take a trip around the world with my kids. And I’m like, oh, what kind of traveling do you do with them? And they’re like, I haven’t done any. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, I don’t I don’t know if that’s the term I would start with. You know, start start small and kind of grow into it. But yeah, sometimes I hear people be like, oh, yeah, maybe like five years. Do it, do it this year, you know, take take a month. And sometimes people will tell me I had a CFO at an event I spoke at was like, Yeah, that’s great for like some nine to five employees. Like if you work at like a gas station. But I’m like, too important. Like my job is too important, empty, hard to replace, to do that. And I was like, perfect. How long would it take to hire your position? And he’s like, Oh, it’s like six months? And I’m like, Yeah, surely important. How long would it take to train your position? He’s like, Yeah, it’s another six months and I’m like, okay, so HR can either spend a year hoping to get someone as good as you or they could give you a month off. Month ops way easier, way less risk, way cheaper like hrs gonna go with the cheap, easy option most of the time. And so knowing that you have a lot more leverage, you have a lot more agency, especially if you feel like you’re really competent and add a lot of value to your job. You have more agency that maybe you imagine


Catherine A. Wood  45:04

just listening to this conversation. And something I’m really trying to be mindful of in my own work more often is just the topic of privilege, and how it plays into some of the work that we do as coaches and leaders in the personal development space. And so I’m wondering for, you know, for those of our listeners who maybe are under resourced in their own lives, is this a possibility for for those who don’t benefit from some of the privilege that I do is a white woman? And how can they pursue how can they pursue this for themselves?


Jillian Johnsrud  45:45

Yeah, I, I believe everyone deserves one opportunity in their life. In a 4050 year career, I think everyone, every mom, every and everyone from every social class gets at least one chance to rest or to have fun, or to spend time with people they love or to pursue a hobby, like, I think it’s, it’s innate to our humanity. And there are different challenges with less income, but there’s also different opportunities. You know, when, when the CFO was like, think this is easy for like, someone who works at a gas station, I thought in my head, do you know many people who work at gas stations, um, they might not have that challenge, but they have other challenges. You know, I like I said, I’ve, I’ve never, we went into low earning careers. And we never earned, we combined, we never earned six figures. So most of my mini retirements I did while I was making $30,000 a year. And so it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, like that month long road, you know, coast to coast road trip with my friend where we were camping and sleeping on people’s couches. Because I’ve always been a little bit of a money nerd, I kept track in a diary of every single one of our expenses. And I paid for the whole thing, my friend just along for the ride, and to be a support, it was like $2,500. And it in some ways, it’s a little bit easier, and that there’s less, there’s less professional risk. You know, when I would step away from a job where I was making 1215 bucks an hour. I knew I could find another one, making 12 or 15 bucks an hour, you know, I have clients who make $300,000 a year and they’re concerned if I step away, what if I can’t go back at the same salary range, I never had that concern. There’s lots of jobs where I can make 15 bucks an hour. And honestly, when you’re in that kind of demographic, you know, I worked at Starbucks, it’s sold furniture, I worked at a mattress place like nobody thinks like, oh, there’s a two month gap in your resume. What happened there? Like nobody cares. Nobody’s really looking at your resume, as long as your warm body. Like they’re like, yes, you’re hired. And so I think there’s different opportunities, but you have to be a little bit more creative. Like, yeah, you’re probably not gonna do an around the world trip for your first one. But maybe you can do a cool hiking thing, or go camping, or plant some stuff in your backyard, or lean into a hobby or start volunteering in your community. When we travel, we rent out our house, which a lot of my clients are like, yeah, there’s no amount of money that that that’s worth it for me. But for us, we rent it out for about 2000 a month. And that’s about what our travel costs are. So it costs us the same to live at home, as it does on the road. So that is worth it for us like that amount of extra money. It’s like, Yeah, well, I’ll clean out my house, I’ll move my tax documents, like, I’ll put my clothes under the bed, you know, for two grand a month, the juice is worth the squeeze. So I think there are some some unique opportunities, challenges. But there again, it’s so much easier to find, you know, a weekend or a part time job where you might make 1520 bucks an hour that in a year, you could save up the amount that you would need to cover a month off.


Catherine A. Wood  49:38

I really appreciate us ending on that note. I just hear kind of this just this overarching theme about the accessibility and and I totally hear you you know, like, right out of college I joined the Peace Corps. Now of course the cost of living was marginal but still on 300 bucks a month, and then on my first salary, working in sustainable tourism at 32,000, I still saved, you know more at that at that first salary point and salary level than I’ve ever made since. And so I think that there’s really something to be said for being intentional with our, with our savings and how we earn and side hustles. And, and to use your words getting creative.


Jillian Johnsrud  50:26

Yeah, yeah. And, and I think even that it doesn’t have to be a massively expensive experience. One, one story I love. I was in a doctor’s office, and the receptionist was like a med spa. So she probably made in our area, like 1215 bucks an hour. And she was over the moon. She was like, so excited. She was like, I just came back from vacation. And I was like, really? Where did she go? She was like, well, it was my very first time on an airplane. And I had never left the state of Montana. And I went to Peru. And he’s like, Well, what? And she was like, yeah, and not just the cities, I went to the like, the deepest, darkest jungles of Peru. And I’m like, and they’re again, looking back, she was probably 22. You know, she probably the whole trip, I imagine pricing out maybe 2000 bucks. I don’t know if the deepest, darkest jungles of Peru are that expensive. But when she looks back on her 20s That’s going to be a highlight. That’s going to be the moment when her entire life expanded to never leave the state of Montana, and then go to the jungles of Peru is like mind blowing. Well, cheers


Catherine A. Wood  51:51

to making our next trips. Our next mini retirements, my two and a half week, upcoming baby Moon, the



highlight of the decade.


Catherine A. Wood  52:03

This has been such a inspiring conversation. And honestly, I I wish that we had started where we ended, because I think the accessibility of our dreams is such an access point for people to dream. So I’m, I’m excited for our listeners to really listen all the way through. Then as we wrap up, I’d love to hear, I’d love to hear what’s made the difference for you and becoming the prosperous path that you are.


Jillian Johnsrud  52:35

Um, so two things one life event, one tool. There again, another mini retirement, I had a mental breakdown. And I went to like inpatient for a month. And it was, yeah, it was a turning point. It was such a place where I gathered so much information about who I am, and how I am, and started me on an entirely different kind of self healing path. And then one tool on that path that I really liked is I did the Hoffman process, which, you know, years ago, but I still think about those tools. I still think about kind of the things that we talked about during during that teaching.


Catherine A. Wood  53:20

I’m not familiar with the Hoffman process.


Jillian Johnsrud  53:23

Yeah, it’s been around a long time. I had to do it online, unfortunately, because it was COVID. They still offer it online. But they do in person, like a five day retreat, which the probably most known for. And it’s kind of about like recognizing your patterns, where you developed those patterns. What is kind of that? What are what are your default settings? How do you respond to situations and being more thoughtful, and more intentional of choosing how you want to respond?


Catherine A. Wood  53:57

Well, thoughtful and intentional is are certainly two qualities that I’m taking from you and from our conversation today. So thank you so much for coming and for sharing your genius and we’ll of course link to your site and all your links in the show notes. But truly, they thank you for the time I’m leaving today. inspired, excited and grounded. Awesome. Thank you


Jillian Johnsrud  54:18

so much for having me.


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Navigating Neurodivergence: Energy Hacks for Empaths with Regina Carey

Regina Carey joins me on The Prosperous Empath® this week for a truly heart-centered conversation about neurodivergence and how it is often interconnected with being an empath and/or HSP. Regina is a special ed teacher turned Executive Coach who has spent the last three decades educating, empowering, and advocating for those who feel stuck, yet long to take that next great leap. Recently, she returned from an adventurous trip to Machu Picchu and shares her experience of how saying yes to physical challenges has helped her balance intense emotions as an empath. But something I deeply appreciate about this conversation are Regina’s insights on neurodivergence, especially ADHD, and the importance of managing energy and advocating for oneself. Regina reflects on her upbringing and the influence of the women in her life, emphasizing the need to break patterns of burnout and dis-ease to live authentically. This episode is for anyone who is neurodivergent (or loves someone who is) and is seeking energetic balance in their life. Tune in for actionable steps on thriving more as an ambitious empath.

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